Uber, the ride-sharing company has shaken the taxi and hire car business model, forever changing the structure of the industry and the behaviour of the consumer. Airbnb and Upwork have had similar impacts on the accommodation and freelancer sectors. Each is evidence of a rapidly expanding on-demand economy.

Consumers today are becoming accustomed to push a key on their smartphone and get a ride; click a listing and book a room virtually anywhere on the planet and hire a contractor to deliver a service at a fraction of the cost of an employee.

Power in the hands of small business

Just as the consumer of taxis, accommodation and service providers benefit from the on-demand economy so too can small business owners seek and discover productivity and efficiency benefits from the push-button world. Now, rather than consult an insurance agent, you simply search online. You never go into a bank; EFT or direct debit is the order of the day. The world is turning into a self-serve society.

It would be sheer folly to expect business as usual for the bookkeeping professional with their customers.

We are not talking about an existential threat here, but there are threats nevertheless. Because compliance may compel the business owner to seek support but it is not going to leverage your services over another.

A business owner can already integrate a POS system with cloud-based accounting software; apps that act as time sheets for logging in remote workers are at hand as are automated bank reconciliations. Accounts receivable and accounts payable can both be automated. There are compelling reasons why business owners need a bookkeeper but many of these reasons are rapidly being disintermediated by the on-demand economy.

There is a very different future facing the bookkeeper than that of the past.

Learning from Uber

Uber is a technology platform relying on the under-utilisation of motor vehicles not owned by taxi networks. The power has shifted from the networks to the market and this will be the mindset of the business owner too; they are the drivers of change in accounting and bookkeeping services.

Many of needs of the SMB will be satisfied by self-directed packages and low-priced service providers. There are more than 1.5 million SMEs in Australia; yet a majority of which do not have adequate financial controls in place. The cloud accounting system cannot deliver meaningful financial information without an intelligent, technology-enabled advisor in the loop.

What does your Next Generation Firm look like?

Hone in on three questions to ask yourself:
• Who do you want to serve? (Your ideal client)
• What do you want to service? (Your special skill or specialty)
• How do you want to deliver this service? (Your business model)

Cheque our guide