Starting Out

tammin Registered Posts: 6 New contributor 🐸
Hey, Is anyone able to offer me some advice?

I am going to start to do bookkeeping for soletraders as a sideline to my current fulltime job, to gain some more experience and skills.

I have though of what services I am going to offer, and costs etc: Where do I go from there?

The main question being, What questions do I ask when I first meet a client?
Do I need an insurance?
What are the best bookkeeping programmes to use?

Can you offer any other advice, I would be very greatful :o)

Thank you


  • reader
    reader Registered Posts: 1,037 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    "Where do I go from there?"

    1) I guess you could leaflet the local shops in your area and see what responses you get.

    "What questions do I ask when I first meet a client?"

    1) What he/she does on a day to day basis; to get a feel for the type of income and expenses they will be giving you
    2) Sources of income, i.e. just one revenue stream or multiple
    3) Where does the income go? Directly into 1 bank account, or into 1 bank a/c and cash/till, or bank a/c, cash/till and paypal a/c?
    4) Main customers; and how they pay, i.e. 1 month credit terms?
    5) Main suppliers and the services they offer; and how they are paid, i.e. payment on account? 1 month credit terms; in cash; personal bank?
    6) How they keep the source documents; carrier bag or sales in one envelope, expenses paid by bank in another envelope; expenses paid personally in another envelope; expenses paid by cash in another envelope
    7) Any personal/business expenses; i.e. a personal phone that is used 60% of the time for business, i.e. 40% should be disallowed
    8) Turnover; I think if it is higher than £73,000 they should be VAT registered; and if this is the case you would then have to find out about any European sales/purchases

    "Do I need an insurance?"

    I think you would need MAAT status and MiP status

    "What are the best bookkeeping programmes to use?"

    Microsoft excel is surprising good; i.e. you can list the sales on one tab; list and analyze purchases on another tab; summarize bank receipts on another tab, summarize bank payments on another tab; list expenses paid personally on another tab; list expenses paid by cash on another tab; etc

    VT is another good program (it is based on Microsoft excel I think)
  • RAS
    RAS Registered Posts: 124 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    Just be careful about your current contract of employment with you employer. You may find that doing other work without permission could be a breach of contract.
  • Jonno1
    Jonno1 Registered Posts: 63 Regular contributor ⭐
    Starting out

    I will be in the same situation if I pass my business tax exam (last exam level 4). I currently have a full-time job not in finance and would like to gain some experience working with sole traders & SMEs in my spare time, for just a few hours a week, to see how things go. I also need the practical experience of working in finance to qualify for MAAT status.

    I would like to specialise in Business tax advice & computations, as this was the unit I enjoyed most in my AAT studies. I did not do Personal tax, but is it advisable for me to do this unit as well? Is there a demand for AAT members providing services involving business tax/personal tax computations? Also would many clients/small firms mind me visiting them in the evenings or at weekends, as these are the only times I would be able to see potential clients assuming that I carry on with my full-time job for the time being?
    Any advice is greatly appreciated.
  • Monsoon
    Monsoon Registered Posts: 4,071 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    IMO, you can't do business tax without a knowledge of personal tax - the two are so closely interlinked.

    There was a comment from a forum member ages ago who did BTX but not PTX asking what was a SA100 and how come no-one ever told her to fill one in? I.e. didn't understand that you had to do a personal self assessment return as well as complete the self employment pages. Hopefully this illustrates how important it is to have an awareness of personal tax. Even a self employed person may have other income to go on their main tax return pages.

    I wouldn't say there's a demand for "providing tax computations." What there is a demand for is "general practice" i.e. preparing sole trader, partnership and Ltd Co accounts and tax returns.

    Some people will really appreciate the out of hours touch; others will prefer business hours. It's all about how you pitch your services to attract the clients you want.

    Run a search on these forums - questions on how to start up and associated issues come up all the time :)
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