September 26, 2017

It is September, so the obvious question is “What do you want for Christmas?” Maybe you could have it for FREE…

It is September, so the obvious question is “What do you want for Christmas?” Maybe you could have it for FREE...

 

 

I’m not jumping on the retail bandwagon (or should that be ‘sleigh’!) and starting the seasonal festivities way too early… instead, I want to ask you a couple of questions:

  1. If you could choose something to improve your business, what would it be?

  2. If you were told you had 3 months to achieve this, what would be your first action?

I suggest it should be to clearly define what it is you are wanting. Make it your Christmas business gift to help you start the new year with a positive ‘bang’.

If you don’t know what you want, the direction you need to be taking, and need some help, then Wellington Consulting have a promotion to help you achieve this – A FREE Strategic Review and Planning session for the first four people to book.

Usually the charge would be £150 per hour plus VAT for strategic review and planning, but, in association with Wellington Coaching, they want to offer the first 4 to get in contact a free half hour call to help you: whether it is getting your accounts and tax return done so you know how much tax you have got to pay by 31st January (or 31st December is you are a limited company with a March 31st year end); or increasing your sales to achieve the targets you set for the calendar year or getting help so that you can actually take some time off over Christmas, now is the time to start planning and taking action.

What are you waiting for? Contact us now for your FREE session.

T. 01989 730 713

E. admin@wcon.co.uk

How much tax will you need to pay in January?

 

Tax, Weliington Consulting, Accountant

How much tax do I need to pay?

 

Every year I hear the same question:

 

‘Where am I going to get the money from to pay my tax bill?’

 

 This is closely followed by:

 

‘How much tax do I need to pay?’

 

The truth is, that from 6th April 2017 the calculation could have been done to establish how much tax you are required to pay. You may have had to wait for statement of interest from savings accounts, P11d forms, if you receive benefits from your employer, or rental statements, if you use an agent to manage your rental properties, but the truth is that by now you should have all the information available to complete it today.

 

If you haven’t, you need to ask ‘why not?’ because…

 

If you run a business, you need to know how profitable it is, where costs can be saved or what investment is needed. You need to be in charge. Leaving the calculations until after the end of the year is not good for sustainability. How do you know how much money to put aside for tax, unless you know what profits you are making? How do you know that you are charging enough to cover the costs, including paying you, unless you know what income and costs you have? If you are not up to date now, when will you be up to date?

 

Note: If you prefer to fill in a paper tax return, you have until 31st October to make sure it arrives with HMRC, otherwise it will have to be done on-line.

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Take a holiday, but make a back up!

 

WellingtonConsulting_SocialMediaGraphic_Holidays_180717-01Many smaller business owners either don’t get round to taking a holiday, but when they do I guarantee that most will take their laptops and iPads with them. But what happens if it gets lost, broken or stolen while you are away?

 

 

Not a problem, we all make back-ups… right? But…

 

  • Are the programs you use for work on another computer?
  • Where is your customer list held?
  • Have you made copies of all the information your business needs to operate?

 

Do you back up? And do you keep that back up somewhere safe?

 

I only ask because you really wouldn’t like me to tell you how much it would cost to try and recover or (more realistically) recreate your data. It takes time as well as money and that is without measuring the distress and disruption to your business. At least the costs of recovery would be allowable against tax!

 

On a happier note, the evenings are still light, woolly jumpers are a distant memory and the heating bills are lovely and low. If you haven’t done so already, you still have time to gather together the information for your tax return and find out how much tax you need to pay by 31st January. If you wanted to, you could start paying money to HMRC now so as to spread the cost. And did you know they pay you interest if there is money sitting in your tax account for taxes not yet due?

 

Happy holidays.

 

 

 

 

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Have you got 31st July in your diary?

tax, self-assessment, HMRC, 31st July, accountant, herefordshire, monmouthshire, gloucestershire

Have you got 31st July in your diary?

 

We may all have put this matter to one side, filing the reminder letter in the unshrinking in-tray, but staying on top of our taxes is vitally important to all small businesses and those who are self employed.

The key is to not fear them or forget them!

 

I know you are busy, time so often our enemy and much better spent delivering our goods and services, but time has to be taken to keep our business affairs in order and avoid any nasty penalties. And if you don’t have the time, engage with someone who has both the time and the expertise.

Diary dates.

So, let’s start by reminding ourselves of the key dates for your diaries regarding taxes:

  • 5th October – registration date for individuals who are self-employed
  • 31st October –paper tax returns completed submission deadline
  • 31st January – online tax returns submission deadline
  • 31st January – deadline to pay taxes you owe
  • AND if you paid more than £1,000 tax on 31st January 2017, you may have more to pay by 31st July 2017.

How do you know if the July 31st deadline is applicable to you?

HMRC state this: ‘If you are self employed and earn enough to pay over £1,000 in tax and you have not already settled all tax due for the year to 5th April 2017, you will need to make a payment by 31st July this year.’

Also, if you have rental income or large amounts of investment income such as dividends, you may also be affected.

There is further information on the gov.juk website, or if you are unsure talk to your/an accountant.

