If the idea of being your own boss seems increasingly attractive in these trouble economic times, you’re not alone. Surprisingly large numbers of individuals have taken, or are taking, the leap into self-employment. It seems odd, when the economy is contracting, but it is often the case during recessions that the number of self-employed and new small businesses rises. Small businesses are now leading the way in job creation; with more people facing job insecurity and redundancy, for many the only choice is to create their own job. The idea is attractive at any time, being your own boss means freedom to take control of a big part of your life. However, not all businesses will succeed and one crucial area that causes businesses to fail in the early days is poor planning, particularly of the financial kind. So what are the key tools to help you overcome the obstacles?
Basic Planning Matters
- Planning can seem like a very boring part of preparing to go it alone. However, it’s possibly the most essential part of the process. Planning every aspect of your business from your marketing strategy to finding premises is absolutely necessary. Planning your financial arrangements should also figure highly on your list.
- Financial planning should include obvious, and frequently overlooked, matters like invoicing software and accounting software. Customers will need to be billed and you need to be clear how this is going to work. Simple paper invoices are fine; they are also time-consuming to produce and track. Invoicing software makes the process straightforward – and should be fool proof.
- An accountant is an absolute must for any business or self-employee. Tax and VAT regulations are complex and ever changing. Regulations that apply to your company will vary depending on its size and could easily change as you grow. Working with a professional from the start will ensure you stay on the right side of HMRC. When choosing an accountant consider the following.
Finding an Accountant
- Do find an accountant before, or when, you start trading. It’s perfectly understandable that many small firms put this off. Why pay for a service before you’re earning? The simple answer is that you may not be aware of what records you need to keep. Tax authorities recommend keeping records for at least six years. An accountant can guide you through this from the start.
- Contact a number of accountants and ask some questions. Different firms operate on different charging structures. Some will list charges for each service – which can allow you to pick and choose what you need. Others will agree a service level for a fee – payable quarterly or monthly. This may suit you if you will have a high volume of accounting work that needs to be dealt with frequently.
- Find out what prospective accountants recommend in terms of accounting software. Software comes in a range of options, including cloud versions which are extremely flexible and versatile. Using online accounting software means that it will not matter what software your chosen accountant uses – they will be able to access your records online as and when required.
As your own boss you’ll be responsible for far more areas of your business than the actual work you do to bring in the cash. While you don’t need to be an expert typist to type a letter, or a world class receptionist to answer the phone, areas such as accounting need specialists to be involved. Don’t consider cutting corners on this particular aspect of your business but shop around carefully for a service that suits your specific needs and business. With the right accountant and the right accounting software, making ends meet will seem effortless.
Simon Wilson blogs about small business issues and challenges, focusing on everything from accounting software to how small businesses can use social media. When he’s not online Simon enjoys playing cricket and is a big movie fan.
While it may seem that any bookkeeper or even keeping track of your own books will do, there is much to be said for employing a good accountant for your personal and business finances.
Of course a good accountant will cost a fair amount of money, but in the long run having a capable accountant in charge of the books will save much more money than it costs. A good accountant will be able to see areas where expenses can be reduced as well as those instances where income can be increased. A really good accountant will even be able to make suggestions as to where productivity can be increased and save even more time and money.
A good accountant will be able to spot fraud where you may not be able to. Accountants are trained to recognize suspicious patterns and occurrences that a standard bookkeeper or even a business owner may not notice. They can see when payroll is not quite right or when ghost deliveries area being made, and because they understand what is going on they can catch the culprit before he even knows anyone is onto him. A potential perpetrator of fraud will realize they stand a much less chance of being successful and fraud will be deterred.
While bookkeeping software and basic accounting knowledge can get you far, there is too much at stake when it comes to accounting. Difficult accounting issues can arise when you least expect, and having a good accountant on your side will save time, and time is money of course. An example that involves both fraud and cost would be if the business owner suspected fraud. He might spend a lot of time trying to figure out what is going on, while an accountant will know exactly what to look for to prove definitively whether fraud is an issue in very little time. Another way time will be saved by employing a good accountant is in basic training. Business owners have to spend the time to understand accounting and train on any software being used, while an accountant has already spent this time and is ready to get to work.
As a business owner, you will be free to deal with other aspects of the business if you have a good accountant dealing with the finances. With an accountant to keep you informed, you can rest easy knowing that if the budget or other financial issues need your attention, you will be notified. This allows you to concentrate on whatever other business matters you need to and nothing slips through the cracks because you are trying to do too many things at once. If you are trying to deal with payroll and other financial issues while other areas need your attention, something important is likely to not get done.
