One of the most common mistakes new business owners make is mixing their personal and business finances. If you want to have a better grasp on your finances, then it is vital that you keep these two things separate from each other.
For instance, that new backpack you bought for your kids simply cannot be a considered a business expense, yet you used your company credit card because you had it with you that day. While you can pay it back, it could really jumble things up down the road, especially when it turns into a habit.
It needs to be stated here that all business transactions have to be accounted for. However, if you are going to use your business’ resources for personal expenses, then you can probably see how that can complicate things. You probably would not want that.
That being said, you will need to separate your business and personal accounts. This applies both to your bank accounts and credit cards. While this may seem strict, it is you who will benefit from it in the end by saving yourself several hours of accounting work separating one expense type from another.
Whether you are in to accounting or not, one thing that almost all businesses have in common is the aim to not waste money. Whilst the aim shouldn’t be all about not wasting money, it has to be considered that waste itself can cost you money.
Depending on which industry your business is in and the types of materials you deal with, your policy on waste will most likely differ. Those in the food industry for example might have ethical or social reasons behind not creating excess waste (as well as monetary reasons too of course) whereas a company working with hazardous materials that create waste will have an environmental and legal obligation to treat the waste in a certain way – failure to comply with this can inflict serious financial penalties on the business.
Waste Doesn’t Have To Be Costly
It is true that waste collection is a huge industry so of course there is a cost associated with waste disposal. That being said, there are some fantastic examples of waste making a real difference and it could be argued that it brings more good than bad to a company when treated in the right way.
Customers want to see companies they deal with behaving in an ethical and environmentally friendly manner. This means that a lot of customers want to know what social and environmental impact their consumer choices are making. The fur trade is a perfect example of this and is one of the earlier examples of consumer conscience playing a big part in supply and demand.
These days, we hear a lot about our carbon footprint or how much plastic goes in landfill or even worse in our seas and oceans. The very fact that this is now a prominent issue on traditional media platforms as well as social media means that it is in the public eye and as a result businesses stand to lose out if they are not seen to be ‘doing their bit’.
A great example of waste done right is in the food industry. Major supermarkets such as Tesco and Aldi offer up their perishing produce to charitable groups, churches and societies aiming to feed the homeless or those in need. Not only does this improve the social and ethical appearance of the company but it goes some way to reducing their waste collection costs.
Make Waste Matter
Other than the impact on your bottom line, waste does matter. It is high up on the political agendas of EU countries and whether you deal with hazardous waste and have a legal obligation or whether as a business you could consider recycling or reducing your waste – there is opportunity for all business and households to improve their waste policies.
Waste is often the byproduct of the main product but by being creative and thinking a little outside the box, there has to be ways to improve the waste situation in the UK and beyond. By talking about this issue and tackling it head on then we are half way there to solving the problem… what can you do in your business and home to improve waste?
With the gift season well and truly behind us it might seem an odd time to start bringing up a topic about drone usage for kids – as lets face it, it will usually be the parents doing the buying here.
However, as drones were such big business in 2017 and with the trend looking to continue in 2018, the question of whether drones should be used by children crops up quite often. Second to that, if they are appropriate then which are the best ones to buy and for what purpose should they be used?
Drones in Business
Drones in business are used much more commonly these days than they were perhaps 18 months to two years ago. The roofing industry and agricultural businesses use them quite often for surveying purposes. Delivery by drones is a service that is being tested by huge companies such as Amazon and Dominos – I mean, imagine getting your pizza air delivered just minutes after being cooked!
Most children’s toys play an important part in the development from child to adult and most toys offer developmental benefits in some capacity. Businesses benefit from this as the playing and exploring that is done during childhood and adolescent years helps to prepare our young people for the business world of the future – therefore, it stands to reason that if drones and aerial technology is going to play an important role in business 5, 10, 20+ years from now then it makes good sense for our young people to be familiar with this technology.
How Young Is Too Young?
This is not really for us to say or judge and the responsibility will mostly come down to the adult responsible for the child. From a manufacturer point of view the recommended age is generally 14+ although some manufacturers do have lower recommended ages.
Our tip here is to start small and cheap and then work up to drones that carry a bit more punch but also carry more risks in terms of size and weight.
Knowing which are good drones for kids is not easy and with new drones being released almost by the day (and certainly by the week) it can be a minefield when choosing one. For your first foray in to ownership it is definitely worth opting for something well under 250g (over will require registration and will be subject to new laws). The new DJI Tello which launches March 2018 is an excellent example of a drone that has many safety features but also some excellent features such as being able to take off from throwing it from your palm and an excellent camera – this will keep the teenagers very happy whilst allowing them to explore tech that could also be useful in business.
