Sort out your finances this January

Some useful news today for those of you thinking of starting your own business and those of you with a bit of spare profit you want to invest and grow. You can find your nearest Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) through the The Times's website, just by plugging in your postcode to their handy new tool.

Use an advisor to help you map out whether you can afford to start up now, or how much you can afford to put into your venture. Or, if you're at a later stage, an advisor can show you where to allocate your financial resource to really make the most of them.

IFAs differ from accountants. An accountant will help you with tax and bookkeeping, and can help you structure the financial systems for your business. They're an essential cog in any small business, and it's very advisable to get one on board as soon as you're setting up your business and throughout your time running one. That doesn't mean you have to consult and pay for them every day - you may just draft them in to help once a year with your tax return.

But having one on-call from day one really helps should you ever need to contact them unexpectedly. An accountant who knows your business will also be able to advise you on how to draw out most profit and grow in the years ahead. Read more in our guide on how to find an accountant.

An advisor, on the other hand, can help you invest your personal and business profit into stocks, bonds and other profit-rich hotspots. Pretty handy if you're happy to make a longer-term investment that you plan to reinvest back into the business in years to come. IFAs can also help you figure out the best ways to make your business grow, and advise on financial trends that you can exploit.

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