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Sole Traders

Xero’s New Dashboard

As you may know we are now offering our Cloud Based Accounting services with the Xero software accounting platform. This is an addition to the Sage platform and we are sure this will be very attractive.

In December Xero passed 400,000 paying customers – a fantastic growth predicated on offering outstanding cloud accounting software.  This coupled with our accounting expertise makes it very attractive to business owners of all sizes – but particularly small and start up businesses.

With that in mind we have seen some recent improvements to the dashboard it Xero and I have highlighted some of the changes which may interest you.

  • They have introduced a new graph which shows your incoming and outgoing cash over the last few months – handy for seeing your historical cash movements at a glance. You can drill into the detail as required.
  • Their invoice and bill graphs will be improved so you’ll be able to see the total amounts for all outstanding invoices rather than just those overdue – the same will apply to bills. The charts are simplified so you can quickly see if there are overdue items at a glance and drill down to see these.
  • They also now enable you to choose what to show on the Dashboard and where those items are positioned. So from now everything can be positioned as you like or optionally hidden if you don’t have a need for a particular item.

If you want to talk about Xero and our combined accountancy and software packages then please give us a call on 020 3199 9057.

Small Companies Have Increased Costs – So Where Are The Options To Save?

According to an article in http://www.smallbusiness.co.uk small business costs have continued to rise during 2014 despite falling inflation. 

Energy costs are still the most commonly-seen increase, according to the latest Cost of Doing Business survey from the Forum of Private Business (FPB).  The study shows firms are still feeling the squeeze despite signs that the economic recovery continues to gather momentum.  Some 63 per cent of businesses have seen an overall increase in their business costs, with 70 per cent reporting an increase in energy costs, 65 per cent in transport costs, 76 per cent in marketing costs, and 65 per cent a rise in staff costs.  The report also identifies that 38 per cent of small business owners admit to being unable to pass any rising costs onto customers, forcing them to cut their own costs to keep prices static. Just 3 per cent are able to pass on costs in full.

One area small businesses can save money is of course to review their accounting costs.  With Cloud Based Accounting software and bundled accountancy services there has never been a better time to cut accountancy costs.  Find out more here.

3 Reasons Why Accounting In the Cloud is Better.

Reason #1 to do Accounting in the Cloud: The cloud is more secure

If you haven’t figured out the glaring advantage to cloud-based computing and storage yet, it’s pretty simple.

If you rely on a specific computer, with its physical drives and processor, you rely on those items not to fail. The thing is: they do fail. Fans overheat. Processors routinely burn out. Hard drives grind to a halt. And what happens to your accounting documents then? What happens to the legacy software (like old school QuickBooks – we know some of you are still using it!) that cannot run on modern operating systems? What happens to your business without those things?

And that’s not to mention that when you store your accounting resources on physical media, you run the risk of losing it to unintentional damage or theft. Even the most reliable hard drive will succumb if it takes a strong enough hit, or worse, a swim.

The cloud wins here because it removes those risks by keeping your financial information securely mobile behind trusted firewalls, among other trusted cloud-based security measures. This makes it much more logical to manage your accounting purely in the cloud.

Reason #2 do Accounting in the Cloud: Cloud-based accounting is scalable

No matter if your business is a bootstrapped one-person operation or a multinational corporation, you want it to grow and increase revenue. This also comes with new costs to keep track of.

Your accounting app needs to grow alongside your business. If you run a small business with a handful of employees, you don’t need a costly premium version of a legacy application with steep recurring fees and tons of bells and whistles. If it’s just you, you don’t need payroll services. Your accounting needs to the right size for your business and then grow with you.

Cloud-based alternatives are highly scalable. As your business grows and you take on new employees, you can take care of paying them by adding cloud-based tools. If your business expands its sales to reach other countries, you can scale up by adding cloud-based currency conversion.

If you don’t need any of those features, you don’t have to pay for them, by sticking with a starter cloud-based accounting app subscription.

Reason #3 to do Accounting in the Cloud: Cloud-based apps are always current

The cloud is a very dynamic concept. As developers introduce new cloud-based tools and resources, other cloud-based apps are updated to keep current.  It’s that spirit of collaboration that is most striking about the promise of accounting in the cloud. New payment management systems, human resource applications and document management and storage tools emerge all the time. Cloud-based apps integrate with new tools as they emerge, giving you great flexibility when choosing tools to use in your business.

