Are you Winning? Using the Figures to Boost Your Home Business

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Win Target Shows Successes And VictoryThe main indicators of success for your business are ‘work’ and ‘finance’.

Work is a straightforward measure of how much work you have on at any time. How many orders have you completed? How many are there in the book that haven’t been started yet and how many are in progress? A regular view of the value of orders in the book and the value of work finished each month will provide a trend.

Finance is measured in many ways. For the small business, it can be simply ‘what’s in the bank?’ and ‘how high is the overdraft?’   As with the work, however, a regular review for trends is extremely valuable. For both, a trend upwards is a good sign that business is good and getting better. Downwards is almost always not good.

Finance

The most obvious measure that everyone watches is simply ‘how much money is in the bank?’ A credit balance is good; an overdraft can be a challenge.   The balance will be the difference between money paid out and money taken in.   If you have more money going out than is coming in, you will not be in business for long. The trick is to identify it early and find out what’s going wrong.

If you have a lot of orders coming through and being completed but are still not making money, first confirm that the invoicing and receipt processes are running smoothly. No one will pay if you don’t ask them for it!

Next, review what you are charging for your product against what you have to spend to make it.   Be sure to include your overheads in the cost calculations. If it costs you £20 per month for the telephone services and during that month you can produce 100 of your product, then the cost calculation for each item must include 20 pence to cover the telephone overhead. Similarly electricity, premises rent and rates, insurances, any employees (and your time), and any other charge that you pay, will all have to be covered by what you charge people for your product. The basic calculation is simply to divide the annual cost by the number of items you can produce in a year. The price at which the item is sold must include the complete cost for producing it. A small extra amount added into the price on top of the cost is your ‘profit’. Too much and people won’t buy. Not enough and you won’t be making enough to stay in business.

If it is costing you more to make than you are charging for it, then you have two avenues: put up the price you charge and/or cut down the costs for making the product.

I’m Charging Right but Still Not Making Money

If the charge for your product already covers the item production and you are selling and invoicing successfully but still not making money, then you may be building up a stock of materials or parts. This is easily done if your practice is to order slightly more than you think you will need, but never go back and use the extra that is sitting in the stock cupboard. If you have built up a high stock, you need to consider how to reduce it and maintain it at a more appropriate level.   There may be quite a lot of money sitting in that cupboard that could be working better for you. You also require a system for using up what’s in the stock cupboard. Perhaps you order less. Better still, you may include a current stock check into your routine when pricing a job and ordering materials.

Making the Most of Trends – a Case Study

The other process for useful information is comparison. Comparison of this month with the same month last year will show whether things are getting better or worse but will also provide clues to what might be causing the trend.

In the following case study, Martin started his hairdressing business in January 2010 and in mid-2011 is analysing his receipts for the first 14 months he has been in business. He can see some important trends:

Month    Receipts
Jan 2010 £400
Feb £900
Mar £950
Apr £1200
May £880
Jun £650
Jul £590
Aug £675
Sep £1700
Oct £2030
Nov £2300
Dec £2950
Jan 2011 £900
Feb £1200

 

At the beginning of 2010, receipts were very low. This was the beginning of business and people did not know him or his work. He didn’t have much advertising working for him and his main custom came from family and friends and a few people who transferred with him from his previous salon. It is common for new businesses to struggle for a couple of years while they get known and build up a clientele.

There is a steady growth from the beginning as the figures show an upward trend, although June, July and August seemed low and January 2011 showed a big drop from the months on each side. In comparison, November and December 2010 jumped upwards very satisfactorily.

When Martin compares the two Januaries they both show low takings so it may be that the starting low figure was affected by more than just being a new business. It may be that January will generally always be slow. He will need to take that into account when planning for future years.   It’s not a good idea to just charge a little more to cover the drop in work as it will alienate customers who have become used to the charges and expect them to stay the same. Changing charges requires advance notice and extra publicity.  It is better to identify why the sales are down and encourage more people to come in. If he offers a ‘post-Christmas discount’ he may be able to attract more customers in during that month.

