Right good reads

Tony Margaritelli reviews a couple of new books that will help you improve your business

Lots of books come across my desk, but in all honesty they are for the most part rubbish, written by people with an overblown sense of their own importance and no track record in the business whatsoever. Despite this, they insist that their way is the right way and that if you follow their strictures then untold wealth and fortune will follow.

That said, a few books come my way from writers that I know to have been successful, and who don’t pontificate but simply try to impart knowledge that accountants in practice may find helpful. I’d like to mention a couple that I think are really worth taking the time to read.

First up is a book by Phil Sayers, called ‘It’s All About The Value’. Some of you might know Phil from his time at Clear Books, and most likely will have met him at Accountex or you may know him from his work on the Council of Basda. His book is subtitled ‘Improving Sales Effectiveness for Small Businesses’, so initially you may well think it’s of no use to accountants. But you’d be wrong. Accountants in practice need clients to survive – that’s a given. They don’t appear by magic after all, and this little book will help accountants no end. Most of us are not salesmen; we studied accountancy and most likely we have a natural dislike of hyperbole and salesmen simply because of our background. The only sales techniques we learned were what we picked up at our boss’s knee, as it were, and we had drummed into us from an early age that “sales is vanity, profit is sanity”. Referrals are how we get our work – we don’t have to have a sales pitch because our client has done that for us – and most of us frankly aren’t very good at it, as a quick glance at most websites will confirm.

If only salesmen read this book that will be a shame, because this book will help everyone who deals in services as well as products, as Phil points out. It covers so much, from working out who we are trying to sell our services to, to holding that initial meeting or making that first phone call through to negotiations and handling objections. It even covers CRM systems and hiring sales people. I especially liked the chapter on writing quotes and proposals, which gives a great and logical layout to follow. I learnt a lot from it, and I think all accountants will find something in it to help. ‘It’s All About The Value’ is available from Amazon, but I have a few copies available to distribute free so if you want one just get in touch.

The next book I came across was ‘The Numbers Business’ by Della Hudson, who is a lady I have a lot of time for. She grew her practice from scratch in Bristol in 2009, selling up in 2018, using cloud-based applications at the heart of the practice. She continues to work in accountancy as a speaker, writer and consultant, and many of you will have come across her on social media. This is another great book that I thoroughly enjoyed, most likely because at its core it’s an honest and true reflection of a real small practice with real small business clients that all small practices can relate to.

The term ‘manual’ is used often in the publicity for this book, which I think does not do it justice. For me a manual is something that should be followed to the letter, and while any accountant in practice could do that if they wanted I think more will benefit by firstly having a thorough read of the book from start to finish and then thinking about how each chapter relates to their own practice, and what if any ideas they can implement. I doubt very much there will be one reader who does not find something that they can use in their own practice – it’s that good and it’s that simple.

I especially liked the chapter on becoming a trusted adviser, because it is something that the world is shouting at us to become. As Della says, “not all accountants enjoy this type of work, nor do we have the necessary skills”. However, she does point out that recognising this does not mean that we pass up the opportunity, and she explains how this can happen.

The sub-title of the book is ‘How to grow a successful cloud-based practice’, and it covers everything that you will need to think about if you are to make a success of your practice. Yes, the focus is on cloud, but in her chapter ‘Choosing your software’ there is a good list of what is available – it’s not all cloud and it’s not all Xero, either.

This is a very good book that is also available to buy from Amazon, but again I have a few copies so it’s first come, first served if you want a free copy. Please get in touch via email – tony@icpa.org.uk

If you are in practice, or if you are thinking of starting out in practice, then both these books will help you get the very best of what you do.

  • Tony Margaritelli Chair, ICPA

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