Category Archives for "Home Based Business"

Women vs Men as Entrepreneurs – Some Statistics

By Randall Orser | Business Income Taxes , Freelancing , Home Based Business , Small Business

Small business statistics Canada showed that in 2018 there were 1,079,000 self-employed women in Canada, accounting for 37% of all self-employed people.  Almost 60% of those were in unincorporated businesses with no employees.  There were 1,781,600 self-employed men and a much smaller percentage of these (37%) were unincorporated and had no employees.

The number of Canadian women entrepreneurs keeps growing and an interesting collection of statistics shows some of the differences between men and women who run their own businesses.  

  1. On average women business owners are younger and have fewer years of management or ownership experience when compared with male business owners.
  2. Women mostly choose to start and run small business in the retail and service sectors and they are more likely to be solo entrepreneurs.
  3. Women do not make as much money as men entrepreneurs but the gap is closing, they generally make 58% less than men operating their own businesses.

From the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Canada Report on Women's Entrepreneurship:

  1. In Canada nearly 85% of women surveyed said they were interested in starting a business.  Most are highly educated with college diplomas or university degrees. 
  2. 13.3% of women were involved with newer businesses and 10% in established businesses (operating for more than 3.5 years).  For men the figures showed 20.3% and 7.1%.
  3. Canadian women rank 1st for involvement in newer businesses, ahead of the UK, USA and other innovation-based economies.  They were 6th for established businesses.
  4. 54% of new female businesses were in the services sector followed by business services at 28.2%.
  5. Female business owners are less likely to engage in overseas trade than male owners.  For businesses with 25% or more customers outside Canada 31.7% were run by women compared to 37% by men.
  6. For businesses engaged in innovation 35.9% were owned by women, 44% by men.
  7. The gap in expectations for job creation is now not as wide as it was in previous years and will be roughly the same for the next five years.  However the expectations for job growth is higher for male owned companies 35.6% compared to 21.4% for female owned companies.

Reasons why women start their own businesses: (Paul Lima Globeandmail.com)

  1. A flexible work schedule is a great motivator but more so for women, 63% compared to 51% for men.
  2. 36% of men who start businesses do so to get wealthy compared to only 23% of women.
  3. Entrepreneurs who are driven to start a business doing something that they love is 69% for women and 64% for men.
  4. Women are less likely than men to start a business because they want to be their own boss, and are more likely to employ a spouse or child in their business.
  5. An almost equal number of male and female entrepreneurs listed their three main challenges to starting a business as finding clients, keeping a steady workload and working long hours.

Five to Ten a Day for Better Health (of Your Business)

By Randall Orser | Home Based Business , Small Business

We have been inundated with advice to eat well for our health’s sake. But, what about five to ten tips to better health of our business? Shouldn’t that be as important to the business owner?  Five to ten tips to follow a day can reduce the risk of failure and ensure your business enjoys a long and healthy life!

Five Tips to Overall Health:

  1. Prioritize and get things done:  When prioritizing, keep customers forefront (and suppliers, inventory, and staff). Without customers, where would you be? Complete tasks. Follow through. Finish paperwork.
  2. Plan ahead (but be flexible) – Get Organized:  Keep your eye on the road ahead. Ensure that you (and your staff) focus on the business plan, the marketing plan, and your original vision. Ensure that marketing campaigns are done ahead of time (ideally, a year in advance). Budgets and buying plans should be completed six months ahead, as well as any open-to-buy for product for promotional sales. Staff schedules and training should be well organized in order to coincide with seasonal upswings.
  3. Customers and Customer Service – It’s always about the customers:  Every business owner should prioritize any task that involves customer satisfaction. If you tell a customer that the product will arrive by the end of the week, then ensure that your promise is kept. If you tell a customer that you will call them, then ensure that you do. Broken promises do not impress customers. Always under-promise and over-deliver!
  4. Nurture all relationships including staff and suppliers:  Reward your staff, motivate your staff and keep them in the loop. Join professional associations.   Expand your communication channels. Get into the habit of mailing thank you notes to customers, staff, suppliers and those who have benefited your business. Pick up the telephone and have a one on one conversation. Stay in touch.
  5. Core competencies – What do you do best?  To thrive in the marketplace, a business must excel in at least one of the following: product offering, customer service, promotional strategies (branding), price or location.  Reminders to not only keep doing what you do best, but initiatives to keep improving. Never lose sight of what distinguishes your business from the rest. Learn to identify your strengths and build on them.

