what is an accountant

What is an Accountant?

What is an Accountant? Unveiling the Essential Role in Your Business

If you’ve ever wondered, “what is an accountant?” then you’re in the right place. As a premier UK-based accountancy practice, 1 Accounts Online Ltd is here to demystify the role of an accountant and explain why they are indispensable for your business.

What is an Accountant?

At the most basic level, an accountant is a trained professional who maintains and audits business accounts. But, in reality, the role encompasses much more than that. They provide a vast array of financial services, ranging from record keeping and financial forecasting to strategic planning, compliance, and consulting on all financial aspects of a business.

The Versatility of an Accountant

Accountants wear many hats, and their roles often extend beyond just number-crunching. They are financial advisors, tax experts, and strategic consultants. They can work within a business, for an accountancy firm like 1 Accounts Online Ltd, or independently.

Financial Management & Reporting

An accountant takes charge of managing a company’s financial data. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants perform audits and prepare financial reporting records, such as balance sheets, income statements, and tax returns. These records provide a clear financial image of the business, guiding strategic decisions.

Regulatory Compliance & Tax Expertise

One crucial role an accountant plays is ensuring businesses comply with the latest laws and regulations. In the UK, this includes abiding by the Companies Act and adhering to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) requirements. With their tax expertise, accountants save businesses from potential penalties and help them take advantage of relevant tax deductions and credits.

Business Strategy & Consultation

Beyond compliance and day-to-day management, accountants play a vital role in shaping the strategic direction of a business. Through financial analysis and forecasting, they help identify growth opportunities and areas for improvement.

Accountants and Small Businesses

Many small business owners may wonder if they need an accountant. The answer is a resounding yes. Accountants offer invaluable expertise that can help a small business thrive. They can guide you through the complexities of tax regulations, provide advice on financial management, and offer insights to help your business grow.

Why Choose 1 Accounts Online Ltd?

As a UK-based accountancy practice, 1 Accounts Online Ltd offers a comprehensive range of accounting services. Our team of qualified accountants are committed to helping your business succeed. We navigate the complexities of accounting so you can focus on what you do best – running your business.

In conclusion, an accountant is more than just a numbers guru; they are an essential partner in your business. They not only help you meet regulatory requirements but also play a critical role in your business’s strategic direction. If you’ve been asking, “what is an accountant?” now you know. And if you need a dedicated, professional accountant, consider 1 Accounts Online Ltd. We’re here to help your business thrive.

Starting your own business after redundancy

Facing redundancy can be incredibly challenging, but it could also be the perfect time to start a brand new career based on your interests, your lifestyle and your aspirations.
Does this sound too good to be true?
With these five steps, we can help you transform your redundancy package into your very own startup:

1) Take advantage of your notice period

Typically, you’ll need to work a notice period. Instead of worrying about what comes next, use this time to start planning your new venture!
Dive into research, enrol in training and network as much as possible. The sooner you can start, the better! After all, wouldn’t you prefer to plan for your future whilst you’re still on the payroll?

2) Develop a business plan

Success is all about strategy, so it is important to develop a business plan.
Every business plan will look slightly different, but the main areas you want to focus on are the:

  • Executive summary – create a brief overview of your business detailing what services you offer and what you intend to achieve.
  • Management bio – this is your opportunity to introduce yourself, your values and your professional experience.
  • Marketing plan – identify your target audience, USP and market competitors before explaining how you intend to attract your desired audience.
  • Financial plan – because you’re just starting out, your financial plan will be primarily made up of projections (sales projections, expensive projections, cash flow projections etc.). Make sure you’re thorough with your research if you intend to achieve accurate estimates.

Your business plan will become the blueprint for your company, so the more information you can include, the better – particularly if you want to attract investors!

3) Address any legalities

To establish a legitimate business, you need to fulfil certain legal requirements. Now, these requirements may vary depending on your business model and industry, so it’s always worth checking whether you need to obtain a specific type of permit or insurance.
You can find these answers by visiting the government website or checking with your relevant industry bodies.
It is also worth hiring an accountant early on to advise you on the financial aspect of your business.