In contrast, his sales immediately pre-Christmas have jumped upwards. He reviews who came in during those months by checking his appointments book, remembering he was run off his feet, and finds that his older female customers flocked in to ‘have their hair done for Christmas’, while the young children and teens were less in evidence. The customer mix, and the type of hairdressing that was required by them, would account for the increase in sales. He can continue to expect a pre- Christmas boom if he maintains satisfaction for these customers and can keep them coming back.

During summer his sales fell slightly. His appointment book reveals more white space than usual, showing that he had times when no one was in the salon. He remembered hearing a lot of holiday stories in the following months and realised that many of his regulars had been away and missed having their hair done with him.

In reviewing his expenses, Martin found high expenditure in December compared with the other months. His invoice file showed that he had ordered in extra quantities of shampoos, conditioners, waxes and hairsprays. He remembered that with all the extra business, he had run out of some products and had been forced to shop around for emergency supplies. This had been more expensive than his usual suppliers, on top of being extra orders. He made a note to stock up more in October so to be ready for the rush this year.

Overall, Martin was able to conclude that the business was generally good, although there was still plenty of room for more growth. He would introduce a post-Christmas discount to see if he could entice more people through the door in January.   During the summer period he probably would still have a drop in business, but he might be able to run a promotion for new customers. He could also try attracting his regulars – and perhaps others – with a ‘look good for the holidays’ promotion just before they go away. He would order in extra stocks of his consumable items ready for the pre-Christmas rush. If he doesn’t sell as much as he expects, he could use the leftover extras for his post-Christmas promotion and sell them at a discount.

In this case study, Martin is identifying, and dealing with, seasonal trends that will affect his profitability. By looking at the year as a whole, and comparing the months between years, he can see where his ups-and-downs relate to the time of year and plan accordingly. Seasonal trend is only one factor among many that make a difference to your sales. Depending on what you are selling, you may need to deal with fashions, new technologies, an event in the celebrity world, the impact of a new television program or film, a new law or regulation, an unusual weather pattern, a faulty product that lets you down, major job losses in your area limiting people’s spending, or something new that has never happened before.

The most successful businesses keep an eye on what’s happening, analyze why sales are dropping or increasing, drill down into the documents that are part of the daily process (such as appointment books and invoices), and find answers that they can then use to continue reducing expenses and increasing sales. It’s not difficult to do, but if you need help – or just another point of view – your accountant is a useful resource in analysing the figures. It will need your valuable knowledge of the daily business, however, to understand the underlying reasons and what might be done to address a potential problem.

It is up to you, as the business owner and manager, to keep an eye on the numbers, to measure progress regularly, and to address trends that are affecting your sales.

What Is The Search & Rescue Volunteer Tax Credit (SRVTC)?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Doctor with globe and megaphone. European and African side. TNThe government in its last budget proposed a Search & Rescue Volunteer Tax Credit. This is to reward those who volunteer for these duties and risk their lives to save us from our own stupidity. This is a non-refundable tax credit for qualifying search and rescue volunteers.

This new non-refundable tax credit is based on an amount of $3,000, for certain search and rescue volunteers. The SRVTC will be calculated by multiplying the lowest personal income tax rate for the year by $3,000. For 2014, the credit will be $450 (15% x $3,000). As a non-refundable tax credit this comes off the amount of taxes owing, and not as a deduction from income.

A search and rescue volunteer must perform at least 200 hours of eligible services in the year, each of which is an hour of:

  • Eligible search and rescue volunteer services for an eligible search and rescue organization; or
  • Eligible volunteer firefighting services for a fire department.

The hours volunteered for both search and rescue and firefighter activities can be combined. However, you can only claim one credit for the year, either the Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit (VFTC) or the SRVTC.

However, if you were also engaged by the same organization (other than as a volunteer) for the same or similar duties, you cannot include any hours related to that organization in determining if you have met the 200-hour threshold.

Eligible search and rescue volunteer services include the services you provided as a search and rescue volunteer to an eligible search and rescue organization (other than eligible volunteer firefighting services), which must consist primarily of the following (primary services):

  • Responding to and being on call for search and rescue and related emergency calls as a search and rescue volunteer;
  • Attending meetings held by the fire department; and
  • Participating in required training related to search and rescue services.

