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Last updated: 04 Jan 2022 12:30 Posted in: AIA

The end of a year is when many of us reflect on the 12 months that have just gone: the highs and lows; the things we got right and the things we could have done better.

If you’re a sole trader or freelancer, naturally, you’ll think about how well your business has performed in the past year. So, where do you begin? We asked AIA strategic partner, GoSimpleTax to help point you in the right direction.

How to judge your performance

You may not know how well your business performed in 2021. You may think you have an idea, but you could be overly optimistic or pessimistic to a greater or lesser degree. Accuracy matters. You need a more reliable way to judge performance, which is where KPIs can really help.

You may or may not be familiar with the term KPI; it stands for Key Performance Indicator. Admittedly, “KPI” sounds like something that’s more relevant to large corporations, but it simply means important numbers that enable you to judge how well your business is doing.

You can compare them to figures from previous years or to other times in the same year, so you can more reliably assess whether you’re performing well, and if so, where and when, if not, where and when you need to up your game, so that your business can improve and grow.

Choose and use the right indicators

It’s better to pick fewer of the right indicators (maybe three or four to start). Whether weekly or monthly, gross profit (ie turnover/total sales minus cost of sales and direct costs) and net profit (ie gross profit minus indirect costs and expenses) are frequent choices. Others include sales growth, customers, new customers, unit or product sales – there are many others.  

Other common indicators relate to costs and failure to manage these also impacts financial performance. Some indicators are more common in certain sectors, but you have to pick the right ones for your business type and size, so that you’re measuring and monitoring the right things. Keeping it simple is advised when deciding your key indicators.

Go back over your 2021 financial records. What were your average monthly sales and costs? How do these compare month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter, year-on-year? Did your sales increase or decrease in 2021? Did you attract more or fewer customers? Did your costs increase or fall and if so, when? Crucially, consider why these things happened and how you can address any problems and make more of any opportunities.

Be more successful in 2022

Using reputable cloud-based accounting software and updating it regularly makes it much easier and quicker to assess your businesses financial performance. If you’re not already using cloud-based accounting software, maybe it’s time you did, because it could help you to better control your business’s financial health and wellbeing in 2022 and beyond.

Set aside time each month to look at your key performance indicators and figure out what they’re telling you. If it’s anything worrying, such as an alarming rise in costs or a drop-off in sales, you cannot afford to do nothing. Hopefully, your indicators show that your business is performing well and is growing. If need be, get help from an experienced accountant to assess your financial records and business performance.

Also make completing and filing your Self Assessment tax return much less stressful in 2022. If you have good accounting software, completing your Self Assessment tax return should be much quicker and easier. You can also use Self Assessment filing software that makes the task even easier, while ensuring that you don’t make any mistakes.

Reach out for sources of support

You can get an expert to fill out your Self Assessment tax return or advise you. Crucially, to be tax-efficient, make sure you’re claiming all reliefs and allowances available to sole traders and freelancers. Again, an experienced accountant or other tax professional could provide valuable tax-saving advice.

HMRC has published a comprehensive selection of free Self Assessment guidance, including YouTube Self Assessment videos and webinars. In addition, you can call HMRC’s Self Assessment helpline (0300 200 3310 – Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm) if you have any specific queries. And rather than wait for the 31 January 2023 online filing deadline, why not get your Self Assessment done and dusted soon after the 2021/22 tax year ends on 5 April 2022. That could free you up to get on with winning more business and becoming even more successful in 2022.  

Further Advice

If you require further advice on tax related matters go to the AIA Tax Insights Page, or alternatively visit the AIA GoSimpleTax Partner Page.