It all boils down to specialization. No one does finances better than a trained accountant, and having one handle your finances give you peace of mind, frees up your time, and saves you money.
Dennis works for one of Australia’s biggest accounting firms and knows the importance of finding a good accountant to manage both personal and business finances. Such is his expertise in the industry, Dennis is regularly used as a consultant to provide his fellow accountants with tips and advice for a range of situations.
One of the most reliable reviews that you could ever listen to are those that are given by the customers of accounting packages companies. You would be able to get their insight on how well the product has served them and what were some of the problems in using it. By checking these feedback, you would be able to tell if the software will be good for you or not.
There are a couple of things that you would need to check in order to make sure that the accounting of your choice will perfectly fit with the needs of your company. The first thing that you would need to check is the specs of your computer compared to what is being asked by the program in order for it to run. Second, check if small business accounting packages will meet the needs of your company.
Knowing how to navigate the software is an important part of the process of looking for the right accounting package for you. Since there are different types of applications out there, it also follows that they come in different levels of difficulty in terms of making it work. You can get an idea on just how well you would be able to used it by checking out its trial version. There are so many of these on the internet and you don’t even have to pay for until you finally decide that the software is for you.
As soon as you are ready to make the purchase, look for a company that you could definitely trust. There are many posers out there that deal out fake software that has been illegally copied. One of the best ways to check if the company is legitimate is by scoping them out with the Better Business Bureau. The reason why you would need to look for a company that is reliable is because they will be the one who will help you out in case you would need help with the software. They will be the ones who will deliver it to you therefore you have to make sure that they can do it promptly.
This article will focus on the latest trend in the 401k space ~ “free” 401k advice!
To begin with, the Pension Protection Act of 2006 which came into effect in January of 2008, includes a provision for plan providers (the vendor that provides you company with your 401k plan platform) to offer plan sponsors (your company) the option for plan participants (you) to pay for independent third party investment advice with pre-tax money from your plan assets. Granted this is not free but it gives the plan participant the choice to use pretax dollars vs. writing a check for the investment advice.
Know that even though you do not currently get a bill for the service, you are already paying manager fees if you own any type of mutual fund in your plan. You just do not see the money deducted from inside the fund. It is not transparent.
Furthermore, at least one plan provider, Charles Schwab, has begun offering some of their plan sponsor clients the option for plan participants to use, without charge, an unrelated investment advisory firm, GuidedChoice Asset Management, Inc.. There is a catch however; their investment advice is limited to the core lineup of mutual funds offered in the plan. In other words, if the plan also has a self directed 401k GuidedChoice will not advise the plan participant on those possible investment choices. Neither will they provide any advice on assets held outside the plan whereas an independent advisor would, if asked.
Yet, Schwab has taken the concept a step further. They are introducing an indexing-only 401k plan using exchange traded funds… along with customized 401k advice. The indication so far is not clear if the client plan sponsor or the plan participant is billed for the advice; however, it is clear that participants are in dire need of this service.
If you think that 401k advice is a good idea and you want to know if your company has adopted any of these provisions, call your human resources department and ask. If no one can give you a verbal answer, ask for a document called The Summary Plan Description. This document will spell it out for you. Just know that there are 401k advisors ready and willing to help.
Choosing an accountant to handle your business finances is a careful task, because you are going to entrust everything that you have worked for that person. You must know the right techniques to find a very reliable accountant to ensure your business’ financial security. Here are some tips that you can apply, so that you will be able to find yourself an accountant that you can trust.
First, you will need to ask yourself to know your specific accountant needs. To accomplish that you will need to figure out where your business stands, and what do you need to do to make your business grow. Then, put yourself in an accountant shoes. Imagine what strategies that you will need to apply to manage this company’s finances. Once you have done this, write a list of expectations that you would want for your accountant to do.
Once you have organized your expectations, the next thing that you will need to do is start your search. To start your search, you must ask people that you that you trust like your family and friends if they know a good accountant.These people might know good accountants, and they will be happy to recommend someone that can help you with your finances. This is a good way to start your search, because you are confident that these people that you trust will actually recommend a competent accountant.
Before asking your friends or relatives for a recommendations, you must ask the right probing questions so that you can filter out the most reliable accountant. Once you have done that then it is time to ask for a recommendation for that accountant of your choosing. Interview at least three accountants so that you can have a better option.
While interviewing your top three accountants, you must ask again good interview questions to assess their capabilities. These questions should be related to your company, and how will they apply their expertise in improving your business growth. After interviewing these people, organize the advantages and disadvantages of hiring this person. Obviously, the accountant that has more advantages will be the one who will get the job. For the other two people who did not make it, then you must do a polite gesture so that you avoid conflicts in the future.