4) Open a business bank account

This next point is directed specifically to our sole traders. Although you don’t have to open a business account, we strongly suggest you do. It will make your bookkeeping 10x easier! So unless you want to waste your time separating your expenses and risk receiving a penalty, you should seriously consider setting up a business bank account.
If you are starting a limited company this is also something you will need to do, however it is essential rather than it just being strongly advised.

5) Set yourself boundaries

Starting a business is an exciting endeavour. However, it can become all-consuming. So for our final point we wanted to discuss the importance of setting yourself boundaries and practising self-care.
Firstly, give yourself some grace. Redundancy is incredibly difficult to navigate, so try not to be too hard on yourself – especially during those early days.
And secondly, start as you mean to go on. Give yourself lunch breaks, take time off and allow yourself opportunities to relax. Only then can you avoid burnout and achieve sustainable growth.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade

No one wants to be made redundant – but that doesn’t mean it has to be all doom and gloom. Instead, this could be the start of your exciting adventure into entrepreneurship! So take the chance, pursue your passion and totally transform your career. You may just find redundancy works in your favour.

The 9 step guide to business development

Here at 1 Accounts we are invested in helping your business develop and succeed. We find allocating some time each week to business development is the best way to really make sure that your business grows according to your plan.

Business development is:

  • any activity that is nurturing the future of your business, not the day-to-day tasks that tend to drain the majority of your time.
  • about nurturing the right relationships so that you can create opportunities for your business and attract loyal clients who value what you and your firm do.
  • highly valuable and is key to the long-term, sustainable success of your firm

So how do you do it and do it well?

1) It’s all about the client

Rather than sell at potential clients, focus on what they need. Always listen to them first and demonstrate empathy with their problems before ever talking about yourself and your firm.

2) Address their problems and fears

Now you know their specific challenges and worries, address them. What’s the biggest headache for your clients and prospects? How can you alleviate this pain for them? Again, talk to them about what keeps them up at night and listen. They’ll tell you all you need to know.

3) Solve their specific problem

If you already have a product or service that solves their biggest pain point, great! If you don’t, create something from scratch. Diversifying could open you up to a whole new target audience.

4) Think about your main offering

In a single sentence, sum up what you offer to your clients and this will be your brand tagline. Steer clear of things like “we give a personalised service” and be more specific. Do you take away a specific fear and help your clients sleep at night? Do you give them more time to spend with their family?

5) Differentiate yourself with your website and social media

You need to be spreading the word about how you can help your clients. Essentially, you need to be helping them to find you. Make sure you have a high-quality website that is SEO-optimised and has pop-ups offering valuable resources. You will also need to be regularly active on social media.

6) Build your brand

This takes time, but becoming an expert in what you do will reap the rewards. Use your tagline offering in everything that you put out there and produce content consistently. Whether it’s blogs on your website or posts on social media, create that emotional connection and you’ll see that people will engage.

7) Make it easy to get in touch

People will take the path of least resistance so make it easy for them to contact you. Contact details should be easy to find on your website and all call to actions should be clear throughout your marketing materials.

8) Nurture the relationship

So much business is lost through a lack of following up, so be there in front of your clients and prospects to build those relationships. Every blog post you’re sharing or newsletter you’re sending out should offer value; it should answer a question or solve a problem or inspire action. There is real value in regularly being in front of your clients, just as long as what you’re saying is useful to your target audience.

9) Focus on getting your existing clients to buy more from you

You already have a great relationship with your existing clients and they already like you, trust you, and know first hand the value that you offer. It makes sense then, to help them get more from you.

It really is as easy as 1,2,3…9

While business development is essentially sales, you need to always be thinking about who you are targeting and what they want to hear, rather than talking about yourself and what makes your firm special. What are their specific problems and aspirations? Using these 9 steps, you can get creative with your messaging and really stand out to your prospects.

Signing a proposal with Ignition

So you want to sign up to working with us and have had a successful meeting! Or maybe you’re already a customer of ours who wants to change or add to your existing service? Unfortunately we need more than a verbal agreement in today’s world so we will send you a proposal to sign so that we can complete the work as agreed.

At 1 Accounts we like to be as paperless as possible so we make use of a software called Ignition which allows us to create and send your proposal to you via email, and allows you to sign it digitally getting rid of the need to print out long contracts and wait for them to be delivered by post. This way you can sign up to our services while enjoying your beach holiday at the same time!

