Christmas is just around the corner, but we thought we’d give you an early present this year.

We’ve spoken to accountants and small businesses from around the country and asked them what their top accounting tips would be for other SMEs, in order to spread the festive cheer. Of course, as is traditional with advent calendars, we’ll be updating this every (week) day throughout December until the 25th, so make sure you keep an eye out for the latest tip every morning. Merry Christmas!

Friday 1st December

Chris Suitor, Suitor Bros in Belfast

Twitter – @SuitorBros

Facebook – Facebook

“My biggest tip is to make sure and keep every invoice and VAT receipt in an orderly fashion. Keep your books neat and tidy! 

Nobody likes paying VAT, so it’s paramount you claim every last penny back that you can! 

We do our books short and often, so you are not bombarded with days of work at the end of the set period. Make time to do it, and keep on top of it! It’s better for everyone!”

Monday 4th December

Elaine Pritchard, Burton Small Business

Twitter – @EllaJP

Facebook – Facebook

“Cash-flow is king, so if chasing late payments makes you feel uncomfortable, employ a trusted virtual assistant for an hour to make those calls for you. It will often get results -fast!”

Tuesday 5th December

Rowena Howie, Revival Retro in London

Twitter – @RevivalRetro

Facebook – Facebook

Instagram – Instagram

Rowena Howie Revival Retro London Accountancy Advent

“Keep an A4 envelope by your front door. Every time you return home empty all your paper receipts from your wallet/pockets/bag into the envelope. This way you won’t have to go looking for them when you come to compile your monthly statement.”

Wednesday 6th December

Martyn Keates, Keates & Co in Camberley

Twitter – @keatesandco

Martyn Keates Keates & Co Camberley

“Too many business owners can’t switch off during the festive season, so here are two reasons why you should:

1. Your family needs you! How often has your spouse thought (or said) “you’re in the room but you’re not with us!” How often have you sat down with your children, wife, parents, friends and not heard what’s been said because you’re thinking about work? Take the time while everyone is relaxed, friendly and receptive to relax and enjoy yourself.

2. You won’t get the opportunity again. Okay I know Christmas will come around next year, however the children or grandchildren will be a year older and want different things, your parents may need extra care, friends and family may not be around, worse still you may not be around! Take the time this Christmas holiday period to reflect on what’s important, who has supported you to get you where you are now and how you can help your close ones.

Your business will still be there on 2nd January and you can be in a better shape to manage it if you switch off and enjoy the festive period.

You never know, the time off may even give you a different perspective on your business and your plans for the future.”

Thursday 7th December

Ruth Pringle, Pringle Accounts Limited in Rochdale

Twitter – @PringleAccounts

Facebook – Facebook

Ruth Pringle Pringle Accounts Limited in Rochdale

“By staying on top of your book-keeping during the year, you can keep a rough tally of your tax bill and put enough away in a savings account each month. There’ll be no more nasty surprises when it comes to paying HMRC, whether it’s income tax, corporation tax or VAT. Try to leave it alone. But, if unforeseen cash-flow issues arise (say a customer doesn’t pay), your savings will provide a source of short-term funding to keep your business running.”

Friday 8th December

Yvonne Gorman, Essential Print Services in Derby

Website – Essential Print Services

Twitter – @essentialprint

Facebook – Facebook

Yvonne Gorman - Essential Print Services, Derby

“We have a mix of payment terms, some clients pay proforma and some have 30 days’ credit. To maintain a healthy cash-flow, I diarise a task every week to chase payments.

Usually, a personal email prompt is sufficient to extract the funds from due and slightly overdue accounts. I’ve tried automating the payment reminders but, quite a few clients disliked them – they much prefer the personal approach.

Very quickly after starting my company, I soon found book-keeping and payroll tiresome so I delegated the book-keeping to a reliable member of staff and outsourced the payroll to my accountant. I am determined to never let the company’s tax bill creep up on us – with regular, proactive meetings with our accountant, we simply budget and save so, when the deadline arrives, there is no panic and cash-flow remains unaffected.”

Monday 11th December

Gail Bryden, JustBe Botanicals in Edinburgh

Twitter – @JustBeBotanical

Facebook – Facebook

Instagram – Instagram

Gail Bryden, JustBe Botanicals, Edinburgh

“We all know that cash flow is king, so factor in the cost of your time to prevent yourself from being a busy fool.”

Tuesday 12th December

Marc Wileman, Sublime Science in Leicester (and nationwide)

Twitter – @SublimeScience

Facebook – Facebook

Website – Sublime Science

Marc Wileman Sublime Science

“As an entrepreneur, I’m guessing you’re passionate about what you do and probably pretty awesome at it! You’re probably a fair bit less passionate about “the books”. The key to it is systems, process and getting the help you need. The vital stuff gets done in a way that works for you and you can get right back to what you’re uniquely awesome at!”

