Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 73

Easy Accountancy

Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants


Self Employed Guide
to running your
own business
Telephone: 0500 234111 email: info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Welcome
Here at Easy Accountancy we believe that your accountant should do a lot more than just complete your tax return or
tell you how your business is doing they should help you identfy opportunites to improve your income, and then
support you in trying to realise them.
Our watchword is commitment. We take our clients interests to heart and strive to be proactve, recommending
value added solutons whilst maintaining outstanding customer service. Of course we can take care of all of your
personal and business tax needs, thereby freeing up valuable tme and resources for you to devote to running your
business, but we are also commited to going the extra mile.
Please accept this Self Employed Guide with our compliments - we hope you will fnd it interestng and informatve.
We have tried to make it as easy to read as possible, but some of the subjects covered, for example tax and VAT, can
get quite complex. As a client, you will of course have unlimited access to your own dedicated tax expert who will be
able to discuss any issues with you by phone or email.
If you have any questons about being self employed or would like any further advice please call us on
0500 234111 or 01442 275767, or email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.
This guide is a unique toolkit which has been designed to help you get more out of your business as a self employed
business owner, whether you operate as a sole trader or through a Limited company. It explains Easy Accountancys
experience in supportng thousands of small businesses across the UK and covers the following key areas:
Tax Jargon Buster
About Easy Accountancy
Becoming self employed
How to set yourself up as self employed
Sole trader vs Limited company
Take home pay
Self employed FAQs
Limited company FAQs
Expenses
Admin issues
Does IR35 afect sole traders?
VAT and the Flat Rate Scheme
Tax
Accounts made easy
Managing your money
Finding work and growing your business
Managing your pricing
Guide to HMRC forms
Please note - rates of taxaton are subject to change. This guide is for informaton purposes only and we always suggest seeking
professional advice from an accountant.
1
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Contents
1. About Easy Accountancy 3
Our reputaton 3
Why choose Easy Accountancy? 4
2. Tax Jargon Buster 6
3. Becoming Self Employed 9
4. How to Set Yourself Up as Self Employed 16
5. Sole Trader vs Limited Company 19
6. Sole Trader vs Limited Company Take Home Pay 21
7. Self Employed FAQs 22
8. Limited Company FAQs 25
9. Expenses 28
10. Admin Issues 30
11. Does IR35 Afect Sole Traders? 33
12. VAT 34
13. The Flat Rate VAT Scheme 36
14. Tax 38
15. Accounts Made Easy 44
16. Managing Your Money 48
17. Finding Work and Growing Your Business 54
Marketng 54
Basic marketng tools 55
How to get to number 1 in Google (this is obviously a guide and not a guarantee) 59
Sales 65
How to Generate Leads for Free 66
Time management 67
18. Managing your pricing 68
19. Guide to HMRC Forms 70
About Easy Accountancy 71
2
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
1. About Easy Accountancy
Easy Accountancy uniquely ofers a low priced fxed fee accountancy package with a friendly approach. We specialise
in ofering accountancy services to the self employed, freelancers, sole traders and small business owners.
Our approach towards our clients is very simple, we remove the stress of managing your fnances, leaving you to
concentrate on making a success of your business.
We understand that administratve responsibilites such as managing your business fnances or completng Tax
Returns can be a real burden. Our aim is to make your life easier by taking on the very tasks which can sometmes
make the decision to start a small business a difcult one. Our accountancy package includes:
Unlimited telephone and email access to your own dedicated accountant - no call centres,
no outsourcing and no press one for this or two for that.
A money back service guarantee if received by 4pm all of your telephone calls and emails
will be replied to on the same day, or we will refund your monthly fee.
An all-inclusive package startng from just 30 plus VAT per month - covering all your
business and personal tax needs for a fxed monthly fee which is one of the lowest in the
market.
Each of our fxed fee packages is tailored to your needs. For example, you may not require a payroll service or a VAT
return but would stll like accountng support and tax advice throughout the year plus your annual return completng.
Whichever package you choose, you can guarantee, our low-cost, all-inclusive fxed monthly fee means that youll
never have to worry about any additonal costs, so you can call your accountant for advice and never have to worry
that you could receive an unexpected bill for the privilege aferwards.
Our Reputation
Easy Accountancy is the sister company of SJD Accountancy, the UKs largest accountancy frm for contractors and
freelancers, with over 12,500 Limited company clients and also one of the largest accountancy frms in the UK. SJD
has been supportng contractors, interims, freelancers, engineers, consultants and small business owners since 1992
and it is the only truly natonal contractor accountant, with ofces all across the UK.
SJD has more qualifed accountants than any other frm in its market, covering the following major tax and
accountancy bodies: ATII, ATT, ACCA, CA, ACA, FCCA, ACMA.
3
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
The SJD Group has won more awards for customer service and accountancy excellence than any other frm in its
markets, including:
Winners of the Accountancy Age Awards for Excellence in 2011, 2007 and 2004, and fnalists
in 2012 and all years since 2003
Voted by visitors to www.contractoruk.com as the Best Contractor Accountant from 2006
to 2012
The only contractor accountants to win two natonal customer service industry awards, as
presented by the Insttute of Customer Services and the UK Customer Experience Awards
Awarded the Sunday Times Best Small Company to Work For in the UK, achieving the
highest positon ever for a frm of accountants
PCG (Professional Contractors Group) Accredited Accountants
APSCo members (The Associaton of Professional Stafng Companies) - completng their
compliancy audit in 2011
Finalists in the 2010, 2008 and 2007 AXA Business of the Year, as awarded by the Natonal
Business Awards sponsored by Orange
Why choose Easy Accountancy
The most dauntng thing when running your own business can be fnding an accountant who can help you with
numerous questons and queries, for example:
Advice on expenses, tax allowances and take home pay
How much you should put aside for your tax bill
Whether you should register for the Flat Rate VAT Scheme
If going Limited would be benefcial
If you have a life plan and wish to go travelling, whats the most tax efcient way to run your
business
With many accountancy frms, it is likely you will be charged every tme you call them, or even every tme they
send you a leter. So by the end of the year, you could easily be looking at a substantally higher overall bill then you
expected. Accountants, just like you, have to account for their tme and typically charge in six minute slots and once
the tme gets to an hour theyll usually send an invoice.
So its no surprise that most small business owners soon stop calling their accountant and instead seek advice from
friends, family and colleagues, which is not an ideal situaton considering the complicated rules surrounding tax.
This is where Easy Accountancy fts in. We dont want our clients to be scared to contact us and potentally lose
out on valuable tax saving advice. Its even more important when you frst start out, as you really need to set your
business up in the best way possible. Youll probably have loads of questons and will really appreciate the fact you
can call your accountant as many tmes as you like, without the fear of racking up large bills.
4
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Rather than charging an annual fee and unknown extras throughout the year, we charge a low cost all-inclusive fxed
monthly fee, so you never have to worry about calling your accountant and then receiving an unexpected bill. If you
do not operate through a Limited company, our fees start from just 30 plus VAT per month.
If you do operate as a Limited company, we ofer bespoke fxed fee packages. Every Limited company is diferent and,
as accountants, we know that youll need peace of mind about your fnances. Well look afer all your accountancy
needs, leaving you free to run your business. All our fxed fee packages include:
Proactve, ongoing tax advice throughout the year
Year-end accounts
Help in dealing with HMRC
Personal tax returns
Free bookkeeping sofware
Unlimited telephone and email access to your own dedicated accountant
Our Guarantee
We are the only accountancy frm that ofers published service level commitments, with a money back service
guarantee. Easy Accountancy is frmly commited to providing measurable service levels and a personal, as well
as a highly professional, service. Accordingly I, Claire Johnson, Managing Partner of Easy Accountancy hereby
unconditonally guarantee that I will make a full refund of that months fee, if any of the following service criteria are
not met in any given month:
Emails received by 4pm on any normal working day will be replied to the same day
Leters will be answered within two days of receipt
Subject to all the appropriate informaton having been received from the client, draf
Annual Accounts will be submited for approval within four weeks
All new clients will be contacted by their accountant within two days of signed contracts
being received
Client/accountant rato will be maintained at a constant level to ensure no loss of personal
service
All accountng work will be carried out in-house by suitably qualifed people
Should it be necessary for you to leave a telephone message, it will be answered same day
or the following day at the latest
Claire Johnson
Managing Director
Easy Accountancy
If you have any questons about being self employed or would like any further advice please call us on
0500 234111 or 01442 275767, or email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.
5
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Tax Jargon Buster
a) For business owners operatng as a sole trader
Book keeping
For most freelancers and small businesses this simply means recording your income from clients you have invoiced
each month, and recording your outgoings on any business-related expenses. Expenses are then deducted from
income at the end of the fnancial year to determine your taxable proft.
Expenses
HMRC states that expenses can be ofset against tax if they are wholly and exclusively for the purposes of your
business. However, if you have expenses that are part business and part personal, like your mobile phone for
instance, then you can just ofset a proporton of the cost that is business related.
FRS
The FRS, or Flat Rate VAT Scheme, is designed to simplify your VAT responsibilites - if you are VAT registered. If you
then also register for the FRS, you charge VAT at the current rate, but only pay it back at a lower rate.
HMRC
Her Majestys Revenue and Customs was previously known as the Inland Revenue and is the UK Government
department which is responsible for the collecton of UK taxes. This is where your self assessment Tax Return will
need to be sent each year.
NICs
This stands for Natonal Insurance Contributons. As a freelancer, you stll have to make these contributons, to make
sure you remain enttled to certain state benefts.
PCG
The Professional Contractors Group is an associaton that protects the interests of freelancers
and contractors.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
This is an insurance policy that some self employed people choose to take out, which is designed to cover you if a
case of professional negligence is brought against you.
Public Liability Insurance
This is an insurance policy that some self employed people choose to take out, if appropriate to their business. It is
designed to cover you if any injury or damage caused to a member of the public during your work actvites.
VAT
Value Added Tax, or VAT, is charged on most goods and services ofered by VAT registered businesses in the UK.
Umbrella Company
An umbrella company is an organisaton that acts as an employer for self employed people who work under a fxed
term contract assignment.
6
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
b) For small businesses operatng through a Limited company
Certfcate of Incorporaton
A certfcate which displays your company number and details, which you will receive once your Limited company has
been registered and formed.
Companies House
Incorporated companies in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are registered at Companies House.
Company Director
If you are working through your own Limited company, then you will be the only Company Director.
Company Secretary
Following a change in legislaton, as of 6th April 2008 there is no requirement for a company secretary - so if you
have read anything about needing to appoint one as part of becoming a Limited company, this is no longer needed.
Corporaton Tax
This is the tax which is paid on any profts made by your Limited company.
Dividend
These are the payments which you make to your shareholder - this is yourself - out of your profts, afer corporaton
tax has been paid.
EBT
Employee Beneft Trusts are used to minimise tax. They are ofen through an ofshore scheme and
when used inappropriately HM Revenue and Customs will challenge their use.
IR35
This is legislaton which aims to stop people working as a Limited company in disguised employment, where they are
receiving the same benefts as an employed person. It is important to ensure that, if you only have one client, your
working arrangements do not fall within IR35.
Limited Company
Is a legal form of company that will provide you with limited liability as its director.
Memorandums and Artcles of Associaton
These are the documents that show the share capital and terms and conditons of your Limited company.
MSC
An MSC or Managed Service Company is one which takes over the running of a self employed persons Limited
company in order to reduce tax liability. There is now legislaton in place to prevent their use.
PAYE
Pay As You Earn or PAYE is income tax which is deducted from salaries before they are paid - which, in the case of
the self employed, just relates to your own salary which you pay yourself out of your Limited company.
7
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Secton 660a
This is legislaton to prevent income shifing.
Shareholder/Subscriber
With small businesses that have more than one party who is fnancially involved, dividends are distributed to the
shareholder(s) of the company. Each shareholder then receives a percentage of the payment each tme a dividend is
made.
8
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
3. Becoming Self Employed
There are many diferent types of self employed people, but the two main ones are those who set up a small
business - for example a mobile hairdresser, a restaurant owner, a plumber or an electrician - or someone who works
freelance. This means providing a service or a skill set which their clients could choose to gain access to by taking on
an employee instead, with all of the expenses and responsibilites which that brings.
There are many reasons why people choose to become self employed. For example, you have the opton to take on
as many clients, or as many projects as you like with total fexibility in your business structure. As well as being
able to work very fexibly, self employed people also have the ability to command much higher hourly rates of pay
than permanent employees especially if they are prepared to put in the extra hours. But this is not unreasonable,
bearing in mind the lack of holiday and sick pay, and the other additonal benefts which are lost when moving from
permanent employment to being self employed.
a) Full tme or part tme?
Many new business owners opt to test the water by working in their spare tme to start with, whilst also remaining
in full tme employment. This gives them the opton to see if being self employed is viable, before giving up the day
job! This is a potental route into working for yourself, but there are a couple of possible downsides.
The frst thing to bear in mind is that it might be slightly harder to win new work, whatever you are doing, if you
can only be contacted outside of normal business hours. A prospectve customer could perceive this as you not
being commited to your new business, or to them! The extent to which this afects you will depend upon the type
of business you are thinking of setng up and who your target audience is. If you are aiming to atract business
customers it will be more of an issue, but if you are aiming to atract consumers, they are likely to be more forgiving
of your other commitments and your lack of tme fexibility.
The advice contained in this guide will be relevant whichever route you take. However, if you do plan to stay in
employment to start with, we would always advise that you make your employer aware of what you are doing in case
of any potental confict. Many employers contracts have a clause about disclosure of other work, be it self employed
or employed.
b) Advantages and disadvantages
Whatever your industry sector or type of work, there are numerous advantages to be gained by becoming self
employed. Many of those listed below relate mainly to people within the freelance world, but some do also relate to
other types of self employed business owners:
c) Financial benefts
An average self employed rate can easily be double or triple that of a full tme employee, or
even more.
Self employed freelancers are paid higher rates due to the fexible nature of the relatonship
and the fact that many projects can be relatvely short-term, although this isnt always the
case as some client relatonships can last for years.
Depending on your individual skills and on the state of the industry in which you work (or
the market in general) you can command very high rates of pay.
9
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
As a self employed freelancer, you are paid for every hour that you work, as well as having
the opportunity to work as many hours as you choose each week.
You can work for multple clients at the same tme, on many diferent projects, which can
also increase your pay.
If you take professional advice, you can generally reduce your tax bill signifcantly.
You can ofset all of your business expenses against your income to further reduce your tax
bill.
d) Flexibility
As a self employed person you are, in efect, your own boss - something which can be very
satsfying and extremely enjoyable.
You have the ability to be far more independent than permanent employees.
You have the freedom to work when you choose, where you choose (depending on
available work of course) and for however long you like.
There is a direct link between work efort and reward, which sometmes doesnt exist when
you are an employee.
You can take as much or as litle holiday as you prefer - as you sign your own holiday form.
The companies you work for are not your employers, but are instead your clients, which
puts a whole diferent favour on the relatonship - as you will be treated more as an equal
and less as a member of staf.
Working on a self employed basis will give you much more fexibility when it comes to
agreeing conditons and terms.
You have more fexibility over the payment terms that you can negotate.
You have the opportunity to develop your career in a way that suits your personal
circumstances at any given tme.
e) Skills Development
As a self employed person you will work on many diferent projects and for many diferent
companies or customers, and this will help you to build a unique range of skills and
experience.
Working for yourself gives you the opportunity to maybe test out other industry sectors to
see if you can widen your experience.
If working for other businesses, you tend to gain a really good insight into diferent company
cultures, processes, operatons and structures.
You have the ability to build up a wide-ranging CV and to establish an extensive list of client
references.
You will become known within your own feld for your excellent work and you may even
fnd that your services become sought-afer, rather that you having to pitch for work all the
tme.
Carrying out work in diferent organisatons or for diferent customers gives the opportunity
to develop existng skills and to learn new ones.
10
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
You will be exposed to many diferent styles of working, not only in relaton to your peers,
but also in relaton to your clients and your suppliers - and this helps you to develop as an
individual in more ways that just your core skill set.
You may gain added experience of diferent types of products and/or services which will all
widen your experience and make you more interestng to future clients.
Self employed people ofen come into new roles as the industry expert, which is not only
a nice positon to be in, it also adds to your credibility as a professional and widens your
experience further.
Working for diferent clients gives you the ability to advance your career and your
knowledge without being limited by a single employers processes, procedures or business
ethos.
f) What about the negatves?
No-one likes talking about the downsides of running your own business, but you will feel far more prepared if you
know a litle about some of the disadvantages of being self employed before you start. So we thought it would be
worth mentoning them here so you have a complete view:
You are responsible for fnding your own work and making sure that the money keeps
coming in.
You will also be responsible for negotatng your own hourly or day rates, which is
something that you may not be familiar with in the early days.
There is less security than you would have as a permanent employee, and some people fnd
this difcult to handle untl they become established.
Even in a buoyant market, there is always a level of uncertainty about where the next
customer is coming from.
Self employed people dont get the same benefts and perks that permanent employees
receive.
There is no sick pay and no holiday pay, so its vital you manage your fnances to cover for
these tmes.
Not having traditonal colleagues can be lonely if you are used to this environment and
there are a lot of things you will have to deal with alone, which is why it is important to
build up a good support network of experts around you who can help you to manage all
aspects of your business efectvely.
You are responsible for managing your own fnances - for example things like tax, VAT and
Natonal Insurance contributons - which can be a dauntng prospect.
You will be ultmately responsible for completng all of the paperwork, flling in forms and
paying your taxes on tme, every tme - and this can be overwhelming untl you know what
youre doing.
At some point you will have to decide whether to set up a Limited company and this can be
confusing.
