Fix on the big picture, not fixations
Fix on the big picture, not fixations
Everything you invest in — your business as a whole, and its constituent parts like the infrastructure and the equipment — must be deployed properly to avoid needless costs.
August 3, 2017

By Hayley Robins, Senior Accountant at Hive Business.

One of my clients is looking to increase the size of their practice with the addition of another surgery, at a cost of about £50k. They hadn’t reached capacity with the surgeries they already had, and they are not willing to spend money on marketing to fill the existing surgeries or the new one. They hadn’t envisioned that as an extra cost, and they winced when we asked about it. As it wasn’t part of the bigger plan, it’s off the table.

This is an example of what happens when you put emphasis on tools over results. A similar thing happens all the time in accountancy, especially now that software is automating the jobs we used to put man hours into. Some people have asked if I’m worried about the longevity of my career: will I still have a role in 10 years?

The term ‘accountant’ is actually an umbrella for a huge range of services. Some accountants make sure you tick the right boxes and your tax return is filed on time, others work with you, translate a jumble of numbers into a strategy and growth plan, and organise your tax affairs to free up cash to reinvest into your business.

You can get by with a compliance accountant, but it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. In another dental analogy, I know quite a few dentists who invested in a CEREC machine, and found that it ended up costing them. Why? The burden of having CEREC and not maximising it with a full diary book is significant. An empty surgery costs quite a lot per day, and an empty surgery with a CEREC machine standing idle in it is even more wasteful.

Everything you invest in — your business as a whole, and its constituent parts like the infrastructure and the equipment — must be deployed properly to avoid needless costs. You’ve only got finite funds to deploy on anything.

In accountancy, we can now automatically download bank transactions so there is no need to have Judith sat in the corner typing out the paper bank statements. Xero is building in AI learning. And these software packages are so easy to use that business owners are now doing more themselves rather than paying someone else to do it.

I want to take advantage of these developments rather than feel threatened by them. The extra capacity they free up means there are new ways we can add value to a business. Xero is great, but like the extra surgeries and CEREC machines dentists like to flaunt, it’s best used as a tool to enable me to deliver advisory services. It’s not the solution itself.

On paper, a newly refurbished dental practice with state of the art equipment has all the tools in place for success, but if there is no marketing budget to get patients through the door then all that potential success will remain unfulfilled. Someone selling you a CEREC machine can give you a breakdown of how it operates, but they don’t know how your business operates and how it’s really going to be. At Hive we have a multi-disciplinary approach to improving your financial performance, so we’ll always be pulling you away from the urge to focus on individual concerns at the expense of the bigger picture. Just like in accountancy, individual things matter only in the context of your strategy and objectives.

Get in touch if you would like to discuss how our services can help you grow your practice on 01872 300232 or email us at

The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Hive Business and does not constitute formal tax advice. Any tax outcomes will be based on individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future. You should seek specific advice before embarking on any course of action. Hive Business does not provide regulated Financial Advice, including advice on investment, insurance or lending products or their suitability for you. This article is provided for information only and does not constitute, and should not be interpreted as, investment advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or otherwise transact, or not transact, in any investment including Bitcoin and other crypto. Any use you wish to make of any information contained within this article is, therefore, entirely at your own risk.

By Hayley Robins ACA Accountancy Director
If you have any questions or comments about this article, please get in touch.
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