Yearly Archive 2020

Be sure to give your accountants plenty of time before HMRC deadlines

If you own your own business then you will need to submit certain information to HMRC at relevant times. If you are self employed then the self-assessment deadline is looming for January and you need to ensure that your accountants have everything, they need to complete it and submit it on time.

Depending on what information you give them, they may need a good few months to sort out all the information in order to submit your return. Some people just hadn’t heir accountants a box of receipts and bank statements, others will put it all on a spreadsheet and basically do a lot of the hard work. Often the accountants will charge a different fee depending on how much work they have to do. The advantages of using an accountant is that they may be able to spot error you have made and will also be able to advise you on ways in which you can possibly recue your tax bill. It is important to find an accountant you can trust and that is experienced in dealing with returns. Ideally, you should use someone that has been recommended to you or that you know has a great reputation in the industry.

Successfully promoting your independent accountancy business

Trying to promote any small business is a task that needs careful planning as it is important to get good value for money and obtain the best results possible within your budget.

One of the first considerations when promoting your business is which sort of web presence you are going to have, an essential for any twenty-first century business, either in the form of a website or a page on one of the social media platforms. Online is usually the first place potential customers will look for your accountancy business.

If you decide creating a website to promote your business is the most cost effective option you could either use one of the free applications that enable you to use a template to design and create your own website or you can employ the services of a web designer. The latter will probably give you a more professional looking site and can be developed to contain key words that will improve the ranking of your site on search engines. Many web designers will be able to advice you on search engine optimisation a valuable way of bringing clients to your site.

Promoting your accountancy business through social media is a lot cheaper and much simpler. It can be set up within a couple of hours and can be used to attract potential clients.

Record keeping for the sole trader

If you are self employed as a sole trader you will need to fill in an annual tax return each year and submit it to HMRC showing any earnings you have received and any expenditure that you can claim for. By law you need to keep these records for five years from the latest date of sending back your tax return.

Many small businesses use cash basis accounting and record income and expenses when they receive money or pay a bill. It is the most straightforward way to record transactions. It is important to keep proof of income and expenses even though you do not need to send these to HMRC when completing a tax return.

The important records that should be kept are evidence of all sales and income, all business expenses and records of any personal income such as pensions and other employment. If you use a vehicle for your work, receipts for fuel and other vehicle expenses should be kept as this will be part of your expenses. It is a good idea to keep a record of the mileage of the vehicle as sometimes it is better to claim mileage costs rather than the actual costs of fuel etc.

Why it is important to practice good record keeping

When it comes to running your own business, you need to ensure that you are keeping the correct documents and evidences and that it is being kept as securely as it is needed to be.

When it comes to accounting you should keep your documents for at least 5 years and be sure to keep comprehensive records that are easy to find should you need to. If HMRC ask you to show receipts for expenditures you have claimed for your business you need to be able to show them these quickly and if you cannot then you may find yourself having to pay money back and also having a fine.

Its not only for HMRC’s benefit that you should keep records. At times in your business you may need to refer to a similar case you had or to look up details for a previous client. It may be that you want to get in touch with clients that had made purchases off you before and so you need a place to store their details securely. Since GDPR came into force, you need to be able to prove that you have consent off everyone, that you can contact them in the future. If your database is quite old then you will need to update the information to ensure you are still ok to contact them in the future.

Business Applications that can help you in your work

When it comes to computers and mobile devices apps are essential. All smart phones allow you to download apps from some sort of store whether it be the apple store, Android or Google Play. Many of these applications are designed for business use.

There are so many great and useful business applications available today that it can be easy to become a little confused about which one to go for and how to use it to its full potential. If you look at the App store on your PC, Laptop or mobile device will notice each app has a star rating and reviews. It is always recommendable that you look at these before installing any new app and also make sure that you have valid anti-virus software installed prior to downloading any new software.

If you run a business you might want to recommend an app you use to your clients. This can build up a relationship with the client and show that you want to try and assist them in making the day to day running of the company as easy as possible. Some apps may be useful for accounting whereas others may make marketing a doodle. Some apps are free to use others will require either a one-off purchase or a subscription fee to be paid.