Compare this with downloaded legacy desktop applications (or worse, spreadsheets) and you start to realize that accounting in the cloud is freedom – freedom to use the tools you’d like, where you like, without the confinement of closed legacy applications.

In the cloud, you never have to run manual updates or troubleshoot pesky problems resulting from an update. Cloud-based apps or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are updated by the developers who make them, in real-time, without you lifting a finger. No maintenance. No breakdowns. No hassle. Link them together once and sleep at ease at night as the vendors work tirelessly to keep them up and running harmoniously.

Of course, the big advantage to keeping your accounting app up-to-date is you never have to fuss around with trying to get software to work, freeing you up to focus on the actual accounting and other important tasks.

How Many Britons Would Choose A Family Member As A Business Partner?


According to survey in SmallBusiness.co.uk one in three aspiring entrepreneurs in the UK would turn to family partnerships and that working with family members in a business is a popular choice.
The figure rises to two in five (40 per cent) among 18-34-year-olds, according to a survey by Barclays Business.  The study also reveals three in five UK adults (61 per cent) would want to pass on a family business to the younger generation in their family if they had the opportunity, however 23 per cent of those over 55 fear that the younger generation would not want to inherit it.

What Are The Real Benefits of Cloud Based Accounting

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Accounting

Everything lives in the cloud these days: our Google documents; our holiday snaps; our powerpoint presentations and our music. In business, it's no different: everything from customer databases to photo editing software can be and infrequently is stored in the cloud.

The advantages of using cloud-based systems are well documented, ranging from convenience to security. Data – provided it is encrypted and backed up – can be accessed from anywhere and is safe from the threat of fire, theft or hardware failure. Cloud-based software is also cheaper thanks to licensing arrangements that enable multiple users to access the same program simultaneously.

The cloud isn't the future – it's the present and it's all around is, even if we can't quite see it. As the number of cloud-based solutions continues to grow, businesses are faced with tough decisions to make: to stick with what they know or to take the plunge and move their operations to a virtual environment. Just because it's possible do something in the cloud doesn't mean it's necessarily right for your company. Every solution needs to be assessed on its merits rather than its ubiquity or perceived trendiness.

Accountancy solutions

Accountancy is one of many fields to have benefited from the cloud computing revolution; it's now possible for businesses to maintain all of their financial records online. When audits and tax returns are due, there's no need to take a hard copy to your accountant's office: at the press of their button it can be instantly delivered to their desktop, saving you time, money and the need to ransack the office in search of a thumb drive.

'Time and money' is the mantra that's used to sell most business systems of course. Will it make your life easier? Will it reduce your overheads? And if so, will the savings justify the initial investment required to train staff and purchase the software?

Payroll and accounts may be two separate systems but they're closely linked. Cloud solutions provide the option to seamlessly merge these two divisions, ensuring that records are in synch and in the same place. That said, it's possible to have one without the other; SMEs may still prefer to process their payroll manually in-house for example. For larger limited companies however, it makes sense to use the two in tandem via an integrated cloud-based system.

Packages are typically priced via a monthly tariff which includes a provision for a maximum number of employees. The larger your company, the higher the fee you'll be expected to pay. Invoicing, payroll and bookkeeping are all included, ensuring that at the year-end, the blind panic induced by having to round up a year's financial records is largely eliminated.

Pricing

Major software vendors including Sage provide all-in-one cloud-based systems, complete with 24-hour support and free introductory trial. It's not just convenience that might compel a business to move all its operations to the cloud: fully-integrated invoice generation can also enhance the perception of your business. Whether visiting your premises in person, shopping online or ordering over the phone, customers will benefit from having their records all in one place.

For example, a company technician can issue invoices and create sales records on the job, with quotations emailed instantly to the customer. Spare parts, new stock and repeat business can all be processed with the minimum of fuss. Emailing records directly to customers doesn't just look professional – it substantially saves money on stationery and postage costs.

One of the biggest headaches that businesses face is VAT. If it's kept up to date, VAT can be dealt with fairly easily. It's all too easy to put it off until the last possible moment however, leading to the risk of late payment fines from HMRC when deadlines loom and then pass.

Cash is king

Accountancy software isn't just about calculating the monies that are due to Caesar; it's just as useful when it comes to managing cash flow. It's all well and good having stock, customers and sales enquiries, but cash flow is what makes a business tick. Healthy cash flow is at the heart of a healthy business. Good cash flow management software will enable you to keep track of all monies coming into and out of your business. Takings, credit, cash card and cheque receipts are all calculated, giving you an accurate figure of your finances – one that's updated in real time.

