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Accounting Doesn’t Have to be Your Worst Nightmare: Top Tips for New Start-ups

Tue, 11 March 2014

Contributed by Jamie Dunn, Spark Global Education Director
Argh, accounting, an entrepreneur’s worst nightmare some say. It was certainly my worst nightmare when I had just turned 19, had my first year of trading under my belt, but suddenly had letters from HMRC in abundance and didn't have a clue what any of them meant..

We've all been there, running around like a lunatic trying to get all of our invoices together, bank statements, receipts and every other scrap piece of paper that is finance related. However, as they say on the advert, ‘tax doesn't have to be taxing’ if you get a formula which works for you. 
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was to get a good accountant. Good accountants don’t need to cost a fortune, but when every penny is tight in a start-up, money on a good accountant is always well spent because they can end up saving you money in the long run. Having a good accountant that understands your business and, more importantly, understands you as the business owner, is hugely important. If you are an entrepreneur and have a number of different interests, then having an accountant that understands that and can be flexible to your needs and the different businesses, is important. 
Secondly, keep all of your receipts in a folder, in date order, and organise it as you go along instead of storing them in a shoe box until you need to send them to your accountant. In my first year, I sent my receipts to my accountant in a shoe box and I was charged for the time required to file them into order – in my second year I filed them all myself and saved my accountant time and, more importantly, saved me money. Doing your receipts as you go along also helps you keep a good handle on what you’re spending each month on trains, petrol, stationery, etc. 
Finally, I would recommend finding out what costs could be classed as expenses within your business. There is a long list of things that the government let’s you class as expenses for your company, which is tax deductible and will eventually save you money, but you will need to check which costs are classed as expenses within your specific business as it can change from industry to industry, especially when the government introduces new initiatives to boost business within a certain sector. 
The key thing to remember as a start-up, and as a business, is to keep a close eye on your costs and cash flow every month – cash is king. There are a number of programmes and software packages you can use to keep all of this in order and they are relatively easy to use. Remember to make it easy for your accountant and do as much of the legwork as you can because you will be charged for that time otherwise. Lastly, developing a relationship with your accountant and getting them to understand your business is the last piece of the jigsaw. Good accountants will understand you and understand your business, not just understand the numbers that flow through it. 

About Jamie Dunn (Director of ‘Spark Global Education')

Jamie is a 22 year-old Entrepreneur that has previously been short-listed as one of the Top 20 Young People in the World 2012, a title once held by former US President, John F Kennedy. 
Jamie started in enterprise aged 12 selling unwanted items at school. By the time he was 15 he was making around £500 per week from 5 market stalls across Birmingham. At the age of 16, Jamie left school with little qualifications but won a place on the Peter Jones Pathfinder course as one of 28 from nationwide applicants, with this he moved to Buckinghamshire for 6 months. 
Aged 18, Jamie Co-founded the printing organization, Made By Young People that eventually held clients such as, Aston Villa, Ikea and Asda. Jamie successfully exited this business aged 20. Since then, Jamie has gone on to work with Governments and Educational Organizations from around the World on developing Youth Entrepreneurship eco-systems. Most notably, Jamie was an adviser to the Malaysian Government office surrounding enterprise education. During this time, Jamie also co-founded a multi-million pound investment fund, which provides mentoring, office space, finance and support to young people in the West Midlands who are setting up in business. 
Jamie now spends most of his time as a Director, Shareholder in Spark Global Education, an educational consultancy with operations globally. As an investor, Jamie has equity interests in different sectors ranging from Recruitment to Technology. Jamie also sits on, and advises many different boards and trusts including the BMET Enterprise Academy, Arrive Alive, TechMinsk and Arden Forest FC. Jamie also writes regular columns for, Shell LiveWire and various other publications and websites.

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