Five More Tips to Overall Health:

  1. Look after the details – it’s always about the small details:  Is the exterior fresh and clean? Does a brightly painted door welcome your customers? Is there a bench, an attractive door wreath, or an eye-catching window display that attracts new customers? Do you have an area for weary customers? Does your children’s store have a toy area for children? Do you supply customers with coupons if you have inconvenienced them? Do you greet your customers by name? Do you capture their names on your mailing list?
  2. Look after the expenses – Pay your bills on time: Send out invoices and request payment in a timely fashion. Eliminate unnecessary perks; eliminate waste; eliminate frills that are not important to the customer. Look for less expensive ways to do everything. If not sure where to begin…call your accountant. Better yet, read your expense sheet and cut costs by ten percent. Pay your bills on time. If possible, pay within ten days and get a two percent reduction for early payment.
  3. Grow (innovate):  Successful entrepreneurs are never satisfied with the status quo. They understand that to increase their share in the marketplace the business must grow: better product; newer technology; more effective website; more informed and knowledgeable staff; timelier shipping: better distribution channels; and so on.
  4. Constantly change – re-invent yourself:  A healthy business realizes that change is a constant; change will keep customers coming back. Customers will return to see new product displays, new demonstrations, and new content. Customers will brand your business – as a leader. Keep your customers delighted, inspired and motivated.
  5. Old-fashioned principles are still true:  Keep your business honest, reliable and trustworthy. Stand behind your policies – with no exceptions. Advocate privacy and honesty on your website and in print. Ensure that all practices value those principles. When a business values old-fashioned principles, customers will learn to trust that business and sales will follow. (There are some values that never grow old.)

You will know that your business is strong and healthy when you have difficulty prioritizing the above tips. Is change more important than principles? Are relationships more important than the bottom line?   A business owner that puts the customer (and customer service) to the forefront understands that the suppliers, the product, the service and the staff make up the equation.

The most successful businesses thrive because their owners understand that all aspects of business must be healthy; one area cannot stagnate or be left unattended for the sake of another area. Because a successful business is a component of all best practices – each integrated to make the whole.

A healthy business will enjoy a long life…so integrate five to ten a day to increase your chances to survive. The life of your business might depend on it.

Meeting a New Client in your Home Business

Four Steps to Finding New Clients for your Home Business

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

Thinking about starting a home business?  Probably the hardest task for a new business is getting those first few clients or customers.  One of the problems is that most home business owners are not savvy in marketing and hate the idea of doing “sales calls,” therefore many struggle to get enough clients.  Generating business and clients takes a lot of time, but the process can be speeded up by learning how to prospect and guide customers towards a sale or becoming a regular client.  It is reality that many prospects do not say yes on first contact with you, so you need to develop a plan to stay in touch with them until they are ready to buy.  Here are four useful strategies to use:

1.  Make sure that you zero in on your target market:  Make sure that you identify who might want what you are offering and are able to pay for it, anyone else is a waste of your time and money.  It is not enough to send your message out into the world and hope that it will stick.  Defining your most likely client by a number of criteria applicable to your business, makes it easier to find them and to send messages to entice them to check out your product

2.  Build a potential customer and client list: Just as you need a guest list for a party, you need a client list in order to have a business.  

  • Start by making a list of personal contacts for quick and easy sales, then ask these people to recommend you to their friends and contacts. 
  • Call back to your existing customers for resales, it is easier to sell to an existing happy customer than to find new ones.
  • Offer referral incentives to current customers
  • Search out potential customers on the internet and use social media such as Linked in. Participate in Trade Shows or Craft Fairs, these events are good for networking with other businesses that might fit your market.  You can also generate new customers by exhibiting your work.  Even if you don’t make a sale you will probably be able to build your contact list.
  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce and network with other businesses in your area.  Join groups involving your target market and attend workshops that might help you to build your business.
  • Purchase a lead list, however this can be expensive and usually achieves low results, but if you are in a bind this is an option.  If you do a Google search for mailing lists, you will find lots of companies to reach out to.

