The Voice of Australian Business survey, undertaken by Bentleys, shows SMEs are missing out by not taking advantage of this expert advice.
The survey revealed a number of alarming statistics such as less than half of all surveyed businesses used an accountant or financial adviser to review their banking relationship in the last year.
Ross Prosper, director of taxation and business services at Bentleys Western Australia, said SME owners who don’t seek the services of an adviser could be doing their business a disservice.
"With approximately two million SMEs operating in Australia, these businesses form a significant part of the Australian economy," he said.
"While experts in their own field, many SME owners are failing to maximise opportunities by engaging professional external accountants and financial advisers, who are experts in business and financial advice," Mr Prosper added.
When asked who they turned to for advice and insight in running their business; friends, family and online media were the most common sources for small business owners. The strongest influence on business decision making was financial data from their own business (37 per cent) beating out accountants with just 30 per cent.
When examining the number of SMEs who use the services of an external consultant, the size of the business was seen to have a direct correlation. The survey showed 29 per cent of small businesses and 38 per cent of medium-size businesses reported using external consultants and advisers, compared to 18 per cent of micro businesses.
Mr Prosper said regardless of business size, SME owners should feel comfortable in seeking the insights of an external adviser.
"Ultimately, the goal of a business or financial adviser is to help clients achieve their goals. That may mean simply creating a budget to manage cash flow or developing an entire business strategy and then holding them accountable against this plan," he said.
"Business advice and financial planning isn’t about pushing your client to purchase a product, it’s about advising and assisting them to reach their goals. A good adviser will provide strategic advice from a whole-of-wealth perspective, so that owners are free to focus on other aspects of the business that will ultimately help the business to grow.
"Ask friends and family for a recommendation or do your own research to find someone who you think will be a good fit for you and your business. And remember, a good external consultant will have a genuine interest in the success of your future; won’t push unnecessary products; and will be with you for the long term," said Mr Prosper.
Moral hazards in member bodies
By Chris Hooper, Accodex
Process standardisation trumps automation
By Mark Sands, BOARD Australia
Tips for mergers and acquisitions of accounting fees
By Jamie Davison, Carbon Group