Table of contents
This is a brief overview of how to register a Clear Books account and some of the key bookkeeping processes to get you started. Even if you have registered your account already, it is still worth having a read through the registration process steps, just in case you need to change anything you did during that process.
Head to the Clear Books homepage and click on the 'Try for free' button.
Add your name, company name, telephone number, email address and password in the registration form and hit the 'Sign up & login' button. Clear Books will now take you through a registration wizard to enter some details of your account.
2.1 Company Type
Enter whether you are self employed or a business. If you select business enter your business type (i.e. limited, sole trader, partnership, etc.).
Once registered, you can update these details and more on the Settings > Organisation > Details & Tax menu.
2.2 Company Location
Enter the location your company is based and the home currency you would like your account to be set up in.
The home currency will determine what currency all your reporting is based in. Please be extra considerate about this step, as once the home currency is set, it cannot be changed after the account has been registered.
2.3 VAT schemes
Tick the boxes if you need to use the construction industry scheme or whether you trade in multiple currencies. After registration, both CIS and multicurrency can be toggled on/off on the Settings > Configure system > Toggle features menu.
If you are not VAT registered tick the VAT registered checkbox.
If you are VAT registered tick the VAT registered checkbox and hit 'Next'. You will then need to add in the date your business VAT registration became effective. If you have changed scheme since then, use the start date of your 1st financial reporting period which is set later on in the registration process. This will be the start date for using Clear Books, so set up the scheme as it was then.
If you make a mistake, you can update the scheme on the Settings > Organisation > Details & Tax menu, by clicking on the ‘manage VAT schemes’ link. Just remove the incorrect scheme and re-add.
Below are the menus you will see if you tick the VAT registered checkbox and hit 'Next'.
An invoice VAT accounting scheme means that a VAT return will include invoices based on the invoice date, and a cash VAT accounting scheme means that a VAT return will include invoices based on the payment date.
2.4 Reporting periods
Next, you will need to add your first financial reporting period. This will set the start date of your account and all transactions that predate this will need to be added as opening balances.
Once your account is registered you can change the details of your reporting periods on the Settings > Accounting > Periods menu.
There must always be a reporting period open that covers the current date and the date of the transaction you are trying to add (unless this is an opening balance).
2.5 Opening Cash Balances
You can now add in your main business bank account and enter an opening balance for this bank account.
If you skip this step or want to change anything after registration you can add other bank accounts on the Money > Bank accounts menu and adjust the opening balances of them all on the Money > Opening balances > Cash menu.
2.6 Registration Complete
Click on the 'Complete registration' button.
Now you have completed registration, we can go through some of the most important bookkeeping tasks in Clear Books Accounting. The basic premise is to record all your invoices and payments, making sure your Clear Books bank account balance matches your actual statement. This will give you accurate reporting for your VAT returns, balance sheet, P&L and more.
3. Create invoice
To create your first invoice head to the Sales > Invoices and click on the Create invoice button.
Add a new customer by clicking on the Add customer link under the customer drop down list - the only required fields for a new customer is the name itself.
Add the date of the invoice, this will determine the due date which by default is 30 days.
Select a theme, this determines how your invoice will look. You can preview the themes in full on the Settings > Configure system > Invoice themes menu and you can add a logo to any of the inbuilt themes on the Settings > Organisation > Details & tax menu, clicking on the Logo tab.
On the line item of the invoice you will need to add a description, an account code (which determines the report the invoice will update), a quantity, unit price and VAT rate. Or alternatively you can add a Gross amount and select a VAT rate to calculate the net.
You can now save your first invoice.
3.1 Invoice Options
Once the invoice is saved, you will see some of the options available at the top such as Edit, Copy, Email and Void.
4. Setup Automatic Bank Feed
Integrate your Clear Books account with your bank to quickly and easily import your bank transactions using bank feeds. The bank feed integration is a service provided through a third party called Plaid.
This section describes how to set up the integration, how to add a bank feed and finally, how to link the feed to a Clear Books bank account.
