South Wales firm Choice Bookkeeping has developed a free app for small businesses moving onto HMRC’s Making Tax Digital service. Businesses can use their phone to take a photo of their receipts, as well as record invoices and mileage in real time. So, scrabbling around at the end of the month to get their accounts in order is now a thing of the past. And because the app stores the images for seven years, businesses are less likely to receive penalty charges for not submitting evidence of expenses claimed to HMRC when asked.
“It’s smaller businesses that are finding it hard to get to grips with Making Tax Digital”
“I work with a lot of micro and small businesses to help them with their digital tax returns because the HMRC has provided very little guidance,” said Choice Bookkeeping’s Director Mark Williams. “I’m getting more and more enquiries all the time from people asking for help because they don’t know what to do and it’s these smaller businesses which are finding it hard to get to grips with Making Tax Digital.”
“Clients take photos of their receipts throughout the month and these are uploaded”
“Clients used to bring me carrier bags full of receipts which I’d have to sort through one by one which obviously took loads of time. Also, inevitably receipts would be missing, and this is a big problem for businesses as it means they can get penalised if they don’t provide evidence of business expenses. Now clients can take a photo of a receipt and the app automatically logs it and sends it to QuickBooks, which is HMRC approved, and other accountancy software where I can easily access it. Clients can then bin the receipt. It’s that easy.”
“SFBW helped move us to digital, which has doubled our client base, turnover, and staff levels”
The app is the latest development for the business, which switched from paper-based to an entirely digital business model on the back of advice from Superfast Business Wales. It’s a move which has paid dividends. Since taking on digital the firm has doubled both its turnover and client base and has taken on two staff with plans to recruit more. And the business, which was nominated for Best Practice of the Year at the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Awards in 2018, has ambitious plans for growth. The firm is aiming to grow turnover by £100,000 in the next 12 months and keep doubling turnover and client base year-on-year, and it’s looking to digital technology to help do it.”
“The SFBW 1-2-1 with an adviser helped me to use tech to transform how I run my business”
Mark Williams set up Choice Bookkeeping in January 2017 as a sole trader, incorporating it in October of the same year. “I got in touch with Superfast Business Wales initially looking for help with social media in the hope it would help me attract more clients online. I attended a social media workshop which was really good, and I have had more engagement and picked up some clients through social media. But it was the 1-2-1 which was really useful. I found out so much more about what I could do with technology from Pete Mackenzie, my business adviser. Pete looked at the business as a whole and showed me how much easier I could make running the business by bringing in tech.”
“I was having to manually input 900 receipts a month and a CRM has saved hundreds of hours”
“Everything I was doing was paper based, all my client files and receipts. I was having to manually check and input up to 900 receipts a month just for one client. Pete recommended moving everything online onto bespoke accountancy CRM management software. It’s literally saved me hundreds of hours a month. The CRM is designed for accountants; all of my clients’ details are there including conversations and their history, and it prompts me when I need to take action for a particular client.”
“Office 365, Skype and VoIP has made working in different locations cheaper and easier”
And the changes didn’t stop there. On Pete’s recommendations, Mark switched to Office 365 which has made working between his Monmouthshire and Pembrokeshire offices easier. The old legacy website has been replaced with a new site which integrates with QuickBooks and has an online document portal for clients. Mark has also brought in Skype and VoIP so he can save on traditional phone line rental costs and make telephone and video conference calls without having to be based in the office. And for Mark launching the Choice Bookkeeping app was the next natural step in his digital journey and is something extra he can offer clients to save them time and money and make their lives easier.
“Digital helps me provide a much better service and frees capacity to work with more clients”
“The app has proved really popular with businesses, especially the receipt bank and mileage tracker as they’re so useful and easy to use. I wanted to expand fast and digital has allowed me to do that. It helps me provide a much better service, and means I have the capacity to service more clients.
“Clients no longer have to take time out from their businesses to come into the office but for me I still prefer to offer a personal service so I travel to see them, and technology means I can take the business with me. Going digital has given me more free time to spend with my family, and doing voluntary work which I enjoy, I’m also studying to become qualified in payroll so I can offer that as an additional service to clients.”