Admin Advice provides help with starting a business with emphasis on the bookkeeping and accounts as well as suggestions for taking control of your websites. Learning the business administration side before you commence a business might save on consultancy fees.
Part of the start-up preparation program we are going to detail suggests learning a popular new FREE cloud accounting package. We suggest using this package to enter your current household incomes and expenditures – many of which will be similar to business expenses – rent, rates, water, electric, gas, telephone etc. As within a business this will provide you with records of how your money is spent, your cash flow, and give you a firm basis from which to make future decisions.
We finalize this article by suggesting a possible business and by asking “Is this a business for you?”
The objective for Admin Advice is to be the “one-stop” website for small and start-up businesses on matters relating to their business administration. By encouraging comments and questions through our pages (or privately via the contact page) we can provide the assistance needed.
The creator of the website and this article is Colin Neill who has two of his children running their own businesses. Colin has previously taught bookkeeping and accounting to adult classes and has worked as an accountant within a FTSE 100 company and also within a Toyota franchise.
He recognizes that many businesses commence without administrative skills, often due to financial constraints. There was clearly a slot for a website providing mainly FREE advice, recommendations and research to promote small and start-up businesses and assist in their growth.
The “Being In Charge” Program
The program is presented in five major sections
- Bookkeeping basics and record keeping
- The setting up and upkeep of your accounting system
- Your website options and content – including building your own websites
- UK taxation considerations
- Starting your business and a possible business option
Section One – Bookkeeping
The Admin Advice website includes seven easy to learn bookkeeping lessons which give a good grounding in the subject and are an ideal introduction for anyone who wishes to work within the accounting areas of business or deciding to study towards a professional qualification.
For business owners and managers we recommend they concentrate on gaining an understanding of
- The cash account
- Double Entry bookkeeping
- Who are debtors and who are creditors
- The meaning of turnover
- Understanding the difference between expenses and assets
- An understanding of asset depreciation
- How we define Gross Margins, Gross Profit and Net Profit
- What are Capital accounts
The Cash Account
We refer you to Lesson One of the seven part course within Admin Advice which likens an account to a letter T and introduces the debit and credit sides of the account.
Two simple rules are given for recording transactions in the cash account, these being that monies received by the business are recorded on the debit side (the left-hand side) of the cash account and monies paid out by the business are recorded on the credit side (the right-hand side) of the cash account.
Double Entry Bookkeeping
The rule for double entry bookkeeping states that every debit entry must have a corresponding credit entry (and vice-versa). Examples of completing entries within a double entry system are given in Lesson Two.
Who Are Debtors And Who Are Creditors
Covered in Lesson One, people or businesses who owe us money are our debtors and the people or businesses that we owe money to are our creditors. Our debtors will have debit balances in our accounts and our creditors will have credit balances.
The Meaning Of Turnover
Turnover is the total value of goods and services sold by the business in it’s normal daily trading activity. Therefore, as an example, the sale of the business van is NOT a normal trading activity and would NOT be included in our daily sales figures or turnover.
Understanding The Difference Between Expenses And Assets
Assets are items owned by the business and also amounts owed to the business. Fixed Assets are items owned by the business which are not intended for resale such as the factory buildings, office furniture, machinery, the business van etc.
There are also Current Assets, these are items owned by the business which change on a day to day basis such as stock, amounts owed by debtors, the monies we have in the bank accounts and any amounts we have had to pay to suppliers etc, in advance of receiving the goods or services.
A full description of assets is included in Lesson Five.
The Expenses of a business are also known as the business overheads and these will be the various expenditures involved in running our business. Upkeep of the premises and motor vehicles etc., expenses incurred by our selling staff and sales methods, office running costs, financing costs and bad debts, depreciation charges etc.
A list of typical business expenses are also included in Lesson Five.
An Understanding Of Asset Depreciation
The assets the business owns, machinery, furniture, vehicles etc. will all reduce in value over time and we recognize this in our accounts by including depreciation charges. The methods of depreciation available to us are detailed in Lesson Six.
How We Define Gross Margin, Gross Profit And Net Profit
The Gross Margin of a product or a group of sales is the difference between our cost of buying or manufacturing a product and the amount we sell it at. If we buy or make an article for £1.50 and sell it for £2 our gross margin is 50p. We could also express this as a percentage which would be 25% (50p is 25% of the selling price of £2).
