Your Business With James Caan 2017 - 67

ACCOUNTANCY

a viable credit claim can vary vastly
from company to company. Your
accountant, or a specialist company,
can help you ensure your R&D credit
claim is robust enough to stand close
scrutiny from HM Revenue & Customs.
You will need to brief your financial
professionals on the R&D projects you
have undertaken, and collate and share
your cost records. Your accountant or
other professional will then produce an
R&D activity report and calculation of
your total benefit.

CURRENT LEGISLATION

With laws changing or being adapted
constantly, it can be difficult for
business owners to keep on top of -
and comply with - current legislation.
Your accountant can help with tax
compliance, prepare calculations of
your tax liabilities, advise you how
much you need to pay and when to
make those payments to HMRC.
They'll also advise on how to
minimise tax due through any
trading losses you may have
incurred. If you trade through a
limited company or LLP, they'll
help you meet your legal obligations
by ensuring accounts are prepared
in accordance with the Companies
Act and accounting standards.

CASHFLOW

PHOTOGRAPHY: SHUTTERSTOCK

Managing your cashflow is key to
the success of your business. It's
important to draw up a budget for
your start-up costs at the outset so
you don't overspend in some areas
and fall short in others. Although
starting a business doesn't have to be
expensive, there will be a number of
costs you'll have to factor into your
initial budget - your accountant
can help you identify these. No two
businesses are the same and the costs
you incur will largely depend on the
scale and nature of your business.

HOW TO MAKE A PROFIT

Knowing which parts of your business
will make a profit is vital. Many
businesses concentrate on products
or services that grow but which,
when analysed by a professional,
are not the most profitable. It's

important to any growing business
to have information that is easily
understood and that can be acted on.
A good accountant will help you
identify these and won't simply advise
you always to play safe and stop
innovating or investing. After all,
innovation and investment are keys
to continued success.

BUSINESS PLAN

A business plan is a must for any
start-up, not least because it is often
the basis for sourcing funding from
banks and other finance providers.
It is a written statement of the
objectives of your business and will
also serve as a benchmark for the
company's future growth.
A good business plan should look
ahead and be realistic. An experienced

Accountants can
play a crucial
role in protecting
the value of your
intellectual property
accountant can help with this
important forecasting.

STAFF MATTERS

Getting and keeping the right people to
help your business grow is a challenge
for all start-ups. You can make your
business more attractive to your
workforce - and increase the chances
of retaining them for longer - by
involving them in the success of the
business from the beginning.
This could be anything from a simple
profit share to ensuring tips, gratuities
and voluntary-service charges are
organised in the most tax-efficient way
for them - all things your accountant
can help with. Offering a group
health insurance scheme is another
attractive benefit to employees,

with tax breaks your accountant
will ensure you make the most of.

KEEPING RECORDS

It's essential you keep an accurate log
of your income and expenses in order
to prepare your business accounts. You
should record all expenses you incur to
start the business, even if these were
incurred before you registered with
HMRC and/or Companies House -
you can usually claim back expenses
made in the six-month period before
the business started. Expenses are
usually allowable as long as they were
made wholly and exclusively for
business purposes.
If you are a sole trader or freelancer,
you may wish to have a simple process
such as an Excel spreadsheet for your
accounts. More complicated business
structures will probably need to use a
software package. Your accountant will
be able to help you choose one.
HMRC will sometimes accept a
contemporaneous note of costs even
if you don't have receipts. Again, your
accountant will be able to advise.

SOURCING FINANCE

The rise of alternative financing, such
as peer-to-peer lending, has opened up
opportunities and potential for both
borrowers and lenders alike. An
accountant can help a you choose the
right type of funding and help to
secure and sustain it.
From business angels (individual
private investors) to banks, it's
important that small businesses are
aware of the various financial options
available to them. An accountant will
be able to advise on this.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Accountants can play a crucial role in
protecting and enhancing the value of
intellectual property such as patents,
trademarks, registered designs and
copyrights. They're ideally placed to
help you adopt a structure that
balances the need to protect IP while
maximising its value, ensuring these
assets don't fall into the public domain,
costing you potential revenue. They
will also ensure you benefit from any
tax breaks on patents. □

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