What is a proposal

When we agree to complete a service for you, whether you are signing up with us for the first time, or changing your existing services, we will send you a proposal for you to sign in order for us to complete the work.

Your proposal will contain the agreed services, our terms and conditions, and the agreed fee. It’s basically our contract and invoice for the services we have agreed to complete for you, and we need it to be signed and returned to us before we are able to start the work for you.

When we send proposals

 As we said above, we will send you a proposal after we make an agreement with you to complete some work. This could be when you sign up with us for the first time, if you want to add something to your existing service such as bookkeeping, or if you want us to change your address with HMRC & Companies House. Any service that you ask us to do, even one-off jobs, will require a signed proposal even when we are not charging you to complete the work.

How to sign with Ignition

When we send a proposal we use an online software called Ignition. This functions similarly to DocuSign in that it will send your proposal to you via email and makes use of digital signatures, so you are able to sign your proposal wherever you are in the world.

The email will come from a 1 Accounts email address and will contain a link to your proposal. When you click the link, you will see a message from us. On the next page will be a breakdown of the services we agreed with you. Please double check that you are happy with everything that is included before you sign as we can easily make an adjustment and re-send it to you. The following page is a schedule of your payments which breaks down how much you are going to pay us and when. Again, make sure you check this carefully and when you are happy proceed to the signing page.

At the top of the signing page is a link to our terms and conditions that you are agreeing to by signing the proposal. Once again, please read these to make sure you are happy with what you are agreeing to. Once you are happy, please tick the box that says “I accept the above terms” then type your name in the box. This acts as your digital signature. The last thing to do is to click the button in the bottom left corner that says “accept”!

What happens after you sign your proposal

After you sign your proposal, we will receive an email to say you have signed it and we can begin working with you. You will also receive a confirmation email with a link to download your engagement letter for your records.

If this is the first time you have signed a proposal with us, you will receive another email from GoCardless to set up your direct debit. Please fill this out so that we can receive payment from you. If you have completed this step before then the software will trigger the money to be taken according to the schedule agreed upon in the proposal.

We love using Ignition to complete this as we believe it makes the process very straightforward for both us and our clients. Please watch the below video for a walkthrough of the signing process.

Why knowing your numbers is important

Every Sunday, Paul reads The Sunday Times to keep up to date with current affairs and to read the great reports in the business & money section.

In his column, Julian Richer of Richer sounds talks about the importance of knowing your numbers and taking an interest in the bookkeeping and accounting side of your business as well as the selling.

On a recent team meeting, facilitated by Heather Townsend of the Accountants Growth Club, it dawned on us that very few clients actually go into their accounting software, study the reports, and ask questions on a regular basis. We are now spending extra time explaining things like profits and balance sheets.

One of our long-established clients used to regularly ask us questions regarding overdrawn director’s accounts, why they didn’t have any cash in the bank, and if they were really making a loss. They joined our successful business growth plan and we explained how a balance sheet works and the impact of stock on the profit and loss account. We discovered that a lot of time was spent on R&D and a lot of stock had never been counted, especially if it was fully assembled.  By understanding how it all worked fully and how to run off the reports this business owner will have a much better understanding of their business.

The article in the Sunday Times by Julian Richer does a great job of illustrating just how important it is to know the broader financial details of your business and not just your turnover. It is also important to understand your profit, KPIs, and your balance sheet!

We are committed to trying to help our clients have a better understanding of their numbers as it can really help with making decisions to do with their business and improve cashflow. We offer all new clients training on their accounting software so that they have a basic understanding of how it works, and we regularly publish blogs on a huge variety of topics so that our clients are able to educate themselves even when we are not available.

How automation can improve your efficiency and productivity

Automation was already on the rise pre-pandemic, but now it has become a business priority. The positive benefits of automation pay dividends for those businesses that invest in it. Many business owners don’t know that accountants can offer a lot of assistance in this area: streamlining and automating processes to improve business efficiency, so here are the many benefits.

1) Automation reduces the time spent on repetitive tasks and the risk of human error.