Wednesday 13th December

Becky Sebright-King AKA Lady Bakewell-Park

Twitter – @bakewellpark

Facebook – Facebook

Instagram – Instagram

Website – Lady Bakewell-Park

Becky Sebright-King AKA Lady Bakewell-Park

“When it comes to accounts, it’s very easy for me to dig my little head into the sand. I started my own business because I loved what I did, but my actual business acumen was slim. It’s taken some work, it’s taken some guidance, and it’s taken some real discipline to get my head into gear when it comes to dealing with my accounts.

The best advice I can give is this: don’t leave it until the last minute and don’t pretend it will go away – because it won’t! The tax return will need to be done, and you’ll need to scrabble around looking for all those receipts…

Try and keep a good track of those little – and big – spends, along the way.”

Thursday 14th December

Sanjay Aggarwal, Spice Kitchen in Walsall

Twitter – @SpiceKitchenUK

Facebook – Facebook

Instagram – Instagram

Website – Spice Kitchen

Sanjay Aggarwal – Spice Kitchen

“Create a system for where you store all your invoices and ensure this is used on a daily basis. Also give yourself enough time after year end to get all your books in order.

I would also ensure you have a good online accounting software which will help you easily reconcile [with the] bank and also give you an accurate picture of your accounts on a daily basis.”

Friday 15th December

Liz Wilson, Ma Baker in London

Twitter – @MaBakerBakes

Facebook – Facebook

Instagram – Instagram

Website – Ma Baker

Liz Wilson Ma Baker in London

“The best advice I can give to a small business is to stay on top of your bookkeeping. Don’t leave it all until the last minute. Sorting receipts at the end of each month, rather than at the end of the year, makes life so much easier.

All cash sales are also totalled up and recorded at the end of each week. My accountant is sometimes happy to receive bread in exchange for some advice. It’s a nice bit of bartering.”

Monday 18th December

Ben Towers, who is involved in a number of businesses

Twitter – @TowersBen

Instagram – Instagram

Website – Ben Towers

Ben Towers, Entrepreneur

“There are so many accounting software add-ons out there, that you need to make sure you choose the one which is right for you and it works how you want it to. Don’t get too many add-ons but do get the ones that can provide benefit and insight into your accounts.”

Tuesday 19th December

Alison Edgar, The Entrepreneur’s Godmother in Chippenham

Twitter – @aliedgar13

Facebook – Facebook

Website – The Entrepreneur’s Godmother

Alison Edgar, The Entrepreneur’s Godmother

“Small business owners wear so many hats that they are often short for time and struggle to stay on top of their accounts and put together cash-flows and sort taxes etc. I know because I am a small business owner. Something that has helped me and my clients stay on top of accounts is a tool called 9 Spokes, a smart business dashboard. It save us so much time by integrating all our business apps in one place, including cloud accounting software.

It gives you an easy to understand view of your accounts at any given time and helps me to stay on top of cash flow. I highly recommend it to small business owners and the best thing about it is it’s free.”

Wednesday 20th December

Lee Parker, LMP People Consultancy in Lancashire

Twitter – @LmpPeople

Instagram – Instagram

Website – LMP People Consultancy

Lee Parker, LMP People Consultancy in Lancashire

“Over the years as income and expenditure have increased I’ve found the more ways I can automate the process of invoicing, bookkeeping and payroll the better. I need to simplify the process as much as possible, I’m no accountant, I need to spend my time promoting the business, it’s products and services. As I am always on the move, I can monitor everything from my phone or tablet, from uploading receipts, sending a quick invoice or monitoring credit control.

There are an abundance of software solutions out there, especially for sole traders, small businesses or SMEs, so take your time choosing the right one. Remember the business is you, so the more time you have promoting it the better.”

Thursday 21st December

Michael Beaver, Michael Beaver & Co

Twitter – @micandom

Facebook – Facebook

Website – Michael Beaver & Co

Michael Beaver Michael Beaver & Co

“The end of business partnerships can mean the end of friendships and family relations. Have a conversation when the times are good as to how you would handle one or both of you leaving one day.”

Friday 22nd December

Phil Sayers, CEO at Clear Books, London

Twitter – @Phil_Sayers

Phil Sayers Clear Books CEO

“If you’re not already working with an accountant, then you should be. It might add a small cost to your business but an accountant can help you minimise your tax liability, help you avoid any potential HMRC fines and provide advice when you need it most. Chances are, any challenges you’re currently facing, they’ll have seen with other clients they work with.”

Posted by Darren Taylor

Darren is a Marketing Manager specialising in Digital Marketing