We might quote the gross margin on say, a month’s sales. For example in the month we made sales of £2,400 and the costs to us of those sales were £1,800, we would have a gross margin for the month of £600 and, expressed as a percentage this is 25% (£600 is 25% of £2,400).
When preparing our accounts the gross profit for a period will be the sales during the period less our cost of sales. We then deduct all of our overhead expenses to arrive at our net profit.
What Are Capital Accounts
The capital accounts of a business represent the value in the business which belongs to the business owners. A long term loan to the business would also be included within the business capital.
Capital accounts are explained in Lesson Five.
Record Keeping Necessities
There are some important safeguards that you should put in place to ensure that invoices have been approved before being paid and that payments are not duplicated. Within Admin Advice we have an article entitled Duties Of A Bookkeeper which should be taken on board by business owners/managers as well as the bookkeeper.
Section Two – FREE Accounting System
At Admin Advice we have been testing a cloud-based accounting system which has been undergoing development by a team of accountants and IT specialists in the North West of England. The accounting package is Pandle and there is one version available FREE and a “Pro” version which costs £5 + VAT per month. The free version will be perfectly adequate for the majority of small and start-up businesses and we suggest that you register and familiarize yourself with this package.
How do you gain knowledge of the system without first having a business? We suggest you record all of your household transactions, treating the running of the household as a business. You could start from the first day of the current month.
Pandle include a number of “how to” videos which you can refer back to at any time. They will provide you with a comprehensive list of nominal accounts already set up, you can add further categories (accounts) at any time.
The following example will show how you could set up your household accounts as a business learning trial.
For my trial I am calling my account (trading name) “CN Admin”. The family has two bank accounts and one credit card account. My first task is to enter the opening balances of our bank accounts at the first day of the month. Pandle provides one “Bank Account” so I need to add another account which I call “Bank no.2 Account”. To add a bank account go to “Enter Transactions – Banking – Add New Bank Account”.
I then enter the opening balances to each account as monies received and complete the double entry by allocating these receipts to the “Capital” Account. The capital being the monies I have introduced to my business.
Several of my household expenses are taken by direct debit and are the same amount each month. To gain experience of the Pandle system I decide to enter these amounts as supplier invoices and set them up as “Recurring Invoices”. An example is my direct debit for Rates which is charged at £127 on the first day of every month (April to January). Other expenses that have the same charges recurring every month are Water Rates, Gas, Electricity, TV License and Rent.
I have a regular amount credited to my bank account every 4 weeks and I raise a sales invoice for the current month and make it a “Recurring Invoice” and set it for a 4 weekly timescale. This sales invoice and the supplier invoices I have set up will now be generated automatically at the timescales I have set.
At the end of each week I will print out the week’s transactions that have come through my on-line banking accounts. I then go to the relevant bank account on my Pandle system and enter the transactions from the bank statement to the Pandle bank account. The first entry is a £127 DD for rates and I know that I have already set this up as a recurring supplier invoice. When entering the payment under bank transactions I am able to access the invoice on the screen and can simply confirm that it has been paid.
On the 2nd day of the month I drew £200 from a cash machine. I go into Bank Transactions, Payments and decide to allocate this payment to my “Salary” account (I have to enter a new category in my expense accounts and call it “Salaries”). I enter all of my transactions for the week. All the income I allocate as “Sales” and the expenditure I allocate to various expense accounts. To keep the exercise “business like” I enter my shopping bills as “Entertaining”, my holiday costs as “Overseas Travel”, family presents I put as “Subscriptions” etc.
When my credit card bill is paid I will analyse the payments on the card and make entries to several accounts. These will be my petrol to “Motor Expenses”, some items will go as “Sundry Expenses” etc. At the end of each week I need to ensure that the balances in my Pandle bank accounts are the same as the balances on my bank statements.
Completing this exercise will demonstrate to you the ease of using Pandle for your accounting records. At the end of the month I run the profit and loss account. This report will show the total of my income for the month (Sales) and all the payments totaled against their own account names (Rates, Gas, Motor Expenses, Rent, Water, Electricity, Subscriptions, Overseas travel, Sundry Expenses etc.). If I want I can view a list of the items making up the Sales total or any of the individual expense categories.