You still have time.

If you haven’t already completed your tax returns, don’t panic! You can still avoid HMRC’s late filing penalties just start taking action now.

  • Gather together all your receipts, bills, bank statements, mileage logs, sales invoices and takings summaries
  • If you have already entered these into a spreadsheet or accounts software, such as QuickBooks Online, well done. It will make your life easier, and you will have a better handle on how the business is doing.
  • Gather other details of income such as bank interest, rental income (and related expenses), P60s and P45s and P11ds from any employment or pension you have. Also pension payments if you can deduct those from your tax bill
  • If you are married, discuss with your spouse whether there is benefit in reallocating some of the personal allowance to the other spouse (10% can be moved although some rules apply)

Decide if you are going to feel brave and prepare your own tax return. If so

And if you would rather have help making sure you are declaring everything and claiming all you can, call me and we can get things sorted.

Penny Lowe, Wellington Consulting

Visit my website to find out more about how I can help you and your business >

Computer data – how safe is yours?

Do you back up your accounts data onto the same machine you run your accounts software on – even if we are only talking about Excel?

I recently had a call from a client asking them to send me the backup of the data they had sent me for their accounts as their computer had died and I had the only recent backup. Thankfully their systems are good, with this one exception, so they have been able to get up and running quickly.

What would you do?

What would you do?

Another client has sent me their books but had a fire during the year, which included the computer so half the information is in paper format only. It may take a bit longer than usual to prepare their accounts. At least the paper survived to allow me to create the missing bits.

I am not perfect. All the business machines we use on a regular basis are backed each night at 1:30am however, we realised last month that my PAs machine, which lives in its bag when not in use, was missing out. She now has an external disk so she can preserve her work that it not being done directly to the cloud. I also treated it to an external fan so it does not cook in this hot weather.

If you have ever had computer failure, you will understand how long it can take to get up and running. Its not just a case of restoring your computer data. The important thing to remember from an HMRC viewpoint is that you have to keep your records for 6 years plus current so if you change accounts systems over that time you might want to cut a CD/DVD of the data before moving on so that, should the need arise, it could be accessed with help if needed.

If you back up onto a memory stick, make sure it is not only one. One of my clients has a different colour one for each day of the week. Nice touch and certainly avoids confusion. The big question is how much data do you need? I know my backups take about an hour and a half to cloud each night but that includes emails, word documents, photos, spreadsheets as well as mine, and my clients, accounts data. Have a think on what you would struggle to recreate and make sure you don’t wish you had got round to it before.

Business Advice From Berkshire : How Easy it it to change accountant?

How easy is it to change accountant?

I have been asked this twice in the last week, so I thought I would explain the process.

Before changing, decide what you don’t like about the existing one which is causing you to consider moving. It is their fault or yours? This might sound harsh but if you find their bill high, is it the rates they charge per hour or, do you have to be chased and ask them to work miracles with an incomplete box of bills and till rolls? The reason I ask is what is going to change if you change accountant.

forecast

Another reason quoted for wanting to change accountant is that the existing firm only put together the accounts and tell you how much tax to pay. They do not advise or get involved on a more regular basis. Why is this? Is it because you are trying to keep your bills to a minimum and therefore just asked for the minimum legally required, or is the firm not set up to do more than a production line approach to your accounts? Even if you have decided to change accountant, you still need to answer these questions so you don’t replicate your unhappiness with the next one.

Having made your decision you can then proceed:

Step 1 – Find an alternative accountant who a) you feel happy with and that you find approachable; b) can provide the breadth of services you require; c) has the capacity to take on the work you want doing within the timescale you need d) that is open about their method of charging; e) that can provide references unless you have approached them through recommendation of a friend or business colleague; f) that is a member of one of the accounting bodies. This does not have to be Chartered or Certified (unless you have a big company that needs an audit) but some recognised organisation that you could complain to or contact if you are having difficulties. Mine is the Association of Accounting Technicians where I am registered as a Member In Practice and get checked up on by visits to my practice. I also have a registered ‘understudy’ in case I get run over by a bus. This means clients will get looked after until a long term solution is agreed. Ideally go and visit a couple of accountants so you can compare and contrast. Don’t forget to let the unsuccessful candidate know.

Step 2 – Notify your existing accountant that you no longer require their services and give them the details of your new accountant. This gives them authority to disclose the information. Let your new accountant know the details of the old accountant and that they have been notified of your intended move.

Step 3 – The new accountant will write to the old accountant asking for all relevant information and if there is any reason that the new accountant should not act for you. The old accountant should then send the new accountant ‘everything’ relevant. They may delay sending the information if there is an outstanding bill. They are entitled to do this.

Step 4 – The new accountant will send you an engagement letter setting out what services they have agreed to provide and any contractual type things such as payment terms.  You usually have to sign and return a copy. If not already done, you may also be asked to complete a form 64-8. This is sent/submitted to HMRC and gives HMRC  the authority to talk to the accountant about your/your business affairs.

