The absolute fundamental aim is to make money out of satisfying customers. (John Egan)
Why have two companies?
Business Academy operates through two companies, targeting different markets. We could operate through one - but experience has taught us there are two different markets that we need to treat separately to provide clarity of focus and to avoid confusion.
Most people have some idea of what Certified Practising Accountants do - basically we help clients stay out of trouble with IRD. (There's an awful lot more accountants do as well - but that's what most people are focussed on.) And all our dealings with IRD are done through Academy Certified Accountants Limited.
So if you choose to have us as your tax agent, then you will be a client of Academy Certified Accountants Limited. There are however two issues that our experience has taught us.
First, not all tax agents are created equal. First and foremost we are qualified accountants with professional oversight to encourage high standards. For some clients, there is little obvious difference between one tax agent and another. But we are professionals in every sense of the word, and we take pride in what we do. Hopefully most business people appreciate the difference between a balanced set of accounts, and one which doesn't balance - or doesn't make sense in other ways. But there are many other areas not so easily noticed - compliance with the Companies Act being a major one.
Second, many accountants have earned a reputation as being very good at producing sets of books - but not so good at dealing with people in business. When they do tackle business issues beyond tax and accounting, they often focus on their own pet hobby horses - and neglect other areas.
We don't pretend to be all things to all people. But if you choose to use our accounting services, you can also use our business services without having to deal with the two companies.
Some people are quite happy with the services provided by themselves or their own accountant. Others don't like the limits we place on our accounting services. Either way they just wish their accountant would actually provide some meaningful help in the business.
Many of our colleagues are so caught up in the ongoing paper war they don't get into detail with the businesses they look after. Because of our interest in that area we offer Academy of Business Excellence Limited. Clients of this company can keep their existing accountant, and use our business development services to help identify their SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), and to work on getting their business to grow.
There are many businesses offering to improve your business performance. And just as anyone can call themselves an accountant, so anyone can call themselves a business consultant, business coach or other similar name. So if you think you have difficulties choosing an accountant, how on earth do you choose someone who claims to be able to improve your business?
So what really makes us different? Well, in one sense, nothing. Here we are offering to improve your business performance, and most readers will have nothing to settle their minds down. Does our status as professional chartered accountants help? In our minds it should help because everything we do reflects that same professional standard.
However, there are two specific things we've done that might help. First we are members of RAN ONE. That probably doesn't mean a lot to you, because RAN ONE doesn't promote itself to the public. But RAN ONE is an international firm, with three major centres of activity - Australia, Europe and America. Its main focus is on helping chartered accountants (and some other consultants) work with small to medium businesses with a particular focus on building business value. I've been part of RAN ONE (and it's predecessor) for over a decade.
This doesn't mean I am the same as all their members. It's like being part of a bigger accountancy firm - while not being caught up with all their politics. RAN ONE provide tools, training and advice for their members and their clients. They also provide a network of others engaged in this area, which small firms simply don't have.
The second thing we do is ensure that in most cases, jobs are broken down into very small pieces. This means that bills are agreed in advance for particular work. In some cases clients can even cancel work at progress points agreed in advance at no cost. So we do not ask for a large financial commitment at any point in time. We prefer smaller, clearly defined steps, which means clients are never up for large or ongoing sums.