Category Archives for "Employees"

How to Stay Motivated When Working from Home

By Randall Orser | Employees , Home Based Business , Small Business

Due to the coronavirus many more people are joining those already working from home.  It is quite a change from your normal routine of going into the office five days a week and working with others, so you need to make your new work environment as comfortable as possible for you to be productive.  When working for your company from home you should still to stick to your normal hours of work as much as possible and it is important to keep in touch with your colleagues by phone or video conferencing so that you do not feel isolated.  

For those who are their own boss and have been working from home for a while you don’t need to worry about being late for work, being written up, laid off or fired.  However, you are solely in charge, so it is up to you to face all the challenges involved in owning a business, most of all making money.  

If you are now finding yourself in one of these two situations how do you stay motivated while working from home?

1. Work-life vs Family Life

When working at home family can be your biggest distraction, particularly now as most of your family including kids may be at home.  It is vital to set up a separate room in your house to work where you can close the door if necessary.  You need to let the family know that when you are in that room you are working and unavailable except for an emergency.  Don’t forget that this separate workspace can allow for a tax deduction if you are self-employed.

2. Keeping your concentration when working from home

Difficulty concentrating one of the biggest problems reported by people who work from home.  You may have to deal with family noise, activities outside your window or even the view of your backyard especially if the sun is shining.  You may be disturbed by people who have a hard time accepting that you are working from home and think that you can run errands for them or that you have time to chat on the phone.  Some solutions to these problems might be to close the blinds, wear noise reducing headphones or ask the family not to do noisy activities while you are working.  You also need to make sure that friends and relatives know that you are not available between certain hours because you are

working.

3. Motivational Challenges

It is up to you to motivate and challenge yourself unless you are still employed by a company and working from home.  In that instance you still have to answer emails and phone calls from colleagues for information and updates.  This will help to keep your mind on the job.  If you own your own business, it can be way more difficult to keep motivated and let your attention slip to more appealing things.  You need to keep your end goal in mind which is to grow your business and make money


4. Dealing with the lack of Office Equipment

If you are working from home, either temporarily or permanently it is important for you to have the necessary equipment to do your job.  When you are working for an employer at home, they should provide the equipment that you need to do the job.  If own your own business, you should invest in the office equipment that you need.  These days computers, and multifunction printers and scanners are way less expensive than they used to be.  Look out for low interest and interest free deals offered by stores to help reduce the costs and you may be able to offset some of these expenses on your taxes.

5. Getting Access to Company Documents

If you are working from home for your employer, they need to set up a way for you to able to access company documents from home over the internet.  There are many programs and apps that will allow you to do that easily.

6. Egonomic Issues

It can be difficult to keep your concentration if you are not comfortable in your workspace.  Make sure you are equipped with a proper office desk and office chair to support your back, neck and shoulders. Take a few minutes break each hour or two and standup, walk about and stretch.  Be conscious of your posture while working as bad posture will result in pain and trips to the chiropractor or for physio.

As working from home is becoming more of the norm and may become even more so as companies realize that their employees working remotely can save them money, and workers find that working from home gives them a better work-life balance.

Working from Home – Why it can be Advantageous for Employers

By Randall Orser | Business , Cloud-computing , Employees , Small Business

If your boss is on the fence about allowing you to work from home a compelling study from Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom was featured in an article by Ari Surdoval in Ideas.Ted.Com showed that it can be very advantageous especially for employers. 

When most people imagine working from home they see someone in their pajamas watching Netflix on their laptop.   They believe that working from home can be shirking from home.  Professor Bloom had previously worked from home himself and knew that it was becoming more and more common around the world, so he believed that there had to be more to it than just watching Netflix.  

In the US the number of people working from home has tripled over the past 30 years and was 2.4% of the workforce in 2017.  In countries where mobile technology and improving digital connections have coincided with traffic congestion and sky high commercial rents between 10 and 20% of employees work from home for at least part of their work week.  This was true of the company Bloom used for his controlled trial to put remote work to the test.  The company was one of China's largest travel agencies with a workforce of 16,000.  The company CEO recognized that the company was losing many employees in part due to workers being priced out of the city of Shanghai and having to endure long commutes.

