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Down-to-earth Cloud Accounting


We'll help you get in touch with your numbers

And you can watch your business grow

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Online Accounting for Owner Managed Businesses experiencing Growth. We use the power of Xero and other online tools to get to your numbers efficiently. Then we work together to understand and improve those numbers.

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Marion Thomson Founder of Embarc Ltd

Marion is an award winning, qualified accountant with over 20 years experience working with small businesses in the North East of Scotland. Her varied experience has been gained in a number of different industries and in accounting practice.

Marion is passionate about getting to know her clients, understanding their needs and ambitions and providing ongoing support to allow these ambitions to be met.

“There is nothing I like better than getting to know my clients and supporting them on an ongoing basis; meeting up reluctantly at the end of the year is not my style. If you want somebody to be involved with your business, take time to de-mystify the world of accounts and help you to achieve your ambitions then look no further. We are only a phone-call or email away and will do our best to respond within 24 hours.”


  • “I would highly recommend Embarc to anyone setting up a new business or looking for an accountancy firm they can actually talk to.”

    Julie McNeil Owner, Merchant Bistro

  • “Moving over to Embarc has made everything so much easier and your calm nature and good teaching has made Xero enjoyable to work with.”

    Shona Cooper Owner, Barmekin Ground Care

  • “Marion has been a fantastic help to my wife and myself. Her expert advice and helpful guidance sorted out my personal tax confusions and put my wife on the right path in setting up her business venture. We’ll definitely be calling on her expert advice again in the future”

    Derek Littlejohn

  • “Embarc Accounts have been a corporate sponsor of Befriend a Child and processed our payroll since April 2013. Marion and her team are friendly, efficient, approachable, professional and always work to agreed deadlines. The team have a quick response time (less than 24 hours) to any queries and are always on hand”

    Karen Farquhar-Marr Befriend a Child

Timely Timely


If you spend too much time booking and rescheduling appointments, then you need Timely in your business.

What you will love about Timely

Flexibility: You can run Timely on your PC, laptop, tablet or smart-phone.
Cloud Based: Because Timely is cloud based, there’s no software to install and upgrades are automatic.
Online Booking: Save time by letting your clients make bookings from your website or your facebook page.
Bespoke Setup: We can setup Timely to suit your business needs
Reminders: You can cut down on no-shows by sending automated SMS reminders to your clients
Links to Xero: You can link your appointments to your accounting software. How cool is that?
No Paper Diary Required: If you have paperless ambitions like we do, Timely can help you get there


  • Cloud vs Desktop Accounting Software - which one is right for my business?

    Despite a huge shift from desktop to cloud accounting software in recent years, we still get asked by business owners if cloud is the correct solution for their business. To try and answer this question we are going to look at 7 aspects of your accounting software and do a comparison between Cloud and Desktop.

    1) Pricing
    Cloud software is normally paid by monthly subscription, whereas for your desktop software you will pay a one-off initial fee.

    2) Upgrades
    Cloud software is upgraded automatically on a regular basis without the user ever knowing. Desktop software is upgraded on an occasional basis and usually incurs an additional cost. Upgrades to your desktop software may be optional, but for legislative changes they are likely to be compulsory.

    3) Support
    When you purchase desktop software it is likely that an annual payment for support is an optional extra charge. For cloud software, email support is normally included in your monthly subscription.

    4) Backup
    When you have cloud software, backups are taken care of for you – 100%. If your software and data are stored on your desktop, backing up that data is your responsibility – 100%.

    5) Access
    If you are sitting at your PC you will have access to your desktop software – guaranteed. However if you are not at your PC you will not have access to your desktop software – also guaranteed! Your cloud software, unlike your desktop software can be accessed from wherever you are and often from a variety of devices as well, including your smartphone or tablet.

    6) Availability
    You are guaranteed access to your desktop software if you are at your PC. For cloud software, you are dependent on a reliable Internet connection.

    7) On Termination
    If you have no further requirement for your accounting software and it is on you desktop all you do is stop accessing it, but you know that it will be there whenever you need to refer back to it. Using cloud software, things are a little bit more complicated. It’s unlikely that you will want to continue to pay your monthly subscription so you are relying on the ability to download your information.

    And here in our opinion are the winners in each of the 7 aspects we have considered.