Many of these later issues can be addressed, and eliminated altogether, by fnding a good accountant - who can help
you not only with paperwork and form flling but also with some sound business advice.
11
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
The following infographic may also be of interest, please click on it to see a larger version:
12
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
g) Choosing a company name
When operatng as a sole trader, its not essental to have a name for your company - but if youre going to register
as a Limited company, then this is a legal requirement. Either way, you stll of course need to call your business
something, so that you have an identty which people will recognise. This could just be as simple as just your own
name, or of course there are a million and one other optons.
Even if you are startng out as a sole trader, it is worth thinking about a name in the context that you might one
day want to go Limited and hence have to register the name with Companies House, so that you are covered either
way. In fact, it may even be worth actually ofcially registering the name, even if you dont then immediately start
operatng as a business. As soon as you do start trading and building up a client base and a good reputaton, all of a
sudden that name, or brand becomes worth something and its even more important that it is protected and also
that it is as unique as possible.
i) Choosing the name
This sounds like it should be easy! In fact, if youve been thinking and dreaming about setng up your own business
for years, you may already have a name in mind that youve always wanted to use. But in reality there are many
factors to consider before making a fnal decision.
The frst of these, of course, is whether the name is available as no two businesses can have the same legal name.
You should also ensure that it is not similar to a word or phrase which has already been registered as a trade mark, so
theres no point in choosing Moca Cola or IBBM Computng! You will need to search for existng company names that
are the same or similar, and you can do this using the Natonal Business Register. For an easy way to search, please
visit the website of our sister company SJD Accountancy and use their free company name checker.
ii) Descriptve or abstract?
This is a really important decision that you have to make. Large organisatons have spent literally millions of pounds
when choosing or changing names, and the brand development agencies which carry out these projects can spend
weeks, if not months, deliberatng on the right approach for an individual business. Your job should be far simpler,
but this is stll a vital one to decide upon.
A descriptve name makes it immediately obvious what your company does. For example, Freelance Marketng or
Smiths Professional Wedding Photography. But these names can be cumbersome and hard to remember, as well
as being far more likely to be already registered or at least similar to another company that is already registered.
The alternatve therefore, and something which has become far more popular in recent years, is to go for an abstract
name which means nothing - and then to develop a brand around it, so that people eventually associate your
company, and what it does, with that name. The advantage of this approach is that it is also far easier to fnd a
suitable domain name that ends in com.
At the top end, organisatons spend millions going through this process. Take telecoms giant Avaya for example.
They changed their name afer being spun of from parent company Lucent Technologies - a name which, although
not 100% obvious in itself, at least told people that it was a technology company. When it rebranded as Avaya, part
of that decision was to spend an awful lot of money carrying out what is known as brand awareness advertsing,
so that people eventually knew what it did just by seeing the name a marketng programme which included
sponsoring the 2006 World Cup!
13
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Back in the real world however, no small business has that kind of budget, or expertse and so a great alternatve
is to add a strap-line to your logo which tells everyone what you do. Even Avaya did this, adding the word
Communicatons under the name for the frst few months. This gives you the opportunity to choose a nice abstract
name which is also memorable and then just explain what you do underneath! For example Zoomla Professional
Wedding Photography.
The name you choose could be a totally made up word, or it could be an existng word but one which is not related to
your business. For example, back in the late 90s, Scotsh Telecom rebranded as Thus a name which is now prety
well known and associated with that business. Either opton is fne, as long as you can fnd a name that you like and
that, ideally, you can just add .com and .co.uk to, to form your catchy and memorable domain name.
iii) Foreign and PC sensitvites
When selectng a name, you also need to consider any other sensitvites which might cause a negatve impact. Some
people think that we live in a world where Politcal Correctness has gone mad (who can forget Baa Baa Rainbow
Sheep?) but even if you think it is all taken a bit too seriously, for the purposes of your company name, its best to
err on the side of cauton and to avoid any names which might ofend someone.
The other thing to consider, especially when choosing an abstract name, is that it might mean something else
in a foreign language. Granted, you may never plan on trading in that country, but there could stll be negatve
implicatons if the name you choose means something derogatory, contentous or just downright embarrassing in
another language. One of the most famous, although in this case partly due to a slight mistranslaton, was the name
Coca Cola which, when translated into Chinese, read Bite the Wax Tadpole. More simply - and not even due to
translaton, but just to diferent terminology - is the now-global brand of Australian sports shoe shops The Athletes
Foot, which has some rather unpleasant connotatons here in the UK.
iv) Making sure your name is web friendly
As outlined above, any name you choose must be able to be used as a domain name. Having a website domain name
that is diferent to your company name just causes confusion, and unless you are a huge brand, is best avoided. B&Q
might get away with www.diy.com but thats the excepton. This is made slightly easier by the fact that you can have
hyphens in your domain name, but remember that you will be saying either the web address, or your email address,
over the phone many tmes - so you need to make sure its easily understood. A name with lots of hyphens between
words can be quite hard to communicate verbally.
When thinking about your company name from a web perspectve, its also worth thinking about how SEO friendly
the name is (Search Engine Optmisaton - which simply means how easy it is for Google/Bing/Yahoo to fnd it). If
you do opt for a descriptve name, then you might fnd that people use that search phrase more generically when
looking for the type of services that you provide and that you might gain an advantage as they are in fact searching
for your company name. Having said that, this should not be a deciding factor when choosing a name, as many other
companies will probably use the same phrase as one of their keywords.
One last thing to consider when choosing your name is that domain names are ofen writen all as one word and,
whilst you might know what it is meant to say, it could read quite diferently to someone whos never seen it before.
One of the most well known examples of this is the well-known online technology forum for IT specialists Experts
Exchange whose web address is www.expertsexchange.com. Think about it . . .
For more informaton on choosing a domain name please have a look at our easy to read artcle on Setng up your
company website on our own site.
14
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
v) Impressing investors
At some point in the future you might want to consider applying for external investment into your business, and
at this point youll need to come across as being very professional and businesslike. So think carefully now before
choosing an outrageous, contentous or even slightly risqu name. Investors might not take you seriously and might
be less than thrilled about handing over a cheque with such a bizarre name on it.
If you are set on this approach then register a more safe legal name and then operate using a more trendy one if
you must. Many businesses go down the trading as route, or simply use more memorable variaton of their names
as an outward facing brand. French Connecton Limiteds FCUK brand is a classic example of this.
vi) Registering your chosen name
Once you have chosen your company name and have determined that it is available, you can then register the
name and set up your Limited company. There are many organisatons that can help you with this, including Easy
Accountancy of course. Have a look at the Form a Limited Company page on our website for more informaton. Costs
for this service are just 125 + VAT, which is one of the lowest fees in the marketplace. If your chosen company name
is available, we should be able to send out your certfcate of incorporaton within three hours of registraton.
15
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
4. How to Set Yourself Up as Self Employed
Setng up in self employment is not anything like as scary as you might think. Whether its a defnite career choice, or
something you might be considering due to redundancy, the decision to become self employed could well be a very
good move. Becoming self employed as a sole trader is far simpler than setng up a Limited company - although this
can have its advantages also, and some of our clients do choose to do this. For now though, we will concentrate on
setng yourself up as a sole trader.
Regardless of how you operate, if you are not registered as a Limited company then you are classed as a self
employed sole trader in the eyes of HMRC. This secton is primarily aimed at people who are operatng as
freelancers or who are self employed and have multple clients - but much of it will also be relevant if you are
working as a contractor with just one client.
Once you have made the decision to become self employed, there are a three key things that you need to do next:
1) Register as self employed
Its important to let HMRC know that you are self employed as soon as possible afer you make the decision - even
if you already fll in a Self Assessment Tax Return each year. You can do this online by flling in the snappily ttled
Registering for Self Assessment and Natonal Insurance contributons if you are a self employed sole trader form.
This must be done within three months of setng up the business. If you dont tell them, you may have to pay a
penalty. You can let HMRC know about your self-employment by registering online for business taxes.
Youll be asked for informaton about yourself and your business, and then HMRC will set up tax records for you using
the informaton you provide. This means that you will be on their systems as needing to fll in a Self Assessment
Tax Return each year, and to pay Class 2 Natonal Insurance every six months. A Self Assessment Online account
automatcally will be set up for you at the same tme, unless you say that you dont want one - but it is advisable to
have this.
2) Budget for tax and NI
As soon as you send in your frst invoice and then receive your frst payment, you need to ensure that you dont think
of all of the money as income that you can spend, but instead put a percentage of it aside for tax and NI. As a guide,
30% is a comfortable fgure or 25% as a minimum, but you will be able to adjust this over tme as you get a feel for
your likely tax bills.
This will ensure that, when you receive tax and NI bills, you will have the money available to pay them. As a self
employed person this is especially important, as your tax bills will be sent twice a year (on 31st January and 31st July)
and so it may be a while before you get the frst one. Never make the mistake of not putng anything aside, or you
will be in for a nasty shock when the bill comes in.
At the end of the tax year (5th April) you will need to create a full set of income and expenditure fgures. From
these, you or your accountant can then work out your tax liability and what your payments on account will be for
the following year. These are the July and January payments and are calculated for the following year based on your
income in the previous year.
You will stll need to fll in a normal personal Self Assessment Tax Return and the tmescales for completon of this
are the same as for an individual. However, the sooner you do it afer 5th April, the sooner you will have an exact tax
liability fgure for the following year and can budget accordingly.
16
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
3) Keep fnancial records
From day one, you must keep a record of every payment you receive and every business expense you incur, and you
must keep these for six years. This is vital in order to ensure that, when you come to do your Tax Return (or give the
details to your accountant) you have all the informaton you need easily to hand. This is much beter than panicking
three days before the HMRC deadline and having to rummage through piles of invoices and receipts! Our free
bookkeeping sofware can help you keep fnancial records.
Once you have informed HMRC, made sure you can pay your tax and NI bills, and created a process for managing
your fnances - youre up and running. The three points above really do cover the basics, but there are a number of
other optonal extras which you might want to consider on Day One as well:
a) Register your business name
As a sole trader, you do not have to register your business name in the same way as you would have to if you were
setng up a Limited company - which means that technically you can choose prety much any name you like! Having
said that, if you do want to register the name as a formal business entty in the future - for example if you choose to
go Limited at a later date - there may be some restrictons.
So even if you are only setng up as a sole trader now, you might want to register your name, to protect it in the
future. Also, by registering your company name straight away, your details will be present on the Companies House
website, which provides credibility and helps to build client confdence.
b) Set up a business bank account
Again, as a sole trader you do not have to set up a business bank account, but most choose to do so. It is a good idea
to keep your personal and your business fnances separate, as it simplifes everything and makes it clearer to see
what funds are where.
c) Register for VAT
You do not need to register for VAT unless you hit the VAT threshold, which is currently 79,000 for the year
commencing April 2013. However, many people choose to register for VAT even if they are below the threshold,
because it gives their business more kudos with customers, or simply to make it appear larger than it really is.
If you do choose to register for VAT, then there is the advantage of being able to claim the VAT back on everything
you purchase for the business, but the ultmate beneft of this will depend on the type of company you have. If you
buy things in and sell them on as part of your business functon then it will be an advantage!
d) Consider the Flat Rate Scheme
Instead of registering for the standard VAT scheme, it may be more benefcial for you to register for the Flat Rate
Scheme (FRS) instead. This could be especially benefcial if you have a service-based business, which does not involve
the need to buy in many products or external services. Within this scheme, you charge your clients at the standard
rate of 20%, but pay the government at a lower percentage.
The reason for this is that the Flat Rate scheme simplifes VAT administraton for HMRC and so the fnancial beneft
is passed on, to a point. The rate you pay will vary depending on your business type. Diferent company types have
diferent rates, and yours will depend upon the type of company you are setng up. You can fnd out the likely rate by
visitng the HMRC website, but this will be assessed and agreed up front when you register for VAT.
17
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
e) Decide if you need an accountant
Using an accountant will ensure that you do not put yourself at risk of incurring one of HMRCs various penaltes, and
so end up having to pay the interest which is charged as a result of things like late registraton, late submission of
tax returns or late payments of tax. An accountant will also help you to manage your business fnances correctly and
to make sure that you are paying the correct amount of tax, as well as ofering a wealth of help and advice on other
fnance-related issues.
Easy Accountancy ofers freelancers and small business owners an all-inclusive, low-cost, fxed fee accountancy
package from just 30 plus VAT per month, including unlimited access to your very own accountant via telephone or
email throughout the year, for help and advice.
For more informaton on our service please call on
0500 234111 / 01442 275767 or email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.
18
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
5. Sole Trader vs Limited Company
Having decided to become self employed, you have a major decision to make - whether to operate as a sole trader
or whether to set up a Limited company. There are of course a number of pros and cons to each route, but in simple
terms - operatng as a sole trader is simpler than going Limited, with less paperwork and less legal issues to deal
with, and it is a generally more straightorward way of running your business.
Having said that, there are many situatons where being a Limited company will sometmes be a distnct advantage.
The botom line is, managing your own tax afairs is complicated, so wed always advise speaking to an accountant
before deciding on which route to take. The following table outlines some of the key points to consider:
Sole Trader
No start-up costs or Limited company formaton fees
and very few forms to fll in. Simply choose a name, let
HMRC know what you are doing, and start trading.
Lower priced accountancy fees, if you choose to have
an accountant.
You can use your personal bank account if your
business is small with simple incomings and outgoings.
Your accounts are private and only visible to you, your
accountant if you have one, and HMRC.
Youll only need to submit a Self Assessment
Tax Return each year which shows your income,
expenditure and profts.
You simply pay personal income tax on your proft,
which is your income.
You are personally liable for any business debts if
anything were to go wrong and you couldnt pay your
creditors.
Your opportunity for more efcient tax planning is
reduced and you may end up paying more tax overall.
Limited Company
Youll need to set up a Limited company, which is a
legal entty, and to register your company name with
Companies House.
Accountancy fees are generally more expensive, and
defnitely more necessary.
Youll need to open a business bank account which
will involve potental charges, although many banks
ofer free business banking for freelancers and self
employed people.
You have to fle your accounts at Companies House
each year, which will be on public record.
Youll need to fle formal accounts with HMRC and
Companies House each year by a set date.
You have to pay corporaton tax on the companys
profts and will be liable for income tax on any salary
you take.
The company, not you, is liable for any business
debts - unless you purposely manage your company
incorrectly. So you should never be at risk of losing
your house.
Your tax planning opportunites are increased - for
example, based on how much money you take out of
the business.
19
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
When making your decision, the frst thing to think about is whether you expect to earn more or less than 25,000 a
year. If youre just startng out and dont think youll earn more than around 25,000 per year then becoming a sole
trader is probably right for you. Accountancy fees are lower and its far simpler to open and close your business.
However, if you expect to earn over 25,000 a year, or if you already have a contract for work rather than just ad hoc
business coming in, then a Limited company could be the way to go. There are many other reasons to consider going
Limited as well - for example if you are worried about personal liability, or maybe if one of your clients is only willing
to work with Limited companies.
You may also fnd our short video on Sole trader or Limited helpful.
(Please click the image to watch the video)
20
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
6. Sole Trader vs Limited Company Take Home Pay
When deciding whether to operate as a sole trader or to set up a Limited company, another factor to consider is how
much of your billings - the money you receive from clients in return for the work you do - could actually end up in
your back pocket. We say could rather than will as if you are a Limited company, it is actually up to you how much
you take out of the business and how much you leave in.
a) Sole trader
As a sole trader, whether you use a personal bank account or have a business bank account, all of the money which
comes into that account when your customers pay your invoices is yours to do what you like with. But at this stage,
its vital to be organised about what you do with that money. As we mentoned earlier, it is essental that you put a
percentage of your income aside to cover tax and NI - so that there are no nasty surprises when the bills come in.
Whether you do this physically, by having a separate bank account, or just virtually using a spreadsheet or other
simple accountng package, is up to you.
The key thing is that all of your income is allocated for diferent purposes. Think if it as a set of virtual jam jars on the
shelf! One for tax, one for NI, one for living expenses, one for savings, and one for business expenses such as phone,
statonery, internet and so on. The labels on these jars will vary depending on your personal circumstances but the
principle is the same. By splitng your income in this way, you will always know what proporton of the money you
have in the bank is available to be spent, and what must be saved to ensure you can cover all of these liabilites.
b) Limited company
As a Limited company the rules are quite diferent. All of the income you receive goes into your business account,
which is totally separate from your personal account. The money then belongs to the business and is used to pay all
of your business expenses. And one of these expenses will of course be your salary.
You can decide how much you take out of the business as salary or dividends, and how much you leave in - and this
will determine the amount of tax you have to pay. So if you leave money in the business rather than taking it out -
you will reduce your tax bill. But this of course will depend on what percentage of your billings you need to live on
- which is why sole traders and self employed people ofen choose not to operate as a Limited company. If you need
everything you earn to live on, and run the business, then there are no tax saving to be made in this way. Again, this
is why it is good to ask an accountant for advice.
c) Take home pay calculator
We have created a self employed take home pay calculator to provide you with an illustraton of the amount you
could take home if working as a sole trader. It assumes that you will claim 20% of your income as expenses, but
as this is based on an estmate we would always recommend that you talk to an accountant for a more detailed
illustraton. The calculator can be found at:
htp://www.easyaccountancy.co.uk/about/self_employed_tax_calculator.html
21
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
7. Self Employed FAQs
1. How much tax will I pay being self employed?
Unlike permanent employment, being self employed means that your clients will pay you the whole amount that you
have earned, without any tax removed. So dont be tempted to take all the money and spend it, as youll need to put
some aside to cover your taxes. As a general rule, we recommend you put 30% of everything you earn to one side,
and this should cover you for tax and Natonal Insurance - but you will be able to adjust this over tme as you get a
feel for your likely tax bills.