Other services you provided as a search and rescue volunteer to an eligible search and rescue organization are also eligible, such as, the delivery of educational sessions undertaken by the organization. For the purpose of counting the number of hours of eligible search and rescue volunteer services, the number of hours devoted to the primary services described above must exceed the number of hours devoted to other services for a particular organization.

If you have claimed the SRVTC or the VFTC, you may be requested by the CRA to provide a written certificate from:

  • The team president or other individual who fills a similar role of each eligible search and rescue organization, attesting to the number of hours of eligible search and rescue volunteer services performed by the individual for the particular organization in the year; and
  • The fire chief or a delegated official of each fire department, attesting to the number of hours of eligible volunteer firefighting services performed by the individual for the particular fire department in the year.

As a search and rescue volunteer, you may be eligible for an income exemption of up to $1,000 if you received a payment from a government, municipality, or other public authority for carrying out emergency services. If you choose to claim this exemption, you will not be eligible for the new SRVTC or the VFTC.

How do you claim the SRVTC? Beginning with the 2014 personal income tax and benefit return, a new line will be incorporated into the Schedule 1, Federal Tax to allow you to claim the credit.

New Year’s Eve

By Randall Orser | Small Business

fireworks-display-series_04 TNIn the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Eve (also Old Year’s Day or Saint Sylvester’s Day in many countries), the last day of the year, is on December 31. In many countries, New Year’s Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink alcoholic beverages, and watch or light fireworks to mark the new year. Some people attend a watchnight service. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into January 1 (New Year’s Day).

The island nations of Kiribati and Samoa are the first to welcome the New Year while Honolulu, Hawaii is among the last.

New Year traditions and celebrations in Canada vary regionally. New Year’s Eve [2](also called New Year’s Eve Day or Veille du Jour de l’An in French) is generally a social holiday. In many cities, such as Toronto and Niagara Falls in Ontario, there are large celebrations which may feature concerts, late-night partying, sporting events, and fireworks, with free public transit service during peak party times in most major cities. In some areas, such as in rural Quebec, people ice fish and drink alcoholic beverages with their friends until the early hours of January 1.

From 1956 to 1976, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians serenaded Canada on the CBC, via a feed from CBS, from the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City. After Lombardo’s death in 1977, the Royal Canadians continued on CBC and CBS until 1978.

In 1992, the sketch comedy troupe Royal Canadian Air Farce began airing its annual Year of the Farce special on CBC Television, which features sketches lampooning the major events and news stories of the year. While the original 1992 edition was a one-off special, Year of the Farce episodes continued as a regular feature of the Air Farce television series which ran from 1993 to 2008—airing its series finale on December 31, 2008. Following the finale of the television series, the original cast continued to participate in New Year’s Eve specials in the years following.

Similarly, the CBC’s French language network Ici Radio-Canada Télé airs its own yearly New Year’s Eve comedy special, Bye Bye. Unlike Year of the Farce, Bye Bye has been presented by various comedians; originally running from 1968 to 1998, it was revived in 2006 by the Québécois troupe Rock et Belles Oreilles. Its 2008 edition, hosted and co-produced by Québécois television personality Véronique Cloutier, became infamous for several sketches that many viewers perceived as offensive, including sketches making fun of English Canadians and then American president-elect Barack Obama.

On New Year’s Eve, social gatherings of all sizes are organized to mark the end of one year and the start of the next. These range from small parties with family members and a few good friends in private homes to huge street parties with live entertainment, music, dancing and even public fireworks. Many events start in the middle of the evening on December 31 and continue into the early hours of January 1.

Some people mark the stroke of midnight by opening bottles of champagne or sparkling wine and drinking a toast to the New Year and the health of everyone present. Others take a short vacation to enjoy Canada’s natural beauty at its wintry best or to take part in winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding. In rural areas in northern Canada, particularly in Quebec, some people spend all night on a frozen lake with a group of good friends and fish through holes in the ice.

Who Is Santa Claus?

By Randall Orser | Small Business

santa claus--Tidbits 2014-12-24 TNSanta Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle and simply “Santa“, is a figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins who, in many Western cultures, is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children on 24 December, the night before Christmas Day. However, in some European countries children receive their presents on St. Nicholas’ Day, 6 December.

