Tips for organising your small business finance – Commercial photographer for business
I’m starting a new series for Small Business Owners with some brilliant guest blogs coming up over the next few months. The first one is from the brilliant Zoe Whitman from www.butthebooks.co.uk
Zoe is a member of the Institute for Cetified Bookkeepers (ICB) and Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), she has 15 years’ experience working in finance roles for large organisations and set up But the Books to help startups who know how to do everything for their business… but the books, with the financial side of running a business. Zoe is sharing with us her top tips on organising your finances in a small business. You can see lots more helpful blog posts and get in touch with Zoe direct over on her website or via her social media and contact details below. Now over to Zoe
Many small business owners decide to do the finances for their businesses themselves, but what’s actually involved? What do you really need to do to stay stay organised and stay on top of your business bookkeeping?
Depending on how many transactions you have, it’s a good idea to set aside time weekly or monthly to stay on top of it all. Make an appointment with yourself in your diary and stick to it, there’s always going to be something more interesting to do than update your finances!
Know your dates
Depending on whether you’re self employed or working through a limited company, there will be key dates for your business. These include the tax return deadline of 31 January, and if you’re running a limited company you’ll need to know your financial year end date and the deadlines for filing your annual accounts and corporation tax return as well. You might also need to file a VAT return or make payroll filings if you’re registered for VAT or have employees so make sure you know what’s due and when.
Keep a list
You should have a list of the main tasks you need to do each time you update your records, some of the key areas to think about are:
- Raise invoices. Send invoice to customers for the work you’ve recently completed.
- Chase late payers. Check who has and hasn’t paid you and chase up any late invoices.
- Bank cash. If your customers pay you in cash, make sure you bank it.
- Pay invoices . Record invoices you’ve received and make sure they’re paid on time.
- Record business expenses. Make sure you have receipts for business expenses, particularly the ones you paid out of your own pocket.
- Reconcile your bank statement. This means checking that you’ve recorded every transaction on your bank statement, it’s a good check because often businesses forget about expenses that they paid for online or lose receipts. This is a great way to make sure you’ve recorded everything.
You might also need to run payroll and submit returns to HMRC or prepare a VAT return.
Keep some notes
If there’s something you find particularly tricky or daunting on that list above, it can be helpful to have a little step-by-step guide to walk you through the process, particularly if you tend to forget what you need to do in between bookkeeping sessions.
Use an accounting system
If you’re not already using one, look into whether you’d benefit from using an accounting system. Once you get beyond recording a few transactions every week it can really make a difference and you don’t need to spend a lot every month. Some of the big names are QuickBooks, Sage and Xero, and FreeAgent is particularly great if you’re self employed. One of the features people are always amazed by is the ability to link your bank account and automatically pull transactions into your accounting system without a bank statement in sight. An accounting system will also give you loads of really clever data about what your business is buying and selling and help you really understand your figures.
If it gets too difficult, hire an expert
When you’re starting out, time is precious, and you’d rather be working on your business than worrying about the finances – nobody ever went into business to do the books after all. Sometimes things get tricky too, particularly when you register for VAT or start taking on employees. If you’re finding that it’s all getting too much, think about speaking to a qualified bookkeeper about taking some of that admin on for you.
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