How can independent retailers keep on top of the books?


Running a retail establishment requires business owners to wear many hats, and often, that of a bookkeeping “accountant” is one of them.

For many small independent retailers, curbing costs is key when it comes to getting up and running, and so it is the case that things like balancing the books, filing accounts, handling payroll and other accounting services are dealt with in-house. In these cases, investing in accounting software or taking the “DIY approach” can be seen as the logical solution. However, there is still a need to know how to use this software, and for many business owners, finding the time to use it can be difficult between managing staffing and turnover, stock and cash flow, marketing and advertising and other day-to-day activities. This, along with the pressure of starting and growing a business, can result in accountancy eventually falling by the wayside altogether.

The DIY approach then is something of a double-edged sword; if you are dedicating time to your books, this is time spent away from focusing efforts on growing your franchise or independent business. If you are not able to find the time for efficient bookkeeping, you are at risk of missing deadlines with Companies House and facing action that you can see you severely penalized.

With all of this considered, could it be the case that you would be better off substantially by placing all of this in the hands of a professional?

How outsourcing can help with bookkeeping

Outsourcing bookkeeping to a virtual accountant can help retailers of any size with accurate financial reporting, payroll services, monthly paperwork and annual accounts.

By freeing up your time to focus on your core business, accountants can help ensure your business runs smoothly. Accountants are up to date with constant changes to legislation that can impact your business, and know of allowances and expenses that you may not, all of which can make sure you stay compliant.

When it comes to something as important as bookkeeping, you want the service that is right for you rather than right by you. By choosing an accountant that offers virtual support, SMEs can obtain help from experts even if they are not based locally, which opens up the options when it comes to working with the very best fit for your organisation. Ideally, your virtual accounting service will provide cloud-based solutions that not only ensure your content is kept safe, but that also reduces the time spent on communication for a more efficient level of service.

Many virtual accountants will offer a number of bookkeeping options that can be tailored with add-ons to suit your needs, too. For example, perhaps your existing finance team needs some support during busy times of the year (such as the end of year accounts), or maybe it is the case that you want to outsource all of your payroll, bookkeeping and accounting to save you time or the costs associated with a full-time employee. In these and many other cases, enlisting the help of a professional virtual accountant can help your small, independent business thrive.

 Accountancy tips for independent retailers

  • Prioritise your payroll, financial reporting and other bookkeeping needs from the moment you start trading. This will help you keep on top of important deadlines (as the penalties for missing these can be severe), and ensure you factor in the monthly cost professional bookkeeping from the beginning.
  • Prepare for your taxes ahead of time. Leaving the preparation of documents until the last minute can be incredibly stressful, and can also lead to erroneous returns that will, again, see you penalized. If you don’t find the need for an accountant year-round, look into having a one-off service through which a professional can help you organise all the necessary paperwork well in advance to avoid a fine.
  • Figure out a system that works for you. Every retailer is different, and as your business grows, it’s only natural that your needs will evolve as well. It is often the case with virtual accountants that their services are flexible, so don’t hesitate to discuss plans for expansion, scaling down your business, or anything else that could impact your bookkeeping to see how they can help.
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