Expenses is an area that is notoriously labour-intensive, time-consuming for staff to submit and finance departments to process, and it’s extremely prone to human error. The same goes for invoicing and purchase order processing. However, with a streamlined and automated workflow, the whole process is connected through a single system from start to finish. This means it’s a lot quicker and, therefore, cheaper (less time is wasted, and the risk of manual input errors are eliminated), and skilled staff can now spend their time on higher-value tasks.

2) Automation results in better credit control.

Late payments are one of the biggest causes of stress for business owners, not to mention it has a huge negative impact on cash flow. With the use of digital payment process, however, late payments can be greatly reduced. Automation makes it easier and faster for businesses to chase payments; it increases the chances of invoices being paid on time, and it saves 15 hours on average per week on credit control management.

3) Automation gives you accurate real-time reporting.

Knowing your numbers is crucial for business success. However, it is both time-consuming and expensive to have your staff monitoring every KPI and to have to trawl through all the data. With automation, however, you have the ability to see your overall business performance at any given time. With real-time financial reports, you can then accurately budget and forecast cash flow and make effective business decisions.

4) Automation increases both client and staff satisfaction.

Contrary to what people believe, automation does not take away from human interaction. In fact, it does the opposite. Speeding up and streamlining business processes means that your staff have more time and energy to better serve your clients. It gives them the time and means to respond to needs and nurture stronger client relationships.

As well as improving customer service, automation also leads to higher employee engagement. Your staff will no longer have to concern themselves with paperwork or mindlessly boring manual tasks. They will now be free to focus on higher-level, more rewarding tasks such as spending more time with clients to understand their goals and how the business can help deliver those. Satisfied and engaged staff will directly contribute to growing your business so this is a very important benefit of automation.

5) Automation improves productivity and the bottom line.

Streamlining processes means that staff and the business as a whole work more effectively and efficiently. This time can then be spent on the higher-value tasks that will increase revenue. As well as enhancing workflow, automation can also help solve the current talent shortage as employees can be better trained and developed on the job.

Save time and money with automation

Too often, business owners spend too much time working in the business rather than on it. However, with automation, employees can be relieved from these day-to-day menial tasks to focus on what will directly grow the business.

As well as increasing efficiency and productivity, automation can save you a lot of time and money by eliminating errors and reducing staffing and credit control costs. So, if you want to streamline your business, don’t hesitate to reach out!

All about requesting your documents using Karbon!

As a cloud-based accountancy practice, we very rarely ask you to bring in physical copies of your documents to our offices in Haverhill. This option is available to you if you really need it, however we find most of our clients prefer to send their information in digitally. This also has the benefit of being able to keep your original hard copies safe!

When we send requests for your documents we use a system called Karbon. We may request various documentation from you over your time with us starting right at the onboarding stage.

When do we use Karbon to send requests?

During onboarding we will use Karbon to send you requests for your ID and to fill in some information forms. After this, you will get requests from Karbon annually for your accounts and tax return information, and to confirm that your details have not changed. If you have bookkeeping services or reviews with us, we also may use it to request bank statements.

If you have changed any of your details such as your name or address, we may also use Karbon to request updated ID from you.

Why do you use Karbon for this?

Karbon is fully GDPR compliant so you know your data is safe. It is more protected than if you were to simply email it to us as it is harder to hack than an email account. For this reason, if we ever have to send sensative documents to you then we will use Karbon for this as well.

What does it look like when Karbon sends me a request?

All requests from Karbon come in the form of “checklists”. To access your checklist and upload your documents you need to click on the “manage checklist” link inside your email.

All requests from Karbon come in the form of “checklists”. To access your checklist and upload your documents you need to click on the “manage checklist” link inside your email.

Once in your Karbon checklist, you will be able to see your task. Clicking on a task will expand it and allow you to read any extra comments or directions that we have written.

Use the “Upload files” button to upload your documents safely and securely, or if you want to ask us a question use the “comment” button. We can reply to you directly on this chain and you will get an email every time we leave a comment.

When your task is completed, tick it off on the left. This will let the person who sent you the task know that you have completed it straight away. Make sure all of your completed tasks are ticked off otherwise you will continue to get reminder emails automatically.

We love Karbon and its interactive workflow features and we hope that this process makes it as easy and safe as possible to get your documents to us so that we can complete your accounts and tax returns!

Why we love Dext!