The modern figure of Santa Claus is derived from the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas, whose name is a dialectal pronunciation of Saint Nicholas, the historical Greek bishop and gift-giver of Myra. During the Christianization of Germanic Europe, this figure may have absorbed elements of the god Odin, who was associated with the Germanic pagan midwinter event of Yule and led the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky. Over time, traits of this character and the British folklore character Father Christmas merged to form the modern Santa Claus known today.

Santa Claus is generally depicted as a portly, joyous, white-bearded man—sometimes with spectacles—wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots and who carries a bag full of gifts for children. Images of him rarely have a beard with no moustache. This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of the 1823 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast. This image has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, children’s books and films.

Since the 20th century, in an idea popularized by the 1934 song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”, Santa Claus has been believed to make a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior (“naughty” or “nice”) and to deliver presents, including toys, and candy to all of the well-behaved children in the world, and sometimes coal to the naughty children, on the single night of Christmas Eve. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of the elves that make the toys in the workshop and the flying reindeer that pull his sleigh. He is commonly portrayed as living at the North Pole and saying “ho ho ho” often.

Do You Have A Document System?

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Automated data processing TNAn efficient process to establish a document system would be as a documented process or flow chart demonstrating how documented records are to be started, reviewed, and retained.

Security precautions and continuing observance of standard procedures relative to document control is essential. Document management must develop a contingency plan for safety and preservation of retained documents, electronic files and software. The contingency plan would include the prevention of unauthorized cyber attacks, limiting access to update servers, and a failsafe systematic method of backing up of essential business related information at scheduled intervals.

Document management is controlling changes to documents in a systematic fashion and ensuring that only valid versions of documents are available at points of use.

The document management system must have:

  • a current, readily available master list
  • a process for controlling changes
  • a process for distributing new revisions and retrieving obsolete revisions
  • a process for controlling cross references and external documents

Document management is a quality system function. That quality requirement is defined by international standards, such as ISO, and is also inherent in traditional non-ISO systems. The document management system is in place as empirical evidence of the maintenance of both internal and external company or customer documents.

The document management system is to ensure that all documents are current, readily identifiable, and accessible to those on a need to know basis. Controlled documents are usually accessible through a company intranet and in a .pdf format to prevent unauthorized changes.

Document management administration is responsible for the distribution, maintenance and the security of documents from unauthorized changes. The document administrator is also responsible for replacing any obsolete documents when a new revision has been received or a change has been issued. The definition of a “document” can also include customer-supplied specifications, electronic files and software.

Since documents, such as designs, work instructions, and contracts can be in characterized as “living” documents, a significant part of the management of the system is in its ability to react quickly to document revisions or obsolescence. This is usually done either through a revision to an existing document, after approval of those who would be affected by this change, or through the complete removal of the document as from “active” into an “obsolete” file. And if the document must be retained in some manner, is there an internal, customer, or regulatory requirement for document retention for a defined period of time?

Can I deduct legal fees?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Seller contract TNThere are times in our lives when we need to engage the services of a lawyer. Of course, lawyers cost money, sometimes quite a bit of money. Lawyer’s fees can become a tax deduction, however, you usually have to be going after monies in relation to earning income.

For personal taxes, you can deduct legal expenses in the following situations.

You paid fees (including any related accounting fees) for advice or assistance to respond to Canada Revenue Agency when they reviewed your income, deductions, or credits for a year or to object to or appeal an assessment or decision under the Income Tax Act, the Unemployment Insurance Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan, or the Quebec Pension Plan.

You paid fees to collect (or establish a right to) a retiring allowance or pension benefit. However, you can only claim up to the amount of retiring allowance or pension income you received in the year, minus any part of these amounts transferred to a registered retirement savings plan or registered pension plan. You can carry forward, for up to seven years, legal fees you cannot claim in the year.

You incurred certain fees to try to make child support payments non-taxable. Fees relating to support payments that your current or former spouse or common-law partner, or the natural parent of your child paid to you must be deducted on line 221. You cannot claim legal fees you paid to get a separation or divorce or to establish custody of or visitation arrangements for a child.