Your take home pay is your proft - i.e. your income less your expenses, tax and Natonal Insurance. The following
illustraton shows what your likely take home pay might be:
As your tax is based on your proft afer allowable expenses, you need to be sure that you are claiming everything
you are enttled to and an accountant can advise you on this. For more informaton, please visit our small business
tax secton on our website.
2. Do I have to pay Natonal Insurance?
Yes. If you are self employed you are responsible for making sure you pay your own tax and your Natonal Insurance
contributons. The norm is to pay Class 2 Natonal Insurance Contributons which are paid every six months on 31st
January and 31st July. This is at a fat weekly rate of 2.70 (2013-2014) and you will be sent a bill by HMRC every six
months, once you have registered as self employed.
On top if this, assuming your annual proft is over 5,595, you also have to pay Class 4 Natonal Insurance
Contributons as well, and this is based on your profts not your turnover. If your profts for the year are between
7,755 and 41,450 you will pay 8%, and 2% thereafer for any proft over the 43,875. Your Class 4 Natonal
Insurance Contributons are worked out along side your tax return and you pay them with your income tax.
These Natonal Insurance contributons go towards certain benefts such as maternity leave and state pension,
however they dont count towards additonal state pension, statutory sick pay or job seekers allowance. Therefore it
is advisable to make your own arrangements for your income protecton insurance and a personal pension.
3. Can I claim the use of my home as a business expense?
HMRC states that . . . it is possible to apporton the use and cost of a room on a tme basis, and to allow the expense
of the room during the hours in which it is used exclusively for business purposes, in the same way as it is possible to
calculate the business expenses of a car which is sometmes used for business purposes exclusively and sometmes
used for pleasure.
Annual income
20,000
40,000
60,000
80,000
Annual take home pay
15,366
28,146
39,295
49,735
Monthly take home pay
1,280
2,345
3,275
4,145
22
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Essentally this means that you can claim for electricity, heatng and water and mortgage interest for the use of your
home as an ofce space, based on the number of days a week you are working in the home ofce. You can also claim
for council tax on the same basis, but you will need to be careful not to fall into a business rates charge, as your room
is used solely as an ofce and not personal use.
In all honesty, the use of home allowance is a litle complicated and changes yet again if you become a Limited
company and contnue to work from home, so we would always recommend that you speak with an accountant to
get the most accurate and up to date informaton. You may fnd our page on self-employed expenses helpful.
4. How do I register as self employed?
First and foremost you will need to register with HMRC, and this should be a top priority for any newly self employed
person, as failure to register within three months will result in a fne. You need to do this even if you already fll in a
Self Assessment Tax Return each year.
5. Can I ofset travel expenses against tax?
Yes. You can claim for business mileage, rail travel and any other business related travel costs that you incur. Business
mileage is the travel you do for your job and can include travel to a temporary workplace or to meetngs. It does not
include normal travel between home, or anywhere that is not a workplace, and a permanent place of work, although
this is unlikely to be an issue for you if you work from home.
You will need to make sure you keep all your receipts in order to ofset travel expenses against tax, as well as records
of dates, mileage and journey details for all your business travel in your own car.
6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of going self employed?
There are many advantages to being self employed, but also some disadvantages, so its always worth talking to
an accountant or other business advisor about the pros and cons before making a decision. Its also fair to say that
working for yourself suits some people beter than others, and an environment where you are not surrounded by
colleagues in an ofce does not work for everyone. Some of the key advantages and disadvantages are as follows:
Advantages
You are your own boss - something which can be very satsfying.
You will naturally work in diferent roles and for many diferent companies - and this will
help you to build a unique range of skills and experience.
You have the freedom to work when and where you choose, and for however long you like.
There is a direct link between work efort and reward, which sometmes doesnt exist as an
employee.
You have more fexibility over the payment terms that you can negotate.
You can work for multple clients at the same tme, on many diferent projects, which can
also increase your income.
Depending on your individual skills and on the state of the industry in which you work (or
the market in general) you can command very high rates of pay.
23
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Disadvantages
You have to do everything yourself and you are responsible for the day to day running of
your business.
You will rarely have the resources at your disposal that are available to an established
business owner, and this may mean doing the tasks that you dislike.
Large salaries or income are rare in the early days, but you could be lucky!
If you choose not to work from home, or if you do not have the necessary space at home,
you will need to pay rent and other overheads.
You may need to have a second job to help provide a guaranteed source of income for living
costs in the early days, or even choose to start a business while you are stll in full tme
employment, providing your employer is happy with this.
You need to ofer a product or service for which there is demand, and this may depend on
projectng a certain image, perfectng a technique or making a product unique.
Expanding too rapidly, or conversely not being quick enough to seize a chance, may be
detrimental to your business.
7. How do I pay tax?
Self Assessment involves completng an online or paper-based Tax Return, where you tell HMRC about your income
and expenditure. There are deadlines for submitng this each year, plus penaltes and interest charges if it arrives
late.
8. When do I have to charge VAT?
You will only need to register for VAT if you have reached the VAT threshold amount of 79,000 (as of April 2013) or
if you expect it to reach this threshold in the next 30 days. Once over the threshold amount it is mandatory that you
register for VAT and start charging interest to your goods and services from the day you have registered.
23 24
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
8. Limited Company FAQs
1. What is a Limited company?
A private Limited company (LTD) is an individual legal entty which is separate from that of its ofcers (thats
technical speak for the people who run it!). A Limited company has its own assets and liabilites, profts and losses.
The liabilites are limited to the company - in other words, the owners are protected from fnancial liability should the
company encounter any difculty. This is diferent from that of a sole trader, where the assets and liabilites of the
business belong to the individuals.
For example if you are a window cleaner operatng as a sole trader, youll more than likely own your ladders, and the
same goes if you were an IT freelancer - you will own the hardware. However if these two individuals traded through
their own Limited companies, the company will own the assets - i.e. the ladders and the hardware. Ownership of a
Limited company is through issuing shares and, in small owner-managed businesses, the shares are usually owned
entrely by the director(s). Limited companies must also submit annual accounts to Companies House each year
which are made available to the general public.
2. What are the advantages of trading as a Limited company?
a) Limited liability - Perhaps the most atractve beneft of trading as a Limited company is the aspect of limited
liability. Essentally this means that your personal assets are protected, should the company run into fnancial
difculty. Operatng as a Limited company is, for some, viewed as an insurance policy, especially for a new or high
risk business, as it ensures that you do not risk your personal assets on what might be a speculatve venture.
b) Beter tax planning opportunites - For example, every penny you earn in a tax year as a sole trader will be taxed
that year, however with a Limited company you can store money in your company and take in future years.
c) Simplifed administraton - Many of the costs and administratve requirements associated with running a Limited
company are now not much more than those of a sole trader. Historically this wasnt the case, but the government
has made huge strides in helping small Limited companies to develop.
d) Percepton in your marketplace - Limited companies instl added confdence in suppliers and creditors. In fact,
many large organisatons will only conduct business with limited companies. People also have more confdence in
your business as they can check up on your company, on the public records, at Companies House. Being a Limited
company may also make it easier to atract people to invest money in your business, and could also make obtaining
bank loans or mortgages that much easier.
e) Ownership - The ownership of a limited company can be easily divided up through the sale of shares, and the sale
of these shares can be used as a means of generatng capital. You can also give a share of the business to others - e.g.
a family member.
25
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
However, if you live somewhere else but require a UK business bank account, you may fnd this difcult.
4. What kind of accounts and records must a limited company maintain?
All companies are required by law to keep a full record of income, expenditure, assets and liabilites. These records
must be kept safe as they will assist you and your accountant when submitng the companys annual accounts.
5. When will I need to charge VAT?
You will only need to register for VAT if you have reached the VAT threshold amount of 79,000 (as of April 2013) or
if you expect it to reach this threshold in the next 30 days. Once over the threshold amount it is mandatory that you
register for VAT and start charging interest to your goods and services from the day you have registered. As a Limited
company there are various schemes that may work best for your business. For further informaton please look at our
VAT Guide.
6. Do I have to submit any documents annually?
Yes. You must provide a number of documents following your Annual Reference Date (ARD). This date is usually
the last day of the month your company was incorporated and occurs each year. It is the date that your fnancial
year ends, where the accounts are not made up. You have nine months and one day from your ARD to return your
abbreviated accounts to Companies House.
You will need to submit your full accounts and a CT600 corporaton tax return to HM Revenue and Customs within
the same tme frame, and you will also have to make a few other submissions to HMRC every so ofen. We would
always advise that you engage the services of an accountant to help you understand what is required and when.
7. Do I need a company secretary?
No. Since the 6th April 2008, it is the choice of the Limited company owner as to whether or not to have a company
secretary. It is no longer a mandatory requirement, and most new single person companies dont have one, as there
is no work for them.
8. What informaton do I need to set up a Limited company?
To set up a limited company you will need:
3. Who can set up a limited company?
Any individual of any natonality may register a Limited company, subject to a few conditons:
1. A company name
2. The company address (most people use where they live), a registered address (if diferent
from company address) and the directors basic details - such as ttle, name, date of birth
and natonality
3. Total number of shares and shareholders - as a standard procedure we recommend that as
a single person limited company you allocate yourself one share
They have not been restrained by court order
They are not subject to UK Government restrictons
They are not an un-discharged bankrupt
26
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
You can complete this process through our parent company SJD Accountancy. The formaton costs 125 plus VAT and
includes the following:
Help with organising a company bank account - Easy Accountancy, along with most
accountancy frms, recommends Cater Allen due to their history of good customer service
and more importantly, their ongoing pledge to provide free business banking
Registering the company for VAT and PAYE - some companies charge as much as 100 for
each of these services!
Professional advice throughout the process - including on the optmum share structure of
the company
For more informaton on our formaton service please see: Form a Limited Company.
9. Do I have to trade immediately?
No. Your company can remain dormant or non trading for as long as you wish. However, you must fle dormant
account forms with both HMRC and Companies House, as well as an annual return form (Form AA02) with
Companies House. Again we would advise that you ask an accountant for help with this.
10. What if the company doesnt take of or I no longer need it?
A Limited company that has not traded for at least three months can voluntarily apply to Companies House and
HMRC for it to be removed from the register. This can be done by fling Form 652a.
27
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
9. Expenses
Regardless of what type of self employed person you are, you will incur costs as a result of running your business.
To help explain all of this, HMRC has produced a rather hefy yet comprehensive 100 page guide - although this is
probably not quite the brief summary you were looking for! So hopefully the following will help as an alternatve:
a) Sole trader
If you operate as a sole trader, life is quite simple. Basically your profts are your income less expenses, and you
only get taxed on your profts - so the higher your expenses, the lower your tax bill. Remember though, you could
be asked by HMRC to provide evidence that you actually incurred the expenses, and that the expense was wholly
necessary for your business - so dont even consider making them up, just so you can pay less tax!
Any expenses that you ofset against tax must be directly related to running the business, and HMRC defnes these
as being wholly and exclusively for the purposes of your business. However, as a self employed person, it is quite
common to incur expenses that are partly business related and partly personal. In these cases, the business part
of the expense can be claimed, but personal expenses cannot. For example, you may use your mobile phone for
business as well as for personal calls and texts, in which case you can claim the minutes and texts that have been
used for business purposes.
One of the most common expenses for sole traders is a car. To calculate how much of the cost of running your car
you can class as a business expense, simply add up your total yearly expenditure including fuel, repairs, insurance
and so on. Then work out what percentage of the miles you do each year are for business, and apply that percentage
to the total running cost. This is then the fgure that you can claim as a business expense.
There are separate rules for costs incurred through leasing or buying, and for depreciatng an asset, as well as
diferent rules for vans - so its probably best to have a chat with an accountant about this. The types of things you
can claim for might include:
Accountancy fees
Business travel and accommodaton
Company bank charges and interest
Postage and statonery for business
Business telephone calls
Delivery charges
Bank charges on business accounts
Advertsing and marketng
Contributons to a pension
Business entertainment
Equipment purchased for business purposes
Computer sofware
Technical books and journals
Relevant books and magazines
Certain professional subscriptons
Cost of goods bought for resale (stock)
28
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Motoring expenses
Heatng and lightng in your business premises (if you have these)
Rent of your business premises (if you have these)
Use of home as ofce
On the last point, following changes in HMRC regulatons surrounding what can and cannot be claimed with regards
to use of home, we would advise that you check with your accountant or with HMRC for the most up to date
informaton. One other thing to note, you cant claim for parking fnes, speeding tckets and anything that isnt
related to running your business!
To ofset your expenses against your tax bill, simply keep the receipts and at the end of the year, add them all up, put
this amount on your tax return as expenses and this amount will be removed from your income fgure before your
tax is calculated. In fact, if you enter all of your expenses into a spreadsheet as you go along, then you will have the
fgure to hand when you need it. And remember to keep all your receipts for six years - you wont need to send them
in, but HMRC could ask to see them at any tme.
b) Limited company
For day to day expenses, you simply pay them yourself and claim them back through your company. To do this
youll just need to do either a BACS transfer from your business bank account or write yourself a cheque from
your company bank account cheque book. Please be aware the next secton is very simplifed and doesnt include
everything, but it will hopefully help you understand how expenses afect your tax bill, for a more detailed
explanaton it is best to talk to an accountant.
Basically expenses arent taxed, so if your turnover was, for example, 10,000 a month and you didnt have any
expenses that month and you withdrew the full 10,000 from the business, then you would pay tax on 10,000 of
income. However, if you had 2,000 of expenses in that month, you would only pay tax on 8,000. It doesnt work
exactly like this, as it doesnt include the efect of your PAYE salary, dividends or even the Flat Rate VAT Scheme (if
youre on it) but hopefully it will give you a basic understanding of how expenses afect your tax bill.
Running a car as a director of a Limited company is also diferent. Essentally, you can claim 45p per mile for the frst
10,000 miles and 25p per mile thereafer. Which makes life very simple, but may not be as valuable to you as if you
were a sole trader - especially with the cost of fuel these days! For further informaton on what expenses you can
claim please see our guide to expenses or contact heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.
29
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
10. Admin Issues
a) Setng up a business bank account
If you do decide to set up a business bank account, then there are a number of factors to consider.
Many freelancers will initally lean towards using their own bank, if that bank ofers a business banking service.
Although this may seem like the most convenient opton, as your bank knows you and can easily validate your
identty, it is important to look for an account which ofers the best facilites. Whilst your existng bank may be great
for personal banking, it may not necessarily be the best opton for business banking.
Some of the key things to consider when choosing a business bank account are as follows:
Charges and fees - Many banks ofer great introductory rates, but afer these expire fees
can soon rack up, so its best to choose a bank that provides free business banking.
Telephone banking - Telephone banking is a hugely convenient service, so its worth looking
at what diferent banks ofer in terms of this. Again, it may also be worth asking fellow self
employed people what facilites their banks ofer.
Online banking - Making payments online saves the hassle of writng and postng cheques
or having to use telephone banking, if youre not a fan of chatng on the phone. Access to
things like real tme statements is also extremely useful, partcularly when reconciling items
for your quarterly VAT Return! But be sure to check if there are any hidden fees for using
online banking.
Interest - Interest rates for business banking can vary widely between accounts, so its
always best to do your research.
Referrals and testmonials - Which bank do other self employed people use? Unlike
personal banking where you can easily ask just about anybody what their bank is like, it can
be more difcult to fnd a bank with the right facilites for you.
If you choose a bank which ofers free business banking, you shouldnt have to worry about every
day banking fees. However, many banks do charge for things like debit card use, transferring money, issuing or paying
in cheques and withdrawing cash. This can come as a bit of a shock if youve only
used free personal banking before.
Setng up an account is fairly straightorward and most banks will take around a week to get everything set up. All
banks will have to carry out a series of security checks before opening a new business account. You may need to
provide photo identfcaton, such as your driving license or passport, as well as proof of your business address, which
for most freelancers and self employed people is their home address.
Easy Accountancy recommends Cater Allen. For further informaton please see our business banking page.
b) Insurance
Depending on what type of self employed person you are, you may or may not need to take out insurance, but its
best to investgate thoroughly to ensure that you are making an informed decision. The two main types that self
employed people may need are Professional Indemnity Insurance and Public Liability Insurance. Both insurances are
expenses which can be ofset against tax.
29 30
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Professional Indemnity Insurance - This meets the cost of defending claims and damages
payable should a client sufer fnancial loss due to any negligent act, error or omission by
you. For example, if youre developing a sofware programme and you accidentally include
a bug into the sofware which delays its delivery, it is highly likely your client will demand
considerable compensaton. Professional Indemnity Insurance will cover the cost of such a
claim.

Mistakes can be costly. The chance of a claim is small, but if it does happen, it may well
be a large claim. Therefore, clients are increasingly asking to see proof of Professional
Indemnity Insurance before engaging someone. Prices for Professional Indemnity Insurance
start at around 165 a year so it is not a huge cost for the peace of mind - so is well worth
considering.
Public Liability Insurance - This protects you against third party claims for injury or damage
to people or their property. Despite your best intentons, accidents do happen and if the
accident is as a result of something your business has done, then a client or a member of
the public can claim against your business for compensaton. Your public liability can be
triggered by something as simple as a designer spilling a drink over their clients computer,
or a personal trainer causing injury or damage. Prices for Public Liability Insurance start
from around 115 a year, so again, this is not a huge cost to make sure that you are covered.
Life Insurance - Many people who choose to become self employed also decide that the
best way of protectng them and their family is to take out life insurance which pays out a
lump sum if you die. You might also want to consider health insurance, which pays you a
weekly wage if you are unable to work due to illness or accident.
We recommend Hiscox, who can tailor your business insurance to suit your needs. To get a quote, call them on 0845
512 1895 or make an enquiry online at www.hiscox.co.uk/SJD.
c) Pensions
Having made the decision to be self employed, you are now your own boss - and nobody else is making any plans
for your longer term future. So if you want a comfortable retrement, you will have to make your own plans, and for
most people this means setng up their own pension scheme.
