The May 2021 Facebook live talked about how a bookkeper can help someone to understand where their business is at throughout the year and where they have room to grow so I wanted to add the information into a blog post for you.
Do I need a bookkeeper?
The first question you really need to ask yourself is “Do I need a bookkeeper?” and the answer to this is going to be different for everyone, and it will also be different depending on what point you are at with your business.
For example, if you’ve just started out with your business and haven’t yet got a lot of income coming in, and think you can manage things on your own, you may decide that at this point in time, you do not need a bookkeeper. Six months down the line business is booming, you are trying to keep on top of orders, and deal with the marketing, and deal with the accounts, and deal with customer queries, and still have time for yourself and your family – you may decide that you need to start outsourcing some items and perhaps getting a bookkeeper is a good idea.
Another question is, “Do I really understand how to correctly record my financial information and am I meeting all of the legal obligations that I need to in terms of submitting information to HMRC or Companies House”? If you aren’t sure whether what you are doing is correct, it’s time to seek out some help from a bookkeeper. You will want to ensure that the bookkeeper you choose is someone you can work with, that they are experienced and knowledgeable about the software you would like to use, that they are registered with either a professional bookkeeping body like The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers or The International Association of Bookkeepers or even with HRMC for Anti-Money Laundering Regulations Supervision, and that they are properly insured. Not everyone that claims to be a bookkeeper is registered for AML supervision and as a regulated profession it is an absolute must that they are.
How can a bookkeeper help me with my business?
By having a bookkeeper, you can be confident that they will be able to provide you with proper support and advice when it comes to how to keep your accounts, what your legal obligations are, and some bookkeepers can also provide you with tax and/or payroll advice.
Here are 5 ways a bookkeeper can help you with your business:
- Frees up your time – A bookkeeper will be able to help free up the time you would have spent on the accounts meaning you can then put that time to better use by using it to promote your business, helping your customers, or even getting your weekends/evenings back so you can relax.
- The accounts will be done correctly – A qualified bookkeeper will know exactly how the accounts will need to be done. They will understand how to categorise the money coming in and out of the business, ensure that you have all the receipts attached to the accounts and that your bank accounts have been fully reconciled. This will in turn help you to have a better understanding of the financial picture of your business but also means that if HMRC checks your accounts, they are less likely to find any mistakes and fine you.
- Gives you a better idea of the financial picture of your business – As the bookkeeper will be ensuring that your accounts are kept up to date on a regular basis, you will have a more accurate picture of the financial situation of the business, meaning you can make important business decisions like whether you can afford to hire new staff or buy a new laptop, or if a marketing campaign worked.
- Improve your cash flow – By keeping the accounts up to date, you will have an accurate picture of who owes you money, and who you owe money to. This can really help you to have a better handle on your cash flow and ensure that you are being paid by your customers on time, but also that you are paying your suppliers on time.
- Make sure you are meeting your legal obligations – Having a bookkeeper on hand who can help you to ensure your accounts are up to date on a regular basis, will also mean that they can help you with filing your VAT returns on time, which helps you to avoid any fines and can help with ensuring your year-end tax return is ready to be filed way before the deadline, and they can even help you to have an idea of what amount of tax you will owe throughout the year. They will also be able to ensure that you are meeting your obligations in terms of Making Tax Digital.
Can a bookkeeper really help save me time and money?
The answer is absolutely!
Your time is very valuable, and you have a lot of demands on your time. Not only do you need to fulfil customer orders and support your clients, but you have to grow your business, deal with ordering stock, managing employees if you have any, dealing with the day-to-day admin, and then you also have responsibilities outside of work! In the evenings, you spend 30 minutes on your accounts trying to ensure it’s all entered correctly, ensuring every transaction has been accounted for, looking up online how to categorise something, maybe searching online for how to use the accounts software, by the end of the 30 minutes you feel more stressed out and unsure if things have been done right, and you are doing this every single day of the week. By the end of the week, you have spent 3.5 hours on your accounts when you could have been using that time for something else – either for the business or personally.
A bookkeeper can help you to claw back that time! Think about how much more time you would have, if all you had to do was provide the receipts and information to the bookkeeper, and they dealt with ensuring that all the information was correctly entered into the accounts? Think about not only the time you would have saved, but how much less stressed you would be.
This testimonial from a client demonstrates how a bookkeeper can help you. “I no longer need to read (and re-read, and re-read without understanding) all the HMRC regulations. I can clearly see how my business is doing, financially. I know where I am spending too much money for little return so I spend more wisely and effectively on advertising, marketing, training etc. Arianna has advised me on setting up savings accounts so that I can plan how to grow my business further. She has kept me up-to-date with changes in regulations and what it actually means for me personally, my business and my future plans in terms I can understand and apply to my business plan.”
Money – now that is something that all businesses need to be very careful about, especially if they are brand new and still growing. What happens if you are doing your own accounts and instead of categorising a transaction the way it should, you categorise it wrong and it ends up causing you to have a huge tax bill? I have had people come to me to do their accounts for them, and while I have been going through and tidying up the accounts, I have come across times where clients have actually categorised transfers of money from their main bank account to the savings account as income which is not correct at all. If I hadn’t spotted that issue, it could have caused the client to be paying three times the amount of tax they should have due to the inflated income! I was able to save that client from a huge tax bill. Another example, a client hadn’t realised that they had paid for a VAT return twice because they hadn’t allocated the first payment correctly within their software. When they asked me to reconcile their accounts and I realised what had happened, they were able to receive almost £2000 back from HMRC for the duplicate payment.
Bookkeepers often work closely with accountants and while you might think it would be more costly to have a bookkeeper and an accountant, in fact, it’s more efficient from a money perspective and here’s why. Please note that the names and amounts used in the following example are all fictional and just for illustration purposes:
Jane is a bookkeeper. She charges £20 per hour for her services. She gets financial records in order so that they can then be passed on to an accountant, saving the accountant hours of work.
James is an accountant. He works for £50 an hour. When he receives documents from a bookkeeper, his work takes half the time it otherwise would.
Fred is a business owner. He’s currently paying his accountant, James, £200 per month for four hours of his time. James is spending two of those hours doing bookkeeping tasks for £50 an hour, and the other two are spent doing his accountancy work. Fred could cut his costs by working with Jane. She would do those first two hours of work for a total of £40, and Fred would only have to pay £100 to James. Overall, he’d save himself £60 per month.
In summary, having a bookkeeper can be very beneficial for so many different reasons and they really can help you to grow your business.
If you do have an accountant, then make sure you are all working together as a team and collaborating so that every person on the team is able to bring their skills and knowledge to the table and really help you to grow your business.
I love working with my clients, and their accountants, as it allows me to focus on putting all of the bits of information together into a completed picture for the accountant to file the taxes, but also because it really does help my client to see exactly where their business stands and allows them to make those all-important business decisions and grow their business.
If you have any questions about how to enter the pension information into your accounts, feel free to e-mail me and I will get back to you!