National Bookkeeping Week

It’s the first National Bookkeeping Week from the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers this week and they have a number of events planned.

Big Red Cloud have produced a National Bookkeeping Week Cashflow Webinar.

Better bookkeeping wide jpeg

You may also be interested in the following:

Article from Ingenious Britian
Brighton and Hove National Bookkeeping Week event
Article from Susan Lang Consultancy

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A short guide to insurance for start-ups | Small Business Britain Blog – Intuit UK

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When you are starting your business don’t forget about insurance.  The main types of insurance which may affect you are:

  • Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • Public Liability Insurance – cover in case a member of the public injures themselves on your premises
  • Employers’ Liability Insurance – a legal requirement for employers
  • Business Insurance – usually includes stock, office equipment, business interruption and public/employers’ liability for shops and offices

For more information check out Intuit UK’s blog from June 2013 A short guide to insurance for start-ups | Small Business Britain Blog – Intuit UK.

If you belong to a professional association, in my case the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, ask them for advice as to which insurance you need and if they can recommend any brokers/insurance companies.  It may be that by being a member of a professional association you can get a discount with certain insurers.

Phones don’t swim

I wrote this on my personal blog but thought it would fit here too.

My phone fell down the toilet and got water-logged so wouldn’t turn on. With so many of us relying on our phones to keep us up to date with emails, calendar and a wide range of apps to make our lives easier it served as a reminder that I should, and do, keep a back-up of important contacts and to keep a paper diary.

How about you, do you have a back -up plan in case something happens to your phone?

Fi's Mutterings

I know my phone doesn’t like to be in my back pocket so why do I keep putting it in there?  To be fair to me, on this occasion I had no choice as the back pocket was all I had as I was wearing my running leggings and the only pocket is a zip one in the back.  However, I should have remembered to zip it closed before I went to the toilet.  My phone decided that it liked the look of the water and dived in :/  Not a good idea.  The phone didn’t like it and is now at the phone hospital being dried out.

Fortunately, I added the insurance to my phone contract so I didn’t have to go through the hassle of trying to get a new phone via my home insurance provider, I have accidental damage cover that would have covered it, I could…

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Which Software Should You Use?

A few weeks ago I was doing some work for my husband.  He wanted to amend a worksheet/questionnaire which he gives to clients to assess their understanding before/after training.  Now, this is something which he could easily have done himself, if the original document had been typed into the correct programme.  It wasn’t.

The document in question, was a series of multiple choice questions which is printed out and given to clients.  So, I would have thought that it would have been typed into Word (or similar word processing software).  Oh no, whoever typed this decided that Excel would be the way to go.  What?!?  Who in their right mind would type a document into a spreadsheet?  Now, don’t get me wrong I love Excel but it needs to be used correctly.  My husband has driving report forms which are produced in Excel, lots of typing and fiddling around trying to get the words to fit in boxes and on the page, but it is necessary in that case.  Those driving report forms, once set up, are used by trainers to enter numbers for the assessment of drivers with a formula at the bottom so they don’t have to calculate the assessment figures themselves.

So which software should you use for different documents?  These are my personal recommendations and, as I have a PC, they are based on Microsoft Office software.

Word (Word Processing)

Producing documents with lots of words?  Generally, word-processing with pictures. Word is my go-to programme for most things.  A colleague of mine always goes for Publisher as she uses a lot of pictures and text boxes which are easier to manipulate in Publisher.  However, as Word is standard in most Microsoft Office suites and Publisher costs extra, Word is the one for me.  With the newer 2013 Word, I have found that pictures and tables are getting easier to position too.

Excel (Spreadsheets)

Spreadsheets, I love them when they are used correctly.  Have lots of numbers which you need to add up, take away or want to sort?  Excel is the programme for you.  I use Excel a lot for producing financial reports when I have manual records rather than computerised.  I also use it to create charts which can then be copied in to Word documents or PowerPoint presentations.

PowerPoint (Presentations)

I don’t use PowerPoint very often as I don’t create presentations.  My husband is my only client who uses presentations and he is very good at creating them himself.  I do find it useful for creating groups of pictures though.

Do you use the correct programme for the task at hand or do you use the one you are most used to because it is easier for you?

