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John Nuth Accountants is based in Wiltshire, between Salisbury and Warminster that offers professional accounting advice for small and medium businesses.

Starting your own business? A few pointers to help you and your business to success

John Nuth - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Starting your own business? Or perhaps re-assessing your existing business? Here are a few tips and some practical advice to help you start up and run a successful business.  

Each year in the UK, more than 500,000 people start a business of their own. Some survive, many don't but starting a business can provide you with a more rewarding life, but requires careful planning in order to succeed.  

There are many reasons why you want your own business, it may be a great idea that no-one else has thought of but for most it’s the chance to earn more money or to be your own boss. You may want a better work-life balance with greater flexibility or perhaps you have the impetus of having lost your job.  

Whatever the reason you'll need a good business plan. You'll also need a brand, a name and competitor knowledge. You'll need to understand your costs before you get going, and be able to manage your finances once you've started your business.  

When you're starting your business, take care of the key start-up tasks properly, and in the right sequence, and you’ll increase your chances of success and get off to a great start.  

1. Should I trade as a sole trader, a partnership or a limited company?  
There are pros and cons, as you would expect, to each – so it’s really a case of discussing these and your personal circumstances and finding the solution that is best for you. 

2. Should I be VAT registered?  
At present the VAT threshold is £82,000. This means if your turnover (i.e. sales or income) reaches that figure then you have to register but there are circumstances when you could benefit from a voluntary registration. Your accountant will help you decide when you need to register or if it’s beneficial for you to register voluntarily for VAT.  

3. What records do I need to keep?  
You need to know which records you have to keep and more importantly which expenses are tax deductible. And, if you’re starting a business there are some expenses, incurred whilst the business is being set up, that can also be deductible.  Discussing this with your accountant can save you time and money and as someone once said the easiest way to increase your profits is to pay less tax.  

4. When do I have to get my various returns to HMRC?  
It depends on which route you choose – sole trader, partnership or limited company – and whether you’re registered for VAT because the forms and returns and the due dates vary considerably. This is, of course, something your accountant will do for you and make sure you have no problems with HMRC  

5. How can an accountant help me?  
There is an old joke ‘how many kinds of accountant are there?’ Answer – ‘three, those who can count and those who can’t.’  Well in fact there are two kinds, those whom you see once a year and who produce a set of accounts and those who offer a more comprehensive package, a port-of-call for whenever you have a query or want some help or advice on something, and who makes sure that whatever forms or returns you need are produced accurately and on time and who can give you on-going assistance to make sure you pay only as much in taxation as is necessary.  

The first thing you need to consider when going through your list of potential accountants is whether or not any of them have some degree of familiarity with your business sector.  Also, look at the size of the firm. A small to medium-sized business accountant will specialise more in the kind of accounts issues common to smaller firms. They are also likely to charge less than a larger firm and give more direct access to more experienced partner.  Make arrangements to visit several firms in person to meet the people you will be working with and to make comparisons. A lot comes down to personal chemistry, and your accountant needs to be able to get into your business and show an interest in it as well as just doing your accounts if they are to advise you properly on the business. Equally a good accountant should want to make an appointment to come and see your business as a good understanding of the business is essential.  You’re likely to be working closely with your accountant and if you don’t get on at a basic level, your professional relationship may be more difficult than it needs to be. 

Ask if you can speak to other clients. This is like asking for references and will be a real test of the calibre of the firm. If they are confident that their service has impressed, they shouldn’t have a problem referring you to a few people. 

New personal tax statement for 24 million people

The Graphic Edge - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From October 2014, around 24 million people will receive a personal tax statement from HMRC detailing how their taxes were spent, the Chancellor George Osborne has announced.

This is 4 million more people than was originally announced at the Budget 2012.

The additional people are PAYE taxpayers who have had recent contact from HMRC setting out their tax calculation for a previous tax year.

The Government announced at the Budget 2012 that 20 million taxpayers will receive a new tax statement from October 2014. It will explain how their income tax and national insurance contributions for 2013/14 have been calculated, the average tax rates and where their money has been spent.

These taxpayers include:

8 million people who complete self-assessment returns online

16 million PAYE taxpayers who received a tax coding notice from HMRC in the 2013/14 tax year.

George Osborne hopes that the decision will lead to increased transparency in the tax system:

"These tax statements represent a huge boost for tax transparency, showing people very clearly how much tax they pay and giving them a better understanding of where their money is spent."

Small firms lack employers liability insurance

The Graphic Edge - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

More than half of small businesses do not have employers' liability cover, a survey by AXA Business Insurance has found.

The survey found that, out of the 365 small businesses surveyed, 53% were either unaware of employers' liability cover or had not taken out an insurance plan.

The research defines small businesses as sole traders to those with less than 9 employees.

The insurance provider also polled 2,000 workers about the effects of work on their health:

  • 62% of employees have suffered eye strain due to using workplace computers; more than half said the problems were 'severe'
  • 36% have been hurt by heavy lifting
  • 62% said long hours at the desk had caused muscular pains
  • 53% have experienced trouble sleeping due to work stress.

The research also highlighted the exposure of small businesses to compensation claims from non-workers. A survey of the public revealed that 48% of people have had property damaged by visiting tradesman or businesses.  Despite this, 43% of firms that work on other people's property or have public visitors are not covered by public liability insurance.

Commenting on the survey findings, Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance, said businesses were in danger of leaving themselves exposed to the costs of injury claims:

"Businesses really must understand the importance of employers' liability cover.  Not only are there serious legal consequences if you don't have it, workplace injury claims can reach eye-watering figures. We've had employers' liability claims that run into the millions of pounds for the most serious injuries - a bill like that simply cannot be shouldered by a small firm."