30 Winchester self-employed Mums needed

karen profile 6

30 Mumpreneurs needed

I am looking to speak with 30 small business owners who find tax taxing but still want to do the right thing.

Are you my next research participant?

If you’re a self-employed Mum and operate your small business from home, I’d love to speak to you about how you manage the madness of money and motherhood while keeping vaguely on top of the tax and record keeping bits of your business.

In exchange for a short, confidential interview (30 minutes), I’m offering you 7 surprising money saving tips to help make your business more sustainable.

We’ll be chatting about the records you keep, the most challenging parts of managing your money, the kind of support you’ve been getting to date and what’s been missing for you.

This research will be invaluable in making sure the services and packages I create genuinely meet the very real needs of people just like you.

Book in for a research interview

I’d love to hear from you (or any of your contacts) who might fit this profile. Please email Karen on info@winchesterbookkeeping.co.uk making sure you include your name, business phone number, email address and the best time of day for your 30 minutes interview (morning, afternoon or evening), how you would prefer to do the survey (phone or email) and any message you would like to include for me in advance.

Thank you. I really look forward to the opportunity of including you in my research.

Karen Upcraft

The Winchester Bookkeeping Company

 

 

 

 

3 New Year’s Resolutions for your Micro Business

2015

Often the Christmas and New Year period is when many small business owners have more time on their hands to reflect on the year gone by and to start thinking about the year ahead. For those of you who are mulling over financial goals for the forthcoming year, I have come up with three key areas that you could gain from focusing on in the New Year.

1. Understanding your figures

Do you know what money you have coming in every month?

Do you know how much money you have going out of your business each month?

How much are your fixed costs each month?

Who were your best and worst paying customers?

Do you know what to do if you are not paid?

As a small business owner it is vital that you understand how your business is performing. Understanding your numbers can help you plan and make well informed business decisions.

2. Adopt an online bookkeeping solution

A very common misconception is that accounting software is only for Accountants and that it is expensive. Don’t be put off by all the “cloud” jargon surrounding online software. Many of these newer packages are written with the small business owner in mind, come free of accountancy jargon and are relatively simple and intuitive to use. Many of the online packages now available not only save you accountancy fees and time but can also allow small business owners to be much more in tune with their financial information.

3. Plan ahead

It is so easy to get carried away with the more exciting aspects of running your own business that the task of preparing financial goals and forecasts is often overlooked. Whatever stage or size your business is it is essential to Plan. Planning will give you the opportunity to ask the right questions of your business to avoid unnecessary costs and to charge the right price.

Prepare a plan of business goals and update these regularly. Prepare profit and cash-flow forecasts. If you don’t forecast these you are unlikely to control your cash and business properly. If you are doing all the above then you are well on your way to putting yourself in the best possible position to take your business forward in the right direction for 2015. If you are not doing all the above don’t panic – I frequently get calls from the most established and successful of businesses who after many years have recognised that they need help in these areas.

The most important thing is to recognise the problem and have the mind set to make the change. If you require any help do get in touch and remember that we offer a free no obligation consultation.

Karen Upcraft

The Winchester Bookkeeping Company http://www.winchesterbookkeeping.co.uk Tel: 07596 516670

Record keeping for the self-employed

income and expenses files

Record keeping is an essential part of running a small business. In part one of my blog I will be looking at why you need to maintain records and what records you are required to retain. Part two, next week will look at the different ways to record you income and expenditure.

A legal requirement

As a self-employed individual you are responsible for filing a tax return. Maintaining the records and documents used to support the numbers in the return is a legal requirement. You may have to pay a penalty if you don’t keep records of if you don’t keep records for long enough.

How long do I have to retain my records for?

You need to retain invoices and receipts for 6 years from the end of the tax year.

Records you are required to keep

Your business records must include records of all your sales, purchases and expenses. Examples of the records that you are required to maintain include: till rolls, bank statements, paying-in slips, customer invoices, accounting records, purchase invoices, cheque book stubs, credit card statements and mileage records. If you are claiming capital allowances for certain assets you will need to maintain certain records to support the claim you make.