3.  Make personal contact with your prospective client:

  • Cold calling scares most people but it the best way to contact clients to ask them what they need and tell them what you can do for them.  Prepare yourself by writing an easy flowing conversational script to introduce your product or reason for calling.  Remember telling is not selling so don’t do all the talking. Ask questions and present the benefits of your product so that the focus of the call is on the customer.   End your call with a call to action, such as asking them to commit to a trial period, or get an email or physical address so that you can send them more information.  If they say they are not interested ask if they know anyone who might be and get a referral.
  • Email: while not as effective as a direct conversation it is less scary and a good way to introduce yourself.  Do not send just a “buy” email, instead offer something of value.  Give an explanation of who you are and provide a coupon or other incentive.  Make sure that you include an unsubscribe option in accordance with anti-spam laws.
  • In-person: Make an appointment to meet a prospect on your list or walk into their business.  You can often meet prospects while you are out and about in places such as grocery stores or coffee shops.  You should always tailor your presentation to how you can meet their needs and have sales material on hand such as brochures or samples.  End your meeting with a call to action or promise to follow-up.
  • Traditional Mail:  Similar to email snail mail is not the most effective way to get sales but it is a great way to increase awareness of your business.  Create a postcard, brochure or letter and send it yourself or hire a fulfillment house to do it for you if you have a large volume.   Don’t forget that a personally placed stamp makes the item look less like junk mail.

4.  Follow-up then follow-up again:  When you meet with prospective customers, you will probably hear NO a lot. Sometimes it is a firm no, but it could be a no, for now.  80% of sales are not made on the first contact or the second or even the third contact, it may take more that to make the sale.  It is important to set up a non-annoying system of follow-up, such as an email list or an agreement to call back in a period of time. 

You must keep track of all your communications and there are many free CRM databases available on line that you can use.  Create calendar reminders to follow-up on your phone.  It is important to build a relationship with your prospective clients which will hopefully lead to a sale.  

From an article by Mindy Lilyquist

Things you Should Know about Starting a Business in Canada

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

Even though there are rules and regulations that would-be business owners need to follow in Canada, it was still ranked as the third best place in the world to start a business in 2016. In 2019 according to the World Bank’s Doing Business it only took one procedure and an average of five days to register a firm.  However, the ease of doing business ranks at 22 in a range of 1–190. 

If you are considering starting a business in Canada, here are some things you should know:

  1. You need to be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant to start a business in Canada.  You cannot do it on a student or visitor visa or while on a work permit.  You may be able to form a partnership with other Canadians, but it does not mean that you can reside in Canada, you would need to become an immigrant.
  2. Not all businesses need to be registered.  If you start a sole proprietorship and use only your legal name as the name of your business, then you do not need to register your business with your province.  In Newfoundland and Labrador no sole proprietorships or partnerships need to register their business names.  You do however need to check if your municipality requires you to register your business.
  3. Registering your business name does not protect it from use by others.  Different forms of business ownership offer more business name protection, but none provide full protection.
  4. The Canadian system of Incorporation is very different from that in the US.  Canada has no limited liability corporations (LLCs) other than those of professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants.  There are also no S corporation structures in Canada.  Incorporation can be established on a federal or provincial level.  To protect yourself from liability incorporation is always the best form of ownership to consider.

Financing:  Most business start-ups are financed by their owners using their own money.  Most Canadian small business start with less than $5000 according to an Intuit Canada study of entrepreneurship.  There are few grants for Canadian start-ups and those available are usually specific to particular industries, locations such as Northern Ontario and groups of people such as aboriginals.   

Business Loans:  The long-time option for financing both start-ups and established businesses is the Canada Small Business Loans Financing Program.   However there are also other options such government sponsored and non-profit agencies that provide loans as well as private loan sources.

Small Business Taxes:  Business owners can get back the amount of GST that they pay on goods and services consumed during the course of doing business.  Small businesses do not have to register to charge and remit GST if they qualify as a Small Supplier making less than $30,000 per year.  Even if you make less than $30,000 per year you may want to register your business because otherwise you will not be able to claim back any GST you have paid out on business purchases through Input Tax Credits. 

