Contractor Accounting Software

You may also find our Online Accountant Solutions article useful.

It’s a common misconception that the ‘prettier’ a piece of software is - or indeed the more complex it appears to (the more features it has) the better the job it will do. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, sometimes the simplest options are the best.

A good example of the above is the typical remote control for your TV/DVD/sound system, typically they are jam packed with buttons most of which you never touch, compared to the marvelously designed SKY remote control which let’s face it must be the most perfectly designed remote in the world, you simply use all of the buttons, it’s not fancy, jazzy, overly designed and just seems to work.

The trouble with most attractive accounting packages out there is that they want to offer you so much more than you need, they are a one stop solution for sole traders through to multi-million pound turnover corporations. Something also to consider is that, even with one of those all-singing all-dancing packages, if you don’t have the right knowledge and a reasonable understanding of the simplest aspects of tax and VAT– you could still end up note inputting the correct information and end up with the repercussions of late submissions, followed by a call from HMRC and potentially a fine. The software won’t tell you when you’ve claimed for a non-valid expense, or entered the wrong figures, however fancy it is – it can only make calculations based on the information you put into it.

Don’t get us wrong, despite the above we don’t have anything against accounting systems after all, nearly all accountants use them. It’s just that if you haven’t been fully trained and don’t have the necessary experience or time for that matter, we just think they might not be the solution to DIY accounting some people are looking for.

What to look for in an off the shelf system, online bookkeeping system or basic free to download package.

Most importantly your new piece of software needs to manage your accounts properly and to save you from the stress of late submissions and fines. Firstly you need to establish what you actually need the software to do. A good analogy is the digital camera. Even the simplest ones have an instruction book about an inch thick – and in reality most people probably only use 10% of the functionality on offer. And the same goes for software, just because it does a million things, doesn’t mean you need it to!

When it comes to looking for Accounting Software - whether that’s a package that you buy and load onto your own PC, or an online service you subscribe to – take a step back and think about your business and what tasks you actually have to carry out each month . . .

Typically contractors and freelancers running their own limited company will raise a couple of invoices a month detailing it on a spreadsheet so you can track expected income. Next, you’ll need to keep a note of any expenses, and as a contractor these will probably be relatively minor, so again a list in a spreadsheet will be fine – making sure of course that you keep any receipts. Then lastly, you’ll probably want to arrange to pay yourself some money from your business account to your personal one, which you can do via your online banking system and then just make a records in - yes, you’ve guessed it - a spreadsheet!

Now the above doesn’t include in detail things relating to how you pay yourself and PAYE taxes, corporation tax, VAT plus a few other things, but in terms of bookkeeping that’s about it.

What’s the answer?

So – given that even the best packages can’t turn you into a tax expert overnight – what is the answer? We’d always recommend taking some advice from a specialist and keeping the software as simple and as cheap as possible – or even free! At SJD we realised a long time ago that most contractors didn’t need loads of fancy accounting programmes, so we developed our very simple piece of accounting ‘software’ – or to be more specific, a rather clever little Excel Spreadsheet with a number of calculations built in.

Free limited company bookkeeping software

Our simple to use bookkeeping software (SJD Online) has been developed in-house here at SJD by our team of experts – who are very experienced in supporting contractors who choose to operate through their own limited companies. As a result the software is simple to use, yet contains all the information needed for a contractor, and what's more it’s absolutely FREE! for all our clients. Click the link below to request a free trial:

Free Bookkeeping software

If you have any question about contracting or would like any further advice please call our New business team on 01442 275789 or email