Small business problems – 12 ways an accountant can help you

The truth is that hiring an accountant at any time of the year is a good idea. We’re just unapologetic about our love of Christmas. So, as we head towards the big day, read on for our 12 days of accounting Christmas or in other words, how an accountant can help solve your small business problems.

Sing along if you know it!

  1. On the first day of Christmas my accountant said to me … accounting software

The Government’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ (MTD) initiative means that most VAT-registered businesses now need to submit their returns online.

There are lots of online accounting options out there. An accountant can advise you on the best accounting software for your needs and will make sure you’re utilising all of the benefits. Our two preferred accounting software providers are FreeAgent and Xero. We’re a Preferred Partner with FreeAgent and have Gold Partner status with Xero.

  1. On the second day of Christmas my accountant said to me … best legal structure

If you’re in the early stages of your business journey, an accountant can advise you on the best structure for your business. Should you be a sole trader, limited company or operate through an umbrella company? If you’re already set up as a sole trader for example, an accountant can advise if changing the business structure to a limited company would be more financially beneficial.

  1. On the third day of Christmas my accountant said to me … tax liability

A good accountant will understand how to save you money and be able to give you good counsel on the most tax efficient way of running your business.

Advice on paying yourself dividends and the benefits of using the flat rate VAT scheme are just some areas they can help with. At THP we’ll explore the possibility of Research & Development Tax Credits for you and see if there are tax opportunities specifically for your industry.

  1. On the fourth day of Christmas my accountant said to me … expenses

I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t want to reduce their expenses (in work and in life). An accountant can look at your business and see if there are areas of spending that can be trimmed. Perhaps excessive stock levels, overheads or staffing costs? The less money that goes out, the more profit there is for you. Knowing what you can and can’t claim for is a minefield. An accountant can talk you through it. Over the years we’ve seen it all!

  1. On the fifth day of Christmas my accountant said to me … fines

When you start to work for yourself, you suddenly need to understand all manner of things, many of which won’t be in your area of expertise. Your accounts are one of the things that you can’t afford to get wrong. Fines from HMRC range between £150 for a day late submission of annual accounts to £1,500 fine for a six-month delay. Let your accountant keep on top of the deadlines so you don’t have to.

  1. On the sixth day of Christmas my accountant said to me … legislation

Auto enrolment, Flat Rate VAT Scheme and Making Tax Digital have all had consequences for business owners in recent years. Changes in legislation are often proceeded by months of lengthy and confusing paperwork. Let your accountant pick through the paperwork and tell you what you need to do to comply.

  1. On the seventh day of Christmas my accountant said to me … save time

Even if you enjoy accounting (yes really, some people do!) and everything that entails, having the time to do it on top of running a business is another matter. It can be easy to dismiss hiring an accountant as too expensive but think about how long it takes you and what your hourly rate is. Add to that the risk that you may have missed something and it becomes a no brainer. While your accountant is looking after your finances, you can focus on bringing in more revenue and new clients.

  1. On the eight day of Christmas my accountant said to me … tax investigation

Let’s hope this never happens but if you are subject to an investigation by HMRC, having an accountant by your side is going to make all the difference. The tax man has the power to inspect business documents and assets at your premises, ask for documents and information, make unannounced inspections and go back up to six years to investigate matters. At THP we offer a Tax Investigation Service, so if the worst happens you have someone who knows your business at your side ready to help.

  1. On the ninth day of Christmas my accountant said to me … growth

Many people see an accountant’s role as filing the end of year accounts and preparing your tax return. The truth is that we really can do a lot more.
Honest. When it’s time to take your business to the next level, an accountant can act as a soundboard to your ideas. They can suggest market opportunities you may be missing out on, can check if your prices are within market rate and help with staff incentivisation schemes. We want your business to be as successful as you do.

  1. On the tenth day of Christmas my accountant said to me … loans

Accountants aren’t just there to manage the money you already have. They can also steer you in the right direction for additional finance, without putting your business at risk. They’ll research options such as; taking out a loan, increasing an overdraft or issuing share capital. Don’t just assume that your bank is the only place to go to borrow money. They can also help you sell shares in your business or crowdfund. At THP we work with an experienced Commercial Finance Broker to help clients find the best option.

  1. On the eleventh day of Christmas my accountant said to me … payroll

If your staff aren’t paid on time or their pay is incorrect, it’s not going to make for happy Christmas bunnies. Employing an accountant to manage your payroll for you can be a wise move. Among other things, they can take care of your PAYE calculations, sort out electronic payslips and calculate sick pay, maternity/paternity pay and holiday entitlements.

  1. On the twelfth day of Christmas my accountant said to me … selling up

You know what they say, ‘all good things come to an end’ (and don’t worry you’re almost at the end of this blog J).

If you’ve never employed the services of an accountant, it might be a good idea to consider hiring one for this. An accountant will put your company’s financial records in order, showcase your business in its best light tell you what it’s worth and talk to potential buyers.

An accountant can also help you structure your own financial affairs so that you sell your business in the most tax efficient way. For example, a lump sum might be less tax-efficient than taking monthly payments over a period of years.

More support for your business

Not your traditional Christmas carol I know, but we hope it’s shown you just what an asset a good accountant can be to your business every step of the way.

We love meeting new businesses and believe we can offer a one-stop-shop for your business. Give us a call at one of our THP offices located in SuttonChelmsfordWanstead, and Saffron Walden.

Need further advice on any of the topics being discussed? Get in touch and see how we can help.

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    About Liz Cordell

    I’m an experienced copywriter, with a great attention to detail. Having previously held positions at a global publisher, a top 100 law firm and a Big Four professional services firm, I now work with clients across a range of industries. Whether it’s new content for a website or creating interesting blogs for my clients, I can create engaging copy that doesn’t take a lifetime to read.

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