You can scan and store the records electronically or you can keep the originals. Write on the receipts how you paid (cash, debit or credit card etc) to make it easier for you to reconcile everything later on.

Above all, keep your records (paper or digital) well organised by year, quarter and month.

Financial management

The above requirements may seem quite onerous but on the plus side if you maintain accurate and up-to-date records you will save time (and money if you have an Accountant) completing your tax return. There is less likelihood of you making an error and consequently you will avoid HMRC penalties. Accurate and up-to-date records will allow you to budget for tax payments and manage your business’s cash-flow effectively.

Do get in touch if you have any questions on the above – 07596 516670 and don’t forget next week’s blog on ways to record your income and expenditure.

Karen Upcraft

The Winchester Bookkeeping Company

Saving tax on the Christmas Party!

xmas parties

The yuletide season will shortly be descending upon us and you may well be starting to think about organising a party to entertain your staff at Christmas time. Read on to discover how you can limit that tax bill….

In the normal course of events when an employer provides entertainment for their staff the employees would be charged on their share of the event. There are however exceptions to this rule.

As an employer if you provide your staff with an annual party then there is no charge to tax on the employee and the cost is fully allowable for corporation tax purposes providing the cost per head does not exceed £150. In addition, ALL members of staff at that location must be invited. Other halves or guests can be included.

You could provide two events with the cost per head of £75 for each event but if you provided two events and the latter one took the total cost per head to above £150 then only the first one would be allowable.

To work out the Cost per head, divide the total cost of the function by the total number of people (including guests).

Any VAT paid can also be reclaimed provided that the conditions outlined above are adhered to.

The rules on what is allowable for tax purposes when entertaining can be complex so if you need any help in interpretation do give me a call 07596 516670, info@winchesterbookkkeeping.co.uk

Karen Upcraft

The Winchester Bookkeeping Company

Who needs to complete a tax return?

self assessment forms

The  deadline for online self-assessment is round the corner and with all the talk about tax returns I have found it interesting, listening to people’s views regarding the completion of them. Just to clarify some of the misunderstanding surrounding who needs to complete one I have summarised below the most common reasons for needing to complete a tax return.

1. You are a self-employed sole trader or a partner in a business partnership

You will need to complete a return even if your profit is under the personal allowance, if you make a loss or if it’s your final year of trading.

2. You are a company director

3. Your annual income is £100,000 or more -you may have higher or additional tax to pay that hasn’t been collected through your tax code.

4. You have income from savings, investments or property

If you receive £10k or more from your taxed savings/investments and £2.5k or more from untaxed savings.

If you receive £10k or more from property(before deducting allowable expenses) and £2.5k or more from property (after deducting your allowable expenses)

5. If you are employed and want to claim expenses of £2.5k or more

6. You or your partner receive child benefit and your income is over £50,000

7. You have Capital Gains Tax to pay e.g you have sold, given away or otherwise disposed of an asset such as a holiday home or shares.

The key point is that you will need to complete a tax return even if you don’t have to pay any tax or you’ve already paid it.

If you are not sure whether you need to fill in a tax return you can use the very useful toolkit on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/check-if-you-need-a-tax-return

If you would like to chat about any of the above or need assistance in completing your return please get in touch to organise a free no obligations meeting. http://www.winchesterbookkeeping.co.uk

The benefits of using online accounting software

Xero accounting software

Some of the more forward thinking Accountants are now jumping on the cloud bandwagon and embracing the benefits that online accounting software can bring to both client and Accountant. I, myself am a recent convert to Xero. Below I summarise some of the key benefits.

1. Cost savings

No purchase of hardware or software is required. There is no need for maintenance, backups or upgrades. Instead you pay a very reasonably priced monthly subscription for usage which can be stopped at any time. Bookkeeping costs are kept to a minimum as automatic bank feeds and other auto matching facilities speed up the bank reconciliation process, saving hours of manual checking and posting.

