Forms and more forms, rules and regulations, sign here, don’t forget this, do that…

Entrepreneurs are often discouraged by the bewildering amount of bureaucracy and problems which they come up against.  But with a simple checklist of tasks and a little support, your small business could be up and running in no time.

Do I need an accountant?

It is not essential, but advisable.  An accountant will have the specialist knowledge and experience to assist your business, help you make decisions about the future and relieve you of most of the administrative burden associated with being self-employed; enabling you to devote more time to developing your business and earn that all important cash.

If you are going to engage an accountant it is essential that you involve them from the outset.  Decisions taken at the early stages can affect your business for many years to come.  For example, they can advise you on the best structure for your business and how to deal with other people that have a stake in your business.  (I will deal with some of these points in a future ‘accountancy’ post)

How do I find an accountant?

There are many ways to source professional services, but the key is to find someone you can trust and can work with.  You may be discussing sensitive issues so you need to be comfortable communicating with them.  Ask other business people for recommendations and introductions or attend networking events where you have the opportunity to speak to a potential adviser and find out whether they suit you and your business. Check that they are qualified, as this will ensure the quality of their services is regularly monitored.     Look no further! www.georgehay.co.uk

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Assuming you plan to operate a sole trader, here are a few pointers for you to consider.


  • Inform H M Revenue and Customs

You must inform the Tax Office that you are operating a business as a self-employed person so that  a ‘self-assessment record’ can be created. This will ensure you are issued with a Tax Return

You will also pay Class 2 National Insurance.  This ensures you are paying enough NIC to keep a continuous record should you need to claim benefits or a state pension in the future.  

If your household income is low, also ask them for tax credits application pack.


  • Open a business bank account

It is important to open a business bank account, not only will your bank be disgruntled if you continue to use your personal banking facilities for business, it will be difficult to segregate business transactions from personal, which may lead to complications later.  Shop around for the best deals, most high street banks offer free business banking for the first year for start-ups and don’t forget to build a relationship with your business bank manager, they have a lot of business experience to share with you.


  • Keep adequate records

You do not have to be a trained bookkeeper to maintain adequate business records; however failure to do so could make life very difficult if H M Revenue and Customs randomly pick your business for an enquiry as you will be unable to substantiate the amounts you have declared. In fact, you may find that you are not claiming relief for all that you are entitled if you do not have a clear record of your transactions.

Maintaining records is also a key part of managing an effective business as they will allow you to review your performance, check your customers are settling their accounts and assist you in managing cash flow.
  • VAT Registration

If your turnover exceeds the registration limit in any rolling twelve month period, registration is compulsory.  Until then, the decision whether to voluntarily register is dependant on your customers.  Generally, if they are registered, you may as well be.


  • Taxation

The tax year runs to 5th April.  Soon after this date you will receive a Tax Return.  You may need professional assistance with completing this, but if the business is very small and you have kept adequate records, it is fairly straight forward so should not cost you an arm and a leg!  This form must be completed and submitted to H M Revenue and Customs by the following 31st January.  If you are not completing the form online, it must be submitted 31st October. The Tax Office will calculate your liabilities for you, before they fall due on 31st January.


  • Business Support

There are many sources of business support for small businesses.  Search on the internet for local networking organisations, where you will find like minded individuals who are experiencing similar anxieties as you.  You may also find these networks are a valuable source of contacts for developing your business.

Find out if you have an Enterprise Agency or Business Link in your area.  These supply consultancy and workshops at heavily subsidised rates.

Ask your professional advisers, such as your accountant or bank manager, if they don’t know the answer, they should know some one who does.


  •  Business insurance

Can be an expensive overhead for a new business, but needs to be considered carefully.


  • Think positively

You are only as good as you believe you are….


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

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