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What I wish I knew. Part One: Accountancy.

Starting a business is hard. It often feels like there is an overwhelming amount to learn when you get started and the truth is that however much you think you have to learn you can probably times that by infinity because mastering the world of business really is a myth.

That is why I decided to put together a list of the things I wish I knew when I started my business, just think of me as a big sister, imparting her wisdom to you and if you find the rest of this post interesting feel free to browse my other blog posts!

So much of what I like to talk about is quite taboo in the world of business but I think it is really important to break down those taboo topics and start speaking more openly whether it's about the fine you received from companies house or the breakdown you have once or twice a week just trying to juggle everything. (yes these examples are taken from my own personal experiences).

Let's kick things off with something I was totally clueless about when I started my business:

All you need to know about finding an accountant

If you're anything like me I was totally lost when it came to finding an accountant. I knew I'd have to find one at some point but didn't know how much they were supposed to cost, when the right time was, or which accountancy to go with not to mention the fact that I didn't have a full understanding of what they were supposed to do for me or even what I needed!

To be totally honest my finances were a mess, by the time I really started actively looking for an accountant I had been running my business for over 2 years and hadn't really done any financial admin at all. I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed and didn't know where to start. Here is what I know now...

Do I need an accountant?

My business was a limited company which meant, amongst other things, that my responsibilities weren't only paying taxes for myself but also completing my annual accounts and company tax return too, ultimately it's a lot of work and can be quite confusing for anyone who doesn't know finance. If a mistake is made or anything is missed the risk is quite high and at the very least can result in large fines.

Deciding whether to register as a sole trader or as a limited company is a whole other conversation altogether and not one we'll be covering here but just to help you get an idea of whether or not you need an accountant, here is my recommendation: definitely get one if you have a limited company and give it a go yourself if you are a sole trader. If you are really lost and would rather not have your accounts on your plate then it might be worth getting one for peace of mind. Check out some accounting apps first though as they may make things much easier for you.

What accountant should I choose and where do I find them?

Again this really depends on what your business is registered as but ultimately I would recommend doing a quick google search or asking around friends and family for any recommendations. If you have a limited company it will likely be more expensive but call around, see what services they offer and what their prices are. If you are a sole trader, look out for a personal accountant, the fees are usually really reasonable. It may be a small monthly fee or they'll only charge you when they do work for you.

How much do accountants cost?

This will always vary from accountant to accountant. Shop around and compare their prices against what services they offer you. I have paid over £1000 per annum for an accountant for my limited company and from a quick google search, it looks like personal accountants start at around £15.00 per month in the UK.

Are the apps worth it?

The short answer is yes. In my opinion, online accounting software can be extremely useful and affordable. As a limited company I use Xero with my accountant but before as a sole trader, I found QuickBooks to be a great tool to stay on top of my finances and easily complete my tax return.

The world of accountancy is a jungle but do your research, speak to more than one accountant and chat with other people who have had the same struggles to get their advice. I am in no way an expert on the subject (Seriously) I can only speak on my own experience but I hope I've been able to clear some confusion up and take some of the stress off.

My final piece of advice on this subject is PLEASE keep track of your finances as early on as possible. Your account will charge you for bookkeeping and this can be another few hundred on top of what you pay them anyway. Avoid any nasty surprises!

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