Intuit Study Says Small Businesses Optimistic

By SmallBusinessComputing.com Staff | Posted August 04, 2003

Intuit Professional Accounting Solutions focuses on serving the needs of accountants and their small business clients. This business unit of Intuit recently announced the results of its second annual nationwide study, conducted in conjunction with Decipher, an independent market research firm.

According to the 2003 Voices of Small Businesses and Accountants study, accountants continue to make great strides in strengthening their relationships with small business clients and are investing more in their own practices in order to succeed and improve small business services.

The study found that the 76 percent of the accountants surveyed have made changes within their practice in order to better serve smaller businesses, with 19 percent adding new services to their list of client offerings and 17 percent investing in new technologies. Additionally, 20 percent of accountants are investing more in their own continuing education and industry knowledge. Key sources for training and information are professional accounting and industry associations — 63 percent of accountants belong to an industry association, which they feel has been beneficial in helping them keep up with industry trends and new regulations.

Dan Manack, Intuit Professional Accounting Solutions senior vice president, said the 2003 study offers great insight into the trusted relationship that America's small business owners have with and the accounting professionals who serve them.

"This study reinforces that accountants continue to play an integral role in the growth and success of their small business clients and remain trusted advisors for these businesses," Manack said.

Key Findings
According to the study, America's small business owners are continuing to express their satisfaction with the quality of service they receive from their accountants, even more so this year than in 2002. The 2003 report found that 80 percent of the small business owners are " satisfied" with their accountant's services, as compared to 68 percent in 2002.

Additional findings from the study show that accountants and small business owners both see an improving future ahead for their industries and individual businesses, despite tumultuous economic conditions. Two-thirds of both panels say they remain optimistic about their prospects for future growth and success.

Furthermore, 32 percent of small business owners express that their accountant has helped them significantly during the economic downturn. However, the study also reveals that an equal number of small businesses (34 percent) feel that their accountants have not helped them enough during this time.

In the area of services, 77 percent of small business owners expressed that they generally turn to their accountants for help with taxes, while 56 percent said they utilize accountants for basic bookkeeping services. Accountants expressed that they are expanding their services beyond basic tax and bookkeeping into areas such as payroll processing, financial statements, financial planning and investments, business consulting, and human resources.

Despite the spectrum of these additional offerings, more than 33 percent of small business owners are not aware that their accountant performs additional services. This is similar to findings from last year's study, the lack of awareness by small business owners illustrates a continued need for accountants to better market their new service offerings to their clients.

The study also addressed the day-to-day challenges facing small business owners and accountants running their own practices. Not surprisingly, both groups named many of the same challenges, including generating new clients and revenue streams, managing employees, and worrying about their individual practice or business.

Additionally, 20 percent of accountants and 13 percent of small business owners expressed that they find it a challenge to keep up with technology trends. Fifty-sever percent of accounting firms said they have high-speed broadband Internet connections, 41 percent of small businesses indicated the same. Similarly, 56 percent of accountants and 24 percent of small business owners identified accounting software as the one technology that they can't live without.

One thing both groups would like is more free time — 48 percent of accountants and 35 percent of business owners would enjoy some time off. Seventy percent of accountants feel that dealing with clients is their most time consuming job, while 35 percent of small business owners feel the same way about dealing with their customers.

Methodology
The Intuit study presents the findings of a telephone survey completed in June 3, 2003 among a national sample of 250 small business owners and 250 accounting firms. The survey was conducted for Intuit Professional Accounting Solutions by Decipher, a full-service market research firm located in Fresno, Calif.

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