November 21, 2017

Just take a picture of the bill and the machine will do the rest.

Accounts, receipt management, business owners, recieptbank

Wouldn’t it be great if you just take a picture of the bill and let the machine do the rest.

That’s how some people would like to see their book-keeping happen. Although it’s not quite that simple, but it can be nearly that easy.

Using an app on your phone from Receipt Bank ©, the picture goes up to the cloud. The picture is then read, classified and can automatically be pushed into QuickBooks, a book-keeping and accounts programme that you have probably seen advertised on TV over the last year. You know your business better than the machine so if it’s guessed wrong or it hasn’t a clue, then you can go through these items and tell it what they are. If you don’t know where they should go in the accounts, I set up a heading called ‘Ask Penny’. I can then go through these items so you, or the system, can get it right next time.

What’s the benefit? Keeping your books up to date means you don’t have that elephant in the corner waiting to be tackled that just gets bigger. Another reason is you can make decisions based on facts; another is you can track the bottom line as your business grows. Another benefit is you will be well used to your system when HMRC bring in their Making Tax Digital (MTD) for businesses requiring quarterly reporting and digital book-keeping. Each transaction in your system will be supported by a picture of the bill and this is acceptable to HMRC so you won’t have to keep all that paper.

If you want to know more about how this would work for you, or simply to understand the figures better, or want to grow your business, get in touch

Piles of leaves in the garden. Piles of receipts in the office?

Piles of leaves in the garden. Piles of receipts in the office?

Piles of leaves in the garden. Piles of receipts in the office?

The leaves are falling and we are preparing for the colder months. Does this include making sure you have systems in place for recording your businesses receipts and payments?

Do you sometimes feel that as fast as you brush up the leaves the wind scatters them about, or do you have a leaf vacuum that gathers them all together leaving a neat looking garden or drive and a contained volume of leaves to file in the compost heap or bonfire.

Perhaps your book-keeping is the same. You dip into it on occasions but it keeps escaping. Wouldn’t it be better to have systems in place to capture the information. I am not suggesting you set light to the papers once they have been input, but as HMRC will accept electronic copies of documents now, you could do.

Some book-keeping systems, including QuickBooks, allow you to take a photo of the receipt with your phone and upload it to the cloud. You then tell the cloud what it was for and how it was paid and the software does the rest. Couldn’t really be simpler. The great thing is that you are doing little and often rather than having this elephant that is too big to eat.

In speaking to some non-clients, their view is that elephants are not just big and scary but have hidden tricks up their sleeve. What they meant by this is there are some payments that they just don’t know what to do with or how to classify. My suggestion is have a heading of ‘Ask My Accountant’. This means that the payment (or receipt) can be logged in your system with lots of notes to help remind you later and then you can move on. An accountant will be grateful for drawing ‘funnies’ to their attention in this way rather than they be missing, or hidden somewhere. Your accountant knows that, with information supplied by you, the buck stops with them regarding classification and whether an item is tax allowable or not. That is part of what you pay them for.

Enjoy your accounts and this will help you grow your business.

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.

WellingtonConsulting_SocialMediaGraphic_Tax_040817-01

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: 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 – What will make the difference?

In many businesses the most precious asset is the staff. Without good, knowledgeable, dedicated staff you cannot expect to have an outstanding business.

 What do you put in place to ensure your business is the best it can be? It may be something as simple as a headset for the phone so that staff can easily make notes while talking to prospects and customers. This also means they don’t get a crick in their neck and are happy to keep working.

penx Another area that can make a difference is knowledge. Are your staff fully trained to do what you are asking them. I recently spent a day in Somerset with an experienced member of staff who felt she was not using her accounts software to the full so the business hired me for a day’s consultancy, including the cost of travel. They realised the benefit of using what they had better, rather than being average and struggling on as they were. I am often asked to work one to one with a firm as they ‘got the software some time ago but never had any formal training’. By the end of the day they kick themselves when they realise what they could have been doing and the time they could have been saving. All it took was a small investment to quickly get returns that would last them for many years. Even if they changed the software, they can never lose the skill and expectation of what can be achieved.

 As you know, I am a great believer in training and would ask you include it in your budget. You wouldn’t give someone a ball of wool and needles and expect them to knit a jumper. Even if they knew how to knit, they would need a pattern to follow and some guidance as to the expected shape and size. How often do you request something from your staff without giving them the skills and full picture of what is expected?

What can you think of that can make the difference between being an average and being a good supplier to your customers – and your staff? Remember, you are also staff of your business so this applies to YOU!

Business Advice from Berkshire – What lessons have you learned?

