Going freelance - how do I find an accountant?

(16 Posts)
LurkerLurker Tue 04-Mar-14 19:49:32

Hi everyone

I have bitten the bullet, handed in my notice at work and will be going freelance late spring/early summer. Initial research suggests that I will be best off setting up as a limited company so need to find myself an accountant.

Can anyone suggest a good way of starting? What should I look for in a good accountant?

I am going to ask friends etc but I don't know that they will be much help as none are self employed. I have searched the internet and found the big guys like Brookson, are they any good?

Thanks in advance!

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TalkinPeace Tue 04-Mar-14 20:50:20

Why on EARTH do you need to go limited from the outset?

Have a read through my me page

and check out some of the people on here

WilsonFrickett Tue 04-Mar-14 20:59:19

What is it you are going to do Lurker? I do agree with TiP, very few freelancers need to go limited straight away.

LurkerLurker Tue 04-Mar-14 21:01:08

Thanks very much for the links - they are really helpful

Why go limited? I was planning on going sole trader but have probably read so much I have got confused! One reason to find an accountant is to get proper advice on what I do/don't need to do to start off with.

Having read quite a bit on here and other places I thought going limited would be the best option in terms of tax etc. Once I am up and running I am hoping for income in the region of £3500-£5000 a month with minimal expenses as I am essentially selling my time/expertise.

Any advice gratefully welcome!

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TalkinPeace Tue 04-Mar-14 21:02:56

no harm in being sole trader for 8 months then incorporating

at least then you do not have to shut a company down if it all goes pearshaped

LurkerLurker Tue 04-Mar-14 21:08:50

I'll be doing specialist writing services, working for agencies just like the one I am employed by at the moment.

I am reasonably confident I can do a better job than a good proportion of the freelancers who have worked for me over recent years!

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LurkerLurker Tue 04-Mar-14 21:12:14

Thanks TalkinPeace - I think you are right - starting off as a sole trader is sensible. I still think I might need an accountant - I have never done a tax return or anything.

Although I am pretty confident I can do the job as a freelancer well, know my customers and can deliver the work, I am on a steep learning curve with the accounting and admin that comes with it (as you might be able to tell!!)

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TalkinPeace Tue 04-Mar-14 21:12:25

I would still say that sole trader is better to start with
going free range rarely runs smoothly even for those with teh best contact books and skills

FunkyBoldRibena Tue 04-Mar-14 21:15:23

Sole trader definitely. They used to offer newly registered self employed people a half day tax session. It was a bit dry but told you what records to keep, the basics of offsetting and how to fill a tax form in.

WaitingForMe Tue 04-Mar-14 21:19:38

I got an accountant early on. I found mine via a networking group

BNI are pretty bad (unless you've always wanted to be a Mason) but google your area and networking and you'll find a few. Most cost around £10 for a breakfast so go to a couple and meet some real people who make the effort to get to know people.

TalkinPeace Tue 04-Mar-14 21:19:45

my me page is better than what HMRC will tell you grin

WilsonFrickett Tue 04-Mar-14 22:52:38

You absolutely don't need to be registered as limited to be a specialist writer. Cos I am one grin

The accounting is really, really simple as you have no goods in and out, you're only selling your time. I keep my own records (simple excel spreadsheets and a folder for receipts) and do my own tax return. For the first three years I took it to an accountant to check over for me. The first year he helped massively (but we'd also sold a property so had CGT as a couple) the second year pointed out some things I'd missed, the third year he said 'you've got it Wilson' so last year I did it myself. Easypeasy wink

LurkerLurker Wed 05-Mar-14 08:12:52

Thanks so much everyone!

Wilson - I figured the accounting would be reasonably simple and have been somewhat confused by so much information suggesting limited is the best way to go.

Beyond a new computer and printer my expenses are going to be so minimal. I'm going to give it a go myself and get an accountant involved for the tax return I think.

So next question then - are any of the book-keeping/software packages worth it over excel (I was looking at Xero last I think)? I'll need to keep timesheets and do invoices but it doesn't need to be fancy.

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WilsonFrickett Wed 05-Mar-14 10:20:24

Honestly? Nah.

I open a timesheet for each job in Excel and I fill in the start and finish times as I go.

I have a 'master' spreadsheet - on that I note every job, the invoice number and the total. When I invoice it I highlight it yellow, when it's paid I highlight it green. This is very useful - cashflow is everything in this game, getting invoices out and money in is something you do need to keep on top of.

For invoices I have a word template that I save as a pdf before sending.

I have a separate bank account (you don't need a business account) where my very few expenses come out (phone, subs) and I do need to get better about using its debit card to pay for things like paper (which I tend to just pick up at Tesco so it gets lost in my general shopping bills).

And that's it. 15 mins admin per job? (save timesheet, fill it in, create and send invoice, mark it on main spreadsheet, mark it invoiced, mark it paid).

I think some of the fancy-dan packages will save you a little time (the timesheet automatically generates the invoice and things like that) but you then have to look at whether the cost is worth it. Remember you offset your expenses against your tax, but they are still expenses which come out of your profit! (Don't want to teach you to suck eggs but it took me ages to grasp that one!)

I would say for the first year at least, keep it simple.

Numbers123 Wed 05-Mar-14 12:20:01

Ahh this is my biggest bug bear at the moment! If you go limited, you will need an accountant and I agree with the above posts, start as sole trader, get insurance and avoid the limited side of things until you get more of a feel for your business and your profitability because it is so much simplier as a sole trader!

Coming across a lot of people who have gone limited when they should have started off as a sole trader and are now having to pay a lot of money in fees to ensure meet they meet all the requirements...

LurkerLurker Thu 06-Mar-14 20:07:56

Thanks everyone for all the sane and sensible advice, I really appreciate it.

I'll keep it simple and go from there.

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