Thank you for your prompt and detailed reply.
Here is practical advice based on extensive experience as a qualified and practising accountant.
I do a lot of work using excel spreadsheets. I have a standard layout and refine it for clients based on business activities. I use these to prepare VAT returns and the same spreadsheets also act to analyse income/expenses into different nominal ledger headings for management and final accounts.
I can share the spreadsheets with my clients for inputting/updating.
I use spreadsheet as a cash book too.
Having said this, I have found accounting software quick books more user friendly and would certainly do the job for your start-up company. Its not that expensive either.
As far as payroll goes, I have found HMRC basic PAYE Tools software adequate for my client needs. It depends how many staff you employ and whether their status is that of self employed or employed.
This software is free and I have been using it for a few years and it's been fine.
I produce payslips on word document (again a template in use).
You could buy payroll software for around £100.
I hope this is helpful and answers your question.
If you have any other questions, please ask me before you rate my service – I’ll be happy to respond.