If you are relatvely young this might seem like something to worry about at a later date, but the sooner you set
something up, the sooner that money will be growing into a fund that is large enough to support you in later years.
Especially if you have an idea that you would like to retre early! This might seem like quite an expense to commit to
in the early days of setng up your business, but the good news is that the government allows you to ofset the cost
of your pension contributons against your taxable liability.
d) Mortgages
Getng a mortgage as a self employed person doesnt have to be difcult, but it is essental to choose a good broker,
to avoid the hassles of dealing with lenders who are not familiar with the self employed world. An experienced
broker can make use of the expertse and contacts they have built up over many years, making your life far easier.
31
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Most self employed people have an employment history that can put many high street lenders of, and the ones who
are willing to lend ofen apply expensive surcharges, so its important to work with a company that appreciates the
diference between a freelancer and an employee. Our preferred business partner, Contractor Mortgages Made Easy,
can ensure that you are making the most of the opportunites presented by your self employed status, and will help
you avoid the pitalls that you might face when working outside of a large company employee benefts package.
You can contact the CMME mortgage team by emailing easy@contractormortgagesuk.com or by calling them on
0844 4488800.
e) Accountng responsibilites for Limited companies
As a Limited company you must keep proper books and records for at least three years, or six years if your company
is VAT registered. These records must be summarised in a compulsory format at your year end, known as your
statutory accounts. These statutory accounts must show a true and fair view of the company, and a copy must be
sent to Companies House within nine months and one day of your year end.
Companies House keeps details of every single Limited company in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and there
are a number of forms which you may have to fll in and send to them - so professional advice is essental. The most
common forms you are likely to receive from either Companies House or HMRC are:
Annual Return Reminder (363s)
Corporaton Tax Return (CT600)
It used to be compulsory for every Limited company to have its accounts audited. The rules have since been relaxed
so in most cases, companies with annual sales of less than 6.5m are not forced to use an accountant at all. However,
given that there are fnes if you, as the director of your Limited company makes a mess of your accounts, it is
probably unwise for you to adopt a DIY approach!
In additon to this you should also keep track of your fnances on a day to day basis. Accountng informaton is usually
at least a year out of date and is, in any event, prepared for the completely diferent purpose of satsfying the tax
authorites. So your own day to day records should always be maintained separately.
f) The Data Protecton Act
If you use a computer to store informaton about any individuals, then you may be required to register under
the Data Protecton Act. Non-registraton is a criminal ofence for which fnes plus costs may be imposed in the
Magistrates Courts. Further details can be obtained from the Data Protecton Registrar.
31 32
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
11. Does IR35 Affect Sole Traders?
The great news is: no it doesnt! And if you are a Limited company with multple clients for whom you carry out
diferent projects, then it is extremely unlikely that you will be afected by IR35 either. Having said that, we thought it
would be useful to include a secton about IR35, so you are aware of any situatons in which you might suddenly fnd
it an issue.
IR35 is legislaton brought in by the Government in April 2000, to counter what HMRC class as disguised
employment. An example of disguised employment would be if a permanent employee were to leave their company
on a Friday afernoon then return to work on the Monday, at the same company, doing the same job role, but self
employed rather than as a permanent employee. The aim of the IR35 legislaton is to stop people leaving full tme
employment and then returning to the same job immediately as a self employed person working through their own
Limited company, in order to reduce their tax liability and their NI payments.
For self employed people who operate through a Limited company - if you did fnd yourself working for a single
client, in a role which has the same level of risk, responsibility, liability and control as a permanent employee,
then you could be classed as being inside IR35. This means you would have to pay full tax and Natonal Insurance
contributons (instead of the usual salary and dividends from the profts of your company) and have reduced
expenses allowance. This is because HMRC believes that, as you arent taking the fnancial risks, nor have the same
level of control as a director of your own Limited company, you are not enttled to the same corporate tax structure.
If you are unsure a specifc client arrangement falls inside or outside of IR35, Easy Accountancy ofers a free verbal
IR35 review. Alternatvely, if you would like a writen review, this is also possible and costs 150 plus VAT. If more
informaton on our IR35 contract review service please email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.
33
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
12. VAT
Some people wrongly believe that if you operate as a Limited company rather than as a sole trader, then you have
to register for VAT, but this is not the case. Regardless of how you operate, you do not need to register unless you hit
the VAT threshold, which is currently 79,000 for the fnancial year commencing April 2013. However, many people
choose to register for VAT even if they are below the threshold - fnd out the reasons why later in this secton.
Whether you are a sole trader or a Limited company, the reasons to register for VAT are the same, and the processes
are also similar. Registraton for VAT is compulsory when the annual turnover of your business, calculated to the end
of any month, reaches the mandatory threshold and this goes up slightly each year. Once you are registered, you
have to charge VAT on all of your invoices to UK companies - and at the moment, for FY2013/14, that rate is 20%. You
can also claim back the VAT on any business purchases that you make.
a) When to register
If you expect that your turnover will exceed the threshold limit in the next 30 days, you must register your company
for VAT - and if you fail to register at the appropriate tme, you will be liable to a penalty. You should keep a copy of
your registraton notfcaton, as postal delays could afect the date on which HMRC receives it and a penalty can
be mitgated or cancelled in total if there are genuine circumstances which prevented you from submitng your
applicaton on tme.
b) How to register and start charging
All the required VAT registraton forms are available on the HMRC website. VAT registraton usually
takes about six weeks, but this does not prevent you from invoicing your end clients with VAT included, or reclaiming
VAT on expenses, during that tme. You can start charging on the day you register for VAT, not the day you receive
your certfcate.
Whilst waitng for your VAT certfcate, you will need to raise your invoices as a total fgure, which includes the sale
amount and the VAT amount. For example, if you are invoicing 1,000 worth of work, then the invoice should be for
a total fgure of 1,200. Then, once you have received confrmaton of your VAT number you can add this to your
invoice, separate the sale and VAT amounts (1,000 and 200 using the example above) and re-issue it to your client -
who will then be able to reclaim the VAT which you have charged.
c) Advantages of registering below the threshold
Many people choose to register for VAT even though they do not have a turnover of 79,000, or whatever the current
threshold was when they registered. This is primarily because it gives their business more kudos with customers, or
simply because it makes the business appear larger and more well-established than it really is.
If you do choose to register for VAT, then there is also the advantage of being able to claim the VAT back on
everything you purchase for the business, but the ultmate beneft of this will depend on the type of company you
have. If you buy things in and sell them on as part of your business functon then it will be more of an advantage than
if you only sell your tme as a service, for example in the case of a copywriter or sofware developer.
If you are planning to reclaim the VAT you have paid when buying goods or services for your company, remember to
ask for a VAT receipt, which shows the suppliers VAT number, as they will not automatcally be provided every tme
and you will need this to reclaim the VAT.
34
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
If you want to register despite not reaching the threshold, you will need to satsfy HMRC that you are running a
business, or intending to run a business, and that you are making what is known as taxable supplies e.g. selling
products or services for which VAT could be applied. You will have to provide satsfactory evidence and we suggest
sending a covering leter as well, to pre-empt any questons that HMRC might ask. This is especially useful if you are a
sole trader, and cannot demonstrate the existence of your business in the same way as someone who holds a Limited
company Certfcate of Incorporaton can.
d) Claiming VAT back
Once your business is VAT registered, you will be able to claim back any VAT incurred on business
expenses. Expenses on which you can usually claim VAT include:
Computer equipment and sofware
Statonery
Accountancy fees
Legal fees
Telephone calls
Fuel and motor repairs
50% of the VAT paid on either car lease rental payments or car contract hire payments
Expenses on which you cannot usually claim VAT include:
Postage
Technical books and journals
Public transport costs
The purchase of a car
Road tax and insurance
Payments to the Registrar of Companies (if Limited)
Payments of directors remuneraton (if Limited)
e) Submitng a VAT Return
Every quarter, you must submit a VAT Return to HMRC, or you can ask your accountant to do this for you if you have
one. As of 1st April 2010, all businesses with a turnover of 100,000 or more have to fle their VAT Returns online,
regardless of whether you are operatng as a Limited company or a sole trader. The return must show all your
output tax e.g. the total VAT you have charged your clients on products and services which you have provided. It
must also include the VAT you wish to claim back against charges you have incurred on purchases for your business as
outlined above. This is known as input tax.
To set yourself up for submitng VAT Returns online will need to visit htps://online.hmrc.gov.uk/registraton/
organisaton?htpmethod=post. Tick the opton VAT (submit return or change details) two thirds of the way down
the right hand column, and then follow the instructons.
Please note, this can take up to seven days to set up, as HMRC have to send you a Government Gateway actvaton
PIN and User ID - therefore it is best to do this as soon as possible afer receiving your VAT certfcate. However, there
will be an opton to submit your frst return following registraton, without the need to wait for the PIN code through
the post.
For additonal guidance on how to sign up to use VAT online services, visit htp://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/
register/signup-online.htm
35
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
13. The Flat Rate VAT Scheme
Many freelancers and self employed people provide a service rather than selling products. In efect you are selling
your tme rather than a physical item, and as such you probably dont have to buy many things which would be
classed as a business expense - and certainly not on a regular basis anyway. In these situatons, the Flat Rate Scheme
(FRS) is ideal. It is an incentve provided by the government to help simplify VAT for small businesses, especially those
who provide a service and therefore do not have large amounts of VAT to reclaim for business purchases.
a) How it works
With this scheme, you charge VAT on your invoices at 20% (FY 2013/14), but pay back HMRC at
a lower rate. This rate difers depending on your profession or trade, and changes every tme VAT rates change, so be
sure to check this each year. Also, in your frst year using the Flat Rate
Scheme, you will receive an extra 1% discount. This diference in the rate you charge and the rate you pay is
additonal income for you. The Flat Rate VAT scheme stll requires you to complete a quarterly VAT Return form, but
when you complete this, you simply calculate your VAT payable on the amount you have invoiced that quarter.
b) Financial examples
The example below is based on a freelance marketng business that pays VAT at 10%, which includes the frst year
discount:
Net amount you invoice your client 5,000
VAT charged on top to your client (20%) 1,000
Gross amount 6,000
VAT to be paid to HMRC 10% of 6,000 = 600
VAT received from client 1,000
Proft for you - i.e. what you get to keep 400
This example is probably at the most benefcial end of the scale, as marketng and advertsing freelancers normally
pay 11% afer the frst year - whereas an IT freelancer for example may have to pay 14.5% - but it shows how much
could be saved on the fat rate scheme.
Using the example of the IT freelancer above, who pays 13.5% of the gross amount in the frst year and then 14.5% in
subsequent years - they would receive the following, based on a 45 week working year:
Average earnings of 200 a day - 1,710 per year
Average earnings of 350 a day - 2,990 per year
Average earnings of 600 a day - 5,130 per year
Two key points to note however are that a) your payment is calculated on the gross amount (invoice fgure plus 20%
VAT) and not just the invoice fgure, and that b) any proft you make through the fat rate scheme is also taxable and
must be declared as income. So, whilst it defnitely saves you money, its not quite as much as it might frst look in
terms of hard cash!
36
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
c) Advantages
The ability to earn money from VAT. You can earn thousands of pounds extra each year
simply out of VAT because you are in efect actng as a tax collector for HMRC!
A reduced amount of paperwork to handle. As you are not submitng any of your input
costs to HMRC, all you need to do is keep the receipts from your purchases.
If you are a new business that is using the Flat Rate Scheme in your frst year, you receive a
further 1% decrease on the overall percentage VAT you pay each quarter.
d) Disadvantages
Companies on the Flat Rate Scheme are unable to claim back any VAT on purchased goods
and expenses for their business.
We recommend discussing all your VAT scheme optons with an accountant before deciding, as there are a number
of variables which might afect your decision. For example, if you are on the Flat Rate Scheme you can stll reclaim
VAT on capital asset purchases over 2,000, which is good - but they must all be on the same receipt. You cannot for
example, purchase a PC one month for 1,500, then a printer the next month for 300, and a scanner the month
afer for 200 and then add them together. So it is all these types of oddites which make it a good idea to work with
an accountant!
e) When not to join the Flat Rate VAT Scheme
If you estmate that your annual turnover, excluding VAT, will exceed 150,000 in your frst year, you should not join
the scheme and if your annual turnover exceeds 230,000 including VAT (FY 2013/2014) in subsequent years, you
will have to come of the scheme.
For further advice on if you should join the Flat Rate VAT Scheme, please call us on
0500 234111 or email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.
37
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
14. Tax
How can such a short word cause so much confusion and strike fear into the hearts of so many? Sadly theres no
getng away from it - tax can be complicated! However, this shouldnt stop you from setng up your own business,
whether as a sole trader or a Limited company.
a) Sole Trader
As a sole trader, your tax situaton is actually very similar to what it would be as an employee. You simply pay tax
on your income in exactly the same way as you always have done. The key diferences though, as a self employed
person, are that you have to submit your own Self Assessment Tax Return and you have to keep records so you know
exactly what your income is - based on your invoice fgures less your allowable expenses.
You will have a personal tax allowance of 9,440 (FY 2013/2014) on which no tax is paid - and you will then pay 20%
tax on all income up to 32,010, then 40% for anything over 32,011 up to 150,000, then 45% on anything over
that. From the 2013/14 fnancial year, the 45% tax bracket will not apply. This is based on income received within
each fnancial year which runs from 6th April to 5th April of the following year. Personal tax is payable annually on
31st January, with potental additonal payments on account in January and July.
It is also worth mentoning that once you earn over 100,000, your personal allowance will be reduced at a rate of 1
for every 2 of income untl it is reduced to zero, so by the tme you hit 114,950 your personal allowance will have
disappeared, this efectvely means that the 14,950 afer 100k will have been taxed at 60%.
b) Sole Trader Tax FAQs
i) Why do I need to fll out a Tax Return?
This enables you to tell HMRC about your various types of income, business expenditure and any other capital gains
(profts on your business assets) so that they can accurately work out your tax bill. It also helps HMRC to work out
whether they owe you any tax which you may have previously overpaid.
ii) How do I know if I need to fll out a Tax Return?
If youre self employed, whether full tme or part tme (and so do not get paid through an employer, get a payslip or
pay income tax on your earnings) then you will defnitely have to fll out a Tax Return. If youre already registered as a
sole trader then HMRC will send you a notfcaton that you are required to complete a Tax Return. If you havent yet
registered as a sole trader but you know you need to fll out a Tax Return, make sure you register as self employed as
soon as possible, as failure to do so can result in a penalty.
iii) Will I be sent a form automatcally or do I have to request one?
Self Assessment Tax Return forms are issued afer the end of the tax year, which is 5th April, and cover the previous
12 months. You will receive one as standard if you have registered as self employed, which you should have done
when you set up the business. If you do not receive one for any reason, then dont think youve got away with it and
dont have to complete one. HMRC will catch up with you eventually, so you might just as well ask them to send you
one. Its your responsibility to do so.
iv) How do I submit my Tax Return?
There are two optons in terms of how to fll out your Tax Return - either a paper-based return or an online return.
There are a number of advantages to completng your Tax Return online, including the fact that the deadline is three
months later each year!
38
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
However, be aware that this can take up to seven days to set up initally, as HMRC have to send you a Government
Gateway actvaton PIN and User ID - therefore it is best to do this as soon as possible, well in advance of when you
need to send your frst Tax Return. This is the same government portal that you would use for submitng VAT Returns
online, and as these have to be done quarterly, you may already have one in place by the tme your Tax Return is due.
When you register online, you must ensure that you have a unique tax reference (UTR) number, which is a ten digit
number that should be included on any correspondence from HMRC.
v) What informaton do I need?
Most people generally fnd flling out a Tax Return confusing, and rightly so. HMRCs guide to expenses alone is
over 100 pages long! So whilst you can fll out a Tax Return yourself, if youre not a qualifed accountant it can be
a minefeld - leaving you with potentally expensive penaltes and an incorrect amount of tax to pay. As such, we
recommend that its always best to speak to an accountant about the informaton needed to complete a Tax Return.
However, the basic informaton you need is:
1. The amount invoiced over the tax year - your income
2. Bank interest received
3. Any employment income earned during the year if relevant - a copy of your P60 or P45
should have the informaton required
4. Property income and allowable expenses - rent and expenses from any owned property
5. Expenses incurred during the year
6. Any tax that has already been deducted from your income - most commonly pension, bank
interest and employment income
7. Any natonal insurance paid
Throughout the tax year, make sure you keep all books and records in a safe place, as HMRC can request to view your
records at any tme. Of course, it can be a bit tme consuming to collate all of your income details and receipts - but
if youve kept everything in good order from day one as we recommend, you will have less to worry about when it
comes to flling out your Tax Return. If youve pushed all your records to the back of a dusty drawer, dont worry. Start
collatng them together as soon as you can, and then get in contact with an accountant who can help you manage
your fnances!
We would always recommend keeping a spreadsheet which lists all of the work you have invoiced in the tax year,
and all business expenses which went out. The aim is to end up with a proft fgure based on your income less your
expenditure, and your tax liability will be calculated on this fgure.
As a self employed person, by law you must keep your records for fve years and ten months afer the end of the tax
year that the fgures relate to. In fact if you dont keep the records that you need to fle a Tax Return, you can be fned
up to 3,000.
vi) What happens if I make a mistake or send incorrect informaton?
If any of your personal details have changed, or if you fnd that you (or the Tax Ofce!) has made a mistake, then
you must let HMRC know as soon as possible. You can be penalised if your Tax Return is incorrect through fraud
or negligence for example of you provide incorrect fgures on purpose, then you could end up with a criminal
convicton if you try to cheat the tax system. All in all its best to get it right frst tme if you possibly can.