After twelve months I will have a complete summary of my income and expenditure for the whole year. I can review the expenses and perhaps see if there are any areas I could make savings.
A further advantage of completing this exercise would be if you applied for a loan at any time, you could show that you know exactly what your income and living costs are and show that you are in control of your finances – just as you will need to be when you run your own business.
The first two sections have shown you that within a very short time you can gain an understanding of bookkeeping and can keep your business records on a FREE accounting system. You also know that you can refer to articles within the Admin Advice website and ask any questions through the website if you are not too sure about anything. You can be confident about coping with your admin.
Section Three – Websites
Why would you choose NOT to have a website? Your website can be reassuring to your potential customers and provide the first personal contact.
In this article you have read about my background and you know that I write from practical experience as well as having had previous teaching experience. I hope you will have gathered that I now have a goal to help others and keep you all up to date with the continuing changes within the business administration arena.
With your website you can describe your experience and show your qualifications and perhaps show some examples of your work. These are the details potential customers are looking for when deciding who to employ for the work they require doing.
Over the past four years I have been looking into the options available when requiring a website and share my findings within a few articles in this website. Developments continue within the industry and I firmly believe we are approaching the time when we all build our own websites.
During the last four years I have spoken with many businesses, commencing with some local tradesmen. Most of their complaints were about the costs involved in having their websites built, the costs to have the sites upgraded and the annual ongoing charges. Some of their websites were not mobile friendly.
I met a graduate fresh from university who has commenced building websites but he had not up-dated their security. When one of his sites was hit by a virus the owners of the servers where his websites were situated took down all of his clients’ websites. Another gentleman had built up over one hundred clients by having a high street shop offering £99 websites. He was trying to give away his business as it was unable to return a profit.
More recently I have been in touch with a professional web designer/developer who has built many websites but none below £1,000 plus regular monthly, often three figures, SEO etc. costs. A businessman who develops his own websites complained to me that it was almost impossible to find quality hosting at a reasonable price.
WIX Website Options
WIX offers self-build website options. The cheapest ad-free plan with WIX starts at £6 plus VATper month. The most popular plan has a monthly cost of £8.50 plus VAT per month. There are restrictions, one being that once you have chosen your initial template you can’t switch to a completely new one. There is only a maximum of two levels of navigation, e-mail addresses are available at extra cost as are some apps you may choose to use on your site.
WIX has a powerful, easy to use build platform with a simple drag and drop interface, ideal for beginners requiring smaller websites. I do, however, see several reviews which warn about extra costs as you progress.
I have met a gentleman who prepares websites for his clients on WIX and charges his clients accordingly lower fees. However, he said that when someone requires a website other than a straight forward build, he passes this work to HTML website builders.
WordPress Is The Leader
WordPress is the most popular website building platform and many major multi-million pound businesses have been built with WordPress, including Walt Disney, CNN and Angry Birds. WordPress is a huge company, Automatic is the owner with 490 employees in 2017, WP engine is one of the biggest hosting providers with 320 employees and Envato sells themes and plugins and is well-known for Theme Forest – 180 employees (both 2017). Most themes and plugins are free to use.
WordPress has much more flexibility than point and click platform sites like WIX. You can commence by building your own website using WordPress and as you expand you may prefer to have that site up-dated by more experienced professionals.
There are three rankings of servers (servers are the computers that house your websites) and they differ in loading speeds. The cheapest are Shared Hosting servers, typically £13.50 +VAT a month for reasonable sized business websites. Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are much faster to load than shared hosting and can be about £25 + VAT a month. Top of the range Dedicated Servers vary from £40 to £350 + VAT per month.
When I started researching the websites market I had absolute zero knowledge and the complexity and costs quoted were really scary. Is it any wonder that so many businesses are operating without websites?
My Website Build Platform
One of the businesses I became aware of in 2014 was a Canadian company called Wealthy Affiliate. Virtually unknown at the time in the UK, it did however have a worldwide membership of 800,000. During the last three years WA has continually updated and developed it’s technology and this has been well recognized with the membership now approaching 1.5 million. I have to say that WA now provides a package that is well beyond my initial expectations. Now from one source I receive:
- An online training platform, also known as the WA University
- A huge community who will make contact and offer advice and support
- Easy to follow lessons that make it possible for anyone to build a website and an online business
- Weekly videos of hour long webinars covering many varied business topics
- All the tools, domain names, support and training to develop WordPress websites
- Hosting for 50 websites at speeds, backups and security that can cost £100+ per month elsewhere
- Full technical support 24/7/365
And all of these facilities commence with a FREE starter membership.
