Businesses remain “cautious” about investment

Good planning is vital if business owners are to give themselves the best chance of success, according to a leading chartered accountant.

Phil Bates, Principal of Cheshire and Wirral accountants Phillip Bates & Co, says that the businesses which put the best systems and processes in place are the ones most likely to succeed.

Phil says business essentials should include good financial practices such as budgeting, forecasting and regular management accounts to allow for immediate and longer-term decision making.

Having a business plan is also important although it needs to be a working document that can be easily updated rather than a lengthy tome that will gather dust in a drawer.

Other examples of good practice include the development of a sales and marketing strategy with a clear understanding of customer groups and how best to engage with them.

Phil, whose firm is based in Neston but works with clients across Cheshire, Wirral and North Wales, said: “I have been working closely with businesses for more than 30 years and there is simply no substitute for good planning.

“Developing and executing robust plans, both financial and non-financial, within a business has never been easier. Modern technology allows business owners to access real-time information at the touch of a button.

“However, the fundamentals remain the same. Forecasting, budgeting, monitoring of cash flow and access to management accounts are vital if a management team is going to be able to make informed decisions. Hope is not a business strategy.”

Phil said that many businesses remained reluctant to make investment into their companies, but that this would hopefully start to change in 2018.

He added: “While businesses are right to be cautious given all of the economic and political uncertainty of the last couple of years, they also need to ensure that they aren’t storing up trouble for the future.

“Delaying much needed investment into machinery, production line capability, technology, skills and training, and good people who can make a difference, may present serious issues at a later point.”

Phillip Bates & Co and its sister firm, Phillip Bates & Co Financial Services, are one of only a small number of Chartered Partnerships in the region.

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