Word Clouds

Isn’t it amazing how easily we can become distracted, especially if you are like me and work from home. I not only get distracted by the usual things like “I’ll just pop into the kitchen to make a drink or grab a quick bite to eat” – how am I not the size of the house with those kind of distractions? I also get distracted by reading blogs, business and personal, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (not so much any more as I only open them once during the working day and set a time limit).

Anyway, to the point of this blog. One day whilst reading blogs, I came across one about how to create word clouds and, of course, got a little side tracked. Fortunately, I’d finished work but dinner was a little late that night. The attached blog is from my personal blog which I wrote when I finished being distracted by word clouds – they are just so much fun!

Fi's Mutterings

I’ve just discovered word clouds from Tagxedo thank’s to Janet and her blog Janet’s Notebook.  I’ve seen word clouds before and think they look fun and creative.  So, I’ve been distracted by spending productive time creating a few word clouds.  I started off creating word clouds which I thought I could use to represent my business:

I also created word clouds which represent me.  They all have the same words but different shapes:

me-uk-word-cloud.jpgMe - Footprint Word CloudMe - Africa Word Cloud

The UK is because this is where I live and where I am from; the foot? it’s cute, yes? Africa is for where I spent a lot of my childhood years.

If you would like to know how to create your own word clouds, check out Janet’s blog post 5 Easy Steps to Create Stunning Word Clouds.

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Things you didn’t know you could claim business expenses on | Small Business Britain Blog – Intuit UK

Things you didn’t know you could claim business expenses on | Small Business Britain Blog – Intuit UK.

One of the blogs I follow as a bookkeeper is Intuit’s.  Intuit is the company behind Quickbooks.  This is a useful blog reminding businesses about the expenses which you incur but don’t necessarily think to claim as part of your business’ profit and loss calculation, eg household utility bills if you work from home or do any of your paperwork at home in the evening.  The HMRC have a factsheet detailing the most common allowable expenses.

Minimum Wage or Living Wage

As we know, there is a National Minimum Wage (NMW) in the UK for anyone over the age of 16.  The level of NMW raises every October.  However, since 2001 the Living Wage Foundation have been campaigning to encourage employers to pay a Living Wage rather than the NMW.

National Minimum Wage – Rates from 1 October 2012

  • £6.19 – the main rate for workers aged 21 and over
  • £4.98 – the 18-20 rate
  • £3.68 – the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18
  • £2.65 – the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

Current Living Wage

  • £8.30 per hour in London
  • £7.20 per hour outside London

Outside London this is an extra £1.01 per hour which, on a 35 hour working week is equal to an extra £1,838.20 per year or £153.18 per month.  Even on a 20 hour week which is common for working mothers with school age children this is equal to an extra £1,050.40 per year or £87.53 and this could easily be the difference between being able to “live” rather than “survive”.

Dates For Your Diary

I’m always on the look out for anything which will make my life easier, at home and at work, so anything which can help me remember dates which come around regularly is worth a try.

I’ve used the calendar on Outlook for years and, even though I do try others every now and again, I always return to it as I prefer the task lists, with reminders, the ability to repeat appointments on the calendar and being able to set reminders from emails.  I have tried to move away from Outlook over the past couple of years after my computer kept crashing and I lost the information which was on there – an internet based calendar would be better wouldn’t it?  Maybe, except I prefer the task list etc on Outlook.  Also, over the last couple of years I’ve lost my internet connection for a longer period of time than my computer crashed so if my diary was online I’d have been stuck in that instance too.  I now have an iPad and have configured my calendar to update to iCloud as well as Outlook so I always have an online back-up of my appointments.  I also prefer the syncing of Outlook to my Blackberry so I think I will be sticking with Outlook for a while yet.  Finally, I also put all of my important appointments and to-dos in my paper diary!

