Setting Small Business goals

Posted by AccountsPortal Tracy on 11 August 2014

5 Steps to Setting Small Business Goals

Setting small business goals provides the opportunity to identify the right path for your small business and make achieving your ultimate objectives far more possible.

STEP 1: Re-evaluate your USP

Your business may well have changed since you first started, so is your USP still the same? Are you offering customers something unique that they can't get elsewhere? If you've let this slip, now is the same to refocus on what you have to offer.

STEP 2: Look at the Possibilities

Once you have your USP worked out, analyse your business and take a look at what opportunities are out there as well as the threats from your competitors.

It may be a good idea to jot down all your ideas on a piece of paper or start mind mapping and making lists to draw out all those hidden gems that are going to be so helpful along the way. Make a list of all the items that you need to have in place to attain your goals, whether it be sufficient funds, the right people to help, office space or IT equipment and software.

STEP 3: One Step at a Time

Take one idea at a time and start to make them more tangible.

Use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) objectives to flesh out your ideas and give them more shape. Evaluate each idea on its own and as part of the larger picture.

STEP 4: Create the Plan

Identify the order in which you want to achieve each objective and set a timeframe for success.

STEP 5: Track everything

Keep track of each goal, and constantly measure your performance.

You might not achieve all of your objectives or you might miss the deadline for some. Learn from your mistakes so that you are constantly improving and learning.

Focus on what you have to do today, always keeping in mind the bigger picture. Stay flexible too - no plan is hewn in stone. Opportunities change, goals change, businesses evolve. Those who are willing to embrace change often have an easier ride, so learn to adapt and constantly reassess your small business goals.

Read more

Effective Credit Control

Posted by AccountsPortal Gidon on 04 August 2014

Effective credit control is essential to maintaining a healthy business both in the short and long term. And there are many simple ways to ensure your credit control contributes to business success.

Set a Credit Management Policy

Laying down your credit management policy in writing and ensuring all staff understand and work to it, is the easiest way to avoid many of the trappings of credit.

Consider the level of profitability you need to generate from your business and how this is going to relate to the level of debt you are able to take on. Those with lower gross margins will need to keep a much keener eye on credit control for each individual client, whereas those with much higher profit levels can be more flexible when it comes to lines of credit.

Implement a Comprehensive Monitoring System

Make sure you are confident that you have the systems in place to monitor your lines of credit, in and out of the business, and take the necessary action when things do not go to plan.

Making use of reporting functionality in accounting software will allow you to determine when your credit control does not meet your set targets, giving you the greatest opportunity to turn the situation around before it starts to impact on overall business performance.

Ensure that your invoicing is timely and accurate and that each customer is repaying on time and to date, with a clear understanding of what the implications will be for late payers.

Keep it simple

Don't get over-burdened with too much data. With precise and concise information, the overall picture will be a lot clearer to see, and allow for appropriate action to be taken.

Read more

Getting Paid Faster

Posted by AccountsPortal Tracy on 29 July 2014

Effective credit control is essential to maintaining a healthy business both in the short and long term. And there are many simple ways to ensure your credit control contributes to business success.

Set a Credit Management Policy

Laying down your credit management policy in writing and ensuring all staff understand and work to it, is the easiest way to avoid many of the trappings of credit.

Consider the level of profitability you need to generate from your business and how this is going to relate to the level of debt you are able to take on. Those with lower gross margins will need to keep a much keener eye on credit control for each individual client, whereas those with much higher profit levels can be more flexible when it comes to lines of credit.

Implement a Comprehensive Monitoring System

Make sure you are confident that you have the systems in place to monitor your lines of credit, in and out of the business, and take the necessary action when things do not go to plan.

The best online accounting software will provide flags when credit control does not meet your set targets, giving you the greatest opportunity to turn the situation around before it starts to impact on overall business performance.

Ensure invoicing is timely and accurate and that each customer is repaying on time and to date, with a clear understanding of what the implications will be for late payers.

With precise and concise information, the overall picture will be a lot clearer to see, so make sure that you don't get weighed down by too much data.

Make it easy for your customers to pay

Your customers will pay you faster if you provide them with simple and easy ways to pay. For example, you can ensure that your bank account details are always visible or, preferably, integrate payment mechanisms such as paypal or credit/debit card payment into your online invoicing.

Read more

How to Register for VAT

Posted by AccountsPortal Gidon on 21 July 2014

There are 2 main ways to register for VAT in the UK; Online or via the Post.

Applying online makes the process quicker, easier and more secure; and applying in this way also makes you eligible to submit your VAT returns via the web.

How to Register for VAT Online

Before using any of the HMRC online services, you will need to create a Government Gateway account. Bear in mind that a separate account is required for each business you wish to register. Once your username and password has been confirmed, you simply complete the VAT registration via the HMRC website and your application is processed.

When to Use a Paper Application for VAT Registration

There are certain circumstances when a company is not eligible for online VAT registration, and you will have to send your application via the post. This is primarily for companies who:

  • Want to apply for exemption from paying VAT once the compulsory registration level, (currently set at £70,000 in any given 12 month period) has been reached.
  • Have a business based inside the EU but ‘distance sells’ to the UK or acquires goods from the EU above the minimum registration level.
  • Are involved in the disposal of assets used to support an 8th or 13th Directive refunds.
  • Want to register any business unit or division for VAT separately.
  • Are eligible for the Agricultural Flat Scheme.

