This Is A Tricky Subject
I frequently receive emails asking me to explain how to deal with business accounting and to provide example spreadsheets or provide help with accounting software and programmes – and my response to every one of these requests is always the same – it’s a tricky subject!
Firstly, I must make it clear that I am not professionally qualified to give advice in an accounts capacity. Secondly, every individuals’ business is unique, so what’s perfect for one person may be completely useless for another. And thirdly, I personally don’t deal with my own accounting at all – I hire a professional – that’s what accountants are for!
However, I do completely appreciate that when you are just getting started and are a sole trader or small business owner and all you need is something really basic to track your incomings and outgoings, hiring an accountant may not be an essential or cost-effective route. Particularly as there are some really handy accounting tools available online.
So, whilst I strongly advise you to do your own research into this topic and most certainly seek the advice of a professional, what I can do is give you a few starting points.
If you only sell on eBay and so your sales all come in via PayPal and your expenses are simply eBay and PayPal fees, postage and stock costs then using a really simple manual method to record everything is perfectly fine. This of course is 100% free and uncomplicated. You’ll find loads of easy to use Excel spread sheets online that you can adapt to suit your business just like these here
All you need to do is download a transaction report from PayPal and then add your expenses in manually.
There is also a very helpful thread over at The Wholesale Forums that includes a downloadable spreadsheet here
Obviously as your business grows and you begin to sell on multiple venues your accounting will become more varied and more time consuming so this manual spreadsheet method is unlikely to suit you for the long term – but it is a good starting point.
There are several options available online for when you are ready to move away from the manual method as your business grows but as I’ve said, what’s right for one business may not be suitable for another as it depends on your specific circumstances. So these are two options for you to consider.
You can visit their website here. They offer three options starting at only £5.00 + VAT per month for the starter package, business package (£10 + VAT per month) and business + payroll package (£15 + VAT per month).
Click below for a brief video overview of Kashflow
If you don’t have an eCommerce store (in other words if you just sell on eBay and Amazon for example) then the basic package is likely to be adequate. If you do have an ecommerce store then you may wish to upgrade to the business package. You can compare all three packages at Kashflow’s website here
And you can get a free 14 day trial here
What’s great is that you don’t need to commit or sign up for anything – you don’t even have to give your payment details so don’t need to worry about cancelling anything after your trial ends if you decide it’s not for you.
Again, there are three different packages available. Simple Start (£5.60 + VAT per month), Essentials (£10.50 + VAT per month) and Plus (£15.00 + VAT per month). These are currently discounted prices and are similar to Kashflow, however if you decide to take the offer of a free trial, those discounted prices are not available and the Simple Start package rises to £7.00 + VAT per month.
You can see all the features here
Like Kashflow’s starter package, QuickBooks Simple Start should be adequate to start with.
Now here’s a final option that might interest you because it’s totally free and importantly it is very simple to use. All you need to do is enter your transactions and it records everything for you. The software (just download it to your computer and you’re ready to go) is called VT Cash Book and is available here
More advanced packages are also available (and each of these comes with a 60 day free trial) followed by pricing at £199 for the first year (only 55p per day) and £150 per year after that with full support.
Like the Kashflow and QuickBooks options though, the Cash Book option is likely to be all that you need and as I’ve said, it is 100%, completely free.
Don’t be put off by their basic website – this software has got great reviews so is definitely worth considering.
So, you now have four options to mull over depending on your own accounting requirements and they are all very simple to use – the decision is yours!
As always I wish you the best of success,