More than 500 employees in the call centre volunteered, about half met the study qualifications which included having a private room at home in which to work and a decent broadband connection as well has having been an employee for six months.  Those with even numbered birthdays would telecommute four days a week while the others would remain in the office as a control group.  Company managers were concerned that as the call centre workers were among the youngest in the company they might be easily distracted without supervision.  

The study lasted for nine months and the results stunned Bloom and the CEO.  The company saved $1900 per employee on office space during the study


New Year’s Resolutions for Your Small Business

By Randall Orser | Employees , marketing strategy , Small Business

When we think about making New Year’s Resolutions, we usually think about trying to improve our personal lives in ways such as losing weight, stopping smoking, exercising more etc.  However, you can also create resolutions for your small business to do things differently and try to bring about positive change. Here are some suggestions for resolutions that you could make to improve your small business in 2020.  

I Will Learn to Manage my Cash Flow More Effectively – If you do not really understand the finances of your business it might be time to hire a professional bookkeeper to help you.  You need to be better prepared for the ebbs and flows in your cash flow and be able to create enough capital to put back into your business. You may also need to change your methods of payment. Allowing your customers to pay by e-transfer or credit card instead of cheque may mean that you are paid quicker thereby improving your cash flow. 

I Will Improve my Digital Presence – If you have not updated your website in more than two years then it is time to make changes.  You need to make sure that your site is mobile friendly and make sure that all your product details are up to date, delete discontinued items and make sure prices are correct.  If you haven’t already you need to create an email marketing list to send out newsletters with helpful information or offers.  If you are not even using digital marketing, then you need to make this a priority resolution for the new year.

I Will Finally Get Social – If you do not have a social media presence then you need to remedy this right away.  Consider which network is the best platform to your business and post to it regularly.  Think about starting a business blog with content important and relevant to your business.

I Will Get Focused and More Productive – If you waste time on social media or other distractions when you should be focusing on the tasks that you need to do for your business then you need to change your work focus immediately. Rather than letting the day pass you by, get on with  completing those important things that you need to do.  

I Will Charge What I am Worth – If you are feeling underpaid and undervalued for your work then make a resolution to market yourself to the right audience and make sure that you are charging the industry norm for your work.  Revamp your strategy and raise your rates to reflect your value to your clients.

I Will Grow my Team and Delegate More – If you have more work than you are able to handle then you need to make a resolution to bring people to your team who can take over some of the work that you do.  Think about hiring a bookkeeper and a social media consultant who can take over this time-consuming part of your business.  If  you have employees, you need to learn how to effectively delegate to them tasks that you are currently doing to free up your time to build your business.

I Will Become a Better Communicator – If you are constantly having misunderstandings with your employees, wasting time repeating yourself over and over, and there is a lack of employee morale in your company one reason may be that you are communicating ineffectively.  Take time to learn how to be better communicator it is very important to get your employees on board with building a successful business.

After you have made your resolutions you need to create a plan to put them into action.  Once you have that information then it is time to turn your resolutions into your business goals for 2020.

Tips for Retailers – How to Increase Your Sales the Week After Christmas

By Randall Orser | Employees , holiday season , Marketing , marketing strategy , Retail , Small Business

The week between Christmas and New Year can be a great opportunity to increase the profitability of your business.  If you do it right, you can net more from this week than any other week in the year.  Here are some tips to help you to have a profitable week.

Creating a Customer Experience – More than likely you will have customers in your store to spend those gift cards that they got for Christmas.  Many will be regulars but many of them will be visiting your store for the first time and you need to WOW them so that they will come back.  Think of little extras that you can offer to enhance their experience.  

Christmas is over, so freshen up your store.  Take down Christmas decorations and promotional signage and change the music.  For those customers who came in before Christmas a change of atmosphere may energize them to buy.

Sales and Incentives – Have your markdowns ready for the 26th of December.  The faster that you move this merchandise the sooner you can freshen up your store.  Some retailers believe in having a January sale instead, but this means that you will not be ordering new stock until February and your store will not have a new look until March.  Stuff bags with coupons to give customers incentives to return.

