When you first start out as a freelancer or are pursuing a side hustle, an accountant might seem like an unnecessary expense. But when you start to earn a decent amount, you might wonder whether it’s time to get an accountant on board. So how do you know when you’re ready? And how do you find an accountant?
It’s a personal thing
I might sound a bit like a stuck record, but as with everything in freelancing, the “right time” to hire an accountant is different for each individual. There’s no set time, no rule that says you must have an accountant when you earn a certain amount, or after a certain amount of time has passed. It really depends on your confidence in doing your own taxes and whether you have the time, effort, and patience for it. Some freelancers choose to do their own taxes for many years before hiring an accountant. Some never hire an accountant. Others hire one straight away.
It’s never too early
One thing I would say is that it’s never too early to hire an accountant if you’re not tax-minded. In my first year of side hustling, I didn’t earn much so it made sense to do my own tax return. It was an absolute headache and I wasted lots of time on the phone to HMRC—time when I could have been working. Even worse, I ended up paying waaaay more tax than I needed to, because I didn’t claim any of the tax-deductible business expenses I’d paid out. Needless to say, the next year I hired an accountant! The amount he charged per year was less than I’d overtaxed myself in the first year, and importantly—it saved me tons of time and effort.
The value of an accountant
A great accountant is worth their weight in gold in terms of saving you time, money, effort, and in some cases your sanity. On a basic level, they complete your tax return (which let’s be honest is never fun!) on time and accurately. This avoids you getting it wrong, missing the deadline, and potentially ending up with a fine from HMRC. It also saves you time, so you can focus on actually doing the work. Whether you’re starting out, side hustling, or a full-time as a freelancer, a good accountant guides you through each step and every tax return. What’s more, a knowledgeable accountant will tell you when it’s time to make the next step up—moving to limited company.
So how do you find one?
When it comes to choosing an accountant, you need someone trustworthy. The same as if you were hiring a freelancer, you want to be certain that they’re qualified, competent, and knowledgeable. A great place to start is asking people you know and trust for personal recommendations. That way, someone is vouching for the accountant’s credibility. If you don’t know anyone who knows an accountant, try attending local meetups or business networking events. Before going ahead, check that the accountant is chartered and certified, and agree a price.
Good luck on your quest to find an accountant!
Got any burning questions? Get in touch!