Today, I found another tool to help me with remembering important dates for accounting.  Intuit, the people behind Quickbooks, have a desktop calendar with important dates for your business as well as tips on how to make the most of their software.  The dates for September and October 2012 are:

7th September – VAT Return due for accounting period ending 31st July

19th September – PAYE payments and pay all employee/employer payroll deductions

19th September – Reporting and payment of CIS for Construction workers

19-21st September – MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival, Electric Works, Sheffield

7th October – Deadline to notify chargeability for Income Tax/Capital Gains Tax for 2011/12 if not registered for Self Assessment or a penalty for failure to notify may apply.  Complete form CWF1 for self-employment or form SA1 for non self-employed income

19th October – PAYE payments and pay all employee/employer payroll deductions

19th October – Reporting and payment of CIS for Construction workers

31st October – Deadline for paper submission of Self Assessment tax return for tax year ended 5 April 2012

31st October – End of accounting period (VAT return due 7th December)

If you would like to download a copy of the Intuit 2012 Calendar you can find it here

Lessons from the Olympics

The Olympics are over for another 4 years although we still have the Paralympics to come (woo hoo!  I love the Paralympics too and we always seem to do very well).  So, can we learn anything from the Olympics and the athletes who competed during a wonderful 2 weeks of sport?  Of course we can, and not only from the athletes who won medals.  We can learn from everyone involved in the Olympics.

Firstly, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to even get selected to compete at the Olympics just as it takes a lot of work, dedication and confidence to take the plunge and choose to be self-employed.  How many of us who are self-employed, or in managerial roles, ever really switch off from work?  Especially now in this technological age when most of us have smart phones and have our work emails sent through as well as personal ones.

Secondly, celebrate success no matter how small or insignificant it may feel.  The TeamGB swim team didn’t, on the face of it, achieve as much success in London 2012 as they did in Beijing 2008.  However, if you look a little deeper than the medal table and look at how many British swimmers qualified for finals then we did a lot better than Beijing 2008 showing that we have improved and that shows that something is working within the set up within British Swimming.

My favourite celebration for a medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games has to be Tom Daley and the rest of the diving team.  Tom had a huge smile on his face when he finished his final dive and knew that he had definitely won a medal.  He didn’t care that it wasn’t Gold or Silver, he’d done his best on the day and come away with an Olympic Bronze medal.  The team around him were also very happy for him and they all celebrated his success by carrying him, and themselves, back in to the pool.

Like I said, celebrate the successes no matter how small.

Third, be prepared to “fail”.  Michael Phelps came in to the London 2012 Olympics knowing that this was his last swim meet having said that he was going to retire when the Games ended.  Everyone expected that he would repeat his success from Beijing and swim his way to 7 gold medals.  That was not to be.  However, he was gracious in defeat and, I think, showed his human side much more as he didn’t seem to put as much pressure on himself to win every race.  Losing wasn’t failure, he was simply handing the baton on.  My favourite moment in the swimming programme was when Michael Phelps guided Chad le Clos round the pool after the medal ceremony and told him what he needed to do and where to go.

Finally, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.  After 4 silver medals, Katherine Grainger finally won gold in the rowing.  It just goes to show that perseverance and persistence pays off, and maybe the right partner.

In business we also need to find the right people to work with to help us to succeed.  A company, or person, who works well for one business may not work well for you.  Don’t be afraid to try someone else if you aren’t comfortable with your business relationships.

Have you been watching the Olympics?

This is a bonus blog this week from my personal blog (Fi’s Mutterings and Mumblings). I have loved watching the Olympics for the past 2 weeks and wished that this was not my busiest time of year – I work for SNAPPY 12 hours per week during term time but my hours increase to 4 full days a week for the 6 weeks of the Summer holidays, as well as working for my clients at Your PA Solution. Fortunately, my clients know and understand that my hours at SNAPPY increase during the Summer and that I will catch up on any outstanding work in September (any VAT returns and payroll will still be processed even if I have to work 16 hour days).

We can take a lot of lessons and inspiration from our Olympic athletes and when I have time to sit down and do a full blog I hope to look more closely at those lessons. In the meantime, I fully intend to enjoy the final weekend of wonderful sport and the closing ceremony.

Fi's Mutterings

Plinky prompt – Will you watch the Olympics?

I’m a bit late responding to this prompt but YES! I’m watching as much of the Olympics as I can. Team GB are doing fantastically well with 25 Golds so far and we still have a couple of days to go with athletes from Team GB still competing.

I love the Olympics, and sport in general, but these Games have really inspired me to get back out there and train for an event for me. I took part in the Jane Tomlinson’s Run for All 10k for the 4th time this year and the run was the day after Mo Farrah won Gold in the 10,000m in London. It was also the day of the women’s Marathon. It gave me the push to try to get round the course so I could get home before the Marathon coverage started :o) I finished…

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