Overall our assessment (which is just our opinion and not legal advice) is that drones are a great way of introducing kids to technology than help businesses in the future – but it is something that (like anything) should be approached with a sensible head and with caution and awareness for the law and the privacy rights of members of the public.
We love anything that helps young people transition from youth to maturity and drones probably do have a big part to play in that.
When it comes to business finances, one of the last things you perhaps think about is the very fabric of the building you run your business from. Whether you are self employed and working from home or are a limited or even public company working in a large building, if you own the property you work in then the chances are at some point you will need to consider renovations.
There are many reason why you might consider renovating your office space, not least employee general well-being, health and safety and even fuel efficiency leading to significant savings over time.
If you are leasing your property but are responsible for the heating bills then you might find a way to reach an agreement with your landlord in terms of both covering part of the expense of renovation – however if you own the property then there are so many reasons why you might want to consider this one quick and non-intrusive workplace renovation.
Unlike homeowners, many business owners don’t give too much thought to the benefits of having a roof that is intact, fit for purpose and energy efficient. Not only can the work completed be a tax deductible expense, but it can also save your business thousands in heating or cooling bills every single year for up to 50 years in some cases and usually for a minimum of 10 years (depending on the type of roof – flat, pitched etc.)
Typically, you might expect to save in excess of £1000 per year in a standard office space and larger buildings will save considerably more than that. We spoke to roofers Wolverhampton who told us that on average, most homeowners and businesses will expect to see savings after year 3-4 of investing in a new roof. In other words, the savings seen over the first 3-4 years pay for the roofing costs and after that it is a significant cost saving.
Other than having an office or workplace that feels warmer in winter and cooler in Summer, the added benefits are clear to see. Reduced contents and building insurance premiums are likely with a building with a newer roof as well as the likelihood of water damage caused by a leaking roof – something that is very common in industrial flat roofs – is going to be far less likely. The price of furniture and computers can be covered by insurance payouts, but the time and in some cases data lost cannot be so easily recovered – not to mention the inconvenience it would cause for you, your employees and your customers. Lost revenues from having to close a store or office can be catastrophic and at best are a nuisance.
If you are unsure of how energy efficient or weatherproof your roof is then you should contact a local roofing company today and ask them to carry out a quick inspection. The savings are there to be had if your business is going to be located in that spot for some time and if you own the property then it really should be a priority.
Over the past few years the lines between online accountancy and offline accountancy have become increasingly blurred. Much of this is down to the fact that more and more people are searching online for accountants and many people are happy to deal 100% over the internet as opposed to holding meetings with their accountant.
With advances in technology that mean face to face meetings can not just be held via software such as Skype but even mobile phones can be used to create that face to face feeling of trust that people so often crave when dealing with an accountant.
So where does that leave your traditional accountant who doesn’t know how to be found online?
Luckily there are a range of ways in which an accountant can improve their online presence and there are a number of options open dependent on budget, location and personal preferences.
If you are looking to retain that local business feel and just attract local customers then you might adopt an approach that makes your business stand out when people are doing local search queries on search engines such as Google.
For example if someone was searching for accountants in Sutton Coldfield then you would want to appear at the top of map results. These kinds of results often lead to phone calls rather than website hits (although you will get both) but crucially the person searching is going to be local – so you can still meet them if needed or wanted.
But how do you even get yourself on the maps in the first place? Well you can of course try some search marketing online courses, or you can go down the route of finding SEM services (SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing). This will cost you a monthly fee usually, but the return on investment is excellent once you are at the top of the map pack.
Other options include social media marketing where you try to engage with potential customers by getting them to follow you and share your content. A blog can help with this and by creating content that is valuable to your followers they will engage, remember and trust your brand and even more crucially they are more likely to recommend you to others.
The last option when it comes to marketing your accountancy firm online is using a pay per click method. This can be more costly and in our experience is not a lot of fun. It lacks the transparency of the other methods and people tend to place less trust in someone that has paid for an ad – they are also less likely to click on it in the first place meaning that you are missing out on a lot of potential customers. PPC has it’s place and many accountants use it, but it is worth getting a good company to manage it if you are taking this approach.
When it comes to accountancy in the 21st century, we have to be able to adapt to the needs of our customers. Hopefully this article will have given you some food for thought in terms of how to attract new clients online.
