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One of the funny things about life is that you're never standing still even if you think you are all that's happening to you is that the river of veterinary business is flowing right past you. If you don't keep telling yourself to move forward you're actually going back.

We are still proud independent vets but despite not being part of a huge vertically integrated corporate group economies of scale make a difference; even for us they have an impact on the kind of service we can provide our clients and the quality of working life we can arrange for our loyal staff members along with the financial performance that depends upon both of these things. So in veterinary life we all have to ask ourselves where we are going to get some growth.

There is a control-freak in all of us vets, including me, because the buck always stops with us. But if you're bogged down trying to control the nitty gritty of a veterinary practice it can be really hard to raise your gaze to the horizon. Lots of businesses, especially small businesses, spend a lot of time counting the pennies thinking that makes sense and it does help keep costs down. And yet because they are spending their time counting the pennies they then sometimes fail to see the bigger picture and make the pounds. The truth is that you need a clear overall picture of both the short term and the long term but you don't want to get bogged down for too long generating it.

We have just taken over a business in Peterborough because we do have an eye on that bigger picture for the future.In order to be able to do it though we need to secure bank funding. Banks need to know that someone's counting the pennies, even if you're not and they ask financial questions that need sensible answers if they are going to open their purse for you. To undertake an acquisition like that they need to see that we've got a good handle on our own business and looking ahead at what our new expanded venture might look like going forward forecasting and budgeting are vital. That keeps the bank happy and it means that I have fewer concerns about cash flow.

The truth is though that in order to get the backing of the bank for my recent acquisition I couldn't really have done it without the support of our accountants and the management reports we get on a regular basis. I don't have to count the pennies because the web-enabled accounting software we use means that not even my book keeper has to do it; it's largely automated. And the management reports I get also mean that both my accountants and I know what we can commit to because I'm getting these reports all the time not just at acquisition time. So the upshot of that is that instead of being bogged down counting the pennies I'm free to go places.

And because I'm free to go places and look at other opportunities that means I'm not tied to just looking at acquisitions; we just opened a new start up in Corby which also depends for its success on us knowing what we can commit to. And having that grasp of my businesses means I am also free to look at other growth opportunities, which could be shared equity, or developing new services for clients or business partners for example.

So if you are out there and like me, you're looking to grow you may be looking for the kind of support that I had, and needed. If you're in that boat too and you need some help feel free to contact me at nick.park@oundlevets.co.uk and I'll put you in touch with the people who helped me. Without accurate real-time accounting information showing us where we were at we simply couldn't have done what we have done.