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Facebook marketing for all types of businesses

Many companies are now using social media to marketing sites such as Facebook and Twitter for their business. There is a number of popular social media sites that you can use and some will work better than others for you, depending on how much time you have to update them and what you are trying to sell. Facebook is often the first one that businesses use as it is fairly easy to set up and you can quickly build up a decent following on there.

You need to make sure that you set up the right sort of profile on Facebook as this can restrict what you can do. If you want a profile which can also have discussions on and other members share ideas etc then you may want to set up a group page. If you want a page that only you can add content to and people can like then you may need to set up a page instead. You will need to have at least one private profile that is linked to the page and can be admin.

If you have a business that deals direct with the public then social media is especially important as you can connect with individual users on a personal basis. For example if you own a dog grooming business, then Facebook can work well as you ca join local groups and ask people to follow you. Although business to business companies may find social media a little harder, social media profiles can help establish and build a brand.

The beauty of social media, is that much of it is free, it just takes time which some businesses simply do not have.

Don’t get complacent with your record keeping

This year has been a very strange one for many businesses and has financially hit a lot of people hard. The government has been giving out loans, grants and tax reliefs to many who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Many self employed people, who qualified, were given a number of grants based on their previous earnings to live off. These grants where to top up the wages of those that have been out of work or who have suffered a loss in revenue due to the lockdowns and therefore being unable to work as much as they normally would.

It is important that anyone who is self employed ensures that they keep all of their financial records up to date and holds on to any evidence they may require at a later date.  IT may be that HMRC start to carry out audits and spot checks on self employed people to find out if they have claimed what they should of and if they owe any extra in tax. With the country in a bit of a financial crisis, they are likely to want to reap back in as much money as they can.

Tax deadline is looming

For those of you that haven’t already submitted your 2019-2020 tax return, you only have a couple of weeks left to do it. The deadline for online submission is the 31st January and those that do not submit their return by this time will incur additional fines. Even if you have not made a profit or have earned below the tax threshold, you still need to submit your return. It may be that you use an accountant or book keeper to help you with your tax return. If this is the case then you need to speak to them ASAP as many are already fully booked and will struggle to get the submissions in on time.

If you do your book keeping yourself, work out all the figures you need to input first. This will allow you to do it in one go without having to keep saving it and going back to it. If it is the first time you have done it you may want to put all your figures in and print it off before you submit it. This will give you the opportunity to read over it and double check that it is all correct before you hit the button to submit it to HMRC.

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.

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.

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.