39
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
vii) When do I need to complete my Tax Return?
A paper-based return must be submited by 31st October each year, and an online return must be completed by 31st
January of the following year. You will be sent a reminder in December statng that you need to fll out a Tax Return,
and if you have an accountant, make sure you get in touch with them in advance of the deadline. If you miss the 31st
January deadline, you will incur a 100 fne and may be charged additonal interest on late payments - and if you fail
to complete your return by 28th February, you will also have to pay a 5% surcharge, based on the value of tax you
owe.
You will save yourself a huge amount of stress if you do it sooner rather than later. Theres nothing to be gained
by leaving it untl the last minute, and it certainly wont delay the date on which you have to actually pay the tax!
This not only causes more headaches as the deadline approaches, but it also leaves you in a situaton where there
will also be no tme to correct mistakes, or to ask for help if you have any problems. Which is why we would always
encourage you to complete your Tax Return as soon afer April 5th as possible.
Although you can complete your Tax Return yourself, this can be a long process - and if youre not a qualifed
accountant, you can never be sure that youre entering the correct fgures. If you do enter incorrect fgures you
may be liable for interest on the underpaid tax, and other costly penaltes. As such, wed always recommend hiring
an accountant to fll out your Tax Return, to make sure you never have to pay expensive penaltes. You just need to
provide the correct income and expenditure informaton and they will do the rest!
viii) Is there any way to avoid the penaltes if I send my Tax Return in late?
You have to have what is considered to be a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline. There are no fxed rules on
this, but usually any delay must be due to an exceptonal or major unexpected event thats completely outside your
control. Some examples of what HMRC may consider as a reasonable excuse include:
Documents being lost through thef, fre or food leaving you unable to replace them in tme
Life-threatening illness, for example a heart atack or an extended hospital stay which
prevents you dealing with your tax afairs on tme
The death of a partner shortly before the fling date where possible, you may need to
demonstrate that you had taken steps to prepare the return on tme before this happened
Problems with the online fling service, where no alternatve opton was available for
this, youll need to provide copies of any error messages you received, so take screen grabs
wherever possible
If you have a reasonable excuse then you can ask for the penalty to be reconsidered, and HMRC will look in detail
at the informaton you provide, and any other evidence that is available. But dont wait untl you receive the penalty
notce, instead make any claim as soon as you possibly can. To do this, write to your local Tax Ofce and give the
following details:
Your name and Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) - youll fnd this on documents such as
your tax return or Self Assessment Statement
The date you sent your return
The reason why the return was late
39 40
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
ix) What personal informaton do I have to include in my Tax Return?
Although you are now operatng as a business, and your income is based on the profts of that business, you are in
efect completng a personal tax return. So youll also need to make sure that you keep details of all other aspects
of your income, if relevant. For example, if you set up the business halfway through a tax year, youll need details of
your salary and your tax payments from when you were employed. This should all be contained in the P11D and P45
which you should have received from your employer when you lef.
Other personal income could include interest on savings, income from property rental or a part-tme job, or any other
income sources you might have maybe, for example, if you were working on a more casual basis in the evenings
before you set up the business?
x) When do I pay tax for the year 12/13?
If you started your business in the year 12/13 this will be your frst Tax Return. The amount you pay will of course be
dependent on the amount you invoiced over the year, but as an example, well say that the tax owed is 3,000.
January 31st 2014
3,000 - tax bill
1,500 - this covers half of your projected tax bill for 13/14
= 4,500 to pay
July 31st 2014
1,500 to pay
January 31st 2015
4,000 - your tax bill may increase in the second year
3,000 already paid
1,000 to pay
For new sole traders and freelancers, youll have to take into account the additonal tax paid for the year 13/14 which
will be paid on January 31st 2014.
c) Limited Company
If you are operatng through your own Limited Company, then the tax situaton is quite diferent. When thinking
about Limited company tax, the best opton is to think of the company as one entty and yourself, an employee and
owner of the company, as a separate entty. This may seem strange but it will make tax far easier to understand.
d) Limited company tax FAQs
i) What is Corporaton Tax?
Corporaton tax is the tax that you pay on your company profts, which are simply defned as net sales less net
expenses. All Limited companies have to pay Corporaton Tax and the current rate for companies with profts under
300,000 is 20% (FY 2013/2014). So for example, if you invoice your clients 100,000 excluding VAT over the year,
and have expenses of 20,000, you will pay 20% on the remaining 80,000 proft. Your companys corporaton tax is
due nine months and one day afer the companys fnancial year end.
41
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
ii) What are Employers and Employees Natonal Insurance Contributons?
For employers NICs, your company will have to pay NI at 13.8% (FY 2013/2014) on any salary you pay yourself, over
the required threshold amount. And for employees NICs you will need to pay NI on any salary you pay yourself from
the business, which is 12% on anything earned above 149.01 per week - untl you reach 797 per week, and then
youll pay just 2%.
PAYE Income tax/NI is, along with VAT, payable quarterly - but your accountant will be able to advise you of these
crucial dates. There is no NI payable on dividends.
iii) How does PAYE work?
For Limited company owners, Pay as you Earn (PAYE) can be a bit of a minefeld. If youre a sole trader you dont need
to worry about PAYE all your tax is sorted out in your tax return at the end of the tax year, but if you have a Limited
company you will need to sort out your PAYE through the company.
PAYE is the method of paying income tax and Natonal Insurance (NI) to the government. Every employee in the
UK has to pay tax out of their wages, and the amount of PAYE paid to the government out of a persons wages will
depend on how much they earn. If you own your own Limited company then you are an employee of that company
even though you are the owner and probably the only director - so your PAYE will be deducted from the salary you
pay yourself, although not from any dividends.
The PAYE that is deducted from your salary before you receive it is kept within your business bank account untl its
declared and paid to HMRC. If you are thinking of setng up as self employed through a Limited company, and need
to know more about PAYE, we strongly advise that you speak to an accountant.
iv) What personal income tax do I have to pay?
Any income taken as a salary from the business is taxed in the same way as you would be if you were an employee of
a company, using the same tax thresholds as outlined in the sole trader tax secton. As director of your own Limited
company, you will need to register for Self Assessment in the same way as someone who is operatng as a sole trader.
v) What are Dividends?
These are an additonal, and alternatve, way of paying yourself from the profts available in the company. Dividends
are a porton of the companys earnings that are returned to shareholders - i.e. you as the owner - and this is proft
that you receive afer tax.
Any salary you draw from the company atracts both employers and employees Natonal Insurance, whereas
the remaining profts, if taken as a dividend, do not atract Natonal Insurance. Dividends can be paid at anytme
providing there are available profts. Its entrely up to you when and how much you pay, as they are your profts afer
all.
Paying tax on Dividends is a litle complex due to issues around allowances, dividend tax credits and the fact that
company profts have already been taxed - but as a rough guide, once you have exceeded the combined total of your
personal allowance and basic rate tax band, the overall rates are similar to the personal higher tax bracket of 40%.
For more informaton on Dividends we would recommend speaking to an accountant.
42
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
vi) What happens if I dont pay my taxes?
Should your company default on the payment of PAYE and NI, and claim that limited liability will
exclude payment, directors should be aware that there are existng procedures which have been used successfully
in the past - to enforce PAYE liabilites on the employee who received the emoluments and, in the case of NI, any
director of a company which fails to pay NI due, where the director is fraudulently or negligently concerned with
non payment. It is also possible to obtain freezing orders over a directors personal assets to secure payment of NI
liabilites.
e) Important Dates
Its worth remembering that both HMRC and Companies House levy fnes and interest for late fling of returns and
late payment of taxes! There are various dates which you must be aware of, both for company related tax issues and
for your own personal tax issues - and these are as follows:
Company
Corporaton tax payable
Annual Accounts
Companys Annual Return
Personal
Personal tax year end
PAYE and Natonal Insurance on salary
Self Assessment return
Date due
Within 9 months and 1 day of the companys fnancial
year end
Filed within 9 months afer the companys fnancial
year end
Anniversary of incorporaton date
Date due
5th Apr
19th Apr
Due by 31st Oct if hard copy or 31st Jan if online
Tax is complicated and sometmes it may be easier to speak an expert. For further advice on tax call us on
0500 234111 or email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.
43
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
15. Accounts Made Easy
You may wish to download our free bookkeeping sofware.
Understanding accountancy and fnance is like driving a car. It flls most people with dread, but once theyve had a
bit of experience it becomes second nature and they wonder what all the fuss was about! Accountancy is all about
identfying, recording, analysing and explaining the fnancial implicatons of business transactons and decisions...
quite simply, it allows you to understand how your business is performing and if you are meetng your objectves.
Whether you are operatng as a sole trader or a Limited company, it is important to manage your accounts efciently.
Whilst it is undoubtedly simpler if you are a sole trader, many of the accountng procedures which you have to carry
out by law as a Limited company are also very good to get into the habit of doing - even if you are not required by
law to do so. The frst thing to realise is that many people will be interested in your accounts - for example:
Clients may want to look at your accounts to decide whether you are a successful and
reliable business. If you are a sole trader, then a client could simply ask to see them, and if
you are a Limited company, then your accounts will be available online as a mater of public
record.
HMRC needs to see your accounts to work out how much tax you owe.
Suppliers may ask look at your accounts to decide whether you are a worthwhile credit risk.
Bank managers will want to see your accounts to help them to decide whether to lend you
money, should you need this facility in the future.
Mortgage providers will need to see your accounts before they give you a mortgage.
a) Who are accountants?
Unfortunately, there is nothing to stop anybody calling themselves an accountant. This means that it is vitally
important to understand the diference between qualifed accountants and tax advisors, and those who are
unqualifed.
Bookkeepers their role is largely to keep the score by recording the fnancial efects of
what a company has done. They are usually the best people to do routne accountng work.
Qualifed accountants and tax advisers these are experienced professionals who have
undergone rigorous training and passed extremely difcult exams. There are a number
of leading qualifcatons - but if you look for the leters ATII, ATT, ACA, FCA, ACMA, FCMA,
ACCA, CA or FCCA afer the accountants or tax advisers name, you should not go too far
wrong. Qualifed advisers are best at dealing with the non-routne aspects of your business -
e.g. helping you to increase your profts, produce your statutory accounts and pay less tax.
Unqualifed tax advisers and accountants before deciding to use the services of one,
we suggest you ask yourself would I put the health of my family in the hands of an
unqualifed doctor? If the answer is no, as were sure it would be, why consider putng the
health of your business in the hands of an unqualifed tax adviser or accountant? Dont be
afraid to ask what qualifcatons and expertse they have - and if you have any doubts, try
somebody else.
44
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
b) Types of accounts
There are two main types of accounts - Management Accounts and Statutory Accounts, also known as Financial
Accounts.
Management Accounts - these accounts are essental for well-run businesses, but are not
strictly required by law. As their name suggests, Management Accounts are mainly used by
management. In fact it is very rare for them to be shown to anybody outside the business,
and you cannot usually be forced to show them to anyone other than the auditors.

There are no rules that say what Management Accounts must look like - it is up to each
business owner to decide what format will best help them to understand whats going on,
control the business and make beter decisions. Management Accounts ofen predict the
future as well as keep track of the past - i.e. they usually include forecasts of what is going
to happen tomorrow, as well as recording what happened yesterday. In contrast, Statutory
Accounts only ever record what has already happened in the past.
Statutory Accounts - these are compulsory for Limited companies, and must be sent every
year to the shareholders in your company, if you have any, and to Companies House. In
additon they must follow a standard set of rules and conventons, and show what went on
during the fnancial year. These accounts are mainly used by people outside your business -
e.g. bankers, clients, suppliers and of course, HMRC.
Both sets of accounts use the same basic informaton which they get from the same place your company books.
c) Simplifying the terminology
We said before that business fnance and accountancy are a bit like driving a car. Good drivers use the dashboard to
monitor their progress - and in just the same way good managers use their accounts to monitor the progress of their
business. So, accounts are, in a sense, your business dashboard.
The two key instruments on your cars dashboard are probably the speedometer and milometer. These are quivalent
to the two key elements in any set of accounts - the Proft and Loss Account and the Balance Sheet. These are more
likely to be relevant for Limited companies.
Proft and Loss Account - in a car, the speedometer shows you how fast you are going.
This is equivalent to the Proft and Loss Account, which shows how fast your business is
accumulatng profts. Both the speedometer and the Proft and Loss Account only make
sense when viewed over a period of tme. The speedometer shows miles per hour, while
the proft and loss account shows profts per year.
Balance Sheet - the balance sheet is like the milometer. A milometer records how far the car
has travelled and is ofen used as an important factor in deciding how much a car is worth.
In the same way, your balance sheet measures how far your business has travelled. It is a
snapshot of where the business has got to and gives some indicaton of how much it might
be worth - but like the milometer, it tells us litle or nothing about how, or how quickly, it
has got to where it is.
45
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
d) Basic principles of accountng
Most accountng is litle more than applied common sense. However, there are two golden accountng rules that are
not immediately obvious - and so it is worth spending two minutes describing them.
The accruals principle - your accounts should refect things when they arise or are earned
- which is not necessarily the same as when you actually pay or are paid for them. For
example, an April sales invoice should be included in your April accounts, even if your client
doesnt pay you untl August.
Revenue v capital payments - some of the things you spend money on will not be regarded
as reducing your profts. For example, the money you pay to buy a new car or pay of a loan.
Accountng conventons say that payments like these shouldnt appear in the Proft and Loss
Account - instead their efect is confned to the Balance Sheet.
The key distncton here is between revenue payments and capital expenditure payments. Revenue payments are
the running costs of the business - the type of expenses that buy goods and services which are used up quickly - e.g.
wages, advertsing, rent, statonery and so on. This type of expenditure is shown in the Proft and Loss Account and is
ofen referred to as having been expensed.
Capital payments relate to things that contnue to beneft the company for several years - e.g. computers, cars and so
on. They also include paying of loans. This type of expenditure is shown in the Balance Sheet, and is ofen referred to
as having been capitalised.
e) Your accounts
We have now explained the building blocks of every set of accounts. The following examples are
stylised versions of what these building blocks are used to construct - your Proft and Loss Account
and your Balance Sheet. Again these are only really relevant for self employed people who are operatng as a Limited
company.
Your Proft and Loss Account
Figures for Descripton
Sales Made by your business - even if not yet paid for
Less ( - )
Costs Revenue expenditure costs of goods and services used to generate, supply and
support those sales - even if not yet paid for
Equals ( = )
Proft How much your business has really made
46
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Your Balance Sheet
Balance sheets are always presented in two halves. The top half shows the companys net assets and
the botom half shows where these net assets have come from:
Figures for Descripton
Share Capital What your company OWNS
Plus ( + )
Profts How much proft you have earned but not spent since the business started
Equals ( = )
Net Assets This will be the same fgure as in the top half of your balance sheet - i.e. roughly
how much your business is worth
Figures for Descripton
Assets What your company OWNS
Less ( - )
Liabilites What your company OWES
Equals ( = )
Net Assets Rough measure of how much your company is worth.
f) Bookkeeping basics
Your accounts can only ever be as accurate as the books you keep. In this secton we explain the
books you will need - and those you wont.
Cash book - this is your single most important book as it will record all of the payments made into and
out of your business bank account, if you have one. It is crucial to set up the book appropriately at the
commencement of business - and even if you dont have a business account, it will help you to keep track of
your business incomings and outgoings.
Sales invoice fle - it is both very helpful to your business, and reassuring to HMRC, if you issue your sales
invoices in strict numerical order. You should set up a fle for each month and fle your sales invoices in strict
numerical order, either physically or electronically. The only excepton to this rule is that unpaid invoices
should be kept in a special secton of the fle untl they have been setled, at which point you should mark
them as paid and also indicate the date paid, then fle it in strict numerical order. Download our free
invoice template.
Purchase invoice fle - you should set up a fle for each month with a separate secton for unpaid bills. This
can either be a physical fle, if most of your bills are received by post, or an electronic one of most of your
bills are received by email. In fact, many self employed people who operate a service-based business rarely
receive bills - but it is good to have a process in place for those that are received.

On receiving an invoice, fle it in the unpaid secton untl such tme as you pay it. On paying the invoice you
should make a note that it has been paid and on what date, and then transfer it from the unpaid secton
of the fle to the secton for the month in which you made the payment. You should also, of course, ensure
that the payment is recorded in your cash book.
47
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
16. Managing Your Money
To make your business a success, regardless of how you operate, there are two key things which you must always do.
Firstly, make sure you get paid, and on tme - and secondly, ensure that you make the best possible decisions when
buying items. In business terms, were talking about credit control and purchasing. This secton outlines how to
manage these two key business areas efectvely, as well as giving advice on managing your budget and making sure
you dont give too much away as discounts - as well as telling you how to take advantage of some free resources.
a) Credit control
This sounds very scary and formal, but its really just good business sense, and you should have a procedure in place
even if you are operatng as a sole trader. There are a great number of undesirable potental clients in the market,
who can inadvertently or deliberately cost your business a great deal of tme and money by not paying their debts.
There is only one thing worse than having no work - and thats having lots of work, but not getng paid for it.
In most businesses it is normal practce to make detailed credit enquiries into any new client that is requiring credit
terms. However this is not always politcally correct for self employed people - as it might even damage a new
relatonship if they feel you do not trust them, especially as they will probably be a far larger organisaton that you
are!
We therefore usually suggest a low-key approach to be the most appropriate. In partcular, we recommend that you
contact a specialist credit reference agency such as Dun and Bradstreet in order to obtain a detailed (and private and
confdental) credit reference on every new company that you would like to do business with. This reference should
then ideally be discussed with your accountant, if you have one, before you make a decision to work for them.
