Bookkeeping Basics for the Self Employed

Bookkeeping is an essential part of being self employed and setting up an effective bookkeeping system is not just a legal requirement but it will also give you an accurate picture of your income & expenses helping you to track how your business is doing as well as keeping you ready for tax time.

What is Bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping is the recording of your day to day business transactions on a spreadsheet or accounting software.  You’ll find your business transactions on all your business paperwork so you’ll need to gather together things like:

  • Business bank statements
  • Sales invoices
  • Purchases invoices
  • Cash Expenses
  • Mileage Claims

Bookkeeping Basics Tip #1: Open a separate business bank account

HMRC guidance recommends that you keep your business and personal banking separate when you are self employed, so if you haven’t opened a business bank account then consider doing so.  Not only is it preferred by HMRC but it will make tracking all your income and expenses for your bookkeeping much easier and quicker.

Bookkeeping Basics Tip #2: Keep All Your Receipts

You are legally required to keep proof of all your income and expenses which includes things like:

  • all receipts for things you have bought
  • bank statements
  • sales invoices and till rolls

Get into a habit of keeping and storing your business receipts and paperwork.  I have written a blog on ‘How to Organise Your Business Receipts‘ where you can find one of my recommended approaches to dealing with your business receipts and paperwork.

Bookkeeping Basics Tip #3: Stay On Top of Your Bookkeeping

By staying on top of your bookkeeping and setting a good routine up for organising your business receipts you’ll:

  • Minimise the risk of loosing a receipt and missing out on a tax deduction
  • Avoid last minute stress when it comes to filing your tax return
  • Save on accountants fees if you choose to use one

All my bookkeeping spreadsheets include a list of recommended daily, weekly, monthly and annual bookkeeping and tax responsibilities that you can add to your diary to help you stay organised.

Bookkeeping Basics Tip #4: Use a spreadsheet or cloud software

Depending on your business you can opt to use a cloud based software, like Quickbooks to manage your records.  Or, if you want to avoid ongoing subscription fees, set up a bookkeeping spreadsheet in excel.  When you are self employed, generally speaking a spreadsheet should be sufficient to manage the recording of your income & expenses.

I’ve created a range of bookkeeping spreadsheets which are simple to use and designed for the self employed.  You’ll be able to track your finances, see an estimate of your tax and you’ll even receive a handy guide to help get you started and HMRC friendly guidance on how to maintain your bookkeeping records. Shop Now>>

Anita is a Chartered Accountant, turned blogger and creator of the ever popular free Go Self Employed Email Mini Course, which has been completed by hundreds of attendees all over the UK. Using her 10 years experience in accounting, tax and operations for Small Businesses, Anita is on a mission to make finance simple for the self employed, so they can stop stressing about tax & finances and focus on building profitable businesses which will give them the lifestyle they dream of.