Full Price Merchandising -  Part of freshening up the store is putting new full priced merchandise out on the floor.  As many people are using gift cards, they might be more likely to buy new full priced items rather than those left over from the holiday season, giving you a greater profit margin.

Reduce your spending on Advertising – As it is after Christmas everyone is having sales. So instead of spending money on advertising use that money to motivate your staff to give exceptional customer service or use it on incentives for your customers.

Refocusing Staff -  The focus has changed from selling stuff, to keeping it sold.  Instead of having staff just concentrate on returns encourage them to focus on converting returns into exchanges and new sales.  Train them on suggestive selling techniques to use when they are processing a return. If you sell a lot of gift cards before Christmas ready your staff to sell prospective new customers.  This is also a good time to update your customer data base and to encourage customers to join your loyalty program.

Show Appreciation to Your Staff – They have just gone through the most hectic four weeks of the year and you are now asking them to do more.  This is a good time to show them that you care, coffee runs, catered lunches or even the services of a masseuse are ways to show your appreciation for their efforts. 

Remember most customers are just coasting until New Year and they don’t expect to find much in stores except sales on leftover Christmas items.  If you have made your target it can be tempting to sit back as well, but this is a great opportunity to create a good impression with customers by giving them new and interesting things to buy. 

When Should the Holiday Shopping Season Start?

By Randall Orser | Budget , Employees , holiday season , marketing strategy , Retail , Small Business

There is no specific date when retailers should start their Christmas Holiday selling season, but customers would argue that it starts earlier every year.  Following consumer push back the Christmas retail season usually starts after Remembrance Day here in Canada, that’s unless you shop at Costco!  

Retailers who start their Christmas selling program too early, both in-store and on-line often find that customers are irritated by being bombarded with Christmas advertising, merchandise and songs in November and they are turned off of holiday shopping.  Hiring staff too early can be costly for a retailer, if there are not enough sales to support the extra staff and putting out Christmas inventory too early can be a waste of valuable retail space if it is not selling. 

When it comes to Holiday Season discounts and sales which are appearing earlier and earlier each year it is important to put a lot of thought into the products or services that you want to discount.  It really depends upon your business and your market, but these considerations apply to most retailers.

  • If the items are appropriate for the time of year, you don’t want to be selling summer season items in winter.
  • If the items are appropriate for your location – there is no point in trying to sell mitts and scarves in somewhere like Florida or Southern California, they need to be sold in colder climates.
  • Timing – whether your customers will have money to buy early in the season or they are most likely to spend when they get their Christmas bonuses.  You could consider a layaway plan for larger ticket items so they can be paid for over a number of weeks.
  • What you want to have in stock for after Christmas sales when people have more time to shop and likely have more cash and gift cards to spend.
  • Following what other retailers in your industry do if it is a good decision for your business.  It is always a good idea to know what your competition is doing but don’t start your holiday sales earlier because they do if it does not make business sense for you.

Starting your Holiday discounting too early although beneficial to some customers to others it is confusing.  Two months of constant big sales makes it difficult for them to know when to buy to get the best deal, it can also sap any sense of urgency and deter them from making major purchases on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Could you be Defined by the CRA as a Personal Services Corporation?

By Randall Orser | Business Income Taxes , Consulting , Employees , Small Business

With the loss of full-time positions, people are forming one-person small businesses and then incorporating for tax advantages and liability protection.   

You do not want the CRA to define your corporation as a personal services corporation because you will not be allowed to claim any of the standard business expenses including the Small Business Deduction. The CRA explains this as a person providing services on behalf of the corporation is called an incorporated employee not a contractor.

This makes a big difference to your income tax if you are defined as an employee rather than as a business person, because you will not have the same potential tax deductions as a business person. 

The CRA defines a personal services corporation as: "a business that a corporation carries on, to provide services to another entity (such as a person or a partnership) that an officer or employee of that entity would usually perform" (T4012 – T2 Corporation Income Tax Guide, Chapter 4, Canada Revenue Agency.