Here are some key points to bear in mind:
In the credit vetng process, you cannot aford to rely solely on the apparent size (or claims as to its size!) of
an organisaton, or on the qualifcatons of its representatves. Even the largest companies dont always pay
their debts, and these qualifcatons are not always what they seem.
Credit vetng is not a one-of exercise, it should be contnuously monitored and re-evaluated, taking
account of both the clients payment history with your own business and by regularly updatng the
externally available informaton such as that provided by Dun and Bradstreet.
Be aware that recovering unpaid debts from clients based in Scotland is considerably more difcult given
the peculiarites of the Scotsh legal system. Once you have decided to extend credit terms to a Scotland-
based a client, set them a credit limit and notfy them of both the limit, and the general terms of trade upon
which you are prepared to do business with them. Also, ensure that these terms are stated in your contract
and on your invoices.
Withhold further credit from any client who has exceeded their limit or whose account is signifcantly
overdue. Alternatvely, make an arrangement to supply them with, say, 500 of extra work for every 1,000
that they pay of their account. Always ensure that the details on your invoices are accurate, since mistakes
will not only damage your credibility, but will frequently be used by the client as an excuse for delaying
payment.
48
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Send invoices as soon as possible. Not only is this necessary to establish the correct date for VAT purposes,
but it also starts the credit period clock tcking. Ensure that your records enable you to see the age of all
outstanding debts, so that these can be accurately identfed and monitored, and all risky debts can be
identfed and acted upon at the earliest opportunity.
Try not to ofer setlement discounts. They rarely encourage prompt payment, but once established they are
frequently claimed and deducted from remitances, even by slow payers. They are also unlikely to be very
important in infuencing a professional buyer in his decision whether to use your services.
Ofer discounts for cash in advance. Not only does this help you to get paid quickly, but it is ofen atractve
to the buyer, because the discounts actually appear on your invoice, and the buyer will be able to take the
credit for negotatng them.
Get to know the person who writes the cheques and become their friend. Chase overdue debts at
regular intervals, keeping a log of all explanatons for non payment. Initally, use the telephone to request
payment, and afer the second phone reminder put your request in writng, progressively sharpening the
tone and content of the requests.
It is ofen helpful to bring the problem of the unpaid debt to the atenton of the actual user of your
services, and quietly suggest to them that you cannot guarantee future service untl the account is setled.
Your main contact may not even be aware that their accounts department has not paid you.
Be systematc and ruthless over debt collecton. It can ofen require as much efort as winning the original
contract! However, without the extra efort the contract is actually worthless, since it has cost you money
but has earned you nothing.
Ultmately, if your client persistently fails to pay, it may be appropriate to make a claim through the small claims court
- a relatvely simple and inexpensive process that frequently earns the desired result. In fact, merely threatening this
acton, or making references in your email to taking advice from your debt recovery solicitor can ofen have the
desired efect!
b) Purchasing
To get the very most out of every pound you spend, there are a number of diferent things that you should do:
Select your proposed purchases afer careful research - it can be very expensive to buy the
wrong thing.
Make full use of independent brokers and advisers if they are available on a no fee basis - as
in the case of insurance brokers and independent fnancial advisers.
In the case of purchasing general equipment, consult publicatons such as Which? and What
PC?, as well as looking online for reviews on reputable websites such as Amazon.
Select a supplier for your chosen purchase based on a pre-prepared list of criteria such as
price, availability, locaton, delivery tme, credit terms, training, afer-sales support and
guarantees.
49
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
i) Negotaton techniques
If one supplier is ahead of the feld in all areas other than price, then point out their price disadvantage and ask
them to reconsider, since you would very much like to buy from them today if only they were a litle less expensive.
This simple tactc has stood the test of tme as a method of worrying the seller into believing that a genuine and
immediate sale will be lost unless they accommodate the request!
It is also a good idea to save one element of your required package to the end of the negotatons and then slip it in
almost as an aferthought - for example, Oh yes, I nearly forgot, we do insist on receiving 60 days credit or we do
take a 2% early setlement discount, I assume that will not be a problem? Many sales people, fearful of the lost sale
and the associated waste of their tme, will not argue the point, preferring to atempt to justfy their generosity to
the accounts department on their return to the ofce.
ii) Reducing costs
Other ways to cut the cost of purchases - if this is relevant to your business type - include:
Ofering prompt payment or cash in advance in exchange for a discount
Ensuring that all quantty discounts are received
Discussing methods of reducing unit costs with suppliers - many will ofer discounts if
you order in a batch size that is economic for them, or accept delivery on a day that is
convenient
Wherever possible, try to obtain samples, or items on approval, to enable you to fully
evaluate their suitability - also try to negotate sale or return arrangements, even if they
are not (yet!) standard practce in your industry
To avoid subsequent confusion, disagreement and unnecessary expense, confrm all orders
in writng, statng clearly the product details, price, credit terms, delivery method, and that
tme is of the essence - the later statement will usually enable you to cancel the contract
without penalty should they prove unable to deliver on tme
iii) Checking goods
Physically check the quality and quantty of items delivered. Sign any delivery documentaton with the words
received unchecked if you are not able to fully satsfy yourself of their suitability at the tme of receipt. On receipt of
the invoice it is important to fully check its contents since, even in the age of computer invoicing, it is surprising how
many errors, usually in the suppliers favour, they contain. Therefore you should:
Check the quanttes invoiced match those received
Check the price charged matches the price at which you ordered them
Check that no unexpected extras have been added to the invoice for postage and packing
etc.
Check the arithmetcal accuracy of the invoice, including any VAT
Refuse to accept any invoice which includes VAT but does not quote the suppliers own VAT
number
Send the invoice straight back if it is wrong
50
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
iv) Payment
When it comes to paying for purchases, do not setle your account untl the agreed credit period has expired and you
are fully satsfed that the supplier has met their side of the contract. In fact, it is now common business practce to
consider taking further credit - especially if there remains some small element of dissatsfacton, such as an invoicing
error - untl the issue has been resolved to your full satsfacton. However, it is important to recognise that HMRC
must be paid promptly, since they can, and will, impose legally binding charges and penaltes for late payment.
c) Giving discounts
Most small businesses dont realise that their single largest element of cost is one that probably doesnt even appear
in their accounts - discounts awarded to clients. Discounts are a cost in exactly the same way as wages or overheads,
and yet even in the biggest companies they are ofen literally given away, with litle serious thought to their true
implicatons for the success of the business. To manage your discount costs properly you should:
Monitor the total amount you actually charge your clients as a percentage of total sales value you could
have earned if you had billed your work at your full hourly or daily rate. If it is more than 95% you are doing
well. But if it is less than 85% you are probably giving away too much, or perhaps your full hourly or daily
rate is too high - so its best to double check your fgures.
Use selectve discounts as a strategy to atract new clients and to generate additonal sales - e.g. in the form
of introductory discounts or discounts that are only triggered once a client reaches a set level of purchases
etc. But do not allow your business to get locked in to low prices because of uncontrolled over use of
discounts. Remember, low prices can spiral and lead to a lower chance of survival.
Try to link a clients discount to them giving you a target amount of work, and then present that discount in
as favourable a light as possible. For example, when based on a client that you expect to pay you 12,000, a
25% discount on work over and above a target level of 10,000 actually costs your business less than a fat
rate discount of 5%. This is because 25% of the diference between 10,000 and 12,000 is 500 - whereas
5% of 12,000 is 600 - so a bigger discount can actually cost you less!

A 25% discount also sounds more impressive, even though its on a much smaller amount - and will
certainly help you to stand out from the crowd. It is also highly likely to encourage that client to channel
more of their work through your business, in order to trigger the higher levels of discount. The key to the
success of this strategy is to set the targets at an appropriate level for each client, so that they fnd the
potental discounts atractve and your business fnds them proftable as they generate genuine extra work.
d) Managing your budget
It is a good idea to prepare a comprehensive budget for your outgoings and to contnuously monitor your actual
performance against it. If you start to spend more then you planned, then you will immediately be able to investgate
and to fnd out what is going wrong, so that you can get back on track.
A properly designed budgetng process can help to reduce your costs, if every item included in the budget has to be
justfed initally. The alternatve, and wrong, way to set your budget is to include everything you spent at last years
level plus infaton, on the basis that if I spent it last year I must need to spend it this year! The frst principles of
budgetng involve answering the following questons about every single element of your costs:
51
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Can it be eliminated without signifcantly damaging the proftability of the business?
Is it over-specifed for the needs of the business, and could the specifcaton be trimmed to
save costs?
Does it cost more than the beneft it delivers?
Can the same outcome be achieved at a lower cost, perhaps by changing supplier?
Can it be done cheaper by an outside sub-contractor?
Can it be done less frequently without harming the business?
How do other businesses achieve the same outcome?
If you were to start in business again would you stll decide to incur this type of cost?
Is there any duplicaton of efort or can the task be combined into one that is already
carried out elsewhere in the business?
When was the last tme that compettve price quotes were obtained?
Has the choice of supplier become a mater of habit and convenience rather than sound
economic sense?
Whilst such questons should be asked of all costs, it clearly makes most sense to initally concentrate on the largest
elements, since they are likely to have the greatest potental for reductons. When combined with sales forecasts,
these cost budgets should also enable you to forecast your cash fow to identfy whether you are likely to need an
overdraf facility.
They will also show you when and how much you may need to borrow, and this will in turn help you to negotate the
necessary facility with your bankers well in advance. Not only does budgetng enable more efectve business control,
it also creates a very good impression with your bank manager, making him more likely to accept your overdraf
request.
e) Getng something for nothing
Another way to maximise your income is to take advantage of free or very low cost resources that are easily
available, if you know where to look!
Business Link - provides excellent free or low cost training in key business skills such as marketng, selling,
negotatng and bookkeeping. They also provide free counselling and support, and are an invaluable
sounding board for your business ideas or issues. Visit www.businesslink.gov.uk for more informaton.
Free consultatons - many professionals ofer free inital consultatons, and you can take advantage
of these. But dont allow them the luxury of using the meetng merely to fnd out about you and your
business without actually providing any advice. In the case of solicitors, the Law Society will arrange a free
consultaton with a suitably experienced local lawyer if you ring them on 0207 242 1222.
Free banking - if you have decided to open a business bank account, most banks ofer new businesses one
years free banking, providing they stay in credit. We recommend Cater Allen for all business banking, which
ofers free business banking for the lifetme of the account. Your local bank manager may also be able to
ofer advice and assistance. However, in our experience, not all managers are equally willing or able to
provide cost efectve advice and they may occasionally have a vested interest that is primarily in the beneft
of the bank. If you have a good bank manager, use them.
51 52
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Free books - local libraries should not be overlooked as a source of reference material and trade directories
and so on. It is also worth remembering that the libraries of colleges and universites generally welcome
members of the public and ofen contain extremely good business reference sectons.
Health & Safety - free advice on Health & Safety consideratons, and legal advice on your obligatons, is
available from the Health & Safety Executve.
Free sofware - practcally free Shareware computer sofware is available for about 3 per programme for
a period of license-free evaluaton. All types of business sofware are available, from spreadsheets and word
processing to databases and accounts packages. Magazines such as PC Shareware Magazine contain full
details of products and prices available.
Free accountancy advice - contact Easy Accountancy for helpful and knowledgeable accountancy advice
when becoming self employed, whether you are planning to operate as a sole trader or a limited company.
53
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
17. Finding Work and Growing Your Business
How you start looking for business on day one will depend very much on your background and what contacts, if
any, you already have who may be potental clients. Remember that possible clients could be people that you meet
in a social capacity as well as a business one. Never be afraid to drop your services into the conversaton at an
appropriate moment, whatever the circumstance. Generally, as a self employed person, people are always more
sympathetc to your pitch than they would be if you were mentoning a company you were employed by. People
love entrepreneurs!
Start now
There are always a million reasons not to do something, but if you dont take the frst step, it will never happen.
So dont wait untl youve got everything set up - get started right now. And begin by asking yourself the following
questons:
Who might be a prospectve client?
How can I fnd them?
Where do they go, what do they read, which websites do they visit?
How should I approach them in order to gain their interest?
How do I engage with potental new clients, so when they do need my services, they will
instnctvely think of me?
The next step is to take acton. If youre a freelance copywriter, get some emails out to local businesses asking if they
need someone to write content for them, and start writng a Blog to showcase your copywritng talents. Or if youre a
plumber, target your local area friends and family who might be interested. Put on some seminars in the local town
hall and ofer free advice. If those people ever need a plumber, you can be sure theyll come to you frst. Having said
that, dont try to sell to anyone and everyone, fnd out who your most likely customers are and make sure they are
the ones that know about your business frst.
In amongst all the enthusiasm, its important to remember to keep your company lean and efcient and focus your
eforts on the things that mater. Dont waste hours perfectng a website or pay vast amounts of money for CRM
systems you dont need. Focus on your clients and make sure you deliver what you promise, as word of mouth
marketng is the most efectve and cheapest way of bringing in new clients.
Marketng
Weve put together a quick step-by-step guide to successful marketng. It neednt be as dauntng a prospect as you
think!
1. Find out who your customers are
If youre going to present a marketng message to someone, you need to make sure its the right message, to the
right people, at the right tme. So defne your target audience. You need to put your diferent customers into groups,
for example, if youre a physiotherapist, who are your customers likely to be? The older generaton with back
problems? Those who play sports and sustain injuries? Those who work in manual labour? What groups do your
compettors target and have they missed any opportunites?
54
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
fne your target audience. You need to put your diferent customers into groups, for example, if youre a
physiotherapist, who are your customers likely to be? The older generaton with back problems? Those who play
sports and sustain injuries? Those who work in manual labour? What groups do your compettors target and have
they missed any opportunites? Group these customers and write down what their needs are and how likely they
might be to take up the service - and most importantly, if they can aford it. Afer all, some groups may really want
your product/service but not have the money to pay you, so there is no point in targetng them.
2. Understand your customers and compettors
Why do your customers need you? Work out what your groups of customers buy and why they buy it from this you
can work out your Unique Selling Propositon (or USP). Give your business a bit of an edge over compettors by giving
customers exactly what they want, but with something a litle extra. You can learn a lot about your customers and
their needs by talking to them! Get out on the street and queston some of your potental customers, ask friends and
family or go to events and exhibitons.
In order to really make your business stand out, make sure you know who the competton is. Youll need your USP to
be diferent to their unique oferings, so check out how much they charge, how many clients they have and what sort
of business they run. Have a look at their websites to try and get a feel for your compettors companies.
3. Work out where your customers are
Where are your customers most likely to see your marketng message? Could it be on a notce board in local
companies? There are lots of places that dont charge you to advertse, where your customers will see your adverts.
Think very carefully before placing a paid for advert, they are expensive and ofen dont provide the level of
response you thought they might.
4. Write a marketng plan
This does seem like a very boring part of the process, but it is important in order to consistently contnue marketng
and selling the services and/or goods that you ofer. Write a detailed descripton of your customers and describe
the marketng actvites youve chosen, including the tmings and cost of each actvity. Some of the sort of marketng
actvites you could include are:
Direct selling face to face sales.
Get in touch with existng contacts use people you know to help you win business
Advertsing
Events and exhibitons
Seminars introduce your company and give some free advice
Small business breakfast meetngs
PR
Internet actvity
For more informaton on each of these marketng actvites, have a look at our fnding work as a small business and
sole trader on our website.
55
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
5. Monitoring and evaluaton
Dont just carry out marketng actvity and hope that it works make sure you measure the amount of business you
get. For example, you could fnd that exhibitons give you a lot more customers than advertsing or PR. Once youve
found this out, you can tailor future marketng plans so you spend your tme and money most efectvely, with a good
return.
Basic marketng tools
Anyone considering startng their own business must have enough experience in their chosen feld in order to sell
their services credibly. But beyond that, the most vital thing is that you look like a professional. Many self employed
people run successful businesses using Hotmail email addresses and the like, but you really will create a beter
impression if you invest in a proper domain name and website. These are not expensive and can be bought online
easily and simply, usually with email hostng packages (which you will need) and web hostng packages.
a) Website
Once you have an email address it is worth investng in a single web page at the very least. Being able to point people
at your web page for further informaton and contact details really helps when marketng your services and also
makes you look more professional. If you know someone (or are a web developer!) then this will not be a problem,
but if you dont, then there are a number of good quality low-cost website packages in a box out there that will
enable you to get up and running. For more informaton, see the Creatng a website for your business page on our
own website.
b) Statonery
Something else that will defnitely be useful is business cards, for giving to friends, suppliers and industry contacts -
and for handing out when visitng industry events. Make sure you include a supportng sentence on the card which
explains what services you ofer, if its not obvious from your company name. You dont need a logo (unless you can
get one for nothing or design one yourself!) and other statonery items are not vital either in the Internet age, as all
correspondence and invoicing can be done via email.
c) Other tools
Any other marketng tools, like a brochure or hard copy sales materials, are a nice-to-have but really are not essental.
If someone asks for a brochure simply refer them to your web page instead. Further down the line if you really want
a brochure then you can choose to have one, but in the short term, there are beter things to spend your limited
budget on!
Your other vital marketng tool will be samples of work and/or client references, but these take tme to build up.
Make sure you always ask for these and update your website regularly with new work samples (if relevant) and new
client testmonials.
How to advertse your business
When people think of marketng, they always think of advertsing frst. Partly because prior to the Internet and
email, traditonal advertsing was one of the main marketng approaches used. The problem with advertsing though
is that it is inherently expensive, and its also very hard to track results.
For example, if you run an advert one week in the local paper you have no real idea of whether it made a diference,
unless someone calls and says I saw your ad in the paper, which many people do not. You might notce a dramatc
increase in the number of inbound enquiries during the same week, but in reality, this is very unlikely. Think about
it from the other side of the fence. How many tmes do you see a single advert and act on it immediately? Almost
none is probably the answer, which begs the queston Why do companies advertse?