2. Bookkeeping is made easier

Xero software is incredibly user friendly and is very easy to navigate. Terminology has been tweaked to avoid accounting speak. Data can be reconciled very quickly and simply. The online invoicing facility is excellent. This in turn should encourage faster payment and better cash-flow.

3. View your accounts in the cloud

Xero is web based so you can work where you want and when you want with 24/7 access from any internet connection in the world using a PC, laptop, smartphone or MAC. All you need is a web browser. When you work on the same data as your accountant and at the same time, there is no need to share a computer or exchange files.

4. Real time view of the health of  your business

The ease and simplicity of Xero encourages small business owners to be much more in tune with their financial situation. One of the great benefits is that your cash-flow position can be viewed in real time allowing you to identify issues, respond to change and take action quickly. Your Accountant in turn will be able to be more responsive and give much better insight and advice.

In my mind, Xero is one of the best accounting software solutions on offer for micro to small sized businesses. I have yet to find a small business owner disappointed with the results. Take a listen to some happy customers…https://www.xero.com/uk/

If you would like a free no obligation chat about your requirements do call on 07596 516670

Karen Upcraft

The Winchester Bookkeeping Company

What is a bank reconciliation and why you should be doing one?

pc and coffee

Either through a lack of time or dislike of bookkeeping chores many small business owners take cursory glances at their bank statements each week or month to confirm that the “mental tally” looks about right and fail to spend the time performing detailed bank reconciliations. This blog briefly explains why you should all be doing one.

What is a bank reconciliation?

Bank reconciliations are an important procedure that match the cash balance of the bank to the balance found on the company’s financial records. It is normal for a company’s cash book balance as per accounting records to differ from the balance per the bank statement due to timing differences. Such timing differences appear as reconciling items in the bank reconciliation statement. The purpose of the bank reconciliation is to detect discrepancies besides those due to normal timing differences.

Why should you be doing one?

1 – To highlights errors in your accounting records – such as transactions you may have forgotten to post or items that you have posted incorrectly

2 – Identify bank errors – such errors may be transposition errors, duplicate transactions or simply the correct amount posted but to the wrong account.

3 – Prevent overdrafts – the timing between your cash outflows and cash inflows can vary considerably. This is particularly relevant when your company is operating on very low cash reserves. Regular bank reconciliations can help you postpone payments that would result in overdrafts and bounced cheques.

4. To improve debt collection – you will be alerted to customers cheques not clearing

5 – Credibility and completeness of your accounting records – bank statements are an independent source of data and by checking your records against them helps to ensure your cash book figures are both credible and complete

How frequently should they be done?

Bank reconciliations are typically a month-end procedure but companies with smaller cash resources should perform them more regularly.

Which method?

Bank reconciliations can be performed either manually using an excel spread sheet or alternatively a better more efficient option would be using accounting software. Even the most basic packages have bank reconciliation modules which provide you with a final statement of unreconciled items.

Don’t forget….

to sort out the unreconciled items on a timely basis. I have come across some clients using software who believe the bank reconciliation job is complete when the process of matching bank transactions to cash book transactions is finished. This is only half the job done – make sure all unreconciled items are followed up and acted upon immediately.

Cash is the most vulnerable asset of your business and bank reconciliations are a key control helping to protect your cash through uncovering errors and irregularities. In short they are vital for any small business.

If any one would like any further advice or assistance on any of the above please give us a call – 07596 516670

Karen Upcraft

Director and owner of The Winchester Bookkeeping Company

The Winchester Bookkeeping Company on Facebook

One of my goals is to empower the small business owner by supporting them to better manage their business and to help make sense of all the legal requirements and financial jargon. Many such individuals needs some support from an accountant but aren’t yet at a stage where they can justify expensive accountancy fees. I hope to be able to bridge this gap by offering very affordable, effective and bespoke solutions.