Income Tax Deductions:  Deductions such as Investment Tax Credits are open to sole proprietors and partnerships.  In addition, home based business owners can claim The Business-Use-Of-Home-Deduction and legitimate business expenses and write these off against their business income.  

From an article by Susan Ward

Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a New Business

By Randall Orser | Home Based Business , Small Business

As companies all over the country are downsizing and jobs are lost or because workers are retiring but need more income, millions of people have taken to starting their own businesses and are hoping to earn a considerable income through their own efforts. While many individuals have succeeded as small business owners, some were met with failure simply because of inadequate planning. The truth is that starting a new business takes a lot of time and effort; you need to consider certain factors before launching a business. If you’re toying with a business idea you think is going to be a hit, ask yourself a few questions before you take the plunge into the business world.

  1. Do you have time to run your business? So many people mistakenly assume that just because they will be running their business from home, it means they will have a lot of free time on their hands. On the contrary, quite the opposite is true. Most home-based business owners need to work a lot more and a lot harder to match the income they used to make when they were working in a traditional office. This is particularly true during the first few months of running the business. Once your business has taken off, however, you may be able to relax a bit and work less hours. Before this happens, you will probably have to work extra long hours, so that’s an important factor you have to consider.
  2. Are you qualified? Quite often, people think they have a brilliant business idea and find out too late they aren’t qualified to offer that particular service. Let’s assume you’re a mom of four and you’ve just started a business that involves child care. Being a mother of four, you’re quite confident in your capabilities in this field. Your potential clients, however, are likely going to look for an individual who is not only experienced but certified in child care as well. In this case, you will have to get the certification or come up with another business idea where your skills will be put to better use.
  3. Do you have room for your business? Many home businesses start out small. Once your business takes off, however, you may find yourself in need of bigger space for your supplies or your products. Unless you have extra space in your home (e.g., a spare room or garage), you may soon have to expand outside by renting storage space, which is obviously an additional expense. If you don’t want to deal with such problems, think ahead when you are still in the business planning stage.
  4. Are you financially capable of running the business? Money is one of the most significant factors you have to consider before starting a business. Many people underestimate the costs required to set up a business. Even if they take out a loan, sometimes it isn’t enough to cover all the initial expenses. To avoid these hassles and to increase your chances of business success, plan your finances thoroughly.

What Your Tax Accountant Needs to Prepare Your Income Tax

By Randall Orser | Business Income Taxes , Freelancing , Home Based Business , Investments , Personal Income Tax , Small Business

When it comes to income tax preparation, there are do-it-yourselfers and there are those who have their income tax prepared by professionals.

For many businesses, having a professional such as a tax accountant prepare their income tax returns is the most sensible option. We don’t all have time to become income tax experts and income tax mistakes can be costly. So why not hire an expert to get the job done right and cut down on tax time anxiety?

To do the job right, though, your tax accountant or other income tax preparer will need to have all the right tax records at hand – preferably organized. Use this checklist to get your records together for your tax accountant.

Business Records Your Accountant Needs

· Revenue and business expenses for the year

· Business use of auto

· Auto operating expenses

· Vehicle driving log with business kilometres driven

· Asset additions

· Business use-of-home details

Your tax accountant will also need any tax records such as:

· Last year’s Notice of Assessment

· Amounts paid by installments

· A copy of your income tax return filed last year (if you’re a new client)

Other records your tax accountant will need will depend on whether you’re asking him or her to prepare a T2 (corporate) or T1 (personal) income tax return.

If the latter, your tax accountant will need all the relevant information slips and tax-related documents. Here are some of the most common:

· T4 slips (if you have employment/business income)

· T4A commissions & self-employed

· T5013 Partnership Income

· T3 Income from Trusts

· T5 Investment Income

· RRSP contribution slips

· Charitable donations

· Medical and dental receipts

· Child care information

Save Money on Your Tax Accountant’s Fee

Accountants generally charge by the hour, so the harder you make their job, the more it will cost you.

Summarize and tally records wherever possible. Cheques, invoices, business expenses - all should be categorized and totalled. Sort all your information slips by type. Having your tax accountant do the organizing and tallying is the expensive way to go.

