Small Business Accounts & V.A.TApplications Bureautique
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David Adams assesses a book-keeping system for simple businesses

For the smaller business with a minimum of paperwork and, in particular, for a retail business which has mainly cash takings it is not always necessary or desirable to attempt to run a full blown accounting system.

Keeping elementary records in a logical and tidy manner, rather than just operating the 'heap' system where everything is filed in a large box, can result in considerable savings on accountant's fees (ouch!) and can, more importantly, provide simple management information.

At this scale of operation it's important to choose a system which doesn't involve too much struggling with accounts rather than actually earning money in your business! In some instances records can be kept quite adequately on paper or using a spreadsheet program combined with a good filing system. This should be carefully considered before rushing out to buy an accounting package.

It's also a good idea to get your accountant's views on your ideal requirements as he will be the one to have to sort out any muddles later, and it's sometimes easier to sort out paper muddles than computerised ones. When you've reached a decision, do please remember that you must notify the local VAT office if you're registered for VAT. One other thing to remember is that, whether you decide to computerise or not, the results will only be as good as the quality of the information you put in.

The main requirements of any system, however simple, are to record your receipts and expenditure and to keep track of how much money you have in cash and in the bank. Expenditure needs to be itemised and split between the various costs, such as purchase of stock, expenses (travel, telephone and rates etc), capital expenditure and personal withdrawals.

A lot of businesses do not operate ledgers to keep track of money owed to suppliers. This is an area where a simple system can help by providing a totalled list of unpaid bills at any time.

The Simplex Solution

One program introduced recently by Micro-Simplex is 'Small business accounts & V.A.T. made simple' and this is really a computerised version of the Simplex small business accounting books which have been available for a number of years. It doesn't pretend to be a comprehensive accounting package, but is certainly designed to cover the basic requirements of the small retail business.

The 8512 version of the package is supplied on a single disc which is used in the B: drive and contains both the programs and the data files. To start work it is first necessary to load CP/M, and the programs are then automatically 'PIPped' across to the M drive before being run. Although the package is also available for the single drive 8256, Micro-Simplex recommend twin drives. On an unexpanded twin-drive 8256. the smaller M drive forces some differences in operation.

The program uses Simplex's own system of trading weeks and quarters and these dates have to be set before use. There is a rather cunning use of passwords, without which you can't progress beyond entering the first week's data. The password can be obtained over the phone, but only after Simplex have received your registration card. If, in the future, you wish to change your business name, you have to get a new password at a cost of £10 plus VAT.

There is free 'hotline' support for four weeks after purchase and this may be extended by joining the user club, which also provides free program updates and a regular newsletter at a cost of £50 plus VAT per year.

The manual is excellent and also contains basic accounting advice. Before installing the system there is a fair amount of work to be done setting up the analysis codes, but you can choose how much detail you wish to include. This is the stage at which your accountant should be fully involved as mistakes here could turn out to be very expensive.

Special schemes

The package copes with all the special retailer VAT schemes including that for pharmacists. If you operate credit accounts, the package will cope with splitting your takings between cash and credit sales if required. You enter your daily takings under the various categories and record payments to the bank. There is no provision for keeping track of amounts owed to you by credit customers, but if this is a major requirement you should be looking at more involved packages, anyway. There is a procedure to record goods taken for your own use.

Having entered all weekly receipts, bankings (and expenditure), you can display reports of your cash in hand and at the bank. Any till discrepancies are noted and recorded for the year on a weekly basis. Expenditure can be analysed over stock purchases and other expenses, and it is also possible to enter unpaid supplier bills and subsequently establish what is owed where. When these bills are paid they are marked accordingly and the bank account is updated automatically.

It is important to set the system dates to coincide with your VAT quarters and for this reason you must start your computerisation on the first day of a VAT quarter.

At the end of the quarter Micro Simplex will work out your VAT according to the entries you have made and will produce all the written reports necessary to satisfy the VAT inspectors as well as a summary of the return.


An excellent package for a small shop which deals mainly in cash transactions and which does not need a full accounting system.

8000 Plus

★ PUBLISHER: Micro-Simplex
★ YEAR: 1987
★ AUTHOR(S): ???
★ PRICE: £99.95


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