Sustainability isn’t simply a buzzword

Accountant’s Clinic.

Doctors’ businesses must now build on the flexibility and adaptability to change skills they have had to work with over the past two years and continuously develop new ways of working to maintain a sustainable future, advises Julia Burn.

The world has gone through many significant changes in the past two years and businesses have had to adapt and change to enable them to continue. 

As a result of the pandemic, there is a lot of pressure being put upon businesses in all sectors of the economy. This is mainly driven by the speed at which we are all being affected by inflation, where the cost of living for every individual has and will continue to increase significantly. 

In my view, the next area for all doctors’ businesses to concentrate on is sustainability and reviewing the practical steps that management can implement to ensure everything runs satisfactory to continue for the future. 

Sustainability now means more than just the environment; it includes environmental, social and human impact of businesses.

Supporting employees

The employee market in all industries appears to be incredibly fluid and businesses in all sectors of the economy will need to keep pace with their competitors. Recruiting and retaining high-calibre staff will become ever more important. 

This will mean boosting employee support and well-being, including things like flexible working patterns, mental health support. Diversity and inclusion will be just as important as ensuring salary packages remain competitive with the market. 

Continuous review of staffing levels is required, and efficient and timely recruitment is needed to ensure the existing workforce is not overstretched. 

Sharing costs

Smaller practices may choose to collaborate with other similar-sized businesses so that they can share services, and therefore costs, and enable themselves to offer a wider range of benefits to their staff.

Training and re-training may also be key. The pandemic has taught all business that they need to be able to quickly adapt to change, whether that is keeping up with the PPE regulations, isolation rules, accessing new Govern­ment support measures or smarter working, where part of an employee’s role has been moved to working from home. 

Some roles have had to adapt and this may have created an element of retraining and change of job role for certain employees.

Succession planning, especially where people have taken stock about their life during the pandemic and decided to take their life in a different direction, may also have become a hot topic of conversation. 

Exit strategies may take a major part in a company owner’s plan. This will mean it is even more important to maintain up-to-date financial management information including cash flows and forecasts.

There have also been significant changes in taxes which need to be managed; for example, the new social levy, increase in dividend tax, future increases to National Insurance, changes to National Insurance bandings and increased corporation tax rates.

Cost of living

Inflation is rising and this will not only affect employees but clients as well. It will be important to keep up with the market regarding fees, offerings and staff costs to ensure they remain competitive.

Private practice businesses will need to innovate and find cost efficiencies, as simply passing on price increases to your patients and customers is not a sustainable business model.

Environmental factors

Types of products used may determine who your future customers will be. The world is becoming much more socially and environmentally aware and the products used and how they are sourced will inevitably affect future client bases.

Businesses need to build on the flexibility and adaptability to change which they have had to work with over the past two years and continuously develop new ways of working to maintain a sustainable business for the future. 

Julia Burn (right) is a director at Blick Rothenberg and part of the team that advises medical practitioners