If you have several businesses, remember that you will have to have separate revenue and business expenses figures for each business, as business income should be listed by individual business on the T1 form.

Be as organized as you possibly can. For example, clip groups of receipts together by type and put a post-it-note stating what the category is on the top. The less your accountant needs to figure out, the less time she’ll be spending on your file.

And remember, having a tax professional prepare your income tax return(s) isn’t costing you as much as you think when you see the bill – it’s a legitimate business expense.

Ideas for a Halloween Business

By Randall Orser | holiday season , Home Based Business , Small Business

If you are thinking of starting a seasonal business, statistics have shown that Halloween is a good time to do it.  Don’t bother thinking about trying to get into business selling candies or pumpkins, that Halloween business is already taken by bigger companies like Walmart so it would be pretty much impossible to compete. 

However, you there is scope with Halloween costumes and decorations to develop a business and cater to a niche market.  For example:

  • Providing Halloween music for parties
  • Creating “authentic” period costumes for adults
  • Providing Halloween decorating services for homes or businesses
  • Presenting in-house parties for children (a substitute for trick or treating.) or organizing adult Halloween events.

Also growing in popularity is visiting haunted houses.   Setting up your own could be expensive and turn out not to be as good as other ones nearby but providing tours of “haunted houses” and other spooky sites in your area could be a lucrative business.  Contact your local historical society to research the paranormal history of your area and you could uncover ghost stories that might surprise you and present them to your customers in an entertaining and exciting way. 

If you set up a decorating or party planning business for Halloween, it would not be difficult to turn this into a seasonal business for Christmas or even do the same for birthdays.  Once you are established and do a good job you might be surprised at how many clients you get and how much profit you can make.  

What is the Gig Economy?

By Randall Orser | Freelancing

The gig economy has been defined as “A way of working that is based on people having temporary jobs or doing separate pieces of work, each paid separately.” 

Essentially the gig economy involves working in a free market system as a freelancer, temporary contractor or doing standalone one-off jobs (or gigs) as opposed to having traditional full-time employment. It can also be a way for anyone to make extra cash in addition to their regular job.  In 2018 the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. reported that 55 million people were gig workers more than 35% of the U.S. workforce and this number is expected to rise to 43% by 2020.  According to Statistics Canada 2.18 million people were temporary workers in September 2017, including freelancers and contract workers.  One of Canada’s biggest temp agencies reported that 20-30% of their workforce were temporary workers and 1 in 4 were freelancers.

Who Works in the Gig Economy?

Millennials like to work in the gig economy because it promises a greater work-life balance.  For boomers and retirees are it brings in extra income without a major time commitment.  Freelancers are often connected to work by websites and apps such as Handy, Linkedin and Task Rabbit.  

The gig workforce includes highly skilled specialists and consultants from every industry but there are other jobs that will enable workers to make money fast without having specific skills.  These include tutoring and teaching, ridesharing (Uber), delivery (Skip the Dishes) and renting out assets that you own (Airbnb).

Benefits of the Gig Economy

  • Employers benefit from the gig economy by cost savings.  They can access a rich pool of talent and only have to hire people to do one specific task or when they are needed, instead of hiring full time employees that they have to train and provide with benefits.  
  • Workers can choose their own hours and projects and can earn income from multiple sources.  In a BMO survey 60% said that they voluntarily became self-employed, 49% said that they wanted a new challenge or change, 31% said that they wanted a way to supplement their regular income, and 13% said that they had been downsized by their employer.   

Challenges of the Gig Economy

  • The financial downside is the biggest challenge as workers have no benefits and don't get paid when they are sick.  Many in the BMO survey reported that they did not earn enough.  Boomers were more concerned about not having benefits while millennials were concerned about accumulating debt.
  • Canadian Employment Law has not caught up to this new way of working so gig workers have a precarious status and are generally excluded from the protections and benefits that come with traditional work such as CPP and EI.  Workers can enrol in these programs but they have to pay both the employer and employee portions.  As they do not have a traditional paycheck their CPP is calculated when they file their income tax which can mean a hefty bill.

