Accountants need to act as leaders during the coronavirus crisis

Accountants need to act as leaders during the coronavirus crisis
Chris Goodfellow
Chris GoodfellowCEOInkwell

Posted: Thu 30th Apr 2020

The coronavirus crisis has left small businesses' finances in peril. Accountants have been a key source of advice and many have been working long hours to meet demand.

Amit Gupta, from Allenby Accountants, offered small business owners free sessions through Enterprise Nation's coronavirus hub. He believes accountants should be looking at themselves as a business mentor.

"This is a crisis. When there's a crisis, people look for a leader - for someone that can give them support, advice and confidence," he said.

Helping existing clients to keep trading

Allenby Accountants works in a number of different sectors, including events and hospitality. That means Amit has clients that have been severely affected by the crisis.

Amit's approach is to talk through the implications for the business, the government support that's available and the business owner's personal finances. One entrepreneur he connected with through Enterprise Nation is Nicky Spencer from Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet.

Nicky has been running 70s and 80s soul funk and disco nights for the last ten years, but business stopped overnight when the lockdown was put in place.

"I was in panic mode and Amit explained the situation in no-nonsense terms and was very calming and understanding. It was really important to me," she said.

The 30-minute slot turned into an hour as Amit and Nicky went through her options. As with many limited company directors, Nicky takes part of her pay through dividends. This means the amount available through the government's furlough scheme isn't sustainable.

Nicky added that when the crisis started her accountant wasn't picking up the phone and she was at a loss on what to do. She's since cancelled and moved to Allenby.

Billing clients during a crisis

Amit says they're trying to do the best for every individual client, primarily helping them to survive the next three, four and five months.

"At the moment, the priority is to support the clients and I'm not charging for the time I'm working with them. This isn't a normal time, so you have to be practical and pragmatic. If we support clients in this phase, they will be thankful and we can charge them fees for the rest of their lives," he said.

That's easier for a small firm to do, Amit added, and the approach means people won't hesitate to get in touch when there's an issue.

Amit runs Allenby with his wife and a small number of support staff and said the workload has become extremely challenging.

Winning new clients during the crisis

Allenby has won four new clients since the start of the crisis, with most people making enquiries through their website. Content marketing has been crucial.

"Content is always important. If you don't write your views or what is happening, how are people going to know about you?" he said.

Finally, Amid stressed that this is not an ordinary time and there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

"People are worried about their businesses, but we need to keep going on. There's no way the negativity can surround us. We can't let that happen."

Chris Goodfellow
Chris GoodfellowCEOInkwell
Chris has over a decade of experience writing about small businesses and startups. He runs Inkwell, a content agency that helps companies that sell to small business owners grow their audiences through content marketing. You can find him on Twitter at @CPGoodfellow.

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