You may think there is no point talking to an accountant unless it is time to prepare a set of accounts and file a return, but there are many other ways in which they can help during the start-up phase of your business.

Accountants are not necessarily entrepreneurs, but that does not mean they don’t understand what it takes to get an enterprise off the ground. In these particularly challenging times it makes sense to tap into every possible resource to give your new business the best chance of success.

In the pre-launch phase an accountant is a useful sounding board for ideas – a ‘critical friend’ on what can be a lonely journey as a business founder. They can provide advice on how best to structure your business (i.e. sole trader or partnership) and help you either write or review your business plan, offering guidance on whether your idea has commercial potential.

Many accountants are sole practitioners who remember what it was like setting up and building their own business. Something as simple as making sure staff are correctly included on the payroll can save you a lot of grief down the road.

A proactive accountant will also be able to refer a start-up client to a network of contacts who can assist at various stages of the development of the business.

It might seem odd to be thinking about exit strategies at this stage. However, you might appreciate some help figuring out whether you want a ‘lifestyle’ business that will provide you with an income or a business that could be grown rapidly and sold, allowing you to move onto something else.

The next step is getting the funding in place. In my previous blog I outlined some of the funding options available to start-up businesses, but it is not always obvious which would best suit your particular circumstances. A savvy accountant can analyse how appropriate – and attainable – these options are.

Some business people like to work with like-minded individuals, but there is also value in having someone who is only thinking of the bottom line when they are looking at how you are spending your money.

Many established entrepreneurs will be able to think of an occasion when their accountant advised them against making an investment or decision which would have negatively impacted their business.

The role of the accountant as a business mentor prepared to ask difficult questions should not be underestimated. Neither should the value of having someone looking out for your interests – relying on your accountant to remind you that you need to save for your corporate tax bill may sound ridiculous, but can be invaluable when you have so many other things to think about.

Whether they are a bean-counter or a business advisor, any accountant will appreciate working with a new business that is on top of its accounts from day one. Using Big Red Cloud will allow your accountant to quickly and easily access the information they need to get you off to a good start