Get set up and ready to work

You're probably feeling excited about the prospect of using a new product to help run your business mixed with a little anxiety about how new this all feels. Don't worry, starting out with a new piece of software may feel a little overwhelming, and will likely mean a few changes to your processes, but customers tell us that they soon get the hang of things and wonder how they managed without Accounting Start.

In this section we're going to help get you up and running with Accounting Start quickly, starting with the essentials. It's worth taking a bit of time to read through these pages carefully. While every business is different, with a clear grasp of the basics, it's easier to build on your knowledge to really get the most out of the system.

In this section we're going to cover:

  • signing in
  • finding your way around
  • setting up some basics

Signing in

To make sure you're in the right place, always log in from, rather than using bookmarks.

From the Sage Business Cloud page.

Select Log in

Not sure what your log in details are

Your email address will be the one you used when you signed up for Accounting Start.

Screenshot of log in page

If you can't remember your password, go to the log in page, then select Forgot your password?

What devices can I access Accounting Start on?

Because Sage works in your browser, you don't need to install anything to get started. However, devices with smaller screens may not offer all of the functions you can find when using Accounting Start on a device with a bigger screen like a desktop PC. 

Download the mobile Accounting app from your mobile's app store.

Apple app store logo Google Play button

While you're on the go, you can still add your expenses, income, and produce invoices using our mobile app (which is free to download and use). Find out more about the app.

First time in the software

The very first time you sign in, you'll be prompted to enter some basic details about your business. Follow the steps as you see them on screen, or check out the quick start guide to get an idea of what you'll be asked to provide.

Finding your way around

Once in the product, you'll be presented with a dashboard. It will look a bit empty the first time in but you'll come to use this a lot once you've entered data and are running your business using the software.

There's a few areas to point out on this main screen.

Screenshot of main navigation bar in product

a The main navigation is a row of tabs taking you to the major areas. Click on each one to have a look at what's available.

You can edit your profile, give us feedback, or sign out.

It's also where you can change the email address associated with your account.

c Your company name will appear here. Select it to manage your subscription and business account (change business name and address, payment details etc.).
d Most pages have a question mark next to the page title. Click one of these and you'll get a help article. These articles cover everything you need to know about the relevant part of the software. It's a good way to learn about something you don't know much about.
e Each tile on your dashboard shows you different information about your business. Click a tile to view more detailed information. Some tiles have a button you can click as a shortcut to add a transaction.

Setting up some of the basics

Now that you can find your way around, it's time to start shaping Accounting Start to suit your business. We'll go through a few steps and introduce few concepts along the way.


If your business is VAT registered, you'll need to submit regular VAT Returns to HMRC. These summarise your sales for a particular period and any VAT you need to pay or reclaim.

Have you set your VAT scheme?

When you signed in for the first time you'll have entered basic information about your business, including what VAT Scheme you were using. If you want to check what you have this set to, go to More, Settings, then Business Settings, then Accounting Dates & VAT.

Screenshot of the accounting dates and vat option

  • If this isn't right, you should change it before you start entering data. See Change your VAT scheme.
  • If you need to learn more about VAT in Accounting Start, see our VAT overview article.

Chart of accounts

When you record transactions like money coming into and out of your business, you'll want to assign categories to those transactions. This allows you to run reports that show you the health of your business by focussing on particular categories.

For example, you'll want to understand how much money your business is spending in wages every month. Recording the money going out of your bank account to your employees as a wage expense means when you run reports, you'll see these amounts totalled together.

In Accounting Start, all of these categories are known as ledger accounts, and the full list of them all is called the chart of accounts.

Read more about the chart of accounts or if you're comfortable with the terminology, you might want to review your chart of accounts to make sure you've got the accounts that your business needs set up.

Tip: You may see ledger accounts referred to as account codes, category codes, or ledger codes instead of ledger accounts. Don't worry, they all mean the same thing.

Already have a chart of accounts?

To save time, you can import a chart of accounts. You can only do this with a new business, before entering any transactions.


It's likely you're going to work with the same suppliers on a regular basis and depending on the nature of your business, you may have regular customers.

To create transactions quickly, you can keep records of customers and suppliers (or contacts).

It's simple to add them, just select Contacts then New Customer or New Supplier and fill in your contact's details.

If you'd like a bit more help, watch the video below or read our Create a new customer or supplier contact article.