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How to manage business admin and get ready for Making Tax Digital

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Emmerson Marshall-Critchley is the owner of specialist building firm Emmerson Critchley Ltd and was a finalist in the Sage Ambition competition. In this article, he shares his company’s admin challenges and how they’ve overcome them, and reveals how Making Tax Digital will help to make record keeping more efficient.

Managing business admin at Emmerson Critchley Ltd

I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by exceptional accounts and administration teams, which work closely together and with the firm’s managerial, technical and communications teams, ensuring business records and the administrative aspects of the firm are well managed and kept up-to-date.

With both sub-contractors and employees, payroll is a routine undertaking managed by the accounts team, as well as the tax returns, which are handled efficiently and effectively.

While some of the administrative tasks are not proactively money-generating for the firm, they are vital to its overall health and performance.

Furthermore, Emmerson Critchley Ltd operates with a client-centred approach and this is only attainable by ensuring that the quality of the specialist building work undertaken is matched by the level of service delivered across all administrative, management, accountancy and communications aspects of the business too.

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Admin challenges we’ve faced and overcome

Perhaps the greatest challenge in terms of business admin has been managing the ever-growing demand. As the firm has developed and demand for our services has increased, the policies and protocols underpinning the business admin have also had to evolve to successfully manage an ever-growing workload.

At Emmerson Critchley Ltd, we proactively managed this by bringing together the administrative, accounts, technical, communications and managerial teams in a workshop setting, along with an independent strategic consultant who provided excellent guidance.

By considering the customer’s journey in detail and from each team’s vantage point, we were able to establish future-proof procedures at every step to ensure that all aspects – from business admin through to carrying out the work on-site – are carried out in an organised way with emphasis being placed on delivering a client-centred approach throughout.

Employing the right people has helped with our business admin

Perhaps the greatest support has been to employ the right people with the appropriate expertise in the given field. This is certainly true on-site where the firm is delivering specific expertise across a range of traditional building services and disciplines – from, for example, lime plastering, carried out by specialist plasterers, through to the undertaking sole plate repairs, by a highly experienced joinery team.

So it’s logical to ensure the same standard is applied to the office-based teams too and those with the relevant expertise and experience are in place to successfully manage the firm’s administration and accountancy requirements. At Emmerson Critchley Ltd, I feel extremely fortunate to have such an excellent team of experienced professionals working alongside me.

Business admin lessons we’ve learned

Perhaps for obvious reasons given my line of work, I am not a proponent for a do-it-yourself approach! For me, the same principle applies in terms of business administration – I think it’s vital to have suitably experienced people in place to most successfully manage the task.

I also think this gives you – the business owner – more time and opportunity to focus on what you’re good at.

In my case, this is carrying out site meetings, offering conservation consultancy, managing the building sites under my firm’s care and looking after my clients’ needs – overall, running my business.

I would struggle to find time to also take on board all the related business admin tasks too, so I quickly learned that appointing people who I could trust to look after this for me was a vital step forward in developing my business.

Getting the business ready for Making Tax Digital for VAT

In all aspects of business, I am a great believer in being prepared and taking time to learn as much as possible about a situation. As such, my accountancy team has been diligently exploring the options and we will make use of the remaining time to ensure we are ready for 1 April 2019.

While I am fully aware of the broad overview of the situation and my responsibilities as the business owner, as well as my firm’s need to be ready, my dedicated accounts team is navigating the new Making Tax Digital initiative in terms of addressing the finer details of it. Furthermore, Making Tax Digital is a subject that we will continue to discuss as a team.

Advice for businesses on preparing for Making Tax Digital

As a specialist builder I am not best placed to give advice on managing tax but as a business owner, I would urge other business owners who haven’t started preparing for Making Tax Digital to begin now. It’s crucial to be aware of one’s responsibilities in this regard and there’s still time to make the necessary preparations.

At the very least, look into what you need to do for Making Tax Digital, how you are going to do it, and ensure you are set up for it, and ready for 2019.

Four business admin advice takeaways

1. Set aside time to diagnose why and how your business is struggling

You will be unable to remedy the situation until you can clearly ascertain the root causes of the issues at hand.

2. Involve your team in the process

It’s important that everyone works through the problem together, as different team members will bring different insights to the discussion, which can help inform the process. It’s also worthwhile for everyone to feel invested in the changes that may need to be made moving forward.

3. Take advice

Even if you cannot afford to hire consultants to help, there is so much valuable information out there – just make sure you source information from credible, trustworthy and professional sources.

4. Get ready for Making Tax Digital now

Making Tax Digital will really make things easier when it comes to dealing with tax and managing business admin. But don’t wait to get things moving – start your preparations today so your business is ready for the scheme coming into force in April 2019.

The ultimate guide to Making Tax Digital

Is your business ready for Making Tax Digital? Download this free guide to find out what it means for your business and the steps required to submit VAT returns.

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