11 Common DIY Bookkeeping Mistakes to Avoid


About the Author: Maisie Violet Wicks is a content writer for Private Practice Hub – a free business advice hub for UK therapists in private practice, with hundreds of articles and resources covering finance, marketing, admin, CPD and more.

Are you a budding entrepreneur or a business founder interested in managing your finances? It’s important to keep your books in order to avoid making costly mistakes. In this article, we’ll discuss 11 common bookkeeping mistakes and how to avoid them. Don’t worry, we’ll explain everything in simple terms, so you can understand and apply these tips to your own business. Let’s get started!

1. Failure to Outsource

outsourced accounting

“You can’t do everything. Time is the only thing that is the same in every business. There are 24 hours in every day, so outsource what you don’t enjoy, or what you haven’t got a knack for.” 

You might feel like you have to do everything yourself, but that’s not true. Your time is limited, so it’s important to outsource tasks that you don’t enjoy or don’t play to your strengths. This way, you can focus on what you’re really good at and have more time to focus on growing your business.

2. Keeping Physical Receipts 

paperless receipts

“There’s applications for absolutely everything now; for recording your team’s time, sending out invoices – whatever it might be, there will be an app that can make it faster, smoother and quicker.” 

Using paper receipts is outdated. Take advantage of technology and use apps or software to keep track of your receipts. It’s faster, smoother, and safer to store your records digitally.

3. Unreconciled Invoices

common bookkeeping mistakes

“Match every single payment with every single invoice that you might have.” 

Make sure to match every payment with its corresponding invoice. This helps avoid mistakes like double-charging a client or making billing errors.

4. Lack of Proper Tools

common bookkeeping mistakes

“A lot of the customers that we take on were using Excel to do their accounts. They weren’t thinking about the benefits that a piece of accounting software can have.” 

Using Excel might seem convenient, but it’s better to invest in accounting software that suits your needs. Software like Xero (cloud-based accounting software) can help you keep track of your finances, pay employees, and even submit your VAT returns.

Bonus: If you’re ever unsure when it comes to using new software, refer to point one and outsource this to someone with a better understanding! Speak to our team

5. Misunderstanding VAT 

help with VAT

“Always consult an expert or a verified source. If you’re not going to speak to a professional, avoid just googling the information you need. Go to the government website for a true reflection of what they actually want you to do.”

If you’re not sure about VAT and taxes, consult an expert or rely on verified sources like government websites. Googling might not always provide accurate information.

6. Miscalculating Payroll Taxes

payroll taxes

“When you’re a small business, you don’t usually have HR, and definitely not a payroll department. So how do you make sure that your pay is correct – both to your employees and to yourself?” 

When you’re a small business without a dedicated HR or payroll department, it can be challenging to ensure accurate payroll. Look for software that can help you manage employee pensions and National Insurance taxes. 

When you join Addition, you can add payroll as a feature to your personalised finance plan. Learn more

7. Not Knowing the Best Way to Pay Yourself

how to pay yourself

“If you’re paying your employees, you could always just pay yourself in the same way. But it’s not the most tax efficient way to pay yourself.”

Instead of putting yourself on the payroll like your employees, consider a combination of salary and dividends. This can be a more tax-efficient way to pay yourself. For example, you can do this by taking roughly £9,000 of salary, just under the cap of employer or employee taxes, and taking the rest of your pay as dividends. This is because up till the first threshold, it’s only a 7.5% tax – rather than 20% income tax.

8. Not Applying For Grants

apply for small business grants

“We see a lot of customers come to us who haven’t really taken advantage of what’s out there to help new businesses. There are so many grants available!” 

Take advantage of the grants available to support your business. These can be helpful if you ever end up going through unexpected events or any big changes. Research thoroughly and consider outsourcing the task of applying for grants if needed.

9. Not Utilising Financials As Management Accounts

common bookkeeping mistakes

“Don’t think of financials as financial accounts. Think of your financials as management accounts – dashboards that will show you what’s going to happen within your business, rather than just what has happened.” 

Your financials can provide valuable insights into your business. Treat them as management accounts to notice trends and patterns in your business, and use them to make informed decisions. For example, like when to hold certain sessions, or what times of day (or month) your services make the most money.

10. Miscategorising or Over-categorising

common bookkeeping mistakes

“Once people wrap their heads around management accounting being useful, they tend to miscategorise – or even over-categorize.” 

When you offer multiple services in your businesses, it’s easy to fall into the trap of setting up a different management account for each service to see what works with the service and what doesn’t. This is over-categorisation – and is much less efficient than you might think.

Avoid over-complicating your management accounts. Use brackets to categorise services and expenses efficiently.

Miscategorising is when you incorrectly place expenses in the wrong accounts. An example of this is when you mark an invoice as not having VAT, when it in fact does, or marking down your salary as a general expense rather than an employee expense.

Be careful not to miscategorise expenses, as it can affect your taxes.

11. Allocate Costs to the Wrong Financial Year

common bookkeeping mistakes

“You need to make sure that you’re matching the revenue of the items with the cost of the item – and also the overhead. Any labour costs or office costs (including heating, electricity, or insurance) need allocating to the correct year. That way, you can create a proper picture of your business.” 

Make sure to allocate costs correctly to the corresponding financial year. This helps create an accurate picture of your business and ensures your tax bill is correct.

By avoiding these common bookkeeping mistakes, you can keep your business finances in order and make informed decisions. Remember, it’s always beneficial to seek help when needed and use technology to streamline your processes. Good luck with your business endeavors!

Want Some Help With That?

common bookkeeping mistakes

Addition’s CORE plan handles your bookkeeping, tax compliance and reporting. You can also choose from add-ons like Payroll, Self Assessment and Credit Control, as and when it suits you.

To find out more about how CORE can help you scale your business, book a call with us today.

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