002: Business and Financial Planning. An interview with Emily Coltman, Chief Accountant at FreeAgent

Today we’re talking to Emily Coltman, Chief Accountant at FreeAgent about the practicalities of setting up and planning your business. Emily has many years experience of supporting self-employed people and small businesses in their accountancy requirements, and she shares with us some of her expertise on what the different options and considerations any start up needs to know about.

We cover the importance of doing your research, forecasting, business planning and the stumbling blocks in not doing these things. The importance of payment terms cannot be underestimated, don’t do any work until you have those in place! We discuss being adaptable to changing times, and adjusting your offering according to your customers changing needs. Choosing how you want to trade is important, and we explain the differences between being a sole trader and setting up as a limited company. In short, this episode has loads of helpful advice on how to keep track of your finances and be clear about your financial position, and that it is essential not to deprioritise finances.

About Emily Coltman

Emily Coltman is a very unusual Chartered Accountant – she speaks plain English as well as accounting-speak!

After graduating from the University of Cambridge, she trained and qualified with growing accountancy practice Cannon Moorcroft, where she looked after accounts and tax for a portfolio of micro-business clients. She has run her own business and is now Chief Accountant at FreeAgent, where she works with worldwide small businesses to help them use this simple online accounting system to keep their books in real time.

Emily is passionate about helping the owners of small and growing businesses to escape their fear of "the numbers", and believes that, with the right tools and guidance absolutely anyone, even if they were hopeless at maths at school, can learn to look after the finances of a small business.

About FreeAgent

Founders Ed, Olly and Roan had all been working as freelance designers or developers for a while, and were getting pretty tired of the mess and stress of bookkeeping. They put their heads together and decided that there must be a better way to deal with their mounting piles of invoices, spreadsheets and receipts. And so, FreeAgent was born. Taking care of big problems for small businesses, accountants and bookkeepers is what gets them up in the mornings!


Emma Jones’s business plan
Liz Spain’s business plan template is within her book
Joanne Dewberry’s book
Emily Coltman’s book

Contact details

Emily on Twitter: @dialm4accounts
FreeAgent: @freeagent
FreeAgent website

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