At Starling, we want to provide tools that help small business owners, freelancers and contractors spend less time on their accounting and bookkeeping and more time on their trade. That’s why we designed our Business Toolkit, complete with invoice generator, VAT calculator and self-employment tax estimator, fully integrated into the Starling web portal. The optional Toolkit costs £7 per month (inc. VAT). It gives customers access to all the features of our free business account, but with extra tools designed to simplify business admin.

Our original free business accounts are still free to open. The option of the Business Toolkit provides the same features but with extra bells and whistles for accounting, bills and tax. The Toolkit is available exclusively with online banking.

Making business simple

The Business Toolkit is available to Starling customers with a sole trader or limited company business account. The Toolkit includes:

  • Invoice creation and auto-matching - Create and send custom invoices and we’ll suggest a match between issued invoices and incoming payments to keep track of which ones have been paid.
  • Bill management - Upload PDF or image files of payable bills and schedule payments to manage your cash flow and track expenses.
  • Automated expenses - It’s tricky to know what’s tax deductible and what isn’t. That’s why we automatically categorise your transactions and provide handy hints in the category description to help you decide what you can claim for.
  • Sole trader tax estimation - Based on the information you provide, we’ll estimate the money you need to set aside for the self-employment part of your tax return, including Income Tax, National Insurance Contributions and Student Loan Repayments.
  • VAT recording and submission - Connect to HMRC and submit your tax returns through our Toolkit’s Making Tax Digital software.
  • Bookkeeping to-do list - For certain transactions, we’ll prompt you to attach a photo of a receipt and invoices so that you can keep digital copies for your tax return.

Managing your money all in one place

Jewellery designer Becca Williams decided to switch her business banking to Starling when we launched our Toolkit in beta in January.

“My accounting software never seamlessly connected to my previous business bank account, I spent a lot of time linking things up. I already had a Starling personal account and I moved my business account when the Toolkit came online for testing,” she says. “The invoicing is really good. I’ve used it to bill several clients and there’s enough space for me to specify the work I’ve done - it works really well.”

The benefit for Becca is having her business banking and invoicing all in one place, plus the ability to organise money through our Goals feature. “I’m moving my business to a new building, which I’m renovating, so there’s a Goal for that. In the past, I would have needed a separate account to keep it organised. But with Starling, I divide money in the way that suits me and drop money out of a Goal when I need to pay for something - it’s all organised. It also means that my accountant only has to see one set of bank statements.”

Becca Williams, jewellery designer

Becca, 33, runs her business from Cornwall. From her studio, she makes and designs bespoke jewellery and offers workshops for couples to make their own wedding rings. “I found jewellery design by accident at A-level. One of my tutors ran a jewellery design course and I chose it to fill in an empty slot. I’ve never looked back.” She trained in Birmingham and set up her business in 2008. Many of her commissions involve inherited stones or metal from multiple rings that can be melted together into one cherished piece. “Sometimes you have several generations of metal in one piece - those emotional stories add to the joy of the technical challenge of creating it.”

Supporting the self-employed

Stephen Young set up his business, Easy Energy Assessments, in 2013. “My reason for going self-employed was that I needed the freedom to be at home to look after my daughter,” he says. “I wanted to have more time with her - she was about 11 at the time.”

Through his business, he assesses residential and commercial properties on how they can make their energy more efficient and cost-effective. “Most of what I do involves the energy consumption of a house that’s going to be built. I look at the heating system and type of insulation. What I like is that if I meet a customer who’s got something very right, I’m able to pass that on to somebody else so that they can make their energy better too, for very little cost.”

When Stephen, 64, signed up to Starling in 2018, he sent Customer Services an email to see if we had any tools for invoicing and accounting. At the time, we didn’t. But he quickly became a volunteer tester when he received news of our Toolkit earlier this year. “It’s gone very smoothly. I can’t see any reason to go with anyone else. I recommend Starling to lots of people,” he says. “Something that’s very helpful is that it suggests that this payment goes with that invoice. They were also very good at listening when you had a suggestion to make.”

Listening to feedback

Christopher Smith, a musician, teacher and owner of Smith Brass Services, has also been impressed with our team’s eagerness to engage with and respond to feedback during the Toolkit beta-testing. “They really wanted to know how all aspects of my business worked so that everything could be integrated into the programme correctly.” He set up his Starling business account last year when he launched his cleaning and repair service for brass instruments.

Christopher, 32, has played and performed the trumpet since he was 11. “Combining performance, teaching and technical skills brings all the specialisms together,” he says. He often receives further business, such as repairing trombones and horns, as a result of another part of his work, such as teaching a pupil to play or doing a performance.

He chose Starling after a friend recommended it and signed up to be a tester for the Toolkit after reading our newsletter, The Murmur. “I like the way Starling is so instant. As soon as something comes in, it gives you a notification.”

Christopher has been self-employed since leaving university, where he studied music. “I use the invoicing system a lot now, it makes things a lot easier to keep track of.”

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