Unfortunately, there are some rogue apps out there that may not be secure or are built intended to steal your data. Not all anti-virus software will pick these up so it is vital you only install and recommend apps that you are confident are genuine and made by a reputable company.

What is the role of a Bookkeeper?

If you are considering going in to bookkeeping then you need to fully understand what is going to be expected of you and what your main day to day job is. Bookkeeping is a method of recording financial transactions that are used by a business on a day to day basis. These transactions can include purchases, receipts, sales and payments that are made by a certain individual or an association. It is very important that this is done with the upmost care and attention as a simple mistake such as missing off a zero, could get the business in a lot of trouble. Often a bookkeeper liaises with an accountant or an accounts department who will usually collate all the information into the relevant accounting systems or spreadsheets.

Some bookkeepers still prefer to use pen and paper for all their workings out and record keeping whereas others will use computer system such as Sage or Xero. Lots of companies are moving towards electronic record keeping as there are many advantages such as less likely to make a mistake, multiple copies can be made instantly, data can be accessed remotely and handwriting does not cause issues when someone else needs to read the information.

Can an IT course help you be better at your job?

More and more of us are having to work from home at present and IT is having to come in to play a lot more than we may be used to. It may be the first time you have had to work from home and you might have to do many of your usual tasks online or by using a computer. Lots of people have basic IT skills, especially the younger generation that have been taught it at school, but did you know that IT can really help you further your career and be better at your job.

If you find that tasks on the computer are taking too long then you may consider investing in an IT course. Some employers will happily pay for their employees to go on an IT course if they think it will be beneficial and that it will improve work productivity but even if they don’t you may still wish to attend one for your own reasons. Prices vary drastically depending on what you want to learn, but for a simply online course you may only have to fork out £30-£50.

Many colleges offer evening IT course for students of all ages to give you an overview of what you can do on a computer or on the internet.

Building a brand-where do I start?

For many people making the decision to start up their own business whether it is going to be a sizeable company employing staff or a small home-based business is an exciting but anxious time. One of the first things you will need to decide on is a company brand name and how you are going to create and promote your brand.

Initially you will need to come up with your brand name. Give some thought to your business services and whether the name reflects what exactly your business is and what services and products you supply. Once you have come up with a memorable name, you need to double check that no one else has that name because if there is, they may have a copyright on that brand name and you could find yourself in breach of copyright and facing a legal challenge.

Next you will need to come to a decision about your brand logo. You can employ a graphics designer to create a logo for you, but the majority of people will be able to create a design themselves using the internet to give you a few initial ideas if you are struggling.

To promote your brand successfully, use your logo and brand name on all communication, advertising and marketing materials.

Do you need to use an accountant to do your tax return?

When you are self employed one of the main headaches for many people is completing your online tax return. It can be very confusing especially if it is the first time that you have had to do this. You make ask yourself whether you need to employ an accountant to file the return or whether you can save yourself the accountant’s fees and submit it yourself. The answer to this is not straightforward and is dependant upon a number of points.

Firstly, how complex are your accounts for instance are you VAT registered, do you employ staff, are you self employed but also employed and use the PAYE system or do you work from your home address. If the answer to these questions are yes, then using the services of an accountant will probably be advisable certainly if you are not a confident bookkeeper and are not fully conversant with current tax regulations.

If you are a sole trader with a small turnover it may be that using an accountant would not be financially prudent. There is lots of helpful advice online to help you to complete a tax return independently and the tax office will be able to give you further guidance if required.

Promoting your business on a budget

In this increasingly competitive marketplace for any business it is important to promote your business as effectively as you can within the limits of your advertising budget, but what is the most efficient way of doing this?

The most important aspect is to get your brand recognised by your target audience. Social media advertising is an effective way to do this as it is straightforward to set up and maintain a social media business page. Advertising videos can be easily uploaded to show product usage and range whilst customer review videos can be used to convey positive comments from previous clients.

You may decide that it would benefit your business to have a website alongside your other advertising. There are many build your own website programs available online with step by step instructions meaning that even if you are not an expert in this field you can still build a simple website for a fraction of the price of a custom-built site.

Although online advertising is probably the most effective form of advertising, if your potential client base is very local it may be worth doing a leaflet drop especially if your leaflet then directs people to your online sites.