The CRA uses four criteria to determine whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor:

  • Control 
  • Ownership of Tools
  • Chance of profit/risk of loss
  • Integration

For a corporation with only one shareholder doing business for only one company it is hard to prove that they are actually a business and not a personal services corporation.  From the government’s point of view, just calling an employee something else does not mean that they are not actually an employee, especially when their duties are exactly what an employee would do.   

If you are defined by the CRA as a personal services corporation you run the risk of not only losing your small business tax deduction and other standard business deductions, you may also be subject to reassessment.  There is no time limit for reassessment, the CRA can examine your business records and find you owing for years of back taxes. 

To avoid being classes as a personal services corporation you need to ensure that you have at least five full-time employees throughout the year and that you provide services to an associated corporation.  Unfortunately this is not always possible for a small corporation, so you need to find other ways to prove yourself.

  • Avoid working for more than one client especially in a long-term relationship, the more clients you have the better chance you have of avoiding the personal service business designation.
  • Even if you do not need five employees, having any employees helps the CRA to determine your status.
  • Make sure that you continually pay attention to your situation in regard to the CRA rules on whether you are an employee or an independent contractor, these are: 
    • How much control you have over the work that you are doing for your client.
    • Ownership of tools
    • The chance of profit or risk of loss that you are exposed to.
    • The degree that you are integrated into your client’s business.
    • Avoiding the perception that you are an employee of a client, by having a written contract with them detailing the services that you will be providing and invoicing your client monthly or by the project.  If your client just pays you without receiving an invoice from you this is a red flag.

If you work as a contractor make sure that you are fully aware of CRA regulations and their distinction between employees and independent contractors.  

From Articles by Susan Ward

Why Older Workers can be a Valuable Asset to Your Business

By Randall Orser | Employees , Small Business

According to the Canadian Government, in 2014 over 6 million or 15.6% of Canadians were 65 or over.  By 2030 this number will rise to 9.5 million making up 23% of Canada’s population.  The stereotype of the doddering older person is no longer true, and in fact they can be every bit as creative, innovative and entrepreneurial as their younger counterparts.   

Many older people want to stay within the work force either in full, part time or flexible jobs, or by creating self-employment opportunities for themselves. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1995 and 2016 the share of men in the work force aged 65 to 69 in rose from 28% to 38%, and for women the increase was from 18% to 30%.  Self-employed and entrepreneurial older workers were the highest percentage of any age group, and five times greater than the 24–35 age group.   

Here are some reasons why hiring older workers can help you to maintain a reliable workforce and provide a significant cost savings.

  1. Employers often complain that they are unable to find qualified employees. Older workers bring their previous education and experience, are more dedicated and produce higher quality work usually with little training.  
  2.  They are more likely to show up every day ready and willing to work.  
  3.  They take pride in a job well done, often staying after hours to complete a task.  Younger workers tend to want to put their hours in then leave.
  4.  They value honesty, personal integrity and truthfulness.
  5.  They are detail-oriented, focused and attentive and can often able find mistakes such as pricing errors, spelling errors and accounting mistakes which can save the company money.
  6. They are good listeners and often only have to be told once what to do. This makes them easier to train.
  7. Older workers can set an example and can be excellent mentors for other employees.
  8. They have greater organizational skills meaning less man hours are lost due to workplace disorganization.
  9. They are efficient and confident, willing to share their experience and recommendations with fellow workers and management. This means that jobs can be done more efficiently saving the company money.
  10. They have good communications skills learned from their previous experience in the workplace.

Next time you are hiring, consider an older person for the skills, values and potential savings in time and money that they can bring to your company.  Rethinking the costs of high turnover of younger staff vs the benefits of more mature workers can make a positive difference to your bottom line.

From an article by Stephen Bastien in Entrepreneur

 

Are you Planning to Give Gifts to Your Employees this Holiday Season? Do You Know What is Taxable?

By Randall Orser | Business Income Taxes , Employees , holiday season , Payroll , Small Business

At this time of year many employers give a Christmas or annual bonus – did you know that this is a taxable benefit if paid in cash or a cash equivalent such as gift cards?

You might think about giving your employees gifts instead of cash bonuses so that both of you will benefit on your Canadian income tax.  Employers can use the total cost of the gift as a tax deduction and employees do not need to declare the cost of the gift as part of their taxable income.

