In many ways a great accountant is like a magician, with a whole host of tricks up their sleeve.
The services accountants provide typically span everything from tax management, auditing, and bookkeeping, all the way through to things like business consultancy, payroll, help securing funding, and efficient stock management.
But which of these does your business really need? When there’s a cap on your budget, which accounting services should you be prioritising?
Tax efficiency and compliance
Submitting tax returns can be a real headache for a business. One of the biggest advantages of having a qualified tax accountant as an ally is getting help with staying on top of your taxes. They will make sure everything is recorded correctly in your tax return, and with all the necessary boxes ticked.
Not only that, but your accountant also has the knowledge and experience to help you claim back every expense, and take advantage of any available tax relief. Claiming expenses correctly can make a significant difference to the financial health of your business, so consider these skills a particularly valuable resource.
Meticulous and accurate bookkeeping
Bookkeeping is absolutely critical for businesses. It’s a process which includes creating and maintaining records of all your transactions and expenses, as well as other essential day-to-day tasks, such as:
- Preparing financial statements (such as balance sheets)
- Invoicing (both to clients, and dealing with bills from suppliers)
- Credit control (chasing up those overdue invoices!)
Doing so with accuracy (and ideally in real-time) helps you claim for all of those expenses we were just talking about. It’s also key to maintaining a healthy cash flow, and to helping your business operate efficiently (and therefore making a profit!).
Accountants will also be able to point you in the right direction of the best bookkeeping software and show you the ropes when it comes to cloud-based accounting and Making Tax Digital (MTD).
Dealing with VAT returns
Naturally, this service won’t apply if you aren’t VAT registered but for those who are, keeping records and sending VAT returns are yet another complication to consider.
As with your income tax or Corporation Tax returns, it’s important to maintain accurate VAT records – not only to keep HMRC at bay, but to make sure you claim for everything that you’re entitled to.
Getting an accountant to do takes a weight off your shoulders, freeing up valuable time for more exciting projects and ensuring utmost compliance and accuracy.
If you’re an employer you’ll also need to think about payroll, and everything that comes with it. There’s actually a lot more to running payroll than simply sending some money to your employees on payday.
The calculations can be tricky, especially if you need to factor in sick pay, maternity/paternity pay, and so on. There are also PAYE rules (where you deduct tax and National Insurance from your employee, and pay it on to HMRC on their behalf), as well as employer NI contributions, pensions and any extras like bonuses or benefits in kind.
What else can I ask my accountant to do?
An accountant can be your troubleshooter, strategist, and your confidante all rolled into one if you really want them to be. This list is by no means exhaustive, more like the tip of the iceberg, really.
- Creating and/or refining a business plan.
- Sourcing funders, liaising with lenders and loan applications.
- Setting and managing business goals to help you grow and achieve.
- Recruitment, what you can afford, and what you most need.
- Inventory management (and related cost-saving).
- Admin assistance (such as company formation and office address registration – things you can do by yourself but might not want to).
We recommend speaking to your accountant, or shopping around for one, to understand the services they offer, so you can cherry pick the things you can afford – and what you think will add most value to your business.
We also answer some of the most frequently asked questions from people just getting started, or ask one of your own for free!