Accounting for Solicitors
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Being a solicitor or lawyer in public practice is a challenging career. Apart from keeping abreast of changes in the law you need to deal with technical matters including highly complex structures involving inter-related personal, business, corporate, family trust, superannuation and testamentary trusts assets. On top of that we recognise you could also be dealing with distressed clients who are subject to disputes, mediation, litigation and family law issues. We understand your business and often deal with the clients who are financially distressed.
We are not your typical suburban accounting firm who are buried in GST and tax compliance work. We believe our legal clients want to grow their business and their wealth using tax effective strategies including negative gearing and self managed superannuation. One of our biggest points of difference is our marketing expertise and we can help you with your branding (business name, logo and slogan) and offer you advice regarding your website design and content.
THINKING OF STARTING A LEGAL FIRM
Solicitors are one of our specialist client groups and having mentored hundreds of business owners through the start-up phase of their business we have built a reputation as business start-up specialists.
If you are looking to start a business as a solicitor or buy into an existing legal firm, there are numerous issues to consider. You need to establish your business structure, complete tax and GST registrations, consider insurances, select an accounting software program and possibly explore your finance options. It can be a maze of issues but as accountants and business advisors we can assist you in all of these areas plus provide advice on the preparation of a business plan, marketing plan and a cash flow budget. If you are contemplating employing staff we can also assist you with human resource matters including payroll, WorkCover and superannuation guarantee obligations.
Over the past two decades our team of accountants have helped dozens of solicitors get their business off to a flying start. We offer you experience, technical tax knowledge, marketing expertise and most importantly, an intimate understanding of the legal industry.
Starting a business is a bit like building a house that requires solid foundations. In a business sense these foundations include the right tax structure and accounting software, adequate and appropriate insurances together with a marketing plan and a lead generation website. Your choice of business structure is absolutely critical and there are a number of different options including sole trader, partnership, company and trust. When selecting the most appropriate structure for your business we always recommend you ‘start with the end in mind’ because Australian tax laws are complex and changing your business structure at some point in the future can trigger a capital gains tax event that could prove very costly.
Whenever we provide advice on business structures we always take into account:
- Income Tax Minimisation
- Maximize Asset Protection
- Allow for the Admission of New Business Partners or Investors
- Comply with all Legal Requirements in your Industry
- The Risk Profile of Your Industry
- Consider Future Entitlement to Discount Capital Gains Tax Concessions
As a consequence, we often find the business structure is a compromise based on the relative importance of each of these issues.
Another brick in your business foundations is your choice of accounting software. Poor record keeping is one of the biggest causes of business failure in this country and up to date, accurate financial records let you to make informed business decisions. The wrong choice of software can be catastrophic and too often we find business owners produce what we describe as ‘computerised shoebox’ records that cause frustration, waste time and create additional fees. This conflicts with our mission of helping you slash the time and cost associated with bookkeeping and GST compliance.
Here at Linda McGowan Accountants, we want to be your accountants and business advisors, not just an expensive bookkeeping service. We do more than ‘keep the score’ for our clients and when selecting the most appropriate accounting software for your business we always recommend you match your business needs with your level of accounting skill. You’ll find we support a range of different software options but we do have a preference for cloud based solutions like Xero because of their flexibility and the fact that you can access your financial data via the internet and invite your accountant or bookkeeper to view your accounts at the same time. This means you can get bookkeeping support and valuable advice in real-time. You can also log-in anytime, anywhere on your Mac, PC, tablet or smart phone to get a real-time view of your cash flow. Your data is automatically backed up and users have access to the latest version of your financial data plus you never need to worry about installing software or program updates.
To build a house you also need the right tools and when 'constructing' your business we have developed a number of tools including a start-up
expense checklist broken
down into various categories including:
- tools and equipment
- professional advice and software
- information technology costs – software and hardware
- marketing and signage
- vehicle and trailer costs
This checklist will help you identify all your potential establishment costs and these figures then feed through to our cash flow budget template and allow us to produce a projected profit and loss statement for your first year of trading. These reports can also tuck neatly into our business plan template that is designed to help you secure funding from external sources like a bank. Another useful tool is our business start-up checklist that walks you through key business registrations you might require, insurance options, legal issues, branding and domain name registrations for your website.
For a solicitor, your vehicle is arguably your most important business tool. To learn more about the alternative methods of claiming your vehicle expenses and the distinction between a business and private trip, you can read our Motor Vehicle Tax Guide. In addition, through our affiliate partners we can also assist with vehicle finance (chattel mortgage, CHP or lease) and get you fleet pricing on your new car, ute or light commercial van that could save you thousands of dollars. Through another affiliate group we can also help you source funds to finance your business purchase, equipment or where applicable, your franchise fee.
