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Your accountant: the essentials (part 1)

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Starting a new business involves gathering information about a lot of new things very quickly and talking to as many people as possible. One of which should be your accountant.

But what will they tell you about launching your new venture? Will it just be things such as how to register for VAT and what the rules are for filing your accounts with Companies House? Or will you talk about what really matters?

Here is the first of my six Golden Rules. Discuss these from the outset, and the future should pan out more productively. 1. For the avoidance of doubtEvery entrepreneur wants to save costs. So employing expensive lawyers to create sophisticated shareholder agreements is not necessarily a priority. Besides, I hear you say, what is the point of going to court over something that probably won’t be worth a lot of money for some years yet?

There is every good reason to involve lawyers now (for example to tie down your intellectual property, or perhaps to position it offshore). The key thing is to draw up a document that sets out clearly what you have agreed with each other.

This does not need to involve lawyers at all. A one-pager, signed by each of the founders, is a nil cost must-have document. Companies so often break up because of arguments between shareholders and they often happen because of simple misunderstanding – you said you would do this… I thought that….

Write down what you have agreed and the benefits are obvious.

This is the first of six short pieces on working with your accountant, written by Christopher Jenkins, senior partner of Wingrave Yeats (yes, they’re accountants). Wingrave Yeats was voted Best Medium Sized Firm of the Year and Chris was voted Best Business Adviser of the Year by the CBI. Contact him at cjenkins@wingrave.co.uk or go to www.wingrave.co.uk

For more on choosing and using an accountant, click here for our Start-up Guide.

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