A Small Business Accounting Checklist – help keep your business healthy

By Paul Maddison, Bookkeeping Intelligence.

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What tasks should you be undertaking to keep your business healthy?

Daily Accounting Tasks

1. Check Cash Position

Start your day by checking how much cash you have on hand. Knowing how much you expect to receive and how much you expect to pay during the upcoming week/month is important.

 

Weekly Accounting Tasks

2. Record Transactions

Record each transaction (invoicing customers, receiving cash from customers, paying suppliers, etc.) in the proper “account” daily or weekly, depending on volume.

3. Document and File Receipts

Keep copies of all invoices sent, all cash receipts (cash, cheque and credit card deposits) and all cash payments (cash, cheque, credit card statements, etc.).

Start files, sorted alphabetically, for easy access. Create a payroll file sorted by payroll date and a bank statement file sorted by month. Avoid the temptation to wait until the end of the month, or quarter, or even the end of the year, to file your paperwork. Unless you have a small volume of transactions, it’s better to have separate files for assorted receipts kept organised as they arrive. Many accounting software systems let you scan paper receipts and avoid physical files altogether.

4. Review Unpaid Bills from suppliers

Every business should have an “unpaid suppliers” folder. Keep a record of each of your suppliers that includes invoice dates, amounts due and payment due date. If suppliers offer discounts for early payment, you may want to take advantage of that if you have the cash available.

5. Pay suppliers

Track your accounts payable and have funds earmarked to pay your suppliers on time to avoid any late fees and maintain favourable relationships with them. If you are able to extend payment dates to net 60 or net 90, all the better.

6. Prepare and Send Invoices

Be sure to include payment terms. Without a due date, you will have more trouble forecasting revenue for the month. To make sure you get paid on time, always use an invoice template that contains the right details such as payment terms, itemised charges, your contact details and payment details.

7. Review Projected Cash Flow

Managing your cash flow is critical, especially in the first year of your business. Forecasting how much cash you will need in the coming weeks/months will help you retain enough money to pay bills, including your employees and suppliers. Plus, you can make more informed business decisions about how to spend it.

All you need is a simple statement showing your current cash position, expected cash receipts during the next week/month and expected cash payments during the next week/month.

Monthly Accounting Tasks

8. Balance Your Business Bank Account

You need to know that your cash business transaction entries are accurate each month and that you are working with the correct cash position. Reconciling your cash makes it easier to discover and correct any errors or omissions—either by you or by the bank—in time to correct them.

9. Review Past-Due (“Aged”) Receivables

Be sure to include an “ageing” column to separate “open invoices” with the number of days a bill is past due. This gives you a quick view of outstanding customer payments. The beginning of the month is a good time to send out overdue reminder statements to customers, clients and anyone else who owes you money.

10. Review Stock positon

If you have stock, set aside time to reorder products that sell quickly and identify others that are moving slowly and may have to be marked down or, ultimately, written off. By checking regularly (and comparing to prior months’ numbers), it’s easier to make adjustments quickly so you maintain an accurate position.

11. Process or Review Payroll and Approve Tax Payments

You will have an established schedule to pay your employees (usually monthly), but you also need to meet PAYE/NI. Review the payroll summary before payments are disbursed to avoid having to make corrections during the next payroll period. A payroll service provider can do all this to save you time and ensure accuracy at a reasonable cost.

12. Review Actual Profit and Loss vs. Budget and vs. Prior Years

Your profit and loss statement (also known as an income statement), both for the current month and year to date, tells you how much you earned and how much you spent. Measure it against your budget every month (or quarter). Comparing your actual numbers to your planned numbers highlights where you may be spending too much or not enough, so that you can make changes.

If you have not prepared a budget, compare your current year-to-date P&L with the same prior-period year-to-date P&L to identify variances and make adjustments.

13. Review Month-End Balance Sheet vs. Prior Period

By comparing your balance sheet at one date to a balance sheet from an earlier date (i.e. 6 months earlier) you get a picture of how you are managing assets and liabilities. The key is to look for what is significantly up and/or down and understand why.

For example, if your debtors are up, is it due to increased recent sales or because of slower payments from customers?