During the FREE membership you will be shown how to quickly build up to two websites and have them up and running on the internet. The free trial lasts for as long as you want and no credit card or bank details are required. There is literally NO risk to joining WA, you simply have to fill in your name, e-mail, password and username (all of which are totally secure and encrypted). You will receive immediate access to industry leading websites, hosting, training, tools, mentoring and support, and networking.
All members of WA – free or paying – will receive an affiliate commission if someone joins through your recommendation.
I have included a link to join Wealthy Affiliate for FREE within the Simple Website Tutorials article (link below).
Even if you have not yet decided on the business you would like to start, being in a position to immediately create a website is extremely powerful. ! have mentioned elsewhere on this website the gentleman who purchased a puppy and realized there was no single website providing the information about training, feeding and bringing up his dog. The gentleman was experienced in creating websites and immediately recognized the opportunity to start his own website covering puppy/dog ownership. That website is HerePup.com and now generates seriously high revenues.
Finding and registering a top-level domain name (i.e. a .com domain) for a business where you have say a hobby or sporting interest can be difficult as the most obvious names are likely to be taken. You want to find a name consisting of two or maximum three words which will be easily remembered. One tip is to choose a small niche within the overall interest and then expand the website to include the interest as a whole. An example is the website GolfBalls.com, a most memorable domain name, and this site includes golf balls, shoes, hats, shirts, clubs, bags and much more within the very wide golfing niche.
Sometimes opportunities arise at the most unexpected times and having prepared in advance you are a) in a position to recognize the opportunity (as with our puppy owner) and b) in a position to take action.
Various UK surveys have shown that a large proportion of our population would like to run their own business, spare-time, part-time or full-time. According to the surveys about one third of 16-34 year olds are considering self-employment and 40% of us want to be our own boss, but only 5% have any plans of doing it anytime soon.
People joining WA include
- The disabled
- People needing to earn some extra money
- People who are not happy in their current jobs
- People who want to earn money from their expertise, hobbies or pasions
- Students whilst still studying and also after graduating
- The unemployed
- Retired people wanting to supplement their pensions or looking for the challenge on exploring and writing about something interesting
- People who want to learn how to build a WordPress website
- Local business owners wanting to be in full control of their website(s)
- People with websites looking for fast and reliable hosting with tip-top support
- People who would like to create websites for local businesses
- Anyone who wants to learn to make money in an honest way.
Section Four – UK Taxation Considerations
Before looking at business taxation I would bring to your attention a tax relief introduced a few years ago but has not been claimed by many who are eligible. The tax relief is Marriage Allowance and, as it can be back-dated, could be worth over £1,000 to some claimants.
Marriage Allowance is available to married couples and those in a Civil Partnership where one of the partners is not earning enough to cover all of their personal allowances (£11,850 in 2018-19 and £12,500 in 2019-20). Up to 10% of the personal allowance can be transferred to the partner who is a tax payer – saving up to £250 in the 2019-2020 tax year.
Introduced in 2017/18 was a £1,000 Trading Allowance. This is good news for those earning from a spare-time or side business where your sales are less than £1,000 a year. If this is the case then you do not have to declare the income to the revenue. Once the £1,000 sales level is exceeded you do need to notify HMRC and complete a self assessment tax return. If your sales are slightly above the £1,000 mark then you can decide whether to claim partial relief and this I cover in my article Paying Less Tax UK. The Trading Allowance is most likely to apply to those making a few sales on eBay or at car boot sales etc. Also if you provide the occasional service and earn within the limit from baby sitting, helping with bookkeeping, tax returns, websites etc.
From April 2019 businesses liable to VAT are going to have to make quarterly computerized tax returns and this is planned to be extended to all small businesses in a few years’ time. The providers of accountancy packages, Pandle included, are adapting and obtaining registration with the revenue.