56
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
In short, what is known as of the page press advertsing is generally considered to be a brand awareness actvity
rather than a lead generaton actvity - as in, it will raise the profle of your company name in a more general way,
but you are unlikely to see a high number of new business enquiries generated solely as a result of your advertsing
actvity. Here are some tps on how, and where, to advertse along with the thought process behind it.
Where to advertse
Before you decide on this, you frst have to be absolutely sure you have defned the following:
Who is your target consumer?
What is your advertsing budget?
What publicatons are most commonly read by your target customer?
What websites are most commonly used by your target customer?
The next step is to carry out your own research into relevant websites and magazines, and to try to match their
readerships as closely as possible with your target consumer. If there are many suitable ones, then look into
readership statstcs or the number of website members, as this can also help you to determine which optons are the
most popular. At the same tme, think about more local advertsing as well, if this is relevant to your business. That
could include the local paper, but also websites like www.yell.com and so on.
Types of advertsing
Once you have decided how to reach your potental customer, the next step is to look at what optons are
available with each of these publicatons - using that term to describe both websites and hard copy magazines or
newspapers. In fact, many industry-focused hard copy magazines will also have a supportng website, so sometmes
you can work with both if thats an opton.
Hard copy publicatons - Taking these to start with, they usually ofer everything from a full page ad (with higher
rates for front/back covers, inside covers and so on) down to half or quarter page, or even what are known as
footer strips which are just a 1 deep approximately and run along the botom of a page. Costs then vary of course
depending on how much of a page you buy. As well as the ads in the main publicaton, which are usually referred to
as display advertsing, some publicatons also run what they call classifeds at the back - which is more of a services
directory and is usually cheaper. Classifeds are ofen sold by the column width and then by depth in inches hence
the phrase column inches which you may have heard.
To get an idea of costs, the best place to start looking is the publicatons website, which will probably include
something called a media pack that can be downloaded as a PDF. If you cannot see this (they are usually in a
secton called Advertsers) then email the publicaton and ask for one to be sent to you. Again, there should be an
advertsing contact on the website. Its also worth requestng a sample publicaton or two at the same tme. Be aware
though that the moment you show an interest in advertsing space, an ad sales person will be on the phone straight
away. Try not include a phone number, and always specifcally request that they reply by email rather than calling
you.
Once you have the media pack it will give you details of the costs for each type of ad space they ofer, ofen including
both hard copy and Internet where relevant. Do not be put of by the prices quoted though, as these will be what is
known as rate-card - and no-one ever actually charges the rate card price. As soon as you get into conversaton, an
ad sales person will immediately ofer a reduced rate for frst tme advertsers which funnily enough is also usually
available for repeat advertsers as well!
57
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
The key thing to note here is that one-of ads are always far more costly per unit than if you run a series, but that
of course all comes down to budget. Having said that, it is a proven fact that a series of ads over a number of
weeks or months, does indeed produce beter results than a one-of advert. Sometmes it takes tme to build up
recogniton within your audiences, and afer they have seen an ad a few tmes they are more likely to act on it but
the same concerns about response stll remain. As we mentoned before, you should see this type of advertsing as a
supportng mechanism to other forms of marketng, and more as brand awareness than anything what will generate
direct business.
Something else to think about is that publicatons will ofen publish a Forward Features List. This basically tells you
what some of their main features are going to be over the coming months. As such, its defnitely worth trying to te
in your advertsing with issues where there are relevant features that your audiences is going to be interested in. At
this point you can also ask if your ad can actually appear within or very near the feature.
As well as deciding on what size ad to run, also think about positon. The earlier in the publicaton the beter and
one on the right hand side of a double page spread always stands more chance of being read than one on the lef
hand side. When you are close to booking, sometmes you can ask for these optons (known as early positon and
right hand facing) to be guaranteed as part of the negotaton.
One fnal thing to note, when budgetng for an advertsing campaign, remember that you will also have to pay to
have an ad designed and created as artwork, in a format that the publicaton requests.
Online advertsing In terms of fnding the right websites to advertse on, and then gathering costs and optons,
this is very similar to advertsing in hard copy publicatons. But thats about where the similarity ends. With online
ads there are usually far more optons open to you and they are almost always far more cost-efectve as well - and
more trackable.
The best known ad optons are the horizontal banner along the top of the website or a vertcal ad down the right
hand side. These are known as banners and towers respectvely. Some websites will also ofer panels of advertsing
at various other locatons on a page, and these come under a variety of diferent names. The key thing is that, when
talking through the optons with an ad sales person, dont be afraid to ask questons or ask for clarifcaton if they are
using jargon or talking about things which you do not understand.
Having decided on the type of ad, the next thing is whether you want it on the Home page, or whether a diferent
page or secton is beter. For example, the whole site might not be 100% relevant to your target customer, but a
partcular secton on it may be in which case, this is where you want your ads to appear. This is sometmes also
cheaper as well. Following this, you then want to think about how long you will run an ad for, and this is usually down
to budget. Most websites request a minimum of two weeks as this makes it easier to manage updates.
The other thing to note is that usually the space is not sold 100% to one advertser. For example, if you buy a banner
on a Home page, they will probably sell this to four or fve advertsers, and the ads will then rotate so each one is
seen while a visitor is on that page. Its quite normal though, so not something you should be concerned about, and
is done to ensure that the page remains interestng for the visitor. Do check though what their maximum number of
advertsers is at any one tme. It really shouldnt be any more than fve.
As with hard copy advertsing, remember that these ads will have to be created as Gif fles to the websites
specifcatons in terms of physical size and fle size, so budget for this also. Lastly, dont forget that these types of ads
can include a hyperlink to your website, so remember to specify where you want the visitor to go if they click on the
advert. The publicaton should then be able to tell you the number of click-throughs you received as part of their
service.
58
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
At the same tme as looking for advertsing on the main website, many sites will also try to ofer ads on any
newsleters or other communicatons that they send out to their membership. These can be a really good way of
generatng extra interest as it is not reliant on that person visitng the website. Instead, they will usually have opted
in to receive a weekly or monthly newsleter, and then you could have your banner ad at the top of that delivered
directly into the recipients Inbox. This is defnitely worth considering.
Creatng your advert
As we are all aware, the big London ad agencies will charge millions to create ads for top name brands which they
think will generate the most response, and/or retenton as they call it. Which basically means, when asked, do
people remember seeing the advert? Of course, not everyone has a massive budget for developing these types of
ads, so we have to think a litle smaller. But many of the golden rules stll apply:
Make it memorable humour works well here, as long as its not politcally incorrect.
Keep it short and sweet entce them to fnd out more, dont write War and Peace.
Include a call to acton - make sure they know what to do next if they are interested, and
make it easy to fnd and as memorable as possible.
Dont make statements which are not true no point gaining their interest with something
that you then cannot deliver.
Include an ofer or a discount if you possibly can - make this tme limited so they act
sooner rather than later. The ad guys call it a compelling event what can I do to make
someone act NOW?
If you follow these rules you will not go too far wrong whether you end up designing and writng your ad yourself,
or working with an agency to do it for you. Not all agencies are expensive, and there is always the opton to fnd a
design student just out of college, or someone just setng up as a freelancer, who may be brilliant and is looking for
work to develop their portolio.
Hard copy ads involve creatng a design and then artwork to the advertsers specifcatons. Once you have booked
some ad space they will normally send you what are known as Technical Specifcatons or Tech Specs and youll just
need to pass these on to the person that is creatng the artwork. This used to be a complicated process, but with
developments in technology over the last few years, most publicatons now simply ask for a print ready PDF with crop
marks.
For online, the publicaton will want a Gif fle and will ask for it to be created at a specifc number of pixels wide and
deep. This can usually be either statc or animated, in which case you have the opton to change the message or
the images two or three tmes while the ad is visible. All sorts of fun optons are possible here, and there is usually
no more cost for space when youre running this type of ad although it will cost a bit more to produce. Remember
though that only one click through destnaton URL can be included, so it must relate to all of the separate screens
of your animated advert.
How to get to number 1 in Google (this is obviously a guide and not a guarantee)
To appear on the frst page of a natural Google search and even beter, at the top of the list is the holy grail of
marketng. Crack this one and you are sorted. Of course, its not that easy. Especially when the product or service you
are selling is not unique, with many other companies out there trying to do the same thing. The reality is that there is
only one top spot every tme someone searches, and its not necessarily going to be you.
59
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
So what can you do to improve your chances of appearing near the top of the page? You can start by understanding
Search Engine Optmisaton, most commonly known as SEO.
SEO can be defned as the actvity of optmising web pages or whole sites in order to make them more search engine-
friendly. Search engines are text driven so by understanding what items are most important and what search engines
look for will give you a greater chance of being number one in search results.
Here are some handy tps which weve picked up along the way:
Compettor Research
If you want to beat the competton on Google, this is an essental frst step. You need to defne exactly what it is that
you are ofering to your customers, and then identfy other companies on the Internet who are ofering the same.
Of course, there will be many (unless youre ofering a REALLY unusual service) but there are ways to narrow this
down. For example, if you only really operate in a small geographical area, or your business is targeted at a specifc
niche or sector.
Once you have identfed a selecton of compettors, look closely at their sites but remember to think of yourself
as a potental customer and not as a compettor. This will enable you to assess their strengths, but also their
weaknesses, both in terms of what they actually ofer and also in terms of how they present themselves via their
website. This will help you to make any changes to your site that you think will give you an edge should a potental
customer be choosing between the two of you.
The next step is to see what they are doing in terms of SEO. If you found them, then chances are they are doing
something right. Look at the ttles of each of their pages both on the page and in the browser bar in the top lef
hand corner. See whether they are running any Pay Per Click actvity and hence appearing in sponsored links as well
as natural searches. All of this will help you to assess what you are competng against when someone is trying to fnd
your services and will enable you to make sure that its you they choose.
Keyword Research
You will have heard people talk about keywords in relaton to search engine optmisaton (SEO), but its amazing
how many people dont really know what this means, or how to use them properly. A keyword or in fact key
phrase is a word or phrase which someone might search on when looking for what you are ofering. For example,
photographer in Basingstoke. It seems obvious, but the human mind is a strange thing, and it is ofen the case that
the search phrases people use are not always what you might expect.
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to determine what keywords they should use, is to
assume that they know how their customer audience thinks. By not carrying out this vital research phase, it is easy
to miss some of the most efectve and powerful keywords. We guarantee youll fnd that some of them are ones you
would never have even thought of.
The other thing to remember when selectng keywords is that you are not just looking for words and phrases that will
get people to your site in efect shop window browsers. You want to atract people who are actually in the market
for your services. Using a consumer example for a moment, someone who searches deep fat fryer could just be
having a look around to see what the optons are, whereas someone who searches Tefal Actfry knows they want
one that uses litle fat and someone who searches cheapest Tefal Actfry or even buy Tefal Actfry is most likely to
convert to a sale. So if people fnd you using such specifc keywords, the chances are they are more likely to convert
to being a customer.
59 60
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Page Titles
Page ttles are one of the most powerful SEO tools, yet are ofen completely overlooked. Getng your page ttles, and
most importantly your Home page ttle, right is vital. Each page ttle should begin with your strongest keyword for
that page, not with your company name. Its not about who you are that maters, but instead about what you ofer.
Potental customers know what service they want but at this point they dont know specifcally about you, so there
is no point using your company name as part of your keywords. Unless you are hugely successful of course! The other
thing to remember is that Google listngs only display 66 characters (including spaces) for a page ttle, so make the
most of every one.
Meta Descriptons
This is a short paragraph of text which describes your site, or a page on your site. It sits within the page code and is
only visible to search engines, but Google will display this paragraph as part of the search results, under the page
ttle. By writng these meta descriptons specifcally for each page, you can ensure that anyone scanning a list of
results is seeing exactly the informaton you want them to see about your company. Without this meta descripton,
Google will use the frst few words of your web page which may not necessarily provide the informaton which the
searcher needs in order to decide to click on your website.
In efect, the meta descripton acts like a litle advert, so use it to give the searcher a clear and concise summary of
what you ofer. Remember also that any keywords you include in your meta descripton should match the ones in
your page ttle and in the content of your Home page.
Google only allows 150 characters including spaces for meta descriptons so make sure you work to this, or it may
well truncate your descripton, cutng you of in mid-sentence.
Headings and sub-headings
At the very least, these are important for breaking up content on your website and making it more scannable and
easy for your visitors to read. Main headings and subheadings are also important for SEO. Google uses headings
to help it understand the content of your site, specifcally in relaton to what is known as relevance as in, how
relevant is this website to the phrase which someone has just searched on? Make sure that every page on your
website has a main heading and a series of subheadings, and that these headings include your target keywords
wherever possible.
More on relevance
This is worth expanding on a litle more. Over the years people have tried to get clever with the use of keywords, in
an atempt to drive more trafc to their website, even if that person was not really looking for what they ofer when
they started searching. For example, if you are a business selling pato heaters, it is reasonable to assume that if
someone searches on garden furniture they might be interested in buying a pato heater as well. So you add garden
furniture to your keywords and sure enough you manage to make yourself appear on the frst search page.
At this point the searcher could opportunistcally think ah yes, I need one of those as well (as the company hopes
they will) or they could equally just get frustrated that their search brought up something which was totally irrelevant
to them.
Google realised that this was happening and decided to toughen up the rules a bit, to ensure that its customers
the searchers got the best possible user experience. As such, Googles algorithms now assess keywords and phrases
for relevancy in relaton to your websites content, and if they feel the site is not relevant to what the searcher was
really looking for, they will stop the site from appearing in that set of search results. Repeated use of this approach
can also result in a website being blacklisted by Google, if feels that the site owner is trying to drive trafc to it by
unfair means.
61
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
File Names
The names which you apply to your images, media and web pages also need to be optmised, by using your keywords
within the fle names themselves. For example, if one of your key phrases is wedding photography you should
save any sample images used on that page as wedding-photography-01.jpg and so on. This helps search engines
to understand what that image fle contains. The same applies for the fle name of your web pages, as many search
engines now look for keywords within the URL as well these are known as inurl: searches.
Visitor Sitemap
This is a web page that holds links to all the pages on your website, in a directory format. Sitemaps ofer a valuable
alternatve navigaton opton for your visitors, but more importantly they can also be valuable for SEO. Sitemaps do
exactly what a map should do - help search engines to fnd their way around your website more easily! This also
increases the chances of all your pages being properly indexed by the search engine. Sitemaps should appear with
sub pages indented on the list, in a way that refects the exact hierarchy of the site - and all headings should be
linked to the relevant page. Page name informaton should be in text, not images, and no two pages on the sitemap
should have the same name - as this can confuse both users and search engines.
Keyword Density
As you will have seen from this artcle so far, there are many text elements within a web page which counts towards
the overall keyword density of the page. These rank as follows in terms of importance for SEO:
Page ttle
Meta descripton
Headings (using H1 tags or similar)
Alternatve image descriptons
You need to ensure that your Home page contains content that is keyword rich, but without making the visitor aware
of this. There are many sites that you will see where its obvious that SEO has taken priority over readability and
ofen the site, especially the Home page, start to make no sense at all! Its a fne balancing act between the two, and
one which it is vital to achieve.
Further to this, Google now also penalises sites which have content that was obviously writen to atract search
engines and not to atract human beings! With the Panda update, it cracked down on sites with thin, stolen or
duplicate content, which means that original, fresh copy is key and the same-old content ripped of another site
is going to see your website penalised in the search rankings. Then with the Penguin update, Google also aimed
to eradicate the majority of the bad content away from the top of searches and penalise poor content which is
writen purely for search engines, instead favouring purely original, unique and engaging sites with up to date, fresh
content.
Your chosen key words must also work alongside the other elements of your on-page SEO, to help search engines
identfy your site as highly relevant to those keywords, which as described above will help to increase your
rankings for them.
Link Descriptons
When you place hyperlinks to either internal or external web pages on your site, you must make sure that you give
the search engine a descripton of that link. As weve already explained, Google likes to understand the relevance of a
link and will then give it a link score.
62
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
For example, on your Home page you might have a panel with a wedding image and a graphic underneath with says
Click here to fnd out more about our Wedding Photography services, with a buton to click. That buton is a link and
must have a descripton which enables Google to determine if the visitor will fnd relevant content by clicking on it,
so make sure you include the phrase wedding photography in the name of the buton graphic.
Likewise, when youre hyperlinking words, make sure you use the words themselves as the link descripton.
Going back to the phrase above, the link should work like this Click here to fnd out more about our Wedding
Photography services and not like this - Click here to fnd out more about our Wedding Photography services.
With the frst opton Google can immediately see what the link is about.
Pay Per Click
Otherwise known as Google Adwords, this is in efect an advertsing campaign which enables you to pay to appear
on the frst page of a set of search results, but in the Sponsored Links sectons at the top and down the right hand
side. A PPC campaign is set up using much of the same informaton as we have already described keywords,
relevance and so on - with the only diference being that you agree to pay a set amount for every click through to
your website from a sponsored link. Hence the name Pay Per Click.
All of the same rules regarding relevance apply, and if Google thinks that your ad is not relevant to your websites
and hence is not driving the searcher to a site that is useful to them - it will drop it further down the list, and even of
the frst page altogether. Google decides how ads are rotated to give everyone a chance at the top spot, but again
the weightng of this can be afected if your ad is not relevant to your site.
There is far more informaton on PPC which is not covered here, but if you carry out all of the other actvity described
in this artcle, chances are you wont need it.
