In 1752 the English New Year was moved from the end of March to the beginning of January. Thankfully, the Georgian authorities saw fit to leave the Financial New Year where it was. I love the 18th century Georgian authorities. If it wasn’t for them I’d have to deal with the New Year Hangover and the Financial New Year Hangover at the same time. Like many self-employed people, the end of the financial year, and tax return deadlines finds me in a bad mood, usually late at night with a large pot of coffee and tons of paperwork to spill it on. When you’re self-employed the focus is on the day job – working to earn money and delight clients. Paperwork can wait – but it can’t wait for ever. There has to be an easier way and if, like me, you’re a persistent ‘deadline surfer’ the following might help.
Timing, Tools and Advice
- Whether you like it or not, you have to make book-keeping a significant priority in your life. The taxman demands up to date and accurate records and the fines for getting it wrong can be fatal. So take note; get into a routine with your book keeping and accounting and stick to it. Diary it into your schedule on a regular basis and stick to the diary. Treat it as if it was work for a client.
- There are several important dates in the financial year, make a note of them and keep an eye out for them as they come up. If you don’t already fill in your tax returns online, register to do so now. It’s going to become a requirement soon and the deadline for filling them in is currently a whole, delightful three months later than the paper deadline.
- Accounting software or book keeping software is an investment that you won’t regret. Double check with your accountant on systems they recommend and check that the cost falls under ‘allowable expenses’. The accounting software available is usually simple to use and it takes nearly all of the hard work out of record keeping, allows you to keep centralized records, produce professional invoices and it will also cut the time your accountant needs to prepare accounts – saving you even more money.
- Get help. There are a vast number of free resources available to small businesses and the self-employed. HMRC, for a start, are there to help and are more than willing to offer advice and support to new business. Their role is to collect taxes not crush promising new enterprises who can generate those taxes. In addition Business Link has specialist advisers and can offer access to courses or seminars to help in many different areas.
Accountancy tasks can be time consuming and for small businesses it’s a task that can take you or your staff away from the real business of making money. Planning tasks carefully, knowing the key dates in the tax year, employing an accountant and making the most of accounting software will help to keep you feeling bright and fresh in the coming financial year. You might even want to raise a glass to the memory of those enlightened authorities of the 18th century.
Neil blogs about small business and entrepreneurism, on everything from bookkeeping software to digital marketing. When he’s not online he enjoys good food, cycling and painting.
- Common Bookkeeping Mistakes That Weigh Down On Business Profits (2009tax.org)
- How to Choose a Great Canadian Small Business Accountant (onlinesurveysforcash.org)