You can also deduct on line 229 legal fees you paid to collect (or establish a right to) salary or wages. It is not necessary for you to be successful; however, the amount sought must be for salary or wages owed. You must reduce your claim by any amount awarded to you for those fees or any reimbursement you received for your legal expenses. You can deduct on line 229 legal fees you paid to collect or establish a right to collect other amounts that must be included in employment income even if your employer does not directly pay them

You must reduce your claim by any award or reimbursements you received for these expenses. If you are awarded the cost of your deductible legal fees in a future year, include that amount in your income for that year.

For business, legal fees are allowable deductions where they are incurred in connection with normal activities, transactions or contracts incidental or necessary to the earning of income from a business or property. A deduction may therefore be taken for legal expenses in connection with a broad range of routine business functions, such as:

  1. Preparing contracts in relation to the sale of inventory,
  2. Obtaining security for and collecting trade debts owing,
  3. Preparing financial records and minutes of shareholders’ and directors’ meetings,
  4. Making annual corporate filings,
  5. Routine or regular audits of financial statements,
  6. Conducting appeals in respect of, for example, sales tax including Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax, excise, municipal, or property taxes, and
  7. Watching legislation (including customs and other regulations) affecting the business operations of the taxpayer.

Legal fees can be a deduction for tax purposes as long as it’s for monies you may or may not eventually claim as income. For the business, legal fees incurred in the normal course of business are also a deduction.

4 Good Reasons to Build a Home Office for Your Home-Based Business

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Modern Luxury Loft / Apartment Architecture Interior TNFollowing the current economic crisis, many people who lost their jobs have decided to become entrepreneurs. Their encouragement to do so comes from stories and news about individuals who succeeded in their home-based businesses. Indeed, running a business from home offers a lot of benefits and can be profitable too. If you have begun doing business at home, you may want to formalize a little. Specifically, you may want to build a home office from where you can manage and operate your home business. This is one aspect that is often neglected by many small home business owners especially those who put value on how much they save by working from home. Building a home office, however, will open greater opportunities for your business.

  1. A Home Office Boosts Your Professional Image

If your business goals include growth and expansion, then you will need a home office. It will validate the professional image you want to impress on your clients. By having a home office, you have your own place to meet and entertain your clients and prospects in a businesslike manner. Do remember that image is very important when doing business and you need to hold up that image.

  1. A Home Office Offers Convenience

Another reason why you ought to create a home office for your home business is the convenience it will give you. You get to save on time and energy while exerting lesser efforts in operating your home business. You have a designated space in your home that is dedicated to your business affairs. You can have everything you need in there, from furniture and equipment to materials and supplies, to make your work easier. And when you feel that pressure is building up at work, you can always cross over to your home and enjoy its comforts even for a short while.

  1. A Home Office Keeps Your Business Life Separate from Your Personal Life

Those working from home may find themselves constantly interrupted by demands from other family members and other household responsibilities. As a result, you may not be able to complete your tasks and could miss out on deadlines. Having a home office can isolate you from domestic concerns at least for the duration of your working hours. You should then be able to have peace and focus on your tasks yet be accessible enough in case of emergency.

With a home office, you are not abandoning your responsibilities to the home. You’re merely establishing a boundary for your professional life. The other members of your household need to understand that your work is real work and that you will need to be serious about it. It will help if you let them know about your working hours so they won’t bother you during that time. It is for this reason that the ideal location of your home office is in a separate room with a door you can keep closed while working.

  1. A Home Office Gives You Opportunities for Growth and Expansion

If you have a home office, you can explore more opportunities that will help you grow and expand your business. As you may be aware, traditional business establishments have separate personnel attending to the different aspects of the business, like a human resources department has its own staff and so do the other departments such as tech support, finance, and sales, to name a few. It is different with a home business setting, especially those that are in the start-up stage when the business owner does everything. In time, when you can afford to pay salaries, you may consider hiring employees although you will need to take care of a few things like withholding taxes and insurance coverage. Then again, the increase in your expenses and in your administrative duties may well be justified considering the many benefits of having employees to help you generate bigger revenues while reducing your own workload.