And that’s it. Your new accountant does what is needed/requested and you pay them. Regarding timing, any time of year is possible but half way through the accountant preparing your annual accounts will cost you a little more as work may need to be done twice. The new accountant may want to redo the bit the old accountant had started. Payroll is better transferred in April but can actually be done at any time.

Let me know which of your questions I haven’t answered!

Business Advice from Berkshire: Embrace new technology

I tend to be hesitant to embrace technology, but once I try it, I often treat it as any other tool. One example is to use video to put across your message. I made a video to promote my book Understanding Accouts for the UK Business Owner (www.understanding-accounts.co.uk) when it first came out and that video took a lot longer to make than this.

Well, I have given it a go, and here is the result of my first attempt!

Click on the link below – its very short and to the point.

WCON 1

Business Advice From Berkshire: Increase Your Profits – The Easy Way

Many business owners can get in a rut and keep doing what they have always done. Now is the time to change. Whatever you are doing, there are some things that you should do differently. What are those things in your business?

Firstly, make sure you know what you are spending your money on. Do you know what all the payments are for? Are you still getting benefit from what you are paying out? Are you getting the best deal?

My broadbaIncrase Your Profitsnd was slowing down to the point it was becoming unusable. I have BT Infinity and so I believed it shouldn’t be that bad. I gave in, resigned myself to the fact I would spend hours on the phone and took up the challenge of getting back the speed I was used to. To cut a long story short, after a one hour three minute phone call, my service is working faster than it has done for some while, I am having a new ‘box’ delivered on Wednesday which is three models up from the one I have and will almost double the speed, I will have a year’s cover and my internet will cost me £2 per month less. Time well spent.

I have also reviewed the quality of service I was getting from some of my suppliers and have given them notice and currently sourcing different ones. I am now better educated as to what I need and in a stronger position as a customer than I was when I first needed their services. You may find yourself in a similar position.

Secondly, are you charging the right price? Have your costs, including delivery costs, risen gradually over time and you have not made the necessary adjustments to your prices? Have you clearly defined what you are supplying to your customers so they don’t keep getting free add-ons? I am not just talking about putting your prices up, but simply charging correctly for what you do supply.

If you want to hear more ideas look at the Dates and Events section of my business website at Wellington Consulting and see what takes your fancy. http://wcon.co.uk/dates-events

If you have any suggestions, please leave them below to share with others.

Business Advice from Berkshire: Do you use your budget?

A budget is a plan for how much you intend to sell and how much it will cost you. Do you have one?

The majority of smaller businesses do not have a budget. They struggle to keep on top of history, let alone plan for the future. Are you one of those? Why would you want to spend time and effort creating a budget?

Clean-up Nicklins Blackberry 145If you go on a journey, you firstly decide where you want to go. You then decide which method of transport you will use to get there. You will then look at possible routes and costs and then, possibly, review your preferred method before making a decision and scheduling the trip. You should be doing the same for your route to greater profits.

Many business owners say they want to make more money without specifying how much they are aiming at, or what their route is to get there. It is because they are working good intentions rather than to a plan. This is where the budget comes in. The budget specifies how many sales and at what cost over a specific period. Having put the effort in to creating this, you can then monitor actual against budget to see how close to the plan you are. If you are exceeding your plan, it needs to be reviewed to see what you can do more of to ensure it is sustainable. If you are falling short of the plan, why and what can you do to improve the situation.

If you have never worked with a budget, and don’t know where to start, contact me and we can discuss what you need to do to create one. If you have one, but not using it, a quick hour of strategic review may be enough to get you back on track.

wconAsk around people you know who run a successful business, I bet you find they use a budget and would recommend you do too. Let me know your thoughts and why you would recommend drawing up a budget.

I can be contacted via info@wcon.co.uk or you can see some of the classes on offer on the web site www.wcon.co.uk.

How Flexible is your Business?

With changing times and circumstances, how flexible is your business? Over the last ten years my business has changed its focus due to both customer demand and what I want from my business. To me, this is one of the benefits of being the business owner. The future of the business is my decision.

Book coverWhy are you in business? Are they the same reasons now as they were when you started? I am sure you are wiser and have built up a tremendous knowledge of things you didn’t know, you didn’t know when you started. What else is there for you to learn?

For many business owners, there are some topics that you would rather delegate and positively avoid, what are yours? Even if you don’t do the hands work, you need to have enough knowledge to delegate. If numbers are your monster then I can help you fight it and win. Like David and Goliath, a few well-chosen tools can give you the upper hand. The story of the hare and the tortoise is much the same. A careful and controlled approach means you do not need to go to extremes to win.

gravatarIf you find that your market place is changing, that the technology is moving on at a rate of knots, that you want to fit extra activities into your life in addition to your work, it is down to you to decide how to deal with this.

My business is leaping into its next phase which includes supporting many more businesses succeed and grow. In what area do you need help? Are your customers moving into a direction that you need to catch up with? Or do you need to educate your customers? This will demonstrate you want to do the best for them, to help them keep up with the times. They will then start to respect you as the expert, hang on your every word while you steer them in the direction you want them to go.

Remember, if you monster is numbers, I can show you the tactics to win.