Dext, formally known as Receipt Bank, is a software that we recommend so much that we include it in all our Limited Company and Sole Trade services!

Using it, you can take a photograph of your receipts and it will extract the information from them with 99% accuracy and upload it to your accounting software.

Why do we love it so much?

This easy to use and time saving software fits right in with our ethos of “life is too short to be doing your accounts”! Instead of spending lots of time manually inputting the data from all your receipts, invoices, or bank statements, you can upload them to Dext instead. This means you can get the right information into your Xero account quickly and easily.

If we do your bookkeeping for you, then using Dext also keeps our bookkeeping team happy! You will be able to send the necessary information with as little effort as possible whilst allowing them to keep on top of your bookkeeping, a definite win-win!

We love a product that saves time like this does, and just think about what you could be doing with the time you save!

How does Dext work?

Our fantastic bookkeeper Charlie has prepared a video giving you an overview of Dext and some of its features:

To make things even easier, Dext have prepared a helpful PDF guide on how to use their mobile app. Download it by clicking here.

Dext have also got some very helpful videos on their YouTube channel. Below is a video that goes into more detail about the various methods that you can use to submit your information to Dext, including Fetch, email, and the mobile app.

If you are struggling with using Dext or have any questions about it, please contact any members of our bookkeeping team as they will be happy to help you

Why do we ask for your bank statements?

Depending on which service you are on, you will find that you receive requests from members of our team asking for copies of your bank statements.  You may receive different emails from different team members depending on the work they are undertaking for you.  Whilst we try to eliminate asking for the same information on multiple jobs sometimes there are instances where information is requested more than once.  This may be sent as part of an auto request from our system, then again manually by an individual looking at your records in real-time.
We would like to clarify why you are asked for these and why it is so important they are provided to us when asked.

Why do we request copies of your bank statements?

We request copies of your bank statements to check the balances in your accounting software are correct and that all transactions have been correctly accounted for.  Many of you will have ‘bank feeds’ from your bank accounts which feed transactions directly into your accounting software.  Whilst bank feeds are usually reliable there can be instances where they drop out for security purposes or there are blips where transactions are missed or duplicated by the feed.  In order for us to spot these errors in a timely manner, and to ensure your records are always as accurate as possible, we will ask for copies of your bank statements for a given period or as at a given date to check.
If entering transactions from your bank account manually into your accounting software without bank feeds there is always a larger risk of errors – if you would like to discuss bank feeds with us or you need any help with this please get in touch.

When will we request copies of your bank statements?

Depending on your service levels with us or the nature of your business you will get asked for statements at different intervals.  This could be in relation to the following jobs:

  • Bookkeeping service (once a month)
  • Monthly Review (once a month)
  • Quarterly Review (once a quarter)
  • Year-end accounts – 3 months before your year end as a 9 month ‘Health Check’ and again once your year-end date has passed
  • Sole trader accounts and tax return – annually (unless you have our sole trader bookkeeping service)
  • Ad-hoc – if we (or you) notice there has been a problem with the bank transactions or feed we may ask for copies at unusual intervals

How do you upload your statements for us?

You will receive an email from us that looks something like the email on the right.
To upload your bank statements, you need to click on “manage checklist”. The next page will ask you to input your PIN. If this is the first time you have done this process then you will be asked to create one. If you have forgotten it, there is a link underneath to reset it.

You will then be taken to your checklist where you can upload your statements. You will also be able to see the due date, exactly what we need from you, and be able to send us a message using the comment function. There is no “submit” button, but once everything is uploaded we will be able to access it at our end and will be notified that you have uploaded your statements.
The system we use is called Karbon and it is completely cyber-secure and GDPR compliant so you do not need to worry about your information.

What happens if the bank balance in your software does not agree to your bank statements?

If we complete your bookkeeping we will identify and correct any bank issues as part of our service at no extra charge.
If you complete your own bookkeeping we will help you identify the difference.  We can complete any corrections for you for a fee (on request), or alternatively you can complete the corrections yourself. If you complete your own bookkeeping we would advise you check the bank balances in your software to the bank statements weekly ideally or monthly at the latest to make sure any error are picked up in good time. If you need any help with this or are struggling with your bookkeeping please get in touch.