To set up your first bank feed, navigate to the Money > Bank accounts menu and once there click on the 'Manage bank feeds' button.
Read the initial introduction on how the bank feeds work, and then read and accept the Consent.
Now you can begin setting up your first bank feed; click on the 'Add feed' button.
A pop up will appear explaining that you are giving consent to Plaid, our third party provider, to access your bank data and share it with Clear Books. Click 'Continue'.
Your consent will last for 90 days, and Clear Books will prompt you when you need to provide consent again.
Select your bank. Select your bank’s logo if you have a business account with that bank. Specific instructions for that bank will be displayed - verify that the correct account type is shown, and if you have a different account type than is shown, you may need to search for it.
If your bank’s logo is not shown, search for it by name.
At this stage you will need to tell your bank that you would like to allow Plaid access to your appropriate accounts.
There are 2 authentication options, the QR code option will require that you have your bank's mobile app on your smart phone and the desktop option which will require you to allow access via a bank portal (within a pop up which will be shown).
QR Code authentication
Scan the QR code with your phone's camera and a notification will be displayed. Click on this notification and it will then trigger your bank's mobile app to be opened. You will then need to log in to the bank's app and you will be greeted with a menu asking you to confirm the accounts that you would like to allow Plaid to access.
Once this is done return to Clear Books.
By default the QR code authentication option will be shown. Click on the 'continue on desktop' option.
You will see instructions from your bank. Each bank’s instructions will be a bit different; this will usually open in a new browser tab or window, or may require you to also use your bank’s mobile banking app.
Follow the instructions provided by your bank to complete their authentication process.
Depending on your bank, they may require you to complete additional steps, such as selecting the accounts you'd like to share access for, enter an SMS they send you, enter your card PIN, or to use your card reader device. Some banks even let you add a short description for your own reference.
Once this is done return to Clear Books.
Your accounts will be displayed, similar to the image below, but in a colour similar to that of your bank’s brand. Confirm the accounts you would like to set up the feed for. Click 'Continue' to complete.
You will then be sent back to a linking page to link your feed to a Clear Books bank account.
Select your 'bank account' and a 'start date for transactions' for all feeds and then click 'Link'. If you don't have a Clear Books bank account set up to link to the feed, select the 'Add new account' option in the Bank account drop down field.
If you know you have a Clear Books account already set up but don't see it in the list to link, it may be linked to another feed. Please contact support if you need help.
You will be returned to the 'Manage bank feeds' page and your feeds are displayed. Once established the feed will automatically update four times a day.
When the feed has been successfully added, a statement will be imported into Clear Books and appear on the Money > Bank accounts menu.
5. Explain Imported Statement
Now that our statement is imported via the bank feed, we can explain the transactions within it. The imported statement will appear in the Imported statements that need explaining table on the Money > Bank accounts menu.
Click on the ‘Explain’ link beside the appropriate statement. This will take you to the bank explain screen.
5.1 Link receipt to invoice
On the bank explain screen, as an example, I will explain how to allocate a payment against the invoice that I created in step 3. Click on the receipt and select the appropriate customer, this should bring up a list of the invoices that are either unpaid or paid. Just click on the 'Allocate against invoice' button besides the appropriate invoice.
This will mark the invoice as paid and update your bank balance on the Money > Bank accounts menu.
5.2 Explain receipt with no invoice
If you have a receipt or payment on the imported statement that does not require you to create an invoice or purchase invoice, you can enter this on the bank explain screen by filling in the details of the transaction form and hitting the 'Add new transaction' button.
This will update your bank balance on the Money > Bank accounts menu and it will generate an invoice document (prefixed REC for receipts and PAY for payments) on the Sales > Invoices > Paid or Purchases > Bills > Paid menu.
6. Additional help
These are the basic steps to keep you on top of your bookkeeping, however, there are a whole host of features available to explain transactions and automate processes keeping the data entry down to a minimum. We also have multiple features to help organise and manage your transactions.
Remember, if you have any questions about creating an invoice or any other Clear Books features, we have a wealth of support documentation, an active help community and our friendly UK based support team are always happy to help.