If you’re new to maintaining business books, it can seem like a daunting task. Rather than sobbing at an empty Excel spreadsheet, make use of these five practices that will help you start keeping accurate and efficient books.
Track expenses from the beginning
As soon as you begin trading you need to start tracking every business expense. From the train ride to meet your first new client to the Snickers you bought on the way back. While you won’t be able to claim all these expenses back, you will need to know where your business’ money is going.
Consider setting up a separate business account with its own card – even before you begin trading. This way you can use it for all those expenses you’ll need when setting up, such as office equipment and rent for your business premises.
Take advantage of free help
HMRC have a number of free webinars, emails and videos that can really help when you’re clueless about doing your books. Why not try out one of these workshops to get your business ready:
- Setting up a Limited Company
- Introduction to VAT
- Self Assessment Help and Deadlines
While these might not be on the subject of bookkeeping specifically, knowing what and when you need to submit information will help you keep on top of your books all year-round.
Plan for big spending
No one looks forward to unexpected large expenses, and unfortunately, very few of us plan for them. If you want to keep your books out of the red you’ll keep a little aside for any big expenses you might not be expecting.
Whether it’s equipment breaking, an unexpected licence you need to pay for or an unplanned for credit card fee, there’s bound to be something that will creep out of the woodwork. Set something aside and don’t let it get on top of you before you’ve even begun.
Don’t use pen and paper
Rule number one of bookkeeping. Only use pen and paper if you enjoy withering away in front of a desk, while intermittently weeping when you make a mistake and it takes three more hours of Tippexing to get it right. Excel is slowly becoming the new era of pen and paper, and while it works for some, there are more up to date ways to do things.
Cloud bookkeeping software is a great way to record your books for a number of reasons. Not only is it less time consuming, you can also access the data from anywhere – so you don’t need to protect that one hard drive with your life.
Know your dates
Once your business has begun trading, you’ll have certain dates when you’ll need to submit information to HMRC. These dates and what you’ll need to send will depend on how your business operates.
You can see all the relevant tax dates from HMRC here.