2 people shaking hands

8 Key Marketing Tips for 2022

Marketing today looks vastly different from that of ten years ago. Gone are the days where paid ads, membership of a local networking group and a presence at a local trade show were all you needed to promote your small business. To help you navigate this new age of marketing, we’ve outlined our top 8 marketing tips to promote your business in 2022.

1)Focus on your branding

Developing a strong brand is imperative if you want your marketing strategies (and business) to succeed. Your brand is what makes your business unique – it should encapsulate your values and services whilst also being distinctly recognisable. Effective branding should:

  • Be visually appealing.
  • Be consistent across all mediums. On and offline, your colour palette, font choices and imagery should all be cohesive. (PS Instagram is no longer just for creative people)
  • Convey your services and values through slogans and taglines.
  • Attract your target audience.

2) Refine your web design

Your website is the virtual hub of your business – it is the centre of all your online activity. Therefore, it must represent your business positively and professionally. If your website is unappealing and difficult to navigate, you will struggle to attract new customers and clients.

To ensure your website reflects the quality of your business, it must be:

  • Informative
  • Easy to navigate
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Linked to all of your other online platforms

3) Develop your online presence

To attract new clients, you must be active online – this means regularly posting on your website and social media channels. Posting helpful and informative content will allow your clients to engage with your business, whilst SEO strategies will ensure your posts are visible across multiple search engines.

If done consistently, you will successfully drive more traffic to your website.

A good way to see what social media platforms are useful for your business is look at your Google Analytics. Which of your social channels are bringing in the most traffic and buying customers? These are the social channels to spend most of your time creating and repurposing content for.

4) Harness social media platforms

Social media is a great way to reach new clients. It is also a fantastic way to develop brand loyalty amongst your current clientele.

Articles, captions and videos all add tremendous value to your social media followers, whilst comment sections, direct messages and re-tweets allow customers to interact directly with your team.

Social media platforms change all the time. What used to be a great platform for your business to be active on may not be as good. For example, you may find that Instagram is getting more traction and results than Facebook or Twitter now. If you are aiming to get your messages in front of teenagers then Tiktok is the place to be. So pay attention to your marketing analytics to see where you should be putting your marketing efforts.

5) Create original content

Did you know that websites with blogs attract 55% more traffic than those that don’t? Having a blog allows you to connect with your audience by sharing your expertise. By posting helpful and relevant content, you’re able to answer consumer questions, build trust and draw more people to your website.

If your business already has a blog, why not take it further and start producing downloadable templates and guides?

6) Utilise email subscription services

Email subscriptions ensure your customers and clients don’t miss out on any news, posts or updates, by delivering weekly/monthly newsletters directly to their mailboxes. Other reasons to invest in email marketing are:

  • It’s inexpensive
  • It has a high ROI
  • It draws people back to your website via direct links
  • It promotes customer loyalty

7) Encourage customer reviews

Whether you’re buying a new toothbrush or switching energy companies, we all like to do our research – and that means checking the reviews.

Reviews are vitally important to any business as they provide an honest and unfiltered response to your quality of service. So as long as you’re providing excellent service, more reviews can only encourage more customers! There are loads of places where your customers and clients can place a review for your business. Always ask them to put a review on Google, and potentially Facebook or any other important recommendation platform for your business such as TripAdvisor for hospitality and leisure businesses.

8) Sponsor local events

Not all marketing strategies are online, nor should they be. Sponsoring local events can be hugely beneficial for your business. It provides you with the opportunity to meet new clients, share your company values and, of course, promote your business to the local community.

Similarly, attending local charity events, making donations and partaking in voluntary work will also paint your business in a positive light.

Marketing made easy 

Effective marketing is essential to attract new clients and expand your business. Therefore, you must dedicate sufficient time and effort to developing your brand and online presence.

The devil is in the details, so focus on upholding consistently high standards (for branding and content) across all of your platforms and watch your online traffic surge.

Marketing done well costs money. However, if you are aiming to maintain or grow your business in 2022, marketing is an activity which needs to constantly happen in your business. If you are unsure of how much of your income you can afford to spend on marketing, get in touch. We can help you see how your numbers stack up and whether you can afford to spend what you marketing suppliers are suggesting you need to spend!