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www.networkshe.com23A good accountant should not shy away from difficult conclusions, or fail to describe the impact decisions may or may not have on you or your family. We live in an area where many businesses are family owned and planning succession or thinking of the family as a whole is vital. As I have said, the decisions we make in business will often have a knock-on effect in our private lives and we need to understand the link between the two. I feel too many professionals, accountants among them, make grand promises of offering the best advice, but then fail to look beyond the numbers. How do you know if that might be the case with you? Do what I do. Listen. Take time to consider. Does your accountant understand your situation? Not just on a business footing, but on a personal level too. If not, how can they give you the best advice?So, what do women bring to accountancy? I like to think I bring more to the profession because I am a woman, Or something different, at least. I can deal with family issues and have greater empathy with peoples situations. I know the pressures of cleaning the house, washing, taking the kids to nursery while at the same time dealing with a £10 million company sale. In many ways, my life mimics those of my clients. Here, perhaps, female accountants bring a greater depth to the profession. I feel I do, and I am sure my female colleagues do the same. I am proud of it.any other way! I have stepchildren from my husband's first marriage. These experiences have made me wiser. I understand family issues and the impact of divorce. I understand there can be great emotion behind business decisions as well as those that deeply affect our personal lives. Often, such decisions are inextricably linked.For me then, accountancy is not just about the numbers. It never has been. It's about making the best decisions to enable people to live the life they want. Writing that makes me cringe a little! I'll stick with it though, because it is true. It's about helping people achieve their aims and goals. The official way to describe accountancy is that it's all about reducing tax liabilities and maintaining the never-ending stream of compliance. Preparing VAT returns, payroll, tax returns, and managing inheritance tax, capital gains tax, getting accounts prepared and filed on time, saving money.the list goes on. Of course it is about this, but to me this goes without saying; it is work expected of any accountant. A good accountant, however, is much more than this.A good accountant needs to understand you and have an eye on the longer-term strategy. A good accountant gently asks the difficult questions that need to be asked, and seeks to find the motive. What drives you? Giving good advice is one thing, but on what is it based? Understanding why you do what you do is most important, as often there is a simpler or better way to get there. I know the pressures of cleaning the house, washing, taking the kids to nursery while at the same time dealing with a £10 million company sale.

24When you think of business growth, most people immediately focus on growth through the acquisition of new customers. This is a good way of growing any business and every business needs to focus on how to continuously gain new customers. But imagine if in addition to consistently getting new customers, you never lost a customer. Imagine if your old clients were still current. I know that sounds like a tall order so let's be more realistic and imagine that you were able to increase your customer retention by 10%, 20% or even 50%. What would your business look like then? What if you managed to get half your old customers to make a new purchase? When you work to keep your current customers, you begin to get the true value of each customer that you've worked so hard to attract. Most professionals act like the banks and financial institutions we so love to hate at the moment. We offer our new customers better deals than our existing customers. The banks can afford to do this because they have a huge customer base and the barriers to switching banks can be quite prohibitive. Their customers (myself included) know they can get better service elsewhere but cannot be bothered to go through the hassle of switching. Unfortunately, the cost of switching most professional service providers is not as prohibitive. So failing to take care of your current customers can be fatal. Let's take one of my customers, who we will call Lisa. Lisa dumped her current coach and switched to me within a week of making up her mind. It was so easy and quick. Although I was happy with her decision and impressed by her decisive action, it also made me realise how quickly customers could move on if we didn't continuously deliver value and exceed their expectations. Lisa was unhappy with her current coach because, he didn't seem as keen as when she first started working with him. He didn't return her calls quickly enough and she felt that she initiated most of their communication. That sounds extreme but that may just have been her perception of the situation. So, if you are really serious about growing your service business, then: 1. You need to work hard to keep your current customers happy by acting with speed and meeting them at their point of need.2. You need to reactivate old clients by getting back in touch and offering them something truly irresistible. The goal is to be fully engaged with your customers, communicate regularly with them, seek them out and be their partners. Make sure they get the results they signed up for. Be transparent and authentic so that they build enough trust to bring you more business and referrals. This is how you can leverage your time and to grow your business in a cost effective way.Griselda Kumordzie Togobo is a business growth consultant, coach, speaker and writer who is dedicated to helping professional business owners increase their profitability, cash flow and productivity. You can find her at Go for GROWTHBusiness consultant Griselda Kumordzie Togobo tells how to make the most of your existing clients to boost your businessFailing to take care of your current customers can be fatal.