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New practice

I am setting up in practice offering services in accounts, bookkeeping and tax.

Just wanted to make sure that i have everything covered and any tips from anyone.

This is what have done to date.

Registered with HMRC for MRL

Got PII in place

Going to speak to CCH re Taxsafe cover to offer to clients

Got website set up (still looking to get SEO work done)

Got flyers/business cards done for adverting which i am going to deliver locally to small businesses over the next few weeks.

Going to speak to bank manager/solicitors in the area to let them know i exist

Going to use VT accounts to produce year end accounts.

Going to recommend either excel, VT cash book or SAGE for clients to maintain their books depending on the complexity of business and what they need.

Going to use Taxcalc to do self assessment and corporation tax returns (until then going to use HMRC online facility)

Have registered with HMRC as a self assessment and CT agent.

Thinking about getting Tolleys books for corporation tax and income tax and maybe VAT. (what about subscribing to their phone service?)

Going to sub contract payroll function.

Going to eventualy get SAGE client manager to do bookkeeping once have enough clients for the service

Anything else should consider?


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By Deranja
11th Jan 2012 16:46

Erm ... Clients?

Are you buying fees or getting clients organically?

If the former, have you got the finances in place or started looking; if the latter, can you afford to live without pay for however long it will take to get clients?

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By marks
11th Jan 2012 16:53

oh forgot about them

Just start actively looking for clients.

Already have about half a dozen but got a couple of biggish ones in the pipeline that would be worth £10k a year.

Going to concentrate going to see small businesses and put up flyers in prominent places for self employed people eg taxi companies notice boards, trade merchants, newsagents etc.

Going to work full time while trying to build up client base as well as providing SAGE and bookkeeping courses at a local enterprise organisation.

Going to give it a year to 18 months to see if can get it to grow.

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By Deranja
11th Jan 2012 16:59

Accountants and marketing

Look at the 'Discussions' in the orange ribbon at the top.  The first one is called 'Accountants and marketing'.  I would specifically recommend the 'How low would you go?'.

Being an accountant and being a businessman are two different things.  Make sure you tick both boxes or you'll fail.

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11th Jan 2012 16:55

You will need a Practising certificate....

....if you are a member of a professional association. 

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11th Jan 2012 17:05

A reason why

@marks - why would anyone use you rather than the other firms in your area?


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11th Jan 2012 17:32

data protection act
Don't forget to register for data protection

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11th Jan 2012 19:57

Starting up

Don't forget to register with the ICO.

I wrote a blog some time ago thinking of starting an accountancy practice which may help you but you seem to have most covered.

Good luck

Jason Dormer

Seahorse (UK) Ltd - For Accountants and Bookkeepers




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By refs8
12th Jan 2012 12:29


If qualified firm this not apply but if not speak with the ICPA as a lot of this is included within monthly subscription

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12th Jan 2012 12:38

Suggest you register for the weekly practical tax update

written specifically for accountants in general practice and available free on a complimentary basis at:


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By zestca
13th Jan 2012 10:57

Are you Chartered?  Tax

Are you Chartered?  Tax Faculty is a good one

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13th Jan 2012 11:50

Tax software

I have changed software from Pertax to BTC and found them to be excellent - worth a look at if you haven't yet purchased tax calc.

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By chatman
13th Jan 2012 13:26

Sage and other packages

From what people say about Sage on AWeb, I would be wary of recommending it to clients, although you will probably have  to use it for clients that already have it.

VT is a good choice, especially as they are planning to introduce bank statement imports.

I would recommend considering an online bookkeeping programme too, for those clients who are bad at sending you their data. Xero is good as it can download the client's bank transactions, leaving the client to simply allocate them to NL accounts.

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By chatman
13th Jan 2012 13:20


Why don't you want to do payroll? It can be useful for cash in your early days. Subcontract it when you are more established if you don't like it.

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13th Jan 2012 16:46

Business networking

Have you considered joining a local networking organisation to develop contacts & assist in growing your practice, perhaps with direct referrals?


There are several, ranging from chambers of commerce to organisations like BNI(R).


FYI, here's a link to a chapter from my book about BNI(R) that may help.