We have all been in a situation where you walk in to an office or retail store and you are just instantly blown away by the decor. There are certain things that stand out that exude class and it instantly gives you that feeling of ‘wow – this place is professional and high end’ – as dull as it may sound, flooring has a huge part to play in this so we thought we would take a look at a few ways to make the most of your accountancy floor space and help you to set the right tone for your customers – in fact, we found one solution that was so good – we thought we’d focus this article around it – and that is Polished Concrete.
If like me, you will be sitting there thinking to yourself what on earth is Polished Concrete and why does it matter to me? We came across this on a recent visit to a big client in the construction industry and the meeting was on site towards the end of a renovation project. He was pretty ecstatic when we got there because he had just had a new floor put down. He went on to tell us that this was a polished concrete floor.
We have to admit that it looked extremely high end and had a bit of marble look and feel to it – it certainly did exude class.
As par for the course when it comes to accountancy clients, we got to talking about the figures and we were mildly surprised when we saw how cost effective the the renovating of the floor was – it is also something that works in domestic as well as commercial and office spaces.
Why talk about concrete?
If at any point you are considering an upgrade to your office there is a very good chance that your flooring will be concrete. Even if you have boards, there may well be concrete beneath them. Now, there is nothing wrong with other types of flooring and it may well be that the look you need in your office is going to be better suited to another type of floor. But… if you have concrete laid down already then you are half way there to having the most professional floor for your office possible.
You can have concrete laid if you haven’t already got it but that will of course increase the cost, but if you have it already then it is almost a no-brainer. Take a look at some images of polished concrete floors and see for yourself the image it could help you portray to your clients at a fraction of the cost of marble.
If you like the idea then what are you waiting for. I would even go as far to say that the floor would pay for itself with new clients that you will acquire based on the professional image you are portraying. The concrete can be polished in a variety of styles and apparently will be completely unique.
If you work as a freelancer or are self employed then your accounting is often going to be something you do yourself – or at least for some part anyway. The question of whether you should go it alone or hire a professional when it comes to your bookkeeping is something that you would have to consider for yourself but in some industries they lend themselves more towards going solo due to the unique circumstances in which they happen.
For example, wedding photographers are a rare breed of self employed/freelancer who does not have a massive amount of outgoings and only works with a handful of clients each month. In fact, most wedding photographers will only ever max out at around 5 clients per month and that is even if they have a fully booked Saturday schedule each week of the year.
This combination of low expense, high ticket (but low volume) clients means that doing you own bookkepping can be possible if you get it right.
How to prepare your accounts
Before we get to the full on preparation of accounts you need to get the basics right first. First up, you should make sure that you are keeping all your professional and personal finances completely separate. That might mean a business and personal PayPal account, definitely a business bank account that is used solely for business and you should have a means of tracking your finances.
To track your finances you can use a simple online tool such as Quickbooks to keep a track of what is coming in and out of your accounts. It is also recommended to use an online platform such as Zoho (or again you can use Quickbooks) to invoice your clients and collect payments. Zoho allows your clients to pay by credit or debit card through Stripe (which is handy if you are just married and on a budget) and will allow you to easily track the payments your clients make as well as be convenient for them.
This will mean that all of your income and outgoings are in one place once you import them in to the software you are using. Quickbooks allows you to import your bank transactions too so this is a really time saving method and worth the £50 annual investment.
Whether or not you should get an accountant in to check over your business finances or not is up to you – if you are a limited company then it is advisable to get an accountant as HMRC are more strict on this and you will be expected to have everything nailed on. The same is true if you are a sole trader or partnership but the documentation is a little easier to navigate. Again, the investment of a few hundred pounds in a good accountant is probably worth the peace of mind you will get in return.
When it comes to accounting, there are no shortcuts and you should do whatever it takes to get it right. Just like someone’s big day – you want it to be just perfect.
One of the worst mistakes a business owner can make is to wait until the last minute before fixing their finances. Yet, this is what most people do. Most entrepreneurs put it off until the tax deadline is almost upon them before working on their books. That is simply lazy and irresponsible, and no way to run an efficient business.
That is why we recommend that you make it a regular habit. You should look over the details of your finances at least on a weekly basis. It would take you as short as 15 minutes every week yet it can save you from massive headaches.
In order to fully commit to this habit, you should integrate it as part of your regular schedule. Pencil it into your calendar as you would any other appointment. This is so that you can focus on the task at hand. During that period, you should look into organizing your finances. Focus on the details so that you can see the bigger picture. Only by properly accounting your finances can you get a clear idea of where your business stands.