Under CRA rules all gifts to employees are considered to be taxable income except for the following exemptions:

1.   It is non-cash and less than $500 in fair market value per year and only given for the following reasons:

  • A Religious or other special event
  • Birth of a child
  • Wedding
  • Birthday

2.   It is a non-cash long standing service award valued at less than $500, this can be given once every five years.

3.   An Award for an employment related accomplishment.  These are allowed when:

  • It has clearly defined criteria
  • A nomination and evaluation process
  • Limited number of recipients

4.   Employer provided parties or social events where the cost is $100 per person or less.

5.   Meals or other hospitality services at work-related functions such as meetings or training sessions.

6.   Valueless items such as tea/coffee, snacks, t-shirts, hats etc.

There is no limit to the number of gifts an employee can receive in a given year as long as the total value is not more than $500.  Small gifts such as mugs or chocolates etc. are not included in the $500 limit.

If you want to give your employees gifts that are tax deductible for your company, you need to be careful what you give.  Items that can easily be converted into cash such as gift cards or stocks will be considered to be taxable employee benefits as will some performance related awards and bonuses.  Included under this rule are:

  • Gift Cards
  • Rewards that include employer-provided meals or accommodations such as trips
  • Cash or non-cash awards from manufacturers that are given to employers then passed onto employees
  • Points for travel, accommodations or other rewards
  • Gifts given by manufacturers to employees of dealerships

If you want to give Cash Bonuses or near-cash bonuses such as gift cards to your employees, it must be through payroll and must have taxes deducted.

For full list of taxable or non-taxable benefits and allowances visit the link below:
CRA's Benefits and allowances chart


Before You Start Your New Business, Ask Yourself These Five Vital Questions

By Randall Orser | Business Income Taxes , Employees , Small Business

You've chosen, you can hardly wait one more year to experience your fantasy. You long to work for yourself and run your own particular organization. You have a business thought and you're prepared to run head-long down the way to entrepreneurial flexibility. Before you bind up your sprinters and leave upon your voyage: you have to pose a couple of extreme inquiries first, sit yourself down and confront the accompanying five inquiries. Without the correct answers, your entrepreneurial dream may need to pause. 

ls Your Business Idea Viable Over the Long Term? 

Having a thought for another business is extraordinary. Understanding whether you can transform that thought into a beneficial long-haul business is very another story. Talk about your idea with loved ones; ask for ruthlessly genuine criticism. You have to know whether they can see themselves utilizing your business for quite a long time to come or in the case of acquiring from you would be a one-shot arrangement. On the off chance that you have to continually discover new clients, the continuous obtaining expenses may make your organization an Iess-than-beneficial wander. 

By what means Will You Acquire Customers? 

Since we're discussing obtaining costs, how would you intend to attract clients to your business? Is it accurate to say that you are trusting they’ll just normally discover you by means of their most loved web index? Is it true that you will utilize web-based life, and assuming this is the case, which stages will you utilize? Client obtaining is one of the hardest difficulties business people confront, everyone from corporate CEOs to startup organizers under-gauge exactly how tiresome it tends to be to persistently chase for new clients (it doesn't mind keeping the ones you have). Without a practical and reasonable arrangement to attract clients to your organization, your business may be dead in the water before it is even begun. 

Would you be able to Afford Legal Costs? 

It's a troublesome subject to confront, however securing your business legitimately is only one of the difficulties of maintaining your own business. Consider the possibility that a client is unsatisfied with your item or administration offering and chooses to make legitimate move. Is it true that you are ensured? Would you be able to manage the cost of the essential protection premiums to guarantee your organization is secured? From a flawed item that makes hurt a patent encroachment claim., there are various difficulties that could possibly come your direction. Having proper legitimate guidance and protection scope is essential on the off chance that you need to assemble a business that keeps going. 

Where Will You Build Your Business? 

Choosing whether you will run your organization out of your home or by means of a place of work is another test you will confront. In the event that you maintain an online-just business, what are the assessment suggestions in your neighborhood ward? On the off chance that your organization offers returns of physical merchandise, which return address will you offer for your organization? Odds are great you would prefer not to offer your place of residence on your organization site. Will a mail station box address do the trick? Do you have to rent a brick-and-mortar customer facing facade for your organization? Picking between maintaining an online business versus an organization with a physical address client can visit is only one of the arranging choices you need to make. 

