Archive for July, 2013

Do I need an accountant?

July 17th, 2013

We’re often asked by small businesses if they should employ an accountant. The answer often depends on the type of person you are and the type of business you’re running.

It’s a good idea to employ an accountant if your tax affairs are complex but many sole traders don’t necessarily need to go to the expense of an accountant. You can save yourself several hundred pounds per year if you’re organised and don’t mind doing a bit of research. It’s easier than you may think to get to grips with it using our practical tips.

1. Deciding Your Tax Year

If you are starting up and deciding on your tax year, it’s simpler and will save time filling out the paperwork, if you run your financial year in line with HMRC’s – 6th April to 5th April

2. Tax Return- DIY!

Tax returns can be much less daunting than they look. Particularly if your turnover is less than the £77,000 threshold, you can fill in the shorter version of the tax return.  (see for more information on whether you are eligible for the shorter version)

It’s helpful to take a look at the form first so you know what kind of information you’ll need to supply. The forms can be downloaded at:

These guidance notes contain really helpful information for example, how to calculate your income and expenditure figures and what expenses are allowed:

Make sure you fill in any of the supplementary sheets that apply to you: “self employment” or “partnership” for example.

Even if you decide you want an accountant to submit your tax return, you can save on costs by preparing a draft of the form for them to check over.

3. Keeping Proper Records

Sorting out your expenses receipts

Make sure you keep all expenses receipts. If you’re organised you’ll file them straight away. If you’re like me, you’ll shove them all in a big pot to deal with later.

If your annual turnover is below £77,000 (as at 2013) you do not need to provide HMRC with a break down of the different types of expenses. You can just put a total figure on your tax return. So you can just go through the receipts and add them up. You don’t need to number them or type them up, you can just write down the total figure for the year’s expenditure.

Having said that, it can be handy to keep tabs on what you’re spending in different areas so if you are really pushed for time or if you have a large number of receipts, you could pay a book-keeper or admin assistant to do this for you.

If you use an accountant to do your tax return, you can still save money by providing them with this total figure instead of paying them to deal with your receipts.

Don’t forget to include expenses that you might not have paper receipts for such as direct debits and online purchases.

Keeping track of your sales

You should try to make a note of all your sales and other income as you go along. Invoices that you issue should be numbered.

You should include a note of other types of income and sales that may not be invoiced or go through the till such as: money paid into the business from personal funds or goods or services taken for you or your family or to pay someone in kind.

Know Where Things Are!

It really helps save time if you can keep the following together in one place, so you have it all at your fingertips when it comes to doing your year-end figures:

  • Receipts
  • Invoices
  • Bank & credit card statements
  • All correspondence from HMRC

HMRC provides more details about what records you need to keep:

4. Ask for help

Don’t forget you can ring HMRC and ask for help with record-keeping and filling in your tax return. And it’s free. Contacts are here:

5. Get your money’s worth

If you do decide to use an accountant, it will increase your knowledge and understanding of your business if you ask them to explain how they have worked things out. Rather than leaving it all to the accountant, if you take ownership of your finances, you are likely to make wiser decisions and make more money in the long run. It may also give you more confidence to do your own tax returns in future years.

Good luck!

Love your work but hate the finance aspects?

July 10th, 2013

If the work you do is something you’re passionate about then the business side of it can often take a back seat. I’ve worked with many owners of small businesses who work all the hours and are talented at what they do but don’t even know if their business is profitable.  Being ignorant about the financial performance of your business is risky and many small businesses fail as a result.

There are many reasons people stick their head in the sand including:

  • Fear and loathing of anything to do with “boring” business or finance
  • Lack of knowledge and unsure where to get help
  • Secretly know that the business isn’t making enough money but don’t want to give it up

There’s no reason why you can’t love your work AND be in control of the business side. You could start by getting to grips with whether your business is financially viable. It’s worth asking yourself why you want to run your business in the first place. What are your goals?

  • Do you need the business to make you a certain amount of money each month?
  • Do you just want to be your own boss?
  • Do you want to fulfil a long held aspiration?

Whether or not money is your first priority, it can only be helpful to know how much money you’re likely to make – or lose! This will help you decide longer term, whether running this business is right for you. To help you get to grips with the maths, we’ll use the example of Jane who is returning to work and is considering launching a cake-making business …

1. Estimate a realistic monthly figure for the sales of your product or services

For Jane, the number of cakes she thinks will sell multiplied by the amount she will charge per cake.

12 celebration cakes per month @ £45
70 simple cakes per month @ £4

Total = £820

2.Work out as accurately as possible, how much it will cost you to sell those products

This includes not only the cost of the product itself but a proportion of other associated costs such as electricity, premises, equipment and marketing. For Jane this means the cost of all the cake ingredients plus kitchen equipment, packaging, delivery and a proportion of her household fuel bills.

Cake ingredients = £220
Additional costs – £75

3. Subtract the product costs from the sales figure

Jane’s figures are £820 – £295 = £525

4. Work out the number of hours of your time you will spend on your business

For Jane this is 4 hours per day = 20 hours per week = 80 hours per month

5. Calculate your hourly wage

To do this, divide your figure in 3) by the number of hours in 4)

Jane’s is £525 divided by 80 = £6.56 per hour which is around the minimum wage mark.

Seeing your figures in this way, may prompt other ideas about how you can earn more from your business. For example, if there is only one of you doing the work such as with Jane’s business, there may be ways of maximising your time. Jane could invest in a bigger oven and time-saving kitchen equipment in order to increase the number of cakes she produces in the same number of hours. Or, you may be happy enough earning a minimal amount in exchange for the added benefits of being your own boss and being able to fit your work around family commitments.

Whatever your take on it, knowing your figures means you can make informed decisions about the business you love.

System.Web.Mvc.HtmlHelper does not contain a definition for Kendo

July 5th, 2013

While trying to add the KendoUI jQuery framework to an existing MVC project I cam across the following error when loading a page that used the KendoUI Grid HTML Helper:

‘System.Web.Mvc.HtmlHelper<dynamic>’ does not contain a definition for ‘Kendo’

I should have realised I was going to get an ASP.Net runtime error for the page as the Razor intellisense couldn’t find the Kendo Grid helper either:


The problem stumped me for a while as the only help I could find on how to solve the problem was that I had to add the following to the namespaces in the web.config:

<add namespace=”Kendo.Mvc.UI” />

However, even after adding this namespace to the web.config, the same problem continued.

The solution to the problem became apparent when I noticed that there was more than one web.config in my project and I had added the namespace to the wrong one. I had added the namespace to the web.config in the root folder of the project but when I added the same namespace to the web.config in the Views folder the intellisense began to work and my Kendo UI grid worked OK. Here’s a pic. showing the location of the web.config file I had to edit in my Visual Studio 2012 project:


and here is a pic. of the namespace reference added into the web.config: