Self-employment is the biggest shift in how we work for a generation, with 5 million self-employed people in the UK alone and 100s of millions worldwide.
To us, self-employment is a mindset, rather than a legal setup. Whether you're a sole trader or small limited company, if you have fewer than 5 employees, we think you're different to other businesses. You're the sales person, star employee, head of operations and finance director all in one. You deserve something more specialised than what's on offer.
The shift to self-employment around the world is driven by passion, as more and more people choose to work independently for flexibility and control of their working lives. And it's catalysed by technology, allowing people to work from anywhere and sell goods or market their services to anyone in the world.
Self-employed people in the EU and North America earned $2.23 trn in 2019, equivalent to the 8th largest economy in the world. It’s clear to see why when you look at the world we live in:
And yet the tools available for managing a self-employed business, such as cloud accounting, are designed for companies with 10 or more employees. They were built over 10 years ago at a time when smartphones were only used by 18% of the population, and not cut-out for the fast-paced, mobile nature of work today.
What’s more, problems that arise when you work for yourself, such as paying into a pension, getting a loan or a mortgage, or losing income when you're sick, aren’t catered to.
The workforce is changing, but technology hasn’t moved on for years.
We believe that everyone should have the freedom to earn income on their own terms. Whilst finding work and doing work are well served, running your business is not. That’s where we come in.
We want to make it much easier to run your self-employed business and ensure you have better financial security than if you were an employee.
Whilst we have an ambitious vision which will take years to achieve, we have zeroed in on the first stage of our mission.
There are five pillars to this value proposition:
💰 Capturing every expense
We help people record and organise their expenses; capturing them, coding them for tax, applying VAT rates, adding notes or receipts and making sure they’re ready to provide useful business insights or be shared with HMRC. We automate much of this through payments data, making this instant and effortless for our customers and their accountants.
💸 Getting paid fast
Whether you get paid by cash or transfer, whether you send invoices or take card payments, we help people get paid and keep track of their income. Our invoicing tool allows people to issue an invoice in minutes, with an option to receive payment by card, and automatically matches off with payments as they come in.
📈 Understanding your business performance
Bringing all this together, we act as a financial companion for our users, giving them instant business insights that help them to grow their business and save money by paying the right amount of tax. This is at the very heart of Coconut, building on top of our expense and income tracking automation, we want to give our customers the information they need to make the big decisions about their business.
🧮 Sorting your taxes
There is a unique relationship that people have with HMRC. There is generally a feeling that the rules are complex, you don't know what you don't know and there’s a huge amount of burdensome admin. We help alleviate this stress and ambiguity related to managing tax and VAT. We provide a live, rolling tax estimate detailing income, expenses, profit and tax for the year. And at the end of the tax year, our Tax Report has all the numbers you need to complete your self-assessment tax return.
🤝 Working seamlessly with your accountant
We make it really easy for our customers to share information with their accountants, effortlessly and in real-time. Through the Coconut Accountant portal, we give accountants the tools they need to work with their clients more efficiently and more profitably. We want to free them from the manual bookkeeping work so they can focus on providing support and guidance to their clients. We also make it easy to connect with one of our partner accountants if you don’t already work with one.
By delivering on this tailored solution across these five elements for self-employed people, we can objectively achieve our mission of building the ultimate accounting and tax tool for self-employed people.
What’s more, we build the financial platform on which we can solve many of the other challenges our customers face, whether it’s access to loans for growth, saving for the future or buying a house.
In 2018 we beat our Crowdfunding target by 400%, raising just under £2m. We’re crowdfunding again and you can get early access to invest before everyone else.
The SEISS has been extended until September, and there has been one significant change for the better. The grant has been extended to ~600,000 people who were previously excluded by including those who filed a 2019/20 Self-Assessment tax return by midnight 2nd March.
Self-taught jeweler, Esh, speaks to us about the complexities of building her own jewelery business. But also, how rewarding the process has been.
For Paul, Covid-19 has brought many collaborations that will help his business to boom once the pandemic is over. Find out how he's adapted in this interview.