Who Will You Turn to for Business Advice? 

Mentorship is a basic segment of business building. You'll confront numerous hard choices as you endeavor to develop your organization. Knowing ahead of time who you'll swing to for business directing is critical. Will you procure a business strategist, and would you be able to bear to do as such? Will you swing to different entrepreneurs who have manufactured fruitful organizations in your division or would you fear them taking your thoughts? In case you're depending on loved ones to offer business exhortation, they may abstain from giving you the hard realities just to save your sentiments. Business mentorship is an imperative piece of growing an organization; you have to confront this choice. on the off chance that you need to guarantee business stresses don't contrarily affect your wellbeing and prosperity. 

Building your own business is an outstanding choice. Not alI have the chutzpah important to put their future hanging in the balance. On the off chance that you need to guarantee your entrepreneurial dream doesn't turn into a living bad dream, you have to put forth a couple of intense inquiries initially Are you prepared to experience your enthusiasm and assemble your own organization?

How do You Measure up on Making the Hard Decisions?

By Randall Orser | Budget , Business Income Taxes , Employees , marketing strategy , Small Business

Running your small business can be one demanding enterprise. Your dilemma is that you have control, but that is both a blessing and a curse. You have the joy of deciding how your company grows and develops, but you are also answerable for everything that happens, good or bad. If you let it, this kind of pressure can douse the flames of passion. You can make things mentally and emotionally easier for you to deal with by using the following in your approach to decision-making.

Limit Your Options

The old adage analysis paralysis can easily set in. That’s why you should look at having your offers have as few options as possible. The more choices the customer has to decide on then the less likely they are to make any choice at all.

The more options you have available to you, the harder it will be to take a path. Your best bet is to limit options is to raise or refine your standards. The more specific your needs or desired outcomes, the less options you’ll have to pick from.

Use Your Numbers

Not sure which way to go, then your best to approach the issue objectivity. Rather than just go with your gut, check your numbers. Focus on the measurable metrics and forget what isn’t quantifiable. 

While this can take more time and slow down your decision-making process, it also makes your decision more tenable as well as improving the quality. As an example, you have two manufacturers to choose from and it’s a hard choice, however, go to the numbers and which one gives you a better deal when it comes down to brass tacks.

Think Long Game

Fear is one of the biggest barriers to quick decision making. The idea that your business can be hamstrung by a single mistake is a common one, fortunately it’s not an accurate one. Although a single mistake can hurt, it’s not the death knell you may make it out to be.

Some decisions won’t always expose their true nature early on. What’s working now for your small business won’t necessarily work in the future. On the other hand, that bad decision you make today that negatively affects your business may not necessarily do so in the future. Don’t focus too much on your mistakes or their immediate effects. They’re not necessarily representative of how things will turn out.

Manage Decision Fatigue

Nothing withstands constant pressure. Exercise one muscle frequently in a short period of time, and it’ll fatigue, no matter how strong it is. The same effect happens on your brain when making a lot of decisions, fatigue. Deciding what to have for lunch, which is a simple choice, can add to the barrage of stress bearing down on your brain.

By delegating those small-impact decisions to other people can keep that stress at bay. You need to focus on the big decisions. If you can reduce something to a habit or pattern, do so. Save your energy for important choices.

Not Your Problem

You can easily miss the forest for the trees when you’re deep in the woods, and that’s where you’re at when trying to solve your own problems. Especially challenging decisions can leave you lacking perspective. Taking a step back and removing yourself from the situation can be the best thing to do. Pretend it’s not your problem.

If you had a friend facing this decision point, think about what advice you’d give them. That seems silly but pretending that it’s someone else’s problem to resolve can jar your mind enough to recover your perspective.

You must nurture decisiveness as it’s a key trait to decision making. You won’t be able to run your business if you can’t make decisions quickly. It will take a lot time, practice, and effort, but it’ll be worth it if it makes you a leader who can make choices without freezing.