Having exhibited at The Business Show at Olympia recently, it gave me the opportunity to speak with many business owners and would be business owners.

Two topics kept re-occurring. The first was that many accountants are not good at communicating with their clients and the other was that successful businesses keep a careful eye on their figures. I believe both the above to be true, but what I found interesting is the number of times I heard them being said to be over the two days of the show.

Penny WellingtonTaking the first point, difficulty in communication, what can be done to address this? If you go on holiday to a country where a different language is spoken, you know it makes sense to learn a few words even if only to be polite and be able to say thank you. The more vocabulary you learn, the easier it is for you and the natives. In many countries, the local population have learned English which means we can take the lazy approach and still be understood without having to put in too much effort. Is it possible to take this approach with your accountant? Learn a bit about their language and what they are doing and it will be much easier for both of you.

The second topic really leads on from the first. By taking an interest in the figures – and by this I don’t mean you actually have to do them – you can monitor the current position of the business and realistically plan for the future. Many business owners would like to be in this position, but expect to do so without learning the basics.

If you do decide to learn the language – and a bit about the culture – I can guarantee it will make a difference to your business. Remember Finance for Business Owners is one of the courses I offer. I also work with larger businesses where the Finance Director believes ‘nobody understands him’. This can be true as the MD is too afraid to ask questions in case he can’t understand the answer. A course in language and Book coverculture can mean everyone can get the most from their holiday – oops I mean work on shaping the business and growing the profits.

Get in touch to book a bespoke course, or for the dates of the classroom courses. Also share your own thoughts on your learnings.

Business Advice from Berkshire – I’ve got round to it – when will you?

There are some things that sit towards the bottom of my ‘to do’ list as I know I ought to do them so won’t actually remove them. They won’t make me instant money nor will they, on the surface, cost me money by not doing them, so why don’t I choose to do them?

IntuitSometimes it just takes will power to go ahead. I have been training QuickBooks since 2004 and been listed as QuickBooks Advisor for many years. Last year they bought out an accreditation scheme so you could take an exam, and become a ‘certified’ version. I downloaded the course material, read it through, decided it was fine as I knew and taught most of it, but never did the exam. This year they have also bought out an accreditation for their On-Line QuickBooks so, as I am on the stand next to Intuit – authors of QuickBooks at The Business Show at Olympia, I thought perhaps I ought to go for it. I am glad to say I passed both exams to a high level so can now be one of their elite team. The only question now is why didn’t I get round to it before?

I have done my personal tax return, I have done my VAT return, how about you? Are there jobs that you don’t fancy that are not time critical yet but you will feel so much better when they are done. It may be they were part of this year’s New Year Resolution. There is still time to complete it before the end of this year.

Go on, take the plunge and share with me what you have or will achieve over the next month.

Business Advice from Berkshire – Are your Accounts in order ?

Earlier this year I wrote an article with the above title. Earlier this week, I was sent a copy. It had been reproduced in The Entrepreneur Magazine (November 2013 edition page 53).

The content is still true today. If you would like to get hold of a copy of the text, drop me a line and I can send it to you – or you could buy the magazine!

thumbsWhy do I mention this? Well, a client of mine, having signed the accounts emailed me and asked – what about the other £10,000 of dividends I took in March, where do they show in the accounts? I have looked at his bank statements, and can only see £2,500 taken during March. The answer is that it was June he actually withdrew the amount – his emails also confirm this. I do feel better now.

What this tells me is that he has looked at the accounts, he has understood them and although he leaves entering the transactions to me, he is aware of what has gone on. The only thing I would say is he could do with looking at them a little more often. How often do you look at yours? As we are nearing Christmas, he would like to know how large a dividend he can take. Although I can advise on the basis of profits to date and potential tax bill as a result, I do not know whether his main contracts are coming to an end, how much work he will be doing over Christmas? It is this sort of information that he, being closer to the business, knows which I don’t without quizzing him. What I can suggest is that he might consider not drawing some money now and waiting for his personal tax bill which will be due the end of January. Even as director of a company, his profits are high enough to potentially push him into higher rate tax when salary is added to dividends. Do you know how much you need to put aside for the end of January?

Book coverBy keeping your accounts up to date, you and your accountant can do tax planning. Another client asked how much he could back date in pension contributions to reduce his tax bill, having explained I was not an IFA and could not advise on pensions, I suggested he saw one soon rather than later. More opportunity for planning if you know where you are now.

I am looking forward to hearing what you have spotted in your accounts. Remember, if you want a copy of the printed article, let me know by dropping me an email or leave a message below.