Sole traders: Do you strike fear into the heart of your accountant?

If this is the reaction of your accountant when you ask him to sort out your year-end accounts, there’s a good chance you’re doing it wrong. Perhaps you’re a sole trader driving one of those vans that look like a mobile waste paper basket, with heaps of old letters and scraps of paper stuffed on top of the dashboard. Have you ever thought that your casual approach to paperwork – and your accountant’s well-being – could be an expensive expense management mistake? Here’s why…

Unless you’re on a fixed-price deal with your accountant, he’s probably going to charge you in six-minute blocks for the time it takes to sort out your accounts.

And the simple fact behind that is that when you ignore the chance to be a good expense manager by tossing another receipt into the jumble already cluttering the dashboard you’re adding to the time it’ll take him to bring order into what looks like financial chaos, and therefore adding to the size of your bill and your accountant’s blood pressure issue.
Far better, then, to make his life simpler, and your bill smaller, by building some order into the paperwork as you go along.  It will keep the accountant’s blood pressure under control, and you’ll hardly notice the time it takes. Think of it in terms of the lawn in the back garden. Cut it every week, and you’ll whizz through the job in no time at all. Cut it once a year, and it’ll take all day; the mower will constantly clog, you’ll be sweaty and covered in bits of grass, and when you’ve done, it’ll still be a mess, but of a different kind than when you started.

Don’t do it yourself
But doesn’t that sound as if we’re asking you to do the accounts yourself; to do work that earns no revenue but soaks up your time? To be honest, we’d never ask you to do that. You’re not going to live long enough to spend time doing something that others spend years becoming qualified to do, and as a result can do to a higher standard than you can manage.

Money Management AppWhat we’re asking of you is to step into the world of smartphone money management apps, and in particular Solo Expenses Personal Use, which was designed exclusively with sole traders in mind.

Diligent use of this easy-to-use smartphone app will give you a much clearer view of what your business actually costs to run, rather than what you think it’s costing. It will help make the important and clear distinction between company money and personal money, so that you don’t have to support the business out of your own pocket.

And more importantly, when the accountant comes to sort out your year-end accounts, he’s not going to reveal any shocking facts about how well – or badly – your enterprise has performed in the year that’s just ended.

How you can help your accountant to help you
This is all about accurate record keeping. You don’t even need to be a good expense manager to do this, just someone who can use a smartphone. That’s because using Solo Expenses Personal Use is as easy as dialling a number or taking a picture – in fact, it’s pretty much the same as both of those things.

Why’s that? Because our expense manager app offers a range of ways to record your spending – which you can do before leaving the till or whilst walking across the car park. Tap it in using the conventional keypad, or photograph the receipt, and confidently toss it into the bin, knowing you have a record more durable than the slip of thermal-printed paper.

You can then group those expenses into categories. Perhaps what’s spent at a particular supplier is important to you, or the spend relating to a particular job. Just how you store the numbers is yours to decide.

Here’s the really clever part
Recording expenses as we’ve just described uses features that come as standard with our free-to-download app, but if you invest just £2.49 a month you can unlock additional invaluable features – like exporting a list of expenses into a spreadsheet, or as a .pdf, and directly to your accountant. As far as he’s concerned, that’ll mean he won’t miss anything you should be claiming back against tax, you’re less likely to be late in filing returns, and you’re less likely to have to field a flurry of tricky questions like: “Your bank statement shows a payment of £79.99 on November 11th last year. What did you buy?” No, we wouldn’t be able to remember that off the top either. But Solo Expenses Personal Use most certainly would, and would remember it so well that the accountant would never need to ask the question…