Criticisms of the Gig Economy

  • It can make it harder for workers to find full-time employment and develop their careers.
  • For some the flexibility of work can be detrimental to their work-life balance, sleep patterns and daily activities as they always have to be ready to work when gigs arise.
  • As the security of a full-time lifelong job becomes a thing of the past workers rather than employers are taking on the risks of market ups and downs and changing trends.
  • Traditional business relationships between employer-employee, vendors and clients are eroded along with the benefits of trust and familiarity.  There is no investment in a relationship which will only last the life of a gig.

The Top Mistakes New Freelancers Make

By Randall Orser | Consulting , Freelancing , Home Based Business , Small Business

Once you have made the decision to leave the rat race and set yourself up as a freelancer, there are some things that you must consider before you begin, if you want to be successful. Although there is nothing wrong with giving it up and going back to your office cubicle and 9-5 routine, if you make these mistakes then you might be going back sooner than you think.

  1. Not Having Enough in Your Savings Account  - Experts say that you should have between three and six months of expenses saved as well as your start-up costs.  This can seem like a lot of money.  There are ways that you can raise money, but two things you should not do is withdraw from your RRSP or put everything on your credit card.  If money is tight you should start freelancing while keeping your full-time job.
  2. Not Defining your Goals – Once you decide to go out on your own you need to set your goals.  The first one is to decide what you want to get out of going freelance.  Is it about having a flexible schedule, and the ability to decide on the clients that you want to work with?  Is it about just making enough money to pay your bills or do you want to make more than you did as an employee? Once you set your goals you need to check them at regular intervals to make sure you are achieving them or to revise them.  
  3. Not Having a Business Plan- You need a business plan to use as a guideline for your future.  Your plan needs to include basic information about your business such as the contact information, what you do and what you are hoping to achieve. In the future. You need to describe the products or services you are offering including pricing. Information as how you will market your business is important as is an estimate of your operating expenses and what you will need for future growth.
  4. Jumping in too Soon – It is a good idea to start your freelancing career while still working full time.  You will be able to try out a different jobs and clients and see who you are happiest working with.  It enables you to make mistakes and still have an income and also to build your savings so that you are ready when the time comes to jump.  It also allows you the time to set up your office to suit yourself and have the equipment that you will need to do the work.
  5. Not Having a Contract – Having a verbal contract can be enough but a written one is usually better.  A contract will not always help you to get paid, but it will define expectations on both sides and make sure that there are no surprises when the job is finished.
  6. Not Having a System to Organize your Paperwork and Money– You don’t always need to hire a bookkeeper or accountant, but as your business grows this might be a good idea.  You can use an app such as Quickbooks to make tracking your income, expenses and taxes much easier.
  7. Taking on the Wrong Clients – Good clients are those who give you regular jobs that you can and want to do, and work with you to get the best results.  They are also easy to communicate with and pay your invoices on time. Inevitably you will end up with a client who does not meet those criteria and you spend more time than you should on them for less money.  You need to be able to decide when you have had enough and that they are no longer worth it, as well as how to recognize the signs to avoid this type of client in the future.
  8. Not Setting Realistic Rates for your Work  – There is no fixed formula for setting rates for your freelancing work.  Prices depend on the industry, geographic area, your skillset and expertise and the work you are doing.  You need to decide if you are going to bill hourly or by the project, which can change with each job.  You also need to decide what is your rock bottom dollar amount and keep this in mind when charging clients.  You may start out at a lower price as you are building your clientele and experience, but you must know how low is too low so that you don’t take jobs that don’t pay enough leaving you financially overextended and stressed.  As you gain more experience you should look at your rates and revise them if necessary. 
  9. Not Having the Required Self Discipline– You might start freelancing assuming that the best thing about it will be the flexibility of your work hours.  In reality, you will need to available for your clients during regular office hours which can be difficult if you prefer to sleep late.  Even though clients cannot demand that you are available specific hours they still need you to be available to answer their questions or they will move on to someone more accommodating.  On the other hand, you need to establish what hours you will be available to your clients, such as 8am to 6pm.  Make it clear that unless you say so, calls from them at 10pm or on weekends and holidays will not be welcome. 

Starting out as a freelancer can be difficult but you should not get discouraged if you make a mistake.  You will soon discover whether working freelance is a fit for you. 

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