Admin, accounting, and legal stuff for new businesses
Welcome to The Digital Brew, a podcast about making your business more awesome online.
Your hosts are Angela (a copywriter) and Stew (a web designer). Pour yourself a cuppa and let’s get started with today’s episode…
In this episode, we talk about admin, accounting, and legal stuff.
Definitely pour yourself a BIG cuppa for this one… something caffeinated with a side of sugar, ideally. Unless you’re one of those rare people who gets excited by this stuff. (Good for you.)
When we set up our first business, we kinda ignored this side of things – most of the admin, a good portion of the finance, and pretty much all the legal. We were figuring it out as we went along.
This often meant not really knowing about the thing, and therefore, not doing it.
But you know what they say about taxes….
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
– Benjamin Franklin (probably)
So anyway, if you plan to set up a new business and make some money, you’ll definitely need to figure out some boring stuff – ideally before you get started. Don’t put it off or it’ll build up and become scarier than it is.
So for TDB, what admin, accounting, and legal stuff did we put in place?
First things first. We had to figure out our business structure – sole trader, pty ltd, trust, etc. (I say etc. because I literally cannot remember or think of any other options right now!)
We don’t know a whole lot about this stuff, to be honest. Our thought process is always to keep things as simple as possible, with whatever makes sense for the amount of money we plan to earn and other future goals (like buying a house and such).
We started out by setting things up under Stew’s existing sole trader ABN (because it seemed like the simplest option). Simple because of how you can structure the funds. As a sole trader, you don’t have to pay yourself a salary and super (things you’d do if you were an employee of a company) and there are some other adminny things that can add up when you’re a company.
But after talking to our accountant, we ended up opening a trust in both of our names. To be honest, we don’t really understand everything behind this, but it made sense at the time. From what we understand, it’s similar flexibility to sole trader, which works for us! (Thank goodness for smart accountants who know their stuff.)
There are a bunch of governmenty type processes you have to go through to make things official:
- Setting up an ABN (once you know your business model) or checking that your existing ABN is up to date with the correct contact/location info.
- Registering for GST (if needed).
- Starting the trademarking process for the business name so you can protect your brand and make sure no one else does it before you down the track
- Purchasing the business name from ASIC (we had already done this under Stew’s ABN so we had to transfer it to the new trust… bit of a pain and took about a month, plus the instructions were really unclear so we had the wrong transfer number, which slowed it down further).
Next, you’ll need to do some accounting stuff:
- Find an accountant who understands small business (it’s not the same as personal tax or doing tax returns).
- We set up a meeting with our accountant, Jess at Be Accounted to talk through structures and then set up the trust and do all the paperwork. She asked us a bunch of questions to make sure the trust structure would be a good fit for us now and in the future.
- Set up accounting software – we use Rounded. Features include invoicing, bank feed, expense tracking, quotes, credit card payment, GST, dashboard with overview… it’s awesome.
- Set up bank accounts – We were with Suncorp at the time of recording but since then, we’ve started the process of moving to NAB. Suncorp took almost a month to respond to a pretty simple email so we figured it was time to switch (after more than a decade… eek!).
- Bookkeeping – We DIY this, but it’s made a lot easier with Rounded. We also get some help from a VA to sort and upload receipts.
Now let’s talk about the admin stuff:
- Set up your email accounts – You’ll need to get these ready so you can sign up for all the other accounts using your business email address. Gsuite is often the simplest option, but if you’re up for it, there are plenty of other ways to set up emails, with different costs and features.
- If you’re like us, you might want to set up a ticketing system for support requests
- Get insurances – We have professional indemnity insurance with Bizcover and have been really happy with them for the last few years (this is a referral link so if you sign up via our link, we both get a $25 gift card – yay!)
- Create your proposal templates (if you send proposals) – We set them up for our website packages and hosting/maintenance packages. Sections we included were introduction, goals, recommendations, team profiles, testimonials, package inclusions/options, process, timing, terms and conditions. And this leads perfectly into the next bit…
Finally, let’s get into the legal stuff.
First thing’s first: we’re not lawyers. But we have bought templates from numerous copywriting folks and website folks, and smooshed them together.
Plus we’ve done a bunch of research to inform our legals. Many websites have their terms and policies publicly viewable, so it’s a great way to see what other people are doing, and get a better idea of what terms could apply to your business. For example, we uncovered a LOT of potential things that could go wrong in a web design and hosting relationship by looking at a whole bunch of website designers’ terms and conditions.
And then we pretty much used our brains and wrote up terms that were a good fit for us.
Since we’re not lawyers, at some point, it’ll make sense for us to engage a professional to make sure everything is enforceable and see what’s missing. But for this stage, it’s an approach that fits our low budget as a startup, and we look at our terms/policies as an information piece so that clients know exactly what they are and aren’t getting. It makes things super clear for everyone.
We spent probably weeks writing and reviewing these… over and over. We won’t go through them now (you’re welcome), but we will run you through the sections in each of our terms so you can get an idea of what’s in there, and what you might need to include in your own.
Terms and conditions for website users
- Limited liability
- Due diligence
- Image sources
- Copyright notice
- Information collection
- Information storage
- Updating or removing your information
- Using your data
- External links
Website package terms and conditions
- Standard format
- Fee conditions
- Reviews and feedback
- Google Docs
- Outdated browsers
- Intellectual property
- Extra expenses
- Pricing changes
- Your approval
Hosting and maintenance clients
- Fee conditions
- Back ups
- Back up frequency and storage
- Monthly content update limits
- Plugin, theme, and WordPress core updates
- Website user roles/access
- Domain and email hosting
- Service level agreement
- Third party or client page modification
- Acceptable use
- Development and code
- Data, space, and server usage
- Limitation of liability
- Agreement term and termination
- Other legal stuff
That’s it! Time to wrap things up…
Admin, accounting, and legals are a little bit boring and tedious. But they’ve gotta be done.
And they’re best done BEFORE you launch your business.
Although if you’ve already launched, better late than never. Get on top of it, tick all those boxes, and feel reaallllly good about yourself.
Oh, and get professional help if you can afford it. Source an accountant, lawyer, bookkeeper, IP lawyer, depending on your business and budget.
If you can’t afford someone to do it all for you, at least get good systems and software to help minimise the time you’ll have to invest. And do lots of research so you are as informed as possible when you DIY so you don’t make any big mistakes that might cost a lot to fix down the track. After all, the finance and legal side of biz can get pretty pricey if you mess things up.
That’s it for today… in our next episode, we’ll cover
workflow and processes. Scratch that – we’re recording a special episode for next week about goal setting since it’s *that* time of year. Back to regular programming after that!
Thanks for tuning in to The Digital Brew with Ange and Stew. Make sure you head over to thedigitalbrew.com for more episodes, detailed show notes, resources, and our newsletter. And if you feel like this episode has helped make your business more awesome, pop us a review. We’ll catch you next time!