In a rare excursion outside the office, our team spent two packed days of talks, presentations and freebies at the mega industry trade show ‘Accountex’.
I’m sure an accounting conference isn’t everyone’s idea of a fun day out to most business owners, it was fascinating and illuminating to us tax and accounting geeks!
We spent considerable time speaking with all the exciting technology vendors and finding out what’s new, what’s hot (and what’s not). What’s more, we detected a few key themes about the future of the business world relevant to UK small business owners.
Here are just some of the highlights:
The gig economy
The UK’s ‘gig’ economy has grown around threefold over recent years, as the landscape of the world of work changes
Many more people are taking up ‘gig’ roles such as Uber drivers, Deliveroo jobs, cleaning jobs, digital freelancers, etc. Many more are starting their own small businesses.
These new businesses are estimated to contribute over £20 billion to the UK economy.
Gig economy and the self-employed
The employment status of these groups continues to be a challenge for the law to keep up with (especially tax law…). As a result, most of those in the gig economy operate as self-employed.
The new ‘Making Tax Digital’ rules start in April 2024. Under these rules, most self-employed owners will have to submit quarterly returns, as well as an end of year digital tax return. That will burden any self-employed business owners with further admin issues to overcome.
Late payments are still bad and getting worse. Live data by Xero showed late payments are still a massive issue for small businesses. The average invoice was almost 9 days overdue (from terms due date) in January 2022.
The keynote speech by Alex von Schirmeister of Xero indicated that since January, the trend has got worse in every passing month. Previous studies have shown that technology can help small businesses increase the speed they get paid.
Gen Z business owners
The UK is seeing the first Gen Z business owners emerge, – and the world looks VERY digital to them
In his keynote presentation, Alex von Schirmeister also shared how Gen Z owners entering the business market are highly digitally enabled. As a result, they are looking for business tech and tools, especially automation, to use as a natural part of their operational set up.
New tech tools for business owners
One fascinating stat we learned was that, compared to pre-pandemic levels, tech expenditure was 20% higher in the UK. This could be due to businesses looking to improve efficiency and remote working options following a period of prolonged stability.
There is no doubt that Tech & AI (Artificial Intelligence) development is bringing amazing tools within the reach of many more business owners. The challenge is interpreting what the numbers the tech provides actually mean. As a result, business owners may well need help from advisors and accountants to understand that data. Once understood, new insights from the data can then inform future planning, forecasting, budgeting and marketing strategies, rather than just calculating tax due or profits made.
Mental health for business owners
Mental Health has been a major struggle for many business owners during the past two years
It can be really challenging being a business owner in the 2020s. One talk given by Xero shared a survey showing:
- 90% of business owners experienced symptoms of poor mental health during the past two years.
- 53% of owners who invested in support saw an increase in productivity.
As a result, Xero created a short ‘toolkit’ for business owners.
Accountex 2022 Summary
Based on the key messages delivered at the conference, technology is moving fast. It is now a required feature of an efficient business, especially from a finance point of view.
With the ‘Making Tax Digital changes due in 2024, tech will become even more important for those smaller businesses. (More coverage from us to follow on this subject, never fear!)
Our tech savvy team are here to help
If you don’t have a tech-savvy accountant, or feel you aren’t making the most of accounting tech generally, we can help. We offer a paid 1-2-1 consultation so we can look over your business and assess tech options with you.