The means by which I hope to achieve this is through excellent communication – one of my channels being social media. The company has a very active Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Winchester-Bookkeeping-Company with daily tips and advice aimed at helping small business owners.

Please LIKE the page, share any tips with fellow business owners and let me know of any topics you would like further blog/tips on.

Thank you for your support.

Karen Upcraft – Director and owner of The Winchester Bookkeeping Company

 

 

 

 

Government backing for home businesses – 15th August 2014

Great news for all those “kitchen table start-ups” as the government announced initiatives this week aimed at making it easier for home based entrepreneurs to do business.

For too long home based businesses have been regarded as being of no economic significance. This perception is now changing. According to the Department of Business there are now around 70% of new businesses starting off in the home, contributing £300 billion to the economy.

The home is now the most popular place to start and grow a business. One in 10 properties are now home to at least 1 business. This movement towards home based entrepreneurs is primarily a response to the new opportunities afforded by technology with growth being generated by the outsourcing of work to other home based individuals.

The new measures announced by the government this week include:

  •  new legislation making it easier for people to run a business from a rented home. The law will be changed so that landlords can be assured that agreeing to this will not undermine their residential tenancy agreement. A new model tenancy agreement will also be made available shortly
  • updated planning guidance making it clear that planning permission should not normally be needed to run a business from your home
  • new business rates guidance clarifying that in the majority of circumstances home-based businesses will not attract business rates

We welcome this encouraging move from the government that will shine a spotlight on this important and growing sector of the economy.

Five reasons for the self employed to start thinking about self-assessment tax returns

time for tax

The brown envelope from HMRC has arrived but is currently buried somewhere at the bottom of your filing tray waiting to be dealt with at a later date. Sound familiar?

Here are five reasons why this approach may be a little short sighted and why you should start thinking about your self-assessment tax return now.

1. Being able to budget for the tax bill

There are two deadlines in relation to filing your self-assessment tax return. The deadline for filing on-line is the 31st January 2015 (following the end of your tax year 2013/14). If you want to submit a return on paper you can choose the earlier deadline of 31st October.

Early submission of your tax return holds many advantages. By submitting your return early you will be told by HMRC the amount of tax that you owe – this will allow you to plan and budget for your tax bill. If you are owed a refund you will receive it earlier.

Remember that submitting the return early does not mean that you pay early. The deadline for payment is still the 31st January following the end of the tax year.

2. Your business is seasonal

Don’t underestimate the time that getting your accounts and tax records up to date and correctly filed can take. If you business activities are seasonally strong in the build up towards Christmas you may struggle at this time to deal with managing your business with all it entails and completing your accounting and tax records.

Start planning ahead. You can start by working on the completion of your return now or alternatively look into outsourcing the work to a professional to help ease the burden.

3. Avoid fines and penalties

By being organised and ahead of the game you will inevitably reduce the likelihood of incurring fines. A fine of £100 will be automatically applied for any self-assessment not filed on time, regardless of how much tax may be due. Additional fines are imposed if the return is 3,6 or 12 months late.

4. You are a start-up business

If you have recently started up in business there is even more reason to be supremely organised with your record keeping and paperwork. For many new business owners managing their finances is one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of starting up.

Record keeping is vital. Without accurate records and paperwork to support the records, many small businesses have been hit with crippling fines following HMRC investigations. Get a system in place early.

If you are new to self-assessment it is worth seeking professional advice early with regards to what you can and cannot claim against your trading profit. The savings you will make often outweigh the costs involved.

5. Avoid sleepless nights and gain peace of mind

This sounds like a mantra from a self help book! Even if you are on top of your record keeping, submitting your return early will give you one less deadline to adhere to and will ensure that you have a more enjoyable and stress free Christmas!

Should you require any assistance in the completion of your self-assessment tax return please do not hesitate to give us a call for either one off advice or to arrange assistance in completion of your return. We would love to help you (www.winchesterbookkeeping.co.uk)

The Winchester Bookkeeping Company

Karen Upcraft    23rd July 2014