Keeping proper business records

1.      Keeping business records – the full story

1.1.   This system is designed to help you keep things as simple as possible.

1.2.   At the same time, it is designed so that it works with almost every bookkeeping system and every accounting system there is. You can generate your prime records (invoices etc) using Word or Excel or similar applications, and you can store your records on DropBox. That way, we can both find what we need, when we need it.

1.3.   We use specialist software which only accountants would want to buy. We do not recommend that you buy bookkeeping software unless you employ an in-house bookkeeper or unless you yourself are a trained bookkeeper. We do not recommend any of the online accounting software solutions unless you’re a trained accountant. We want a proper set of prime records from our clients and that enables us to do the books and the accounts professionally, using professional software and professional staff.

1.4.   You’ve heard of GIGO haven’t you? Well if you follow our system exactly as it is set out below you should always get sound results.

1.5.   This system relies on all records being stored as PDF documents. This ensures that the data is readable by all users on all systems. It is easier to print files to PDF than it is to work with a multitude of .XLS .XLSX .numbers .ODS .CSV etc files. If your business computers do not already have PDF printers installed, visit and download their basic package called CutePDF Writer (Freeware).

1.6.   More info

1.6.1.      Keeping business records – a quick reference guide

1.6.2.      Why don’t you recommend bookkeeping software? (link TBA)

1.6.3.      What’s wrong with online accounting software?

2.      Invoicing and Sales

2.1.   All businesses want to make sales and so we use a “Sales” folder on Dropbox to keep track of your trading income.

2.2.   You need to generate an invoice for every sale you make. The only exception to this rule is for businesses that operate retail shops and use cash registers, and we don’t look after any businesses like that! So, you will need a system which generates an invoice every time you want a customer to pay for something. That includes:

2.2.1.      Fees for services

2.2.2.      Fees for goods sold

2.2.3.      Commissions received

2.2.4.      Expenses which you want to recover from your customer

2.3.   You must prepare an invoice each time you make a sale, and you must give each invoice a unique and consecutive number. Even if your customer doesn’t want an invoice, you do! Even if your customer gives you a self billing invoice, you still need to prepare a proper invoice which will stand up to scrutiny from HMRC! Use a simple number system for invoices numbers. Choose any number to start with and then just keeping adding 1 to it! Don’t skip numbers, nor use them out of sequence, and never use the same number twice.

2.4.   Never use alphanumeric numbers. Invoice numbers must always be purely numeric. If you want to show a customer reference on your documents you can, but show it as a completely separate entity and not as part of the invoice number. If you want to include the year of issue within your invoice number, don’t! You already have the date on the invoice!

2.5.   Simple, unique and consecutive invoice numbers rule the day.


 2.6.   Make sure that the invoice date and the invoice number stand out clearly by keeping them near the top right of your document, and by keeping them clear of any surrounding clutter. If you are not VAT registered, then your invoice should make no mention of VAT whatsoever.

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