Dentistry is a highly skilled occupation, and it’s fair to say that dentists are experts in their craft. However, no dentist is trained in the required skills to install a finance function in their business.
This isn’t a criticism – a dentist’s training can’t cover every aspect of their profession – but it’s an unfortunate reality that your training won’t have included a module on the importance of cashflow and forecasting, how the UK tax system works, and what key performance indicators you should be tracking in your practice. It may feel unnerving, therefore, to find yourself standing at the helm, with a team of people looking at you and expecting you to steer the business towards success while also ensuring that your monthly debt repayments are being made. Running a business is tough, and it’s a journey that can, at times, feel exhausting, lonely and thankless.
This is why it’s so important to surround yourself with trusted people. Delegation is a sensible method of survival; after all, you can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything. But this also doesn’t mean that you should completely abdicate responsibility for any element of your business.
A finance function is core to your practice. Making profit may not have been the original driver for setting up your practice, but it’s nevertheless important. If your business isn’t profitable, this will block your progress, whether it’s recruiting the right team, investing in equipment to improve your clinical capability, or delivering the service that you want to your patients.
It therefore makes sense to delegate this most important aspect of your business. You might think, ‘I have an accountant sorted’, ‘I have Xero software that’s kept up to date’, ‘I’ve always paid my tax bill on time’. In a nutshell, ‘that’s the finance function box ticked’. Right?
Wrong. In today’s climate, these things are the very minimum that you should be doing to meet your compliance obligations, and they’re all tasks that are rightly owned by your accountant, not by you. In this example, you’re not really being asked to do anything – you’re effectively abdicating your responsibility – which might be tempting, but isn’t necessarily right.
An effective finance function means that not only is reliable information readily available (yes, Xero takes care of this for you), but you’re able to actively use this information to make decisions within your business. You’re comfortable with the numbers and understand what they’re telling you. You know your tax strategy so you can be confident that you’re paying the right amount of tax, and not needlessly writing cheques to HMRC when the funds could be put to better use within your practice.
To return to my original point, it’s fair that as a dentist you’re not trained in numbers and certainly not well versed in the ever-changing tax legislation, but we are – and crucially, we can teach you. Although we’re trained accountants, we’re also much more than this. And we want you to make the most of our skillset and wealth of knowledge in the dentistry sector.
The world of accountancy is changing, with technology steadily opening up some traditionally accountant-led tasks to the masses (we’ve probably all seen the mainstream television adverts for Sage and Xero). While this deprives accountants of some of their former duties, it’s an evolution we’ve welcomed.
For us, it’s a positive step that these labour-intensive jobs (which provide no real value) can now be automated, leaving us with more time to spend on actually making a difference to you and your business. With the routine tasks taken care of, we can speak to you as people and help you to train and improve.
Yes, we’re accountants, but we can also act as your trusted partner, working to bridge the gap between simply ticking compliance boxes and creating a successful finance function. This might include helping you to interpret the numbers and your current business model, forecasting to translate your growth plans into numbers and tracking actual performance against this, and saving you thousands in tax every year from personalised strategies designed around your goals and needs.
We deliver all this for the typical market rate that you’ll be paying your existing accountant (we even price match where we can), but with Xero up to date and handling your figures, we’re able to collaborate where it counts, helping you to work in the way you want to.