In these cases, contact HMRC directly and the relevant forms will be sent to you for completion.

Read more

Online Accounting Software - Solving Your Pain

Posted by AccountsPortal Jon on 14 July 2014

As anyone involved in keeping accounts for their company knows, from basic bookkeeping to sophisticated double-entry systems, there is plenty of scope for error, disorganisation and duplication of effort. Your choice of accounting software is one of the key decisions any business has to make. Whether it's a fledgling company just starting out or an established organization looking to streamline their operations, an accounts package that’s reliable, easy to use and efficient is worth its weight in gold.

According to research, as many as 13% of hard drives fail each year, and around 50% of computer users have at some time accidentally deleted critical information from their computer. Anyone responsible for the safety and integrity of their business records wants to sleep easy at night, knowing that their data is safe. The traditional solution is to keep backup copies at an offsite location, either via a company network or by physically moving it using removable drives.

A New Solution to an Old Problem

An online accounting package offers regular offsite backups, simplifying the process of data protection and keeping your digital accounts away from any catastrophe.

Whilst its clear that having the right accounts package saves time, money and complexity, it can also save you from worrying about backups. With AccountsPortal, we take care of all of this for you we backup to multiple offsite locations on a daily basis. In additional you can export your accounting data at any time.

Read more

Guest Post - Are you keeping good records?

Posted by AccountsPortal Jon on 20 January 2014

Today's blog post is courtesy of Lee Murphy from The Accountancy Partnership


During our 8 years as online accountants, we have noticed that the quality of the records we have received from new clients has not generally been of a good standard. Because of this we decided to carry out some research into the amount of businesses in the UK that had inadequate records.

We sampled more than two thousand businesses that had joined with us as clients over a period of six years. The samples of businesses that we took were in a range of locations and were a range of different types including contractors, builders, transport et cetera. To find out whether the records were adequate or not we looked at a number of metrics including the completeness of the records, if a double entry bookkeeping system was used (if applicable) and if certain accounts has been reconciled or not. We did not consider things like bookkeeping mistakes as factors but more the methods of how the bookkeeping was completed.

Our findings showed that 78% of new clients that submitted their records to us for their first year of trading were sub-standard. What’s more, 52% of the clients that joined with us and submitted records to us for the second trading year were also below a decent standard.

We felt that these figures were high because new business owners did not have the necessary skills to use complex bookkeeping software packages and as the business was so young, did not have the funds available to employ a bookkeeper to outsource the work.

As this problem seemed to be so large we thought that it would be a good idea to think of ways that we could help improve the standard of the bookkeeping records that we were receiving from clients. The first thing that we did was to issue new clients with a starter guide that outlined what is expected of a business owner with regards to their bookkeeping, accounts and taxes. This basic guide also outlined the timescales involved and the potential penalties for missing those deadlines.

Thankfully this prompted clients to take much more of an interest in their bookkeeping and it meant that they were willing to put a good system in place early on. We recommended these clients to try an online accounting system such as AccountsPortal as it’s easy to use features and support is perfect for business owners who are new to bookkeeping. Getting a system such as this in place from the beginning also helps business owners to know their finances inside out which ultimately will help them to monitor costs more easily.

We explained to these clients that if a good system was not adopted early on then paperwork could mount up and they may find it difficult to remember what some transactions relate to. When the time came for us to request records from these clients the process was much smoother than usual, as we avoided having to ask for more and more details which is always time consuming and hassle for the clients as well as us.

Read more

Bank Imports - Payee Field Enhancements

Posted by AccountsPortal Gidon on 06 January 2014

Previously when importing and processing bank statements, the value in the Payee field was not transferred to a transaction field. The Payee field was only used to determine the relevant Bank Import Rule.

This restriction has been removed. When assigning the Payee field, you can now select from one of the following options:

  • Payee (no transaction field updated)
  • Payee (updates transaction Reference)
  • Payee (updates transaction Note)
  • Payee (updates Item Description)

This means that it is now possible to include the Payee's name in your transaction, making it easier to cross-reference at a later date!

Read more

Increase in Email and Transaction Description Fields

Posted by AccountsPortal Gidon on 17 December 2013

The description field in Credit Notes, Quotes and Orders has been increased in size from 255 to 1000 characters.

The same has been done for the Message box in the Email feature throughout the application.

Read more

VAT Total Displayed in Bank Transactions

Posted by AccountsPortal Gidon on 16 December 2013

A small enhancement has been made to the General Receipt and General Payment transactions. The VAT/Tax Total for all the lines is now displayed when the transaction contains more than one line item.

Read more

Nominal Ledger Exports - Change in format from XML to CSV

Posted by AccountsPortal Jon on 11 December 2013

We have changed the Nominal Ledger export to use the CSV format, instead of the Excel XML format.

Although the XML format did offer some advantages (mostly the ability to format each individual cell), it came with a number of disadvantages. These include much higher processing requirements, longer compilation times and larger file sizes.

For the techies out there, since moving to the CSV format, memory consumption during compliation has dropped by 90%, and we're seeing similar reductions in the final file size.

The new format also means that it will be easier to open the new report in a greater variety of different programmes.

Read more