Amid the difficulties of 2020 there have been some bright spots that bookkeepers can learn from and take with them into 2021. So, we are eschewing the bad year to focus on the good stuff from the opportunities of agile working, to the value of bookkeepers.
5 highlights of positivity
Value of bookkeepers
When the first lockdown happened in New Zealand in late March, who did most business owners turn to for assistance - on what to do, how to navigate the wage subsidy, how to manage their expenditure etc? That’s right, bookkeepers.
It has been our year to shine and to show the value we provide to the Small to Medium Enterprise sector and we stepped up to the mark.
Our members reported a variety of changes they made in the way they approach their bookkeeping over this period, many of which highlighted the value they brought to their clients. Some examples included:
- Taking the opportunity to move clients, who had previously resisted, onto cloud-based programs
- Allowing the time to carefully analyse a client’s expenditure and streamline costs to improve their bottom line and keep them solvent
- Being appreciated for their business advisory skills and opinions on improvements, instead of being seen purely as a data entry clerk
Communications became honest
Transparency become the key word for all businesses – whether it be the bookkeepers own business or their clients.
As the nation moved into lockdown in March, amid growing uncertainty and heightened levels of stress, we saw increased internal communication from business owners, and often CEOs disseminating information company-wide. Videos of CEOs in their gardens and CFOs at their kitchen tables helped soften the message and gave executives a human side.
The often-daily communications, or check ins, with employees bridged the gap between the leadership team and the rest of the business. The level of reassurance to employees saw many businesses thrive and redevelop their offerings.
A spirit of collaboration
In what will now forever be known as “unprecedented times”, we saw a spirit of collaboration between the nation that was like no other.
Individuals stepped up to help neighbours and elderly relatives with basic functions like supermarket shopping, and supermarkets turned into the politest place in the world as people practiced social distancing.
For our members, we held weekly support meetings which saw members seeking support and guidance from other members across the national network. The offers of assistance between the community were free flowing and frequent. Members worked together to navigate each individual scenario against the wage subsidy criteria. It reinforced the term community over competition.
How innovation thrived
If you had asked at the start of the pandemic whether it would be the year for innovation many would have firmly said no. After all, tightening of budgets and overall insecurity doesn’t seem like the right environment for trying out new ideas.
But, in fact, this hasn’t been the case. A combination of accelerating trends, shifting consumer behaviour and increased focus on customers has seen innovation come to the fore. We saw many businesses who were traditional shop fronts (i.e. coffee carts) go online. Many small businesses moved to website platforms with e-commerce to get their products out to the general public.
Traditionally bookkeeping has always been a remote role working for clients from your office or home office. The shift to not only work remotely for clients (the norm), but also work remotely from their colleagues was a new adjustment for many in the profession.
The promise of agile working
The Covid pandemic has made agility imperative. No longer can businesses wait months to launch a new service that might help customers now. If they do, they may find rivals have got there first.
To facilitate that need for efficiency, many businesses recognised that their employers can productively, and successfully work from home, and not necessarily within the hours of 9-5. More flexibility to employees means increased productivity. Allowing employees to work from the comfort of their own homes saw many reflect on the need, or not, for physical offices.
Agility brought with it opportunities for a better work/life balance, and reflection on what overheads could be removed from a business.
These 5 examples of positivity are what lead us into 2021 – a new year for businesses to flourish, and for bookkeepers to continue to increase their professional standing.
We look forward to seeing our members and their clients continue to thrive in 2021 amid the new normal of business.
On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Institute of Certified NZ Bookkeepers, we send Seasons Greetings to you all, and wishes for a safe holiday period.
Our virtual offices will be closed from 3pm on Wednesday, 23 December with the team returning on 11 January to assist you with any queries.