    Pricing – Depends
    Upgrades – Cloud
    Support – Cloud
    Backup – Cloud
    Access – Cloud
    Availability – Desktop
    On Termination – Desktop

    As cloud supporters and Xero Advisors, it will be no real surprise that we are happy to declare Cloud as the overall winner.

    If you are considering moving your accounting to the cloud, hopefully you have found this comparison useful. We regularly help clients make the move to Xero. If you are ready to make that move and need some help, then you can contact us here.

    We also run ‘Xero Basics’ workshops in Aberdeen, which will get you up and running on Xero in less than one day. The details of our next workshop in June can be found here.

  • How to Convert to Xero

    Xero Meeting

    How to Convert to Xero – follow our 10-step plan to get it right

    Converting your accounts to Xero from another system is an exciting time for your business and you want to get it right. After converting numerous clients to Xero I have found a logical order that works well and want to share this 10-step plan with you.

    If you follow these steps, then before you know it you will be enjoying the benefits of Xero.


    “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”
    Lao Tzu

    When you embark on your journey with Xero the very first step is to decide when you are going to convert and commit to it. The ideal time to switch to Xero is at your business year-end, but it doesn’t have to be done then. If you are half way through your financial year and totally fed up with your current system, then I would recommend that you take the leap of faith and switch now. Otherwise you will spend a further 6 months pulling your hair out, wishing that things were better.

    STEP 2 – PLAN

    Get your team together, sit down and chat through what your plans are. Make sure that everybody is committed to the move to Xero and understands the reasons why. Decide who is going to be your Xero Champion – this person will be the driving force for your project.

    You can download our planning document template here.
    Grab a coffee and take a couple of hours out of your day to agree your timescales and who will do what.


    You want to make sure that you have all the required information available for setting up your Xero account. You can download a form to complete with what is required here.

    For your Xero subscription you will need to decide if you will be using Xero for Payroll as well as Accounts and if you will need the Foreign Currency upgrade.


    At this stage, things start to get exciting. You can go ahead and sign up to Xero. If you are not planning to use Xero for Payroll you can take advantage of the 30-day free trial, which you will find here.

    Once you have your Xero account you will be guided through the setup process where you can complete the following:

    • Basic Information
    • Upload your company logo
    • Contact Details
    • Financial Details
    • Xero Users
    • Xero Start Date

    I recommend that you skip the option to amend your sales invoice layouts (see step 6) and accept the default Chart of Accounts which you can then review in Step 5.
    You can also accept the message reminding you that you have no bank accounts set up (see Step 7).


    When you set up Xero there is a default Chart of Accounts available. I recommend that you use the Xero Chart of Accounts unless you have a Chart of Accounts that you are ready familiar with and you want to keep.

    The chart of accounts can be reviewed in Xero here:

    Chart of Accounts

    You can Add new accounts or Edit existing accounts as required.

    *What is a Chart of Accounts?
    Your Chart of Accounts is simply a list of the names of the accounts that the business will use for recording its financial transactions. Each account has a unique numeric Code and a Name.


    If you issue sales invoices in your business you will want to spend some time experimenting with the layout until you find something you are happy with.

    Where to find the Xero invoice settings in Xero:

    General Settings
    Invoice Settings

    To help you create your sales invoice layouts you can also check out the Xero tutorial video here.

    The first 6 steps can be done in advance of your start date. Once you arrive at your start date you can then move on to the remaining 4 steps.


    Xero bank feeds are amazing as they let you automatically import account transactions into Xero from your bank.
    You want to do this fairly soon after your start date in Xero.

    This is done in Xero by going to:

    Bank Accounts
    Add Bank Account
    You then search for your bank and follow the instructions.

    You can view a Xero tutorial video here.


    You will need to prepare a list of all your unpaid sales invoices as at your conversion date. If your Xero start date is 1st April, then your conversion date will be 31st March.

    These invoices can either be entered in Xero or I recommend using the option to Import them to save time.

    Importing your sales invoices is done in Xero here:

    You can then download a template, complete, save, select using ‘Browse’ and then Import.

    *Why do we enter outstanding sales invoices?
    When your outstanding sales invoices are paid, the receipts will appear in Xero and we will then be able to match the receipts against the unpaid invoices.


    You will need to prepare a list of all your outstanding purchase invoices as at your conversion date.

