Free business advice session from ICAEW firm for SMEs

Every year in the UK approximately 400,000 new business start trading. However ONS statistics reveal that approximately 40% of start-ups cease trading within three years, and 60% cease trading within five years.

Some churn in the business population is desirable; we need established businesses to be challenged by new players.  But the UK churn of start-up businesses is too great and represents a waste of resources. Evidence suggests that many start-ups lack awareness of the financial and regulatory demands on new businesses, and relatively few seek the advice of a qualified accountant to address the gap in their knowledge, until confronted by a problem which is beyond their competence. That is why the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) decided to set up the Business Advice Service (BAS), to offer start-up and early stage businesses a free advice session with an ICAEW firm. 

What is available through BAS?

Research amongst BAS firms revealed that the following were the most discussed issues in the advice sessions:

  • General start-up issues

  • Taxation compliance and planning

  • The right business structure – sole trader, partnership or limited company

  • Business financing and  grants

  • Business plans and financial forecasting

  • Legal and taxation compliance issues.

Is BAS only for start-ups?

BAS firms cover the full spectrum of ICAEW UK practices so businesses of all sizes and growth trajectories can find advice.

As businesses grow their systems and internal controls need to change accordingly. Having an appropriate advisor will smooth the transition by providing advice on accounting systems offering more accurate and speedy information on business performance through to issues such as deciding the most appropriate financing for the business.

Accessing finance, controlling cashflow and managing working capital are all issues which growth businesses have to grapple with. Many BAS firms have experience of raising finance across the spectrum – from Start-up Loans to raising equity finance. As the business’ financing becomes more complex and the number of finance providers increases so the need for more sophisticated and reliable systems increases. Many BAS firms can provide the range of confidence building services from assurance through to full audit.

Also many BAS firms provide other services such as payroll, employment and Human Resources. And, as a complement to the assurance and audit services, fraud prevention becomes equally important as the complexity of the business increases.  This assurance can include computer security.     

How does BAS work?

Businesses are encouraged to search on the Find a Chartered Accountant section on the BAS website for a list of ICAEW firms in their area to get in touch and arrange a meeting depending on the services they require, telling the firm the nature of their specific enquiry so that the firm has the relevant adviser present at the meeting. After the meeting there is no obligation for the business to continue the relationship, but experience suggests many are sufficiently impressed to do so.

Next steps

If you want a free advice session with a BAS firm go to:

Clive Lewis

Guest author: Clive Lewis

Clive Lewis FCA is Head of Enterprise at ICAEW. After qualifying in public practice, Clive spent twenty years in financial controller/director roles in various sized businesses mainly in the electronics sector. He now also runs a small chartered accountancy practice advising clients in micro businesses on accounting, tax compliance and planning, financing, and general business issues.