How do I determine my residency status?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Tax concept TNYou’ve been offered that great opportunity overseas, and not sure how that will affect you in Canada. Is this a permanent departure or temporary? Do you still have to file an income tax return in Canada? What do I have to divest myself of to not have to file a tax return in Canada? There are many things to think about when leaving Canada for work or otherwise.

Under Canada’s tax system, your income tax obligations to Canada are based on your residency status, not citizenship. You need to know your residency status before you can know what your tax responsibilities and filing requirements to Canada are. An individual’s residency status is determined on a case-by-case basis and the individual’s whole situation and all the relevant facts must be considered. The relevant facts in determining your residency status include: the residential ties you have in Canada, the purpose and permanence of your stays abroad, and your ties abroad.

The first thing you need to determine is do you have residential ties to Canada. Significant residential ties include: a home in Canada, a spouse or common-law partner in Canada, and dependents in Canada.

Other ties that may be relevant include:

  • Personal property in Canada, such as a car or furniture;
  • Social ties in Canada, such as memberships in Canadian recreational or religious organizations;
  • Economic ties in Canada, such as Canadian bank accounts or credit cards;
  • A Canadian driver’s license;
  • A Canadian passport; and
  • Health insurance with a Canadian province or territory.

The residential ties you establish or maintain in other countries may also be relevant.

Your residency status if you left Canada

  • If you are working temporarily outside Canada, vacationing outside Canada, commuting (going back and forth daily or weekly) from Canada to your place of work in the United States, or teaching or attending school in another country, and you maintain residential ties with Canada, you may be considered a factual resident of Canada.
  • If you left Canada and established a permanent home in another country and you severed your residential ties with Canada and ceased to be a resident of Canada in the tax year, you may be considered an emigrant.
  • If you established ties in a country that Canada has a tax treaty with and you are considered a resident of that country, but you are otherwise a factual resident of Canada, meaning you maintain significant residential ties with Canada, you may be considered a deemed non-resident of Canada. The same rules apply to deemed non-residents as non-residents of Canada.
  • If you left Canada and you are a government employee outside Canada, which includes members of the Canadian Forces posted abroad, you are usually considered a factual resident or a deemed resident of Canada. For more information, see Government employees outside Canada.

Your residency status if you entered Canada

  • If you left another country to settle in Canada and you established significant residential ties with Canada and became a resident of Canada in the tax year, you may be considered an immigrant.
  • If you have ties in a country that Canada has a tax treaty with and you are considered to be a resident of that country, but you are also a factual resident of Canada because you established significant residential ties with Canada, you may be considered a deemed non-resident of Canada. The same rules apply to deemed non-residents as non-residents of Canada.
  • If you have not established significant residential ties with Canada to be considered a factual resident, but you stayed in Canada for 183 or more days in the year, you may be considered a deemed resident of Canada.

Your residency status if you normally, customarily, or routinely live in another country

  • If you did not have significant residential ties with Canada and you lived outside Canada throughout the year (except if you were a deemed resident of Canada), you may be considered a non-resident of Canada.
  • If you did not have significant residential ties with Canada and you stayed in Canada for less than 183 days in the tax year, you may be considered a non-resident of Canada.

If you want Canada Revenue Agency’s opinion on your residency status, complete either Form NR74, Determination of Residency Status (Entering Canada) or Form NR73, Determination of Residency Status (Leaving Canada), whichever applies, and send it to the International and Ottawa Tax Services Office. You must give CRA as many details as possible on your form so that they can give you our most accurate opinion.

Why Outsourcing is a Good Option for Home Business Owners

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Outsourcing Definition TNThere are those who frown upon the current trend of offshore outsourcing. In fact, in 2004, during a Strategic Research Institute conference, there were at least 7 workers’ organizations that rallied against offshore outsourcing in New York where the conference was being held (source: SearchCIO.com). Those who are against offshore outsourcing contend the practice deprives many American workers of job opportunities. They may like it or not, but it looks like outsourcing is here to stay because many businesses, especially home-based businesses, highly favor it. Outsourcing has proven itself to be a cost-effective strategy to get things done. There are three reasons why you would want to outsource your home business. For one, it is cheaper than hiring full time employees. Second, you do not have to go through the process of direct hiring and firing. And finally, you can take advantage of the expertise that is available overseas.