    These invoices can either be entered in Xero or I recommend using the option to Import them to save time.

    Importing your purchase invoices is done in Xero here:

    You can then download a template, complete, save, select using ‘Browse’ and then Import.

    *Why do we enter outstanding purchase invoices?
    When you pay your outstanding purchases invoices, the payments will appear in Xero and we will then be able to match the payments against the unpaid invoices.


    At your conversion date you need to enter your opening balances from your previous accounting system. If you start using Xero on the 1st of April, you will enter the balances as at the 31st of March. You may need to get your conversion balances from your accountant, and this could be after your year-end accounts have been completed. However you will already have opening balances for the following accounts:

    Bank Accounts – as per your bank statements
    Accounts Receivable – as per the list prepared in Step 8
    Accounts Payable – as per the list prepared in Step 9

    You can go ahead and enter these balances, and the remaining balances can then be completed at a later date once they are available.

    Bank Accounts – enter the bank statement balances for each bank as at your conversion date. If you have funds in your account, the amount will go in the Debit column; if your account is overdrawn the amount will go in the Credit column.

    Accounts Receivable – enter the total of your outstanding sales invoices as an amount in the Debit Column

    Accounts Payable – enter the total of your outstanding purchase invoices as an amount in the Credit Column

    You input your conversion balances in Xero here:

    General Settings
    Conversion Balances

    Once you have completed your conversion, it’s time to dive in, and really start enjoying using the software.

    Happy Xero-ing!!

  • Using Tracking in Xero - A Step by Step Guide


    As a business owner, it is very important to know how much profit you are making on an on-going basis and also to be aware of where in your business your profit is being generated. Setting up tracking categories in Xero allows you to see how different areas of your business are performing.

    Here are some examples where our clients are using tracking:

    • A property investor uses tracking to track by property.
    • A retailer uses tracking to track by shop location.
    • An architect uses tracking to track by project.

    When you set up tracking categories in Xero you can then assign a tracking category to any of your transactions in Xero. Assigning a tracking category is optional, so you can ignore it when it is not relevant.

    Let’s look in greater detail at how this works for our property investor. Firstly the tracking categories are set up as follows:

    General Settings
    Add Tracking Category
    Tracking Category Name – Property

    Category options
    This is where we list the individual properties, which might be
    12 High Street
    23 Grove Crescent
    55 Ashgrove Lane

    We would enter these in shortened form as follows:

    Xero allows you to enter up to 100 items in your category list. Once all properties have been listed, click on Save.

    Now let’s look at how we actually do the tracking. The property investor invoices monthly for each property. When the sales invoice is prepared in Xero there is now a new tracking field available called Property. From the drop-down menu we can select the property or add a new property if required.

    When the property investor records a purchase invoice in Xero it can also be tracked by property.

    When it is not relevant to track a transaction by a property, the property field can just be left blank.

    Now to the exciting part! Let’s look at how our client benefits from Tracking when viewing the Profit and Loss Report in Xero.

    To view the profit and loss account:

    Profit and Loss
    Show Date Range
    Enter from and to dates
    More options
    Filter by Property – All Properties

    We now have a profit and loss showing the performance of the business property by property.

    From this simple step-by-step guide we hope that you agree that using Tracking in Xero is a great way to see how different areas of your business are performing.

  • Why is my Xero Profit and Loss Report not accurate?

    To produce a profit and loss report in Xero, all you do is go to Reports, All Reports, Profit and Loss Account and hey presto you will see your profit and loss for the last 4 months and year to date.

    But wait, these figures don’t look right! And guess what, they probably aren’t right. Many users we come across think that if they input all their sales invoices, their purchase invoices, employee expenses and bank transactions then Xero will produce an accurate profit and loss report. Well unfortunately, that is not the case. But… armed with a little bit of accounting knowledge, some Xero training and a desire to see accurate figures each month the situation can be rectified. How can you plan for the future if you are not aware of how much your business is making (or losing) on a monthly basis?

    So what do you need to do to make the figures represent the actual business performance? Here are the top 6 reasons that your monthly profit and loss account is not accurate …

    When you purchase high cost items such as computers that will last more than a year they are treated as fixed assets in your business. You then want to write off the cost of these assets over their useful life and this cost is called depreciation. Although depreciation is not a cash cost, it still is a legitimate cost which should be recorded in your business each month. In Xero, depreciation can be calculated from the Fixed Asset Register. Here’s where you can find help on how to set up your Fixed Asset Register in Xero.

