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.
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.