Some tried and tested tps
Weve been supportng small business owners for many years, and in that tme we have learned a few things about
what makes a new business successful. Here are some of the most common ones:
a) Renew old contacts - Think about anyone you have ever worked with in the past, or met through someone else,
who may be a possible client. Track these people down via phone or Internet - LinkedIn is brilliant for this - and get
in touch. Start with an email explaining that you have set up as a freelancer and ask them to bear you in mind if they
have a requirement. Or pick up the phone if youre brave enough! Not all people like to be called out of the blue,
so an email can ofen be a sofer approach, but sometmes a call really does do the trick. It depends on your past
relatonship with that person and which you think will be most efectve.
b) Work for free if necessary - A horrible thought we know, but if you are just startng out, then its vital that you
build up a credible client base, and examples of your work, as soon as possible. To get your frst job on board it may
be a case of contactng someone you know well and ofering them a free or heavily discounted service - in return
for allowing you to menton them as a client, use them to write a case study about what you did or show examples
of the work you produced for them when pitching for other new business. Prospectve clients will always feel more
comfortable about using you if you they do not appear to be your frst one!
c) Network with a capital N - The more people who know that you are out there, the more chance you have of
generatng business. Investgate local networking groups, breakfast clubs and the like, or industry-specifc events
if you are aiming your services at one partcular market sector. A trade event is a perfect opportunity, where many
prospectve clients are all gathered in one place on their exhibiton stands with nowhere to escape to when you
approach them, business card in hand.
63
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Beware about spending too much on exhibitons though, they can cost a small fortune, use up lots of collateral
and remember theres a good chance your compettors will also be there, so prospectve clients may struggle to
remember who they actually saw a few days later.
Another great way to generate business is through your suppliers. That might sound odd but it isnt. Build up your
network of suppliers from existng contacts and new research, they will all be very happy to talk to you as you are,
in efect, a route to market for them. If you develop a good working relatonship you will become a virtual part of
their sales team, bringing in new business with no cost of sale for them. But the fip-side of this is that they will also
uncover business opportunites for you.
Forums and discussion groups are also a good way of promotng your services, although you have to be subtle, as
you will be struck of if the moderators think you are trying to sell via this route. Instead, make a point of engaging
people who look like they might be potental clients in conversaton, answering their questons and generally giving
good advice. This could lead to all sorts of interestng conversatons, by which tme they will have got to know you as
a source of trusted informaton.
d) Set up directory listngs - Despite the number of self employed people looking for work, it is ofen difcult for
clients to fnd suitably qualifed and experienced suppliers. To address this market, there are now a few well regarded
forums and websites that allow you to post a professional profle listng your skills, credentals and experience. We
cant guarantee youll fnd all of your work this way, but it can only help.
e) Forum blogging and networking - A new revelaton to marketng, forum entries and blogging has become one
of the cheapest and best ways to acquire new clients. To appeal to clients you need to appear as an expert in your
feld through writng a blog you gain credibility within your industry. Make sure you keep the content of your blog
relevant and interestng keep up with changes in your industry and development in the skills that you can ofer.
Youll fnd that if youre interested in the services you ofer, others will be too. There are lots of forums out there
talking about everything from fnancial advice to your crisp favour preference. Chances are, people are talking about
the goods or services that you ofer. Get online, search for these forums and start postng away. Dont just market
your services ofer advice and helpful tps. This will build you a name in the industry.
f) Use social media channels - Once you have a website you can start to drive trafc to it, and one way to do this is to
make people aware of your services via social media channels such as Twiter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you are self
employed, you may feel that LinkedIn, being well known as a business networking site, is the most benefcial of all
of the social media channels. However, Facebook now ofers the opportunity to set up a business page rather than a
personal one, and Twiter is being used more and more by large businesses to keep in touch with their customers - so
both of these should be investgated as well.
g) Focus your eforts - As you start to build up a client base, identfy those clients which are most proftable for you
and concentrate your marketng eforts on trying to repeat or replicate them. Too many self employed people persist
with low value clients, sometmes out of a misplaced sense of loyalty or optmism, but more ofen because they
dont realise that they could be earning more money elsewhere.
h) Value your existng clients - The easiest people to sell to are your clients, and there are many statstcs available
regarding how much easier it is to sell to an existng customer than to fnd a new one. Your customers are probably
the biggest asset to your business - so be sure that you use them, and dont lose them. On that note, referrals are
the cheapest, and usually most potent, form of marketng for a self employed business owner and must not be lef to
chance. Encourage your clients to refer or recommend you to their sister companies, suppliers and contacts.
64
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
i) Be fexible - Its important to fnd out what potental and existng clients actually want and, if necessary, adapt your
service so that it matches those needs more closely - rather than being just the service that you are prepared to ofer.
For example, if a client wants you to work outside normal ofce hours, to provide your own equipment, or to ofer a
total satsfacton guarantee - try your best to give them what they want. Youll be streets ahead of the competton,
and you may even be able to negotate higher rates.
Sales
Every company needs to generate sales, so weve put together a few tps on how to make a sale. If you run a service
based business such as a consultancy, this should be really useful - but if you sell goods, or services like plumbing or
nannying for example, this secton might not be so relevant.
Step 1: Lead generaton
Choose which people youre going to target and make sure you know who the decision maker is. For instance, if
youre selling IT equipment, make sure you get the name and contact details of the IT Manager. Contact this person
dont just send them an email or leter. Call them! Yes its tough but it is without a doubt the least expensive and the
most rewarding way to get new business.
If youre just startng out, use existng contacts, friends and family. Also look on the internet for local businesses you
might want to target if youre selling consultancy, look for small local business that might need some help. Keep an
eye on the trade press and make sure you atend relevant exhibitons you could meet some great customers!
Step 2: Set up the sales appointment
If you dont know the contact at all its best to call them. This sounds scary, but you will get a much beter response
rate if you make the efort to call. For more tps on cold calling, have a look at our fnding work pages. When you
speak with the contact, set up a date to meet up rather than sell over the phone. Face to face selling is much more
efectve.
Step 3: The sales appointment
Make sure you prepare and have a good idea about their business. Put together a list of questons so you can get a
conversaton going and tailor your businesses services/goods so that they directly meet this customers needs. Be
friendly and open to questons the more the potental customer likes you, the more likely you are to make a sale.
Step 4: Closing the sale
Your heart will probably be beatng a bit faster when you get to this stage of the sale, and its easy to just want to ask
whether the customer wants to buy or not straight away. But dont! Closing a sale is a tricky business, and if you go in
too quickly you could ruin the chance to do business with this customer.
Youll know when to start closing if you feel like the customer is interested, so look for signs like a nodding head, a
positve tone or lots of questons. Reassure the customer that theyre in safe hands and start to ask closing questons
like What sort of consultancy services are you looking for? or Would you like that product in blue or green?. Its
hard to tell you exactly when the tme is right to ask whether they want to sign on the doted line, youll need to
gauge the right tme for yourself and it will be diferent in every case.
Sales and marketng is a tricky business and new business owners dont always get it right the frst tme. Keep getng
yourself out there and youll defnitely start to sell your products or services.
65
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
How to Generate Leads for Free
What can you do to put yourself in front of potental customers for FREE? This is actually prety simple once you
know what to do. Whether you own an ice cream van, a local restaurant or are a self employed beautcian - you
know youre good at what you do - otherwise, why would you be startng a business? This secton is especially
relevant if you are selling to individuals (or consumers as they are know) and will be less relevant if you are selling to
businesses.
Think for a minute about where you can fnd potental customers, as they really are everywhere! They could be
employees of local companies. They might atend local churches or social clubs. They could be in shopping centres,
homes for the elderly, schools or colleges. In fact, your customers could be anywhere. But they do meet up in certain
places, so rather than trying to get your customers to come to you - why dont you promote, demonstrate or exhibit
where they meet up.
So how can you get these people interested in you? They all may have a need for your services, but dont quite know
about you yet. Heres the soluton - set up demonstratons, lessons or sampling sessions at the places they work, play,
shop and meet. Contact the places you would like to run these and then explain what you would like to do to the
receptonist, HR manager, social secretary and so on. Then ask them to send an email around explaining what you are
going to do and also see if you could drop of a poster to advertse the event.
For example, if you own a local restaurant, you could take in samples of food to hand out or give out discount
vouchers. Then when these people are thinking about going out to eat theyll remember your amazing food and will
come to you for dinner.
If you are a hairdresser, you could do a demonstratons and talks on things like How to look afer your hair beter,
How to professionally blow dry your hair, How to choose the right hair colour or Why not to cut your own hair.
Then when these people need a hairdresser they will naturally think of you.
If youre a plumber, you could do a demonstraton or talk on things like How to fx a leaky tap, How to reduce your
energy costs, How to replace a washer on a tap, How to operate your heatng most efciently and What are the
most common boiler issues? Then when these people need a plumber it will hopefully be you that they pick up the
phone to.
Demonstratons, lessons or sample sessions in and around your local area are something that other companies might
not think to do, so this could give you a real edge over the competton. Your tme is in efect free, and social clubs,
local companies and so on are usually more than happy for you to demonstrate your services. The people watching
or atending usually love to see something new, and its a great way to get you and your businesses name promoted
locally.
Remember to have plenty of business cards with you and be prepared to talk to clients afer the demonstraton. Be
open to ofering discounts in return for a testmonial for your website and remember to be confdent - dont ever
forget you are the expert, you know what you are talking about, so being yourself is just enough!
For more informaton on generatng free leads why not watch our video on How to generate leads for free. Please
click the image to watch the video.
66
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
Time management
One last, but important, piece of advice. Time is perhaps the most misused and misunderstood asset of all in
many businesses. And given that a salary of 25,000 per annum equates to about 24p a minute, inadequate tme
management can be costly to your business. Poor tme management also robs you personally of something totally
invaluable - your own tme.
A large number of tme management systems and tools have been developed and a great many books writen on the
subject. However, the essence of most of them can be distlled into the following three stage approach.
Firstly, understand how you currently spend your tme, perhaps by keeping a detailed diary over a period of a week.
Next, analyse which of those actvites add the most value and proft to your business and those that add the least.
Then last of all, devise a strategy to ensure that you focus your tme and eforts on the former and not the later. This
tme management strategy is likely to look something like this:
Use some form of priority acton list - perhaps prepared at the end of the day, outlining the
tasks which must be accomplished the following day
Tackle priority tasks frst take care not to fall into the common trap of doing the most
enjoyable tasks frst
Persevere at the task untl it is fnished - constantly stopping and startng a task is a classic
symptom of tme-wastng
Avoid paper-pushing - deal with each piece of paper and its related acton only once
Use both telephone and email as much as possible - both involve far less tme than face to
face meetngs, and emails also provide proof of anything agreed verbally
Good luck, and remember to keep trying new things even when you have lots of work on. You always need to be
thinking ahead! And dont feel downhearted should you get turned down for a project. Just keep building up your
examples of past work and making people aware of your existence.
67
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
18. Managing your pricing
When you frst start out in self employment it can be incredibly hard to set a price for your tme, especially if you
are simply not used to charging for your services. You feel bad about charging too much, but at the same tme, if
you charge too litle you cannot aford to support yourself. So setng your charging price is probably the single most
important, and difcult, decision that you will make for your business.
a) Setng your pricing
As a self employed person, you need to ofer your clients a high quality service with unparalleled standards of
customer care, at a price that is fair - understanding that ultmately, you cannot compete on price with larger
organisatons. You must also ensure that you do not project yourself as being cheap, as that has all the associated
connotatons of also being undervalued. Instead, you must emphasise and market your quality, service and long-
term value for money.
Many self employed people are selling their tme as a service, so the rate you need to determine is for an hour or a
day of your tme. The best way to do this is to do some market research and to determine what your compettors
are charging for similar services. Once you have a bracket, and that could be quite a wide one, pick a fgure
somewhere in the middle that you believe is comparable with your nearest compettors.
Unsuccessful self employed people tend to believe that, as relatvely low cost newcomers to the market, the only
way that they can fght for a share of that market is by undercutng their compettors prices. As a result, they ofen
adopt pricing strategies that reinforce the undervalued image, preventng them from winning quality clients and
ultmately ending up with a low sales and low proft business that could struggle to survive.
You may also want to consider ofering a lower hourly rate if someone books a day of your tme, so for example, if
you work on a seven hour day and charge 50 an hour, you may ofer a day at 320 or even 300 instead of the full
350. Another thing to bear in mind is that, if you are working remotely and not in a clients ofce, only you will know
how long you spent on something. As you become more and more profcient at what you do, you may fnd that you
can work more quickly than a compettor, so even though you would both charge a day of your tme for a comparable
piece of work, you may complete it in less tme - in efect increasing your hourly rate for the tme actually taken.
b) Justfying your prices
You must be prepared to justfy your rates. This involves knowing the rates of your compettors for the work, and
demonstratng the savings and benefts from using you, rather than another freelancer. You can show a client that
your service is hugely superior and therefore slightly more expensive because, for example, you:
Have a beter CV
Have done identcal work before
Have exactly the right skills
Work quickly and accurately
Have impeccable references
If your rate does become a key issue in negotatons, emphasise that what you are selling is a high quality service that
exactly matches their needs, and not a cheap and cheerful short-term fx that they may live to regret!
68
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
If you are forced to reduce your overall price for a piece of work in order to win a new client, it is always beter to
ofer to do it in a reduced number of hours for the same hourly rate than to reduce your hourly rate. Once you have
done this, is it very hard to put it back up again for the next project - but if you only reduced your tme quote, then
the next tme they will have seen what a good job you do and will be happier to pay for the hours you quote, at your
normal hourly rate!
c) How to raise prices
If you are locked into low contract rates there are a number of techniques that you can use to raise your rate without
losing your client:
Be prepared to explain why your prices have risen - for example due to infaton, or the
increased costs of items you have to buy in, on order for you to be able to deliver the
services that you ofer.
Consider some non-price price increases such as charging for travelling, out of pocket
expenses, the hire of any special equipment you provide and insurance etc.
Introduce a surcharge for any special work - e.g. at ant-social hours, or requiring special
tools or skills, or work that requires you to carry out private research or training.
If you are paid by the hour, make sure that you have an accurate method of recording all the
tme you spend on a contract - the best way of doing this is by keeping a daily tme-sheet
and accountng for every minute between when you start work and when you fnish.
Negotate yourself out of having to do those tme-consuming tasks that are of only limited
value to the client, and for which you are not adequately rewarded, but only pass on some
of the tme-saving in terms of lower contract price - the net result should be that you get
paid more for every hour of efort.
Consider charging interest when your clients dont pay you on tme.
69
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
AA01
AD01
AP01
AP03
TM01
TM02
CH01
CH03
AR01
DS01
SH01
CT41G
CT600
P11d
P11d(b)
P14
P45
P46
P60
Companies House form to change the year end date of the company
Companies House form to change the registered ofce of the company
Companies House form to appoint a new Director
Companies House form to appoint a new Company Secretary
Companies House form to remove a Director
Companies House form to remove a Company Secretary
Companies House form to change any details of a serving Director
Companies House form to change any details of a serving Company Secretary
Companies House Annual Return
Companies House form to strike a company of the register
Companies House form to issue additonal shares in the company
New Company Enquiry form issued by HMRC shortly afer the company has been formed. This
advises the Revenue who the directors are etc. Penaltes may be charged for late submission
Companys Corporaton Tax Return submited annually. The form is due
within twelve months of the year end
Annual statement of benefts and expenses paid to each director and most employees
Annual company declaraton that P11ds have been fled
Annual statement for each employee provided to HMRC by the employer
Leaving statement of payments and tax deducted from an employee
Notce to complete if you do not have a P45
Annual statement for each employee provided to the employee by the employer
64-8
SA1
VAT1
VAT600
VAT100
VAT 101
SA100
VAT7
Form to authorise HMRC to provide company details to your accountant
HMRC form to register for self assessment
VAT Registraton applicaton form
Flat Rate VAT Scheme applicaton form
Quarterly VAT Return
VAT EC Sales List for reportng sales to any EU Customers
Self Assessment Tax Return
VAT Deregistraton Form
The following are only relevant for Limited companies
We hope you found this guide interestng and useful, if you have any questons about being self employed or would
like any further advice please call us on 0500 234111 or 01442 275767, or email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.
19. Guide to HMRC Forms
70
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants
Speak to one of our friendly accountants: 0500 234111 | info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Self Employed Guide
To running your own business
About Easy Accountancy
Easy Accountancy uniquely ofers a low priced fxed fee accountancy package with a friendly approach. Specialising in
ofering accountancy services to the Self employed, Freelancers, Sole Traders and Small Business owners.
Our approach towards our clients is very simple, we remove the stress of managing your fnances, leaving you to
concentrate on making a success of your business.
We understand that administratve responsibilites such as managing your business fnances or completng Tax
Returns can be a real burden. Our aim is to make your life easier by taking on the very tasks which can sometmes
make the decision to start a small business a difcult one. Our accountancy package includes:
Unlimited telephone and email access to your own dedicated accountant - no call centres,
no outsourcing and no press one for this or two for that.
A money back service guarantee - all of your telephone calls and emails will be replied to on
the same day, or we will refund your monthly fee.
An all-inclusive package startng from just 30 plus VAT per month - covering all your
business and personal tax needs for a fxed monthly fee which is one of the lowest in the
market
Each of our fxed fee packages is tailored to your needs. For example, you may not require a payroll service or a VAT
return but would stll like accountng support and tax advice throughout the year plus your annual return completng.
Whichever package you choose, you can guarantee, our low-cost, all-inclusive fxed monthly fee means that youll
never have to worry about any additonal costs, so you can call your accountant for advice and never have to worry
that you could receive an unexpected bill for the privilege aferwards.
If you have any questons about our service or would like any further advice please call us on
0500 234111 or 01442 275767, or email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.
71
Telephone: 0500 234111
email: info@easyaccountancy.co.uk
Easy Accountancy
Nationwide, low-cost, friendly accountants