    If you have employees your payroll costs need to be included each month. This will happen automatically if you use Xero Payroll but if you outsource your payroll or use different payroll software the figures will need to be entered manually. Your payroll costs are not the same as the amounts you pay to your employees each month. The payments made are for net wages, but the cost to the business is the gross salary amounts plus any employer’s national insurance.

    If your business holds stock, and the levels fluctuate then you will not have an accurate profit and loss each month without adjusting for the value of your stock at each month end. If you do not hold stock, or the levels remain fairly consistent this will not be an issue.

    The sales figure in your profit and loss report will be based on the sales invoices issued during the month. This is fine if you invoice for all the work done each month, but if you undertake projects which last several months and only invoice at the end of the project then each month you need to adjust for any work in progress (i.e. not yet invoiced).

    The accountant geeks call these prepayments; think about the insurance bill that covers the whole year. The cost for a year will appear in your profit and loss report in the month you have been invoiced, but this needs to be spread over the period it relates to.

    The accountant geeks call these accruals; think about the subcontractor who works for you each month but takes 3 months to send you his invoice. If you have costs which have still to be billed, you need to include these costs if they are significant.

    So how do you make your profit and loss more accurate? Apart from depreciation, all other adjustments referred to above can be dealt with in Xero by entering Manual Journals. As Xero certified advisers we can teach you how to make the required adjustments, allowing you to plan for the future based on your current (accurate) business performance. If you would like to arrange a Xero audit or a personal Xero training session, please get in touch.


    Xero on Mac

    You are enjoying the Xero experience, right? You’ve been using it for some time now and you’re pretty comfortable using it on a day-to-day basis. But deep down you know that you are not using Xero to it’s full potential. You would love to learn more about it’s capabilities, but you just don’t have the time.

    We understand this and that’s why we have created these 5 easy steps which are guaranteed to improve your Xero skills – both easily and quickly!

    The first step is to read this article, so sit down, grab a coffee and here goes …

    See that envelope icon at the top right of your screen? The one that sometimes has a number beside it that you find easy to ignore! Well, next time a number appears there check it out as any new features added to Xero will be shown here. Maybe you are struggling with recharging costs to your customers and are unaware that this is a feature in Xero? Maybe you didn’t realise that Xero now lets you send reminders to your customers when their payments are overdue?
    If you check your notifications, you will see new features as they are made available and will find links to explanatory videos and notes.

    If you are struggling with something in Xero, the chances are you are not the only one. Xero help pages are amazing, and it’s very easy to access them. Here’s how:
    ~ Click on the ‘Question Mark’ at the top right of your screen to access the Help menu.
    ~ Type in what you are needing help with e.g. Repeating Invoices.
    ~ Clicking on the spyglass will then bring up a list of Videos, User Guides and FAQ’s.

    For Repeating Invoices there is a video that will take up less than 2 minutes of your time.

    We also explained how to prepare Repeating Invoices in an earlier blog post.

    If you are doing something for the first time in Xero and unsure about how it will work, you can always try it out in the Xero Demo Company first. Every Xero user has access to the Demo Company. Here’s how to access it …

    At the top of your Xero screen you will see an icon with 3 rows of dots and lines to the left of your organisation name. Clicking on this icon will then let you select ‘My Xero’. From ‘My Xero’ you will then see the clickable ‘Try the Demo Company’ link. Once in the Demo Company you are free to experiment, and even make mistakes, without messing up your own live data!

    If there are other Xero users in your organisation, talk to them and share your experiences. If you are a solo Xero user in your organisation, there is still a huge Xero community to reach out to – 100,000 UK users and over 600,000 users worldwide. On social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter you will find active Xero groups sharing Xero updates, tips and expertise.

    Have you heard of Xero U? Xero U is the online hub for Xero’s educational content, where you will find education, training and events tailored for small businesses.

    If face-to-face training is more your thing, we will be running Xero workshops during 2016. Feel free to drop us an email to and we will make sure you are the first to know about our plans.

    So there you have it, 5 easy steps to improve your Xero skills. Happy Xeroing!!

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