Record Keeping Recommendations
Every new business needs to assess the best methods for recording their business transactions. Different businesses will have different needs but we recently advised for an in the home hairdresser and a toenail cutter that they should list all of their expenses and keep a file of all invoices and receipts. Additionally, because it may be beneficial for them to use the simplified tax expenses option, we suggested they carry a diary with all of their daily calls and record in the diary (a) the amounts received from each customer, (b) the mileage they cover during the day and (c) any private mileage included within the day’s mileage, such as school runs etc. At the end of each week they can total the week’s takings, mileage and private mileages and write the week’s totals for these in a book at home or onto the computer. The weekly record book or computer should also include their list of expenses they have incurred.
Self Employed Simplified Expenses
The revenue have made tax returns easier by introducing Self Employed Simplified Expenses and also giving the options to report on a cash basis rather than the accruals basis that has been the accepted accountancy standard. There are now options to treat the purchase of assets such as machinery and vans as expenses within the year of purchase, which is fine providing the costs of these items do not exceed your taxable profits after deducting personal allowances etc.
Simplified expenses rates include mileage claims and business use of your residence. Further information is included in my article Pay Less Tax UK. A tip for those businesses who employ members of the family, perhaps to prepare quotations, invoices and look after the general paperwork. You must demonstrate to the revenue that payments have actually taken place and this entails payments being made into that person’s bank account, their personal bank account and not a joint account with the business owner.
Section Five – Starting Your Business
How confident are you that your business will be a huge success? Will you be able to include convincing text on your website covering
- What you offer
- Who is it for?
- Why do they need it?
- What is your story?
- What is your unique selling point (USP)?
- Why should they trust you?
Have you done your market research? I have an article within the website entitled Writing A Good Business Plan. This article will either leave you recognising that you need to undertake some more research or will leave you brimming with confidence and raring to go!
Might The Following Business Be For You
Within this article I have suggested learning about bookkeeping basics (and possibly going on to become qualified), the free cloud accounting package (Pandle) and creating really powerful websites. Not only will you learn important skills but, with the help of this website, you will be kept up to date with current and future developments.
These skills provide you with many possibilities. There is a shortage of bookkeepers, added to which from 2019 many self-employed traders are going to be required to digitally (electronically) make quarterly tax returns as well as their VAT returns. In a few years’ time this will be extended to all the self-employed. Many will be looking for help and guidance. Articles on this website also cover budgeting and monthly management accounting using Excel spreadsheets.
The most popular accounting packages have been Sage Accounts, Xero Accounts, KashFlow Accounts and QuickBooks Accounts. You may, therefore, come across these packages within established businesses and need some tuition on their entries. Our research has discovered excellent, up to date, sets of free videos on YouTube that cover every entry requirement in these packages.
Then there is the website skills and associated backup. This again is an area of continual development and membership of the WA University, which is approaching 1.5 million, ensures you have up to date information, support and tuition in the leading WordPress platform. As an example, in November, 2018 WordPress completely changed it’s platform and launched the Gutenberg platform. One of the WA University members was on the WordPress testing panel whilst Gutenberg was being created and she kept us up to date with developments. Some months before the launch she prepared for us a series of videos which demonstrated all the changes that were being incorporated. If we had any questions following the Gutenberg launch she was always available to guide us.
This demonstrates the importance of having on-going support – some developers were not aware of the changes being introduced until the last moments.
There are options available to you. You could recommend a new business to take the WA package and build their own website or you could offer to build the website for them on their own platform so they receive the full WA benefits (including free hosting of up to 50 websites). Alternatively, you could build a website for them and host it on your own platform.
The full WA package is about £300 a year ($359) and with 20 clients on your platform the cost to you would be just £15 per year, per client. You decide how much to charge each of them dependent upon their requirements. Your WordPress sites will be much more valuable than the drag and drop sites available and you can set your prices accordingly.
Learning these key administration skills and building on them as time goes on ensures you maintain a key position in subjects every business in the land has to cover. There are very few businesses that offer all three skills, bookkeeping, accounting packages and websites, it is a very powerful package.
The most experienced and successful businessmen still set aside time to continue building their knowledge and keep up to date with developments, the administrative subjects covered by this article feature highly in their interests.
I am very pleased to respond to any questions or comments you care to add below and hope we can encourage and help you to be a success in your chosen venture.