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Book Review: Refreshingly Simple Finance for Small Business

Cover of  by Emily Coltman

Our book review this time is Refreshingly Simple Finance for Small Business: A straight-talking guide to finance and accounting, written by chartered accountant Emily Coltman.

Emily is chief accountant to FreeAgent, an online accounting service for freelancers and small businesses, and she has many years? experience working with small business owners worldwide. She has also been a guest contributor on Birds on the Blog.

Her book is a guide to the finance and accounting side of small business: practical information and advice that will help you understand how the financial side of starting, growing, and running your business works.

It addresses questions such as:

How should I set up my business in terms of tax?
What funding will my business need?
How should I price the goods or services that my business sells?
What records must I keep for my business?
Do I need an accountant?
How should I plan for my business?s future?

And it includes information about useful accounting tools, and how to use them, plus links to relevant and important websites.
Who is it for?

It?s for ?all current and would-be small business owners who find that the idea of the whole financial and accounts side of running a business has them ? literally or figuratively ? running for the hills.? The business law referred to is that of England and Wales,
and it?s a guide to the UK?s tax system.

Chapter 1. How should you set up and structure your business?

Discusses the different setups available e.g. sole trader, partnership, and limited company, and what they mean: plus their tax implications; and the advantages and disadvantages of each. This chapter also covers types of bank accounts, taking payments, and paying national insurance.

Chapter 2. Where?s the initial money coming from?

Covers which initial and ongoing costs you should consider ? including start-up costs, equipment, and household costs as well as business costs ? plus potential sources of funding, with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Chapter 3. The paperwork

The types of paperwork you will have, how best to organize it all, and how long to keep it.
The types of records you must keep as required by HMRC, according to different business setups and whether or not you?re registered for VAT.
Producing invoices and the information required by HMRC on your invoices.

Chapter 4. Simple accounts

Covers all sorts of information relating to keeping and submitting accounts, including:

preparing profit and loss accounts
example simple balance sheet for a sole trader
keeping a handwritten cashbook
computerised records: spreadsheets, desktop accounting software, and online accounting software
hiring a bookkeeper
choosing a year end

Chapter 5. Tax

A comprehensive chapter about VAT, income tax, and national insurance.


how to register for VAT
disadvantages and advantages of registering for VAT
how often to file a VAT return
different ways of accounting for VAT

Tax on profits (income tax, national insurance, and corporation tax):

what happens if you file your tax return late
what tax return you have to fill in according to your business setup
what expenses you can include
business use of your home
taking money out of your business

Chapter 6. Do I need an accountant?

why you might need an accountant
how to choose one
accountants? qualifications explained
why choose a qualified accountant?
what makes a good accountant?

Chapter 7. Planning for the future

Shows you how to create forecasts for your sales, profit and loss, and cash flow. It includes a very useful case study with sample forecast using a spreadsheet, and informaiton about tools available for forecasting.

Refreshingly Simple Finance for Small Business is informative, practical, interesting, and very easy to read. It?s a relatively short book, but is packed full of pertinent information that will save you a lot of time (and probably money too) when figuring out the best ways to manage your business finance and accounting. The Kindle version in particular is extremely good value for money.

I think it?s a very good, very useful book and I recommend it.

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