Remember, no matter how big or different you want your company to be, there are still some rules you need to follow to ensure your business runs as smoothly as possible. Scott Bryan asked several experts for some tips about dealing with HMRC, sorting out your admin and how to cope with those early days...
Dean Shepherd, a Chartered Tax Adviser from TaxByDesign.com, advises that you need to tell HMRC as soon as you start. “If you forget to do so when you first start your business then you can easily miss filing deadlines and incur unnecessary fines later down the line. Registration can either be done online at HMRC's website or by calling their helpline on 0845 915 4515.”
sSarah Watkinson-Yull from YULL Shoes, a start-up business established in 2011, says that it takes no time at all. “It is fairly easy – just download and fill out a form from the HMRC website.”
Also, check out Business Links. “It provides information to help you understand the process and what the best structure to use for your business,” says James Eder, the Founder of The Beans Group.
It is important that you keep on top of your paperwork. James advises that “being organised, and using the right systems and processes to help you achieve, can be the difference between success and failure.”
He recommends Kashflow, an online accounting system for small businesses. He says that “Kashflow integrates with HMRC and produces fantastic accounting and management reports.”
Alternatively you can just use spreadsheets. Sarah says that she has “spreadsheets for purchases and sales, which are then also printed out and put into files. All the receipts have to kept and I also mark on my bank statements the reference which they correspond to.”
Also to keep costs down, James recommends using Cloud software, such as Google Apps for Business or Dropbox. “All our work is stored in the cloud, meaning we can collaborate and work anywhere – this can even remove the need for an office.”
You should always keep VAT in mind. “VAT is value added tax – in the UK it is levied at 20% for normal goods and services. I keep records of my VAT for every quarter and file it online,” says Sarah.
So when should you pay? Dean says that you need to do so once your sales hit £77,000. “Certain types of business can benefit from registering voluntarily before you hit those sales figures, others are best avoiding VAT registration for as long as you can. There are lots of different schemes available to help reduce your admin and costs when the time is right for your business to register.”
An accountant should be able to help you guide you through such paperwork. Just make sure that you don’t choose any accountant. James says “Ideally you should be able to find an accountant that is there to help you with not just the accounts, but general business advice. Don't be afraid to leave them if they aren't delivering.”
Plan ahead and work hard
Dean advises that you need to “Visualise exactly what you want your business to look like, who you want your customers to be and how much you want them to pay. I see too many new businesses just dive in without really thinking about where they are heading and end up working too hard for too little reward.”
Meanwhile James says that you need to not take no for an answer, take responsibility for your actions and be prepared to work the extra mile. “Success isn’t going to be delivered on a silver platter”.
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Image: _MG_3750 by Richard.Asia, available under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.