Quarterly Accounting Tasks

14. Prepare/Review Revised Annual P&L Estimate

It’s time to evaluate how much money you are actually making, whether your net assets are going up or down, the difference between revenues and expenses, what caused those changes, how you are spending profits, as well as identifying trouble spots, and making adjustments to improve sales and margins.

15. VAT Return

If your company is registered for VAT, make sure your quarterly VAT return is submitted. Take the opportunity to review and use to review/update any budgets.

Annual Accounting Tasks

16. Review Debtors

Now it’s time to check significant overdue debtors and decide whether you think these customers will eventually pay or whether to write them off.

17. Review Your Stock

Review your current stock to determine the value of items not sold and any obsolete stock. Any write-down of stock can translate to a reduction in year-end taxes.

18. Review and Approve Full-Year Financial Reports and Tax Returns

Carefully review your company’s full-year financial reports before giving them to your accountant. Before you sign your return, be sure to review it for accuracy based on your full-year financial reports. If HMRC audits your company and finds any underpayment of taxes, it will come to you, not your accountant, for any additional taxes, penalty and interest.

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5 Reasons Why You Need To Write A Business Plan (And Use It)

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Named as one of The Independent’s 20 Extraordinary Women of 2017, Ali Golds is a growth coach, speaker, and author who helps women to achieve their best - both personally and through their business. She has worked with start-ups through to multi-million-pound companies, as well as advised awarding bodies and other leading education based organisations on enterprise and entrepreneurship; culminating in being appointed lead adviser on a UK government review of entrepreneurship education, 'Enterprise For All', in 2014. 

Ali specialises in coaching female founders, particularly single mums and women who’ve experienced domestic abuse, and is passionate about empowering them to achieve economic independence. www.aligolds.com

Below are Ali’s 5 Reasons Why You Need To Write A Business Plan (And Use It)

When I started my first business in 2000, one of the things I knew I had to do was to write a business plan. It’s number one on the official checklist of Things to Do When You Start Your Own Business.

I spent a week or two hunched over my computer, researching potential customer groups and competitors, and pulling together all manner of financial information, before assembling it all in a folder, bought especially for the job; and then filing it away on the shelf above my desk and never referring to it again.

My suspicion is that I’m not alone, and that’s assuming the business owner has written a plan in the first place (I’ve met a number who haven’t). I’m the first to admit that it isn’t the most fun of tasks but it’s necessary, and extremely helpful. After all, you wouldn’t go on a long journey without a map, or into the dark without a torch – so why would you start your own business without writing a plan?

Need convincing?

1.      A business plan brings clarity

One of the things that I find useful about writing a plan is that it helps me to think through what I’m doing through the coming year, and where I’m taking my business. It also helps with anticipating potential challenges along the way (and there’s always a few of those).

2.      It’s useful for banks and investors

When you start your business, or want to borrow money, you’ll be asked to show a copy of your plan to the bank manager. It shows them a level of commitment, and also enables them to talk through your idea and perhaps offer some advice (always helpful). For those growing their business, investors will require an in-depth business plan to assess whether they’d be prepared to invest.

3.      It can highlight areas for development

I’ve had some of my best business ideas whilst I’ve been writing next years plans. The process of unpicking what went right this year, and what went wrong, and then using that incredibly valuable information to plot where I want to take my business over the coming year, really aids my creative thinking.

4.      It helps you to be more organised

Knowing that I need to achieve even bigger targets and goals over the next 12 months means that I move into hyper organised Ali mode. I consider the skills and attributes that I’ll require for any new employees, the operational arrangements for my team, my marketing and sales strategies, and the financial requirements that underpin it all. Knowing that I need this information in place ahead of time means that not only can I make informed decisions at a more leisurely pace, but I’m also less stressed about it (and running your own business is stressful enough without adding to it).

5.      It brings great satisfaction

Sometimes there doesn’t need to be a reason for doing something beyond the fact that it just makes you feel better. This is one of those moments. We often forget the enormity of what we’re doing when we start and run our own business, we just take it in our stride and do what needs to be done, missing the incredible achievements and moments of glory that just become part of everyday business life. Writing a plan forces us to reflect on the year that’s ending, and in doing so we can see exactly what we’ve achieved. Take some time to celebrate your achievements, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and use all that experience and knowledge to plan and build an even more successful business in the year to come.