In summary, if you're contemplating starting a business you don't need to reinvent the wheel as we have all the tools and resources to help you get off to a flying start. In fact, that’s just the beginning because as accountants we can do some financial modelling and prepare some ‘what if’ calculations based on different price points so you know your business’ best and worst case profit scenarios. Next, using industry benchmarks we can compare the performance of your business against your competitors so you understand what is working in the business and what areas need working on.
MARKETING YOUR LEGAL FIRM
As accountants we operate in a very crowded and competitive industry. We recognise the fact that your marketing could be the difference between gloom and boom and while we have a small firm personality, we have big firm capabilities. One feature that distinguishes us from other Melbourne accounting firms is our marketing expertise.
Most solicitors rely on their reputation and referrals to grow their business. While these ingredients certainly remain important in the digital age, you need to shift your marketing focus online. Increasingly local searches like ‘solicitor Brunswick’ are driving traffic to your website which is often the first touch point with a potential new customer. As you know, in business, you only get one chance to make a good first impression and your website is your 'online shopfront' and silent sales person working 24/7 to promote your business.
Over the past few years we have worked with dozens of clients to help them create quality, affordable lead generation websites that are responsive to smart phones and tablets. We can help you plan and build your website, optimise it for Google and the other search engines plus assist you with your content creation including video production and digital publishing. If your website is missing features like lead magnets, calls to action or landing pages we'll help you build them plus we'll also introduce you to strategies like re-marketing and search engine optimization to drive more traffic to your website.
Your brand should resonate with your target market and we can assist you with the development of your business name, logo and slogan, your
corporate brochure plus we can help you write blogs and newsletters plus help you harness the power of social media to win more referrals.
If you aren’t using some of these marketing techniques your business probably won't reach its full profit potential.
We will help you understand the four ways to grow a business plus identify the key profit drivers in your business. We can walk you through a number of profit improvement strategies and even quantify the profit improvement potential in your business. Our role is to make sure you know your numbers and don't leave any profit or tax savings on the table.
That’s really just the beginning because as accountants we can do some financial modelling and prepare some ‘what if’ calculations. This lets us project your business’ best and worst case profit scenarios. Next, using industry benchmarks we can compare the performance of your legal firm against your competitors so you understand what is working in the business and what needs working on.
The legal industry is challenging but can be very rewarding. All business owners need to budget, plan, and monitor their business' performance. We know the pitfalls of legal firms and look forward to working with you to build your business and grow your wealth. Our unique Business Accelerator Process is all about fast tracking your business success and the team at Linda McGowan Pty Ltd offer you a range of accounting, taxation, marketing and business coaching services including:
- Start-Up Business Advice for Solicitors
- Advice regarding the Purchase or Sale of your Business
- Tools including the Start-Up Expense Checklist and Templates for a Business Plan, Cash Flow Budget, Letterhead and Business Card
- Advice and Assistance with the Establishment of Your Business Structure - Company, Trust, Partnership
- Tax Registrations including ABN, TFN, GST, WorkCover etc.
- Preparation of Business Plans, Cash Flow Budgets and Profit Projections
- Accounting Software Selection and Training – Bookkeeping, Invoicing, Quotes & Payroll
- Preparation and Analysis of Financial Statements
- Preparation of Finance Applications - Loans to Buy a Business, Expand, Franchise Fees
- Bookkeeping and Payroll Services - MYOB, Cashflow Manager, Xero, Reckon & Others
- Tax Planning Strategies
- Assistance with your Marketing including your Branding, Corporate Brochure etc.
- Advice and Assistance with your Website Development, Content, Videos, Blog Posts and SEO
- Wealth Creation Strategies and Financial Planning Services including Transition to Retirement & SMSF's
- Industry Benchmarking and Management of Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)
- Vehicle & Equipment Finance (Chattel Mortgage & Lease)
- Monitoring and Controlling Labour and Sub-Contractor Costs
- Advice & Assistance with Pricing your Services and Claiming Motor Vehicle Expenses
- Recession Survival Strategies
- Advice regarding Employee Relations and Workplace Laws
- Business & Risk Insurances (Income Protection, Life Insurance etc.)
- Business Succession Planning
In summary, we are so much more than just tax accountants. We are business and profit builders who strive to deliver practical, cost effective advice that could give you a serious competitive edge in your industry. Our marketing strategies are designed to help you grow your business and your profits and over the past 15 years solicitors have become a niche area within our firm.
Our marketing skills distinguish us from other accounting firms in Melbourne and if you're a committed and ambitious business owner looking to accelerate your success we invite you to book a FREE, one hour introductory consultation to discuss your business needs. You can expect an hour of practical business, tax, marketing and financial advice that could have a profound effect on your future business profits. To book a time, contact us today and let's get to work on your business so it's more profitable, valuable and saleable.
Linda McGowan Pty Ltd - Strategies & Solutions for Business Owners