Louise Winters is a freelance marketing consultant, operating as a Limited Company since 2015 and based in Lewes. We’ll be publishing her perspective, in her own words, on how she found moving over to cloud accounting software over the next few weeks. She says … 

I love the idea of being able to do all my financial admin on my smart phone.

I want to see how my finances are whenever I need to rather than having to wait until my annual return is done.

So although my business as a freelance marketing consultant isn’t required to start submitting returns digitally in April 2019*, I decided to ask for help on getting my books set up digitally now.

(*because the business is not VAT registered and is below the VAT threshold.)

Step 1: How do I choose between 70 different software providers?

First thing to do: choose the software. It turns out there are at least 70 different software packages listed on the gov.uk website for digital bookkeeping and accounts. My heart sank – I don’t have a clue how to choose and I don’t have the time to spend worrying about it.

That’s where Claire came to my rescue. She and I had a 10 minute chat about how my business works, my budget for software and what was bugging me about my finances. Based on that she researched a couple of options for me and recommended I use Sage Accounting Start.

Step 2: Set up the software so it makes sense for me

Next up was to bring in my accounts paperwork so Claire could show me how to set up my accounting codes. This was completely new to me – I know nothing about bookkeeping. While I keep track of how much income I get from sales, I usually have only a hazy idea exactly what my expenditure looks like and how much I spend on different things.

In the 20 minutes or so it took us to set up the account codes Claire helped me get really clear on how to keep an eye on my business purchases. We set up codes that let me spot at a glance how much I’m spending on my website vs networking, on renting office space vs travel and on direct costs vs sales income. If, for example, my website costs more than networking, but delivers fewer leads, maybe I need to think again about how much my website costs me.

She also suggested plain-speaking names for my accounting codes instead of accounting jargon so I can remember what goes where. I thought this was going to be really difficult, but it’s actually making it much easier to figure out where I spend the most money for my business and whether that expenditure is helping me to run my business well or not.

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