A Matter of Life and Debt

How Ethical Lending Can Enhance Lives and Communities

 

Over the past few weeks BBC One has aired a new documentary series – A Matter of Life and Debt -  about ethical lending presenting life-changing stories of creative, determined individuals who couldn’t access mainstream financing for setting up their business and used credit unions and responsible lenders across the country to realise their dreams and improve their livelihood. 

Fredericks Foundation is very excited to be part of this project and present two inspiring business stories that grew from strength to strength and are now thriving within their communities. 

The first episode of the series tells Ella’s story and how she created from her kitchen table Cotswold International Language School, a flourishing language school with students from all over the world. 

Ella

 A few years ago, Ella Cservenka decided to take the language classes she was holding in her kitchen to more suitable premises and create a more structured environment for her growing number of students eager to join her English classes. 

She tried to access the necessary funds from high street banks, but she was refused. 

“When applying for a loan, the high street banks told me that my business was not viable and couldn’t offer me the money I needed. Such negative answers can be a massive blow to your confidence and really damaging,” says Ella. 

With the first loan from Fredericks Foundation Ella was able to rent small premises and get a website and a brochure for her business.

“Having someone believing in you and your dream gives you a real boost and makes you want to succeed because you don’t want to let them down. Fredericks’s mentoring services were also a great support for my business and helped me grow it in a sustainable manner,” adds Ella.

As the business grew and Cotswold International Language School started to attract an increasing number of students who wanted to experience the British culture Ella decided to expand her business further and went back to Fredericks for a second loan. 

With the new loan Ella was able to get bigger premises and accreditation from the British Council.

From teaching five people around her kitchen table, now, Ella hosts up to 150 students at a time and strives to grow her business further every day. 

You can see Ella’s story and how she achieved her dreams while helping her community to grow and interact with cultures from across the globe on YouTube.

“It is amazing and inspiring to see people as talented, passionate and committed as Ella realising their dreams and improving their local communities,” says Duncan Parker, CEO of Fredericks Foundation. “It is vital we support dynamic and innovative people to get their business off the ground. It’s an immense satisfaction for us to support these people to realise their dreams and become a source of wealth and fulfilment for their communities.”

Another episode in the series features Plane Industries – the story of Harry and Ben Tucker, two brothers who dreamt of using their imagination and passion for creating bespoke furniture pieces made of reclaimed, authentic aircraft parts.

Ben & Harry

They had an excellent credit report and an innovative business proposition, but banks would not lend them the necessary funds due to their young age. 

When refused by mainstream lenders the Tucker brothers looked into alternative finance options and Fredericks lent them £9,500 to buy some tools and go to a trade show. The event was a success and Plane Industries generated orders of about £5,000 on the back of it. 

“It’s a really nice feeling to realise that Fredericks has given us close to £10,000 because they believed in what we are doing. Everyone was encouraging and told us that our idea was really good, interesting and quirky and could be really big.”

Every month Harry and Ben would meet with Fredericks’s mentors who helped them diversify their business and develop new products. 

To be able to develop the new products, Plane Industries got a new £10,000 loan from Fredericks. Besides furniture, the brothers are successfully selling desk accessories and bags and luggage. 

As the business grew Plane Industries employed five people and reported an annual turnover of over £280,000. 

You can learn more about Harry’s and Ben’s story and how they created a highly successful business on YouTube

 “There are many people with great business ideas that are struggling to get finance on the high street - every year traditional banks reject about £4 billion of loan applications from people wanting to start new businesses. This situation, sometimes, leaves many vulnerable to illegal loan sharks. Thankfully, there are several community finance initiatives like Fredericks that can provide a helping hand and support to get off the ground,” says Paul Barry-Walsh, founder Fredericks Foundation. “It's very exciting to be able to support something that is completely unique. Otherwise we’d get no beauty or innovation,” 

Have you dreamt of starting your own business but you can’t get finance from mainstream banks? Or maybe your current business needs a cash inflow to grow further? Check out our website and learn what you need to do to qualify for a Fredericks loan.