Everybody hates red tape, it takes the business owner away from doing the real work of the business and can be annoying and bureaucracy but there are some pieces of business paperwork that really do need to be dealt with.

Leaving some tasks might mean a bit of inconvenience later on but some might cost your company money and some might mean the loss of your business.

Don’t forget to insure your business or review and renew each year.

It might seem that ‘it can never happen to me’ but the whole point of insurance is that it protects against unforeseen events.

In today’s’ climate it is a rare winter where we don’t see images of businesses flooded out of their premises and this is probably the most high profile event that insurance will take care of but there are some other risks you really must insure against.

Public liability insures you in the event of a member of the public being injured or suffering loss through the action of your business. If someone trips when on your premises then you’ll be glad that you have it. Similarly employee liability protects employers against their workers suffering loss in the same way.

Making sure you have cover for the important things to your business, like insuring tools against theft or Intellectual Property protection is a good place to start and it’s important that as well as thinking about this at the start, the company reviews its insurance position each year as it grows and changes.

Employing people has become more and more complex as time has gone on and with the amount of protection around for employees it is important that companies have the basics in place.

Making sure that you provide a contract of employment from day 1 is the first step and needs to be done with the assistance of a legal professional. It’s also important to have policies and procedures in place alongside this.

It is difficult to take disciplinary action against a staff member who has broken the rules if you have never formally told them what the rules are or indeed don’t have a disciplinary process in place!

A staff handbook is helpful in this respect and depending upon how your firm operates you may want to look at policies and procedures such as expenses, credit card, disciplinary, anti discrimination and others. We’d always recommend getting advice from an HR professional on your specific situation as it will prove to be a lot less expensive than an employment tribunal.

Many businesses only produce accounts once a year when they absolutely have to. This saves the business time but rather than saving money it can often end up costing the company real cash.

Producing a set of management accounts each month will help the business see where it is not working as efficiently as it should and allows managers take action quickly. For example if a company’s cost of sales suddenly shoots through the roof it is better to know at the end of the month than at the end of the year when the statutory accounts look odd.

It’s all too easy to forget an old Direct Debit that was set up or to miss when a supplier takes the wrong amount of money for an invoice. Making sure that accounts are done regularly and are reviewed will highlight areas where our gut instinct doesn’t match reality.

A good bank reconciliation will also help protect against employee fraud and ensure that any wrongdoing is more likely to be spotted.

There are a whole series of things that need to be submitted to HMRC and these also carry deadlines but missing them tends to get expensive.

Making sure your self assessment return is in on time is the one most people think of but businesses also need to make sure that they submit their P11d, P9d, and PSA returns on time. Making sure your VAT return is sent in as well as CIS where applicable and any other company specific information is vital. With the advent of computerisation HMRC have the ability to levy automatic fines the moment a return is missed.

For limited companies there will be a number of requirements from Companies House that need to be complied with.

The Annual Return has now left us but has been replaced with a Confirmation Statement. This needs to be done at least once a year and includes details for the company such as the new category of people of significant influence.

The business will also need to submit its accounts annually to Companies House either in paper or electronic form.

Don’t forget also that if your company moves, or if one of your directors move house then you are required to tell Companies House within 14 days and to not do so is a breach of the Companies Act.

Whilst dealing with paperwork is often a bugbear with business owners it tends to be fine as long as it’s done as you go along, leaving it all to the last minute or putting things in a pile and hoping they will go away is a poor choice.

If you really can’t face dealing with your deadlines then think about employing either an admin assistant who can deal with these sorts of things or outsourcing to your accountant or to a specific business support company.

Keeping on top of your admin won’t just save you money in terms of fines it will also give you peace of mind that everything is taken care of which has to be well worth the effort.


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