Financial tips for Professional Speakers

PSABeing a professional speaker can be a lonely existence, and everyone expects you to be an expert in all aspects of your business whereas, in reality, you only tend to be an expert in the topics about which you speak. 

OBC offer support in respect of the other aspects of your business where you might not be so strong.

Where to start?

Everyone is different so the following are a few general ideas to consider, but the answer is always get advice specific to your own circumstances:-

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START UP and VAT REGISTRATION

Start as a sole trader and VAT Register for general speaking, because any serious speaker will be speaking to businesses that are already VAT registered, so the VAT will not pose the customer a problem.

Speak to your accountant to consider the advantage or otherwise of using a Flat Rate Scheme for your VAT.  

SHOULD I INCORPORATE?

If the speaker starts making more serious profit (eg £40k +) the business can subsequently (in year 2 or year 3) be transferred to a  partnership with a spouse, or possibly a Limited (Ltd) Company,

The reason for this is that if you are going to incur a loss because your advertising costs, website costs and secretarial and accounting costs exceed  your income, it is likely to be in your first year of trading - and that loss can be carried back against other taxable income of that year, or of your last 3 years to reclaim tax + interest from HMRC ( you might even be able to legitimately make the loss bigger by employing a Spouse as an assistant)

Do read our blog about paying family members for more on this

If you make a loss as a LTD Company  - it can only be carried forward against future income of that company 

For more tax planning advice for your business, click here

What costs can you claim against your income for tax purposes ? - basically anything that is relevant to helping you be successful in your business. However you need to know what costs are acceptable in law.

For more help, do look at one of our guides for our clients on our site here http://www.obcaccountants.com/business/business-start/claiming-expenses-...

PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE

Low or "average earning" speakers do not normally need a Ltd company unless their work is controversial (eg - if you stray into technical tax planning) because their PI insurance should cover most risks .

We would advise all speakers to have PI insurance - in fact the PSA probably can recommend a provider to you.

WHAT IF YOU HAVE NON VAT REGISTERED CUSTOMERS?

For a side business, for example personal coaching,  if you seriously need to avoid charging VAT, you might be able use a separate Ltd Company that is not VAT registered or, easier still,  you might be able to form a partnership with a spouse for this business, which must be clearly identifiable as a  separate business with a different brand and "offering" to your main VAT registered business,

BUT, please note, there is always the chance that HMRC might try to argue it is the same business, so be  very careful and take advice before doing something like this.

Have a look at these many detailed tips for starting or growing your speaking business - you might find them helpful

Friendly word of warning - Avoid underestimating your start up costs

BOOKKEEPING

For bookkeeping we recommend you use XERO, and Receipt Bank, online software accessable from anywhere in the world. We have experts to support you if you need help.

PAYROLL

We are happy to offer payroll support through our payroll bureau. RTI penalties are harsh and it is not worth you getting this wrong - do take advice, or ask for one of our guides.

GOAL SETTING

We have systems to offer you to help you with setting appropriate goals for your business.

And last but not least, remember to join the PSA - the Professional Speaking Association who help and support each other to speak better and speak more often 

Email our PSA member Michael Ogilvie (mo@obcaccountants.com) now for more details. He was President of PSA in 2015 and, having been a professional speaker for more than 15 years, Michael knows most of the issues a speaker faces .

Finally, if you are a speaker, and want more information, just contact Pippa and we will be pleased to help (01323 720555 or pp@obcaccountants.com

Pippa and Nicola

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