Before that, I'd been a member of the local chambers and a few other networking organisations - they are also useful in developing links and could lead to cross referrals

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14th Jan 2012 09:21


Without wanting to start the usual mass debate on this, get your pricing structure sorted.

Start low and there's where you will stay. Charge what you are worth and don't undervalue your services before any prospects do that for you. And if they do, they may not be worth the hassle anyway so don't take them on!

Pick the type of clients you want to work worth, don't take on everyone who comes through the door.

Personally I wouldn't use Sage yourself at all or for clients unless they already have it. Look at Xero, it is pretty nifty in my opinion and suitable for most small clients.

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15th Jan 2012 13:01

Checklist for new clients

One thing that we've found invaluable is a checklist to ensure you capture all the info you need from the client and to prompt you to do everything you need to do, too numerous to list here but you get the point. Another one detailing what needs to be done for what client and when.

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17th Jan 2012 12:02

Go with the flow!

Go with the flow and enjoy the experience of starting up on your own!

Did you put that on your checklist?

Kind regards,

Ray Koshy.


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17th Jan 2012 12:48

Client-friendly bookkeeping solutions

I agree with @chatman and @sparkey999 that Sage is really not a good idea for the sort of client base that you are looking at ("self employed people eg taxi companies notice boards, trade merchants, newsagents etc."). Sage is fine for experienced bookkeepers and accountants but close to impossible to understand for others (and it's not cheap). Non-accountants don't want to bother about debits and credits and journals.

Choose a simple package, ideally cloud-based, so that your clients can at the very least raise their own invoices directly in a properly controlled (but simple to use) accounting system. You can then log in whenever you wish, to review the figures and enter whatever transactions your clients don't wish to do themselves.

Xero has been suggested and it is very good. You can also look at QuickBooks Online, which some of your clients may find a little easier to use. I have clients with both and I would recommend either over Sage.

VT and TaxCalc are also very good packages, though they now both offer combined final accounts and tax comps.

Good luck!

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By lme
17th Jan 2012 12:46

fee protection & tax helpline

I have been going a year as a new sole trader. I have found the CCH helpline that comes with their fee protection an absolute Godsend, I don't know how I would manage without it. I have found their consultants really helpful and knowledgeable. Also the ICAEW support has been great - its payback after having never needed it when I worked for big firms / in industry!


I am running Digita software. I bought taxcalc around about January and then found I had to pay again for the new tax year just a couple of months later - very disappointing, I would have waited had I known. Otherwise I found it good but I am glad I have gone for Digita which is integrated and even though I am still tiny I'm so glad I switched.


Hope this helps - all the best

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By chatman
17th Jan 2012 13:11

Don't buy Digita

I agree with the comment about TaxCalc, but I still prefer it over Digita. OK you get shafted in your first year, but with Digita you lose money every year. It is very, very expensive; the software is slow, resource hungry and user-unfriendly, and the pricing is very opaque. They don't publish their prices and when you buy something you can find that one of the publicised functions, that you assumed you were getting, is not included in the price their salesman told you, and that you have to pay extra for it. Digita sales code for this is "this is controlled by licencing".

Backups are hard work in Digita too. A year or so ago they had to send out an email to their customers telling them that they had just found out that many of them were failing to backup their data because they had not understood how the Digita backup procedure works. You cannot backup Digita files using your normal backup procedure.

The good thing about VT is that once you have done the bookkeeping, you can import the figures directly into the final accounts product at the touch of a button. I occasionally managed to import a TB into Digita's final accounts product, but usually it was so difficult I ended up manually inputting the TB. I even import my TBs from other packages into VT Final Accounts, it is so easy. The only downside of VT is that you cannot import the dates on a bank statement, but that is being remedied.

Don't be fooled by the "integration" myth. The benefits of Digita integration are minimal; for  me the ability to import a TB saves me much more time than only having to update an address in one place instead of two. And the amount of time wasted in just trying to use Digita would wipe out any "integration" time savings anyway.

VT is written and run by a techie. The  Digita techies are lovely people but the company seems to run by their marketing department; you can't get away from them. Who would you rather deal with, a techie or a marketeer?

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17th Jan 2012 16:24

Continuity of Practice

Good Luck,

I am in the same situation, but just a bit further on.

If you are an ACCA member don't forget the continuity of practice agreement and confirm that your trading name is acceptable with them.

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