The range of administrative tasks that accountancy software can handle is exhaustive. If you're considering a cloud-based solution, however, it's possible to be overwhelmed by the options available to you. Having all of your data in one place is undoubtedly convenient, but avoid overcomplicating things by tacking on services you really don't need. Most cloud systems are modular, enabling you to tailor a bespoke solution to suit.

One option may be to start off with the essentials – payroll and accounts perhaps – before bolting on additional features as and when they're required. This also ensures that staff can be trained up gradually rather than having to dispense with years of acquired knowledge and master new systems overnight.

If you're in the market for cloud-based accountancy software, try the free trial at Cloudbasedaccounting.co.uk, focus on the features you really need and allow your staff time to adjust. After the initial teething period, you'll be well-placed to reap the benefits every single day. More time. More money. Less hassle. It's that simple.

Self-Employed? How to put aside money for Tax

 

If you are registered as self-employed, it’s a good idea to put aside some money for your tax bill.  Getting into the habit of doing this will help you to plan ahead and prevent nasty surprises.

 

How to put aside money for tax?

 

A very general rule of thumb is to keep back a third of what you earn.

This is only a very general rule, as there are a number of other factors to bear in mind:

 

  1. Everyone has a personal allowance, i.e., an amount of tax free income. Click here for 2013-2014 personal allowance rates (opens in a new window, Gov.uk).
  2. You are allowed to claim tax reliefs and allowances on certain items. Click here for details (opens in a new window, Gov.uk)
  3. You are taxed on the profits that you make (i.e., your gross income less tax reliefs/allowances).
  4. Your tax is also dependent on the income tax bands that you fall in, for example, if your income is above £100,000. Click here for further details https://www.gov.uk/income-tax-rates (opens new window, Gov.uk)

 

There is a very handy “Simplied Expenses Checker” on the Gov.uk website here: https://www.gov.uk/simplified-expenses-checker

But note this checker is only suitable if you are a sole trader or a business partnership and should only be used to give you a general guideline.  You should always seek the advice of an accountant for your financial affairs.

HMRC reports that every year, the last minute rush to complete self-assessments on-line results in costly mistakes and items forgotten altogether.

If you need to discuss anything regarding self assessment ,  give us a call on 0203 475 8850 , for an initial consultation.

Are you better off as a sole trader or a limited company?

Starting a business is a tough process. Maybe you decided to be a sole trader as there was less formality and paper work involved in the set up.

The decision on your appropriate business structure is not an easy one – it certainly isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer.

Your personal circumstances should determine your choice and only you can decide the appropriate structure.

Putting aside the misleading perception that a limited company gives you greater status or credibility then, in my opinion, there are two major issues to consider in deciding your business structure:

Limited or Unlimited Liability

As a sole trader there is no distinction between you and your business.

You do not need to have a separate business bank account.

All the debts of the business are your debts.

If the assets of the business do not cover the debts then your personal assets could be used to pay the debts – including your house!

The debts of a limited company belong to the company, which is a separate legal entity.

Except in cases where personal guarantees have been given, your personal assets will not be used to pay the debts of the company.

Maybe this is a more attractive proposition than a sole trader or unincorporated business structure.

Tax

The second reason for a limited liability business is based on tax savings.

Tax as a Sole Trader

As a sole trader you pay the following:

  • income tax on profits over your personal allowance, assuming no other income
  • Class 2 National Insurance at £2.65 / week
  • Class 4 National Insurance on profits over £7,605 at a rate of 9% up to £42,475 and 2% thereafter

If your profits are below the personal allowance of £8,105 then in all likelihood it would be better to operate as a sole trader.

You will pay no income tax and will only pay a very small amount of class 4 national insurance if your profits are over £7,605.

If you profits are below £5,595 then you can also apply for an exemption to class 2 National Insurance.

Tax as a Limited Company

A limited company pays corporation tax at 20% on its profits (up to £300,000 where the rate rises).

Profits can be withdrawn from the company by way of a salary for the director(s) and dividends for shareholders. Again this assumes that the directors / shareholders have no other income.

 

Why not check how much money you could save by converting to a Limited Company – Contact us on

0203 475 8850 for a free initial consultation