Cheaper Labour

Many home businesses are small-scale in operations. They cannot afford to pay staff working for them full-time. Yet, the home business owners usually find themselves swamped with work and realize that they do need help. Some manage to get part-time workers but salaries eat a big chunk off their profits. Now, it is a fact that wages are much lower in other countries compared to the pay range in North America. You too can get those foreign workers to work for you and still pay them based on their local rates. The BPO (business process outsourcing) industry is growing in many countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Philippines. They have several companies servicing American businesses.

Advantages of Outsourcing

Other than the lower labour expense, you can save money when you outsource your home business. You do not need to make additional investments on new furniture, computers and bigger office space just so you can accommodate workers. Instead, you get to use the facilities of the BPO vendor. Also, you pay them on a fee-for-service basis, which means that what you incur are variable costs instead of fixed expenses. You get to enjoy staffing flexibility with outsourcing. If your business has seasonal or cyclical ups and downs, you can easily get workers for the duration of the high demand and release them when you expect the demand to be low.

If you’ve been spending more time on your work than what you originally intended to, outsourcing some aspects of your home business will enable you to cut down your working hours. You can then have more free time to pursue other business opportunities. You can also reclaim the time that you should devote to your family and personal life. BPO vendors have developed the skills and competencies of their workers in various business processes. They are also continuously updating their knowledge and technology to keep abreast with competition. When you engage their services, you avail of their talents and expertise that in turn puts you ahead of your own competitors.

What You Can Outsource

You can outsource the business functions that you would delegate to employees if you were to hire. Review your list of regular tasks and note those that you can’t seem to find the time to work on even if they’re fairly easy. You may also want to outsource those repetitive tasks that you don’t enjoy doing. The most often outsourced jobs include customer care and sales support, which include responding to phone-in queries and complaints, telemarketing, order taking, and invoicing. Many home businesses also outsource their accounting functions, production, fulfillment of orders, website administration, and data entry, among others.

You really do not need to work harder than you have to and you should not miss out on orders because you’ve already reached the limit of what you can do on your own. Outsourcing some areas of your home business can be advantageous for you; it can increase your capacity without the hassles of actually hiring more people.

Can I As A Salaried Employee Claim A Home Office Deduction?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Tax deduction piggy TNMany employers are making use of telecommuting employees, and you may be one of those. It can be quite handy to work from home, even a couple of days a week. For a home-based business owner, the home office deduction can be a great deduction for writing off the use of the home to run the business. Can a salaried employee do the same?

You can deduct expenses you paid in 2013 for the employment use of a workspace in your home, as long as you meet one of the following conditions:

  • The workspace is where you mainly (more than 50% of the time) do your work.
  • You use the workspace only to earn your employment income. You also have to use it on a regular and continuous basis for meeting clients or customers.

You can deduct the part of your costs that relates to your workspace, such as the cost of electricity, heating, and maintenance. If your office space is in a rented house or apartment where you live, deduct the percentage of the rent as well as any maintenance costs you paid that relates to the workspace. However, you cannot deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, home insurance, or capital cost allowance.

If you are salaried and commission based, and your commissions are greater than your salary (I would say double may be best), you may be able to deduct insurance and property taxes.

You can only deduct workspace expenses from the income to which the expenses relate and not from any other income. The amount you can deduct for work-space-in-the-home expenses is limited to the amount of employment income remaining after all other employment expenses have been deducted. This means that you cannot use workspace expenses to create or increase a loss from employment.

If you cannot deduct all your workspace expenses in the year, you can carry forward the expenses. You can deduct these expenses in the following year as long as you are reporting income from the same employer. However, you cannot create or increase a loss from employment by carrying forward workspace expenses.

You must get your employer to complete and sign a form T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment, and keep a copy for your records. You do not have to send this into Canada Revenue Agency.

If you are a salaried employee you can deduct work from home expenses, though you are limited compared to someone who runs a business out of their home.

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