The UK has 4.8m private sector businesses, of which 99% are classed as 'small' - meaning they have fewer than fifty employees. In fact 74.2% (3.6 million) are one-man-bands; an increase of 50% since 2000.
Despite the increase in one-man-band companies, the estimated number of large private sector businesses (with 250 or more employees) has decreased by 10% since 2000.
Doing business by the books
Every business is required by law to 'keep books'. Over and above this, keeping accurate records makes sound business sense and you'll thank youself later if you get a proper system in place from the outset.
Keeping good records can help your business:
- avoid paying too much tax
- budget for tax payments ahead of time with no nasty shocks at the end of the year
- avoid interest and penalties by making it easier to pay the right tax at the right time
- manage your business and help it grow
- get a loan
- pay lower accountants fees - if you use an accountant, well-organised and accurate information will save them time
With a growing number of the very smallest businesses, 'micro businesses' with under ten staff, HMRC research suggests there never been more demand for bookkeeping help and guidance. Just under half of micro businesses worry they've made a mistake on their tax return and 35% find their first tax return difficult. Claimable expenses is the most common difficulty with 49% of businesses finding it difficult to know what they can claim.
HMRC research suggests that as little as a quarter are actually claiming properly with a particular lack of understanding of accruals accounting.
20% of micro businesses say they have difficulties or lack confidence in dealing with self-assessment, VAT, Corporation Tax or PAYE compared to 10% who are not confident with NI. The P11D seems to cause the biggest issue.
Cashflow is an issue, with 22% of small businesses finding it difficult to estimate how much they will need to pay for their next tax bill and almost half not putting any money aside to pay it.
30% find it difficult to make sense of HMRC information and only 45% have confidence that HMRC gives them the right answers.
Sources: BIS National Statistics Publication: Business Population Estimates 2012, Oct 2012, HMRC Research Report: Understanding small business' experience of the tax system, Feb 2012, The Futures Company Micro Business Survey: Aug '11- Jan '12 carried out on businesses with fewer than 10 employees and under £1m turnover.
KEEP CALM AND HIRE A BOOKKEEPER
Hiring a Certified Bookkeeper to join your staff, or work freelance, is a cost-effective way to reduce the burden of bookkeeping and leave you time to get on with running your business.
Remember, bookkeeping is a regulated profession - you should always verify your bookkeeper's credentials.
Five things a Certified Bookkeeper can do for you:
1. Help you with your cashflow, VAT returns and tax bills
2. Sort out your receipts, chase invoices and pay bills
3. Ensure you're claiming for the right expenses even when you used the wrong credit card
4. Save you time
5. Save you money
If you're looking to outsource your bookkeeping, you can find someone local by searching our directory. All listings are for qualified and insured members of ICB.
All ICB Practices are:
If you're looking to employ a good bookkeeper, or have a specific role that needs to be filled by a self-employed bookkeeper, you can post details of the vacancy for free.
We guarantee that the vacancy will only be viewed by qualified ICB members.
Self Assessment Tax Returns guidance article
Key tax deadlines for small businesses helpsheet download
Starting Your Own Business e-learning to help you get started with tax, National Insurance, business records and expenses