According to Renier Nell, a master tax practitioner and director of accounting and tax firm Innovative Accounting Solutions, this is possible through business process outsourcing.

He regularly assists clients to do just that with a dynamic hands-on approach when it comes to consulting with small and medium sized businesses. The company’s proactive attitude has saved several of its clients from Business Rescue and potential liquidation, and simultaneously grown others exponentially.

“We aggressively interrogate every single supplier on behalf of a client company. We jealously guard our customers’ working capital by making sure they are paying a competitive price for their stock and receivables,” says Nell.

He adds that anyone can do the same thing for themselves – but many smaller companies are typically too stretched in resources to keep abreast of all their costs. Innovative Accounting Solutions provides a full-service outsourced finance and administration function, which enables Nell and his team to get up close and personal with all their clients’ business expenses and suppliers. It brings a level of professionalism to this practise usually reserved for larger companies.

“By keeping close to our clients and a hawk eye on their expenditures, we have not only saved some from bankruptcy but more importantly have taken small companies to large, multi-million rand firms by partnering with them,” explains Nell. The secret is full outsourcing of the finance and administrative function of the company – “by which means we track every expense going through the business’ bank statement, which in turn enables us to monitor and control them,” continues Nell.

Few smaller companies can afford to have tax and accounting specialists attend to their costs, and Nell says hands-on small business owners usually single-handedly try to cover all the bases. “We have the discipline of getting five competitive quotes for every purchase, as well as extensive expertise in negotiating with a lengthening list of local, regional and international suppliers.

“Our extensive list of procurement contacts allows us to add value which few of our clients and competitors can match. Because business owners are so busy, sometimes corners are cut; cost negotiations get pushed out and even neglected, and as a result a business’ cost of sales can become uncompetitive,” says Nell.

The same discipline is applied to every consumable and business service. Each supplier is required to re-tender for the business each year, and alternative bids are religiously obtained on behalf of clients.

“If suppliers feel your business is guaranteed, they will automatically increase their rates 10% a year. In this manner inefficiency creeps in and creditor clerks will simply pay an invoice without question. In fact, this inefficiency is most likely to creep in when a business is doing particularly well.

“We have seen instances where an entrepreneur wins a tender of such a large size that the business is typically not adequately resourced to control what is a new and higher level of expenses. The company’s overheads often soar, without setting off alarm bells because management believes it is earning a high enough income to cover it. Companies sometimes end up spending more than the contract revenue in this manner, with bankruptcy being the end result,” Nell adds.

His personal expertise lies in taxation, as this is often where such problems arise. “Because a business’ tax only has to be paid every six months, SARS is often the last debtor to be paid, and in no time a company can be six months in arrears – a position from which it is seldom possible to recover,” he says.

“Our motto is, ‘If you have a problem with SARS, come to us’ so that we can help you to resolve it in the best possible manner. The biggest advantage of outsourcing is that we bring best practice cost management techniques across the organisation.”