Category Archives for "Small Business"

Should you Start a Home-based Business After Retirement?

By Randall Orser | Small Business

With more seniors working later into their lives, either for monetary reasons or because they basically appreciate working, there is a requirement for new occupations for these people. With such huge numbers of people searching for few occupations it is becoming increasingly hard for them to find work. This is why starting a home business may very well be the best choice for them. 

There are a wide range of advantages and favorable circumstances related with a home business. It also it opens the way for retirees to keep working, without competing with candidates in the general workforce. 

Boundless Potential 

There is no lack of locally situated organizations where help or volunteers needed but it is important to build a solid website and network to find clients for their business. Retirees can do be pretty much anything from using the special abilities that they had in their working lives, to to taking a shot at new project or even giving help to people who are not able to look after themselves. Regardless of the type  of work, these sorts of positions are ideal for the gen X-ers age and it helps to open the door and to remain as a merger between conventional work and retirement. 

Work When You Want 

Setting your own hours is one of the best parts of a home business. In the event that you like to awaken early and get a good start on the day then you can begin work at 5 or 6 am and work until early evening. Additionally, if the you have an appointment or need to run an errand, or simply needs to sleep during the day, you can modify your work schedule to suit your needs. This keeps you feeling relaxed and stress free while you can still enjoy working.  In addition having your home business is a source of additional income. 

Odds are, most retired people have more enthusiasm and energy for something that they never used in their profession. They may love carpentry or making candles or cooking for people who can't cook for themselves. Retirement is an ideal time to start a home based business and to maybe begin a new vocation and enjoy it more what they did in their work life.

 

Help Your Children Turn Ideas into Money

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Back in the days of pink bubblegum and hula hoops, a junior high school kid from a rural neighbourhood was contemplating ways in which to invest and earn money.  In due course, he followed his yearning with a very shrewd action.  With his entrepreneurial spirit intact, he bicycled down to the small, rural town’s local general store and bought up the town’s entire supply of pink bubblegum.  In turn, he made continued attempts to resell the pink bubblegum to kids in the neighbourhood hiking the price to allow him to realize a profit.

Well, the other neighbourhood kids understood the concept of price gouging and were not receptive to purchasing pink bubblegum at inflated prices.  Suffice it to say the idea went over like a lead balloon.  Though the kids suffered a week-long withdrawal from chewing pink bubblegum, they effectively boycotted sales by the entrepreneur and in no time at all prices and supply returned to normal.  In fact, the whole affair ended with the entrepreneur apprehensive to depart his parent’s home for weeks after being branded the town traitor who created the bubblegum famine in the first place.

What the young entrepreneur didn’t count on was the emotional response that resulted in the price hike, and his bubblegum venture quickly failed. The entrepreneur’s spirit was in the right place and he was just steps away from a viable idea.  His only failure was the execution of his plan. Imagine how the story might have ended if this young entrepreneur had sought advice from his parents and his parents became involved in his venture.  He may have benefited from that advice and made his purchase directly from another supplier selling his pink bubblegum for a few pennies less than the general store.  If only the story had ended that way, the young entrepreneur very well may have been elected the town’s local hero rather than the lowly and sought after pink bubblegum bandit. 

The morale of the story is should your child exhibit an entrepreneurial spirit such as that of the pink bubblegum bandit, be attentive to and support your child’s dreams by helping your child develop their ideas into a small business.  Working with your child in a teacher/apprentice capacity affords you and your child many opportunities to learn together as your child builds character and self-confidence.  Developing a business is very educational and your child will gain essential life skills in a fun and profitable format.  Your child will practice setting goals, time management, communicating, organizing and will learn lessons in computer software, general accounting, money management, banking, sales, marketing, and more.

So, how do you and your child get started on such a venture? Listen to your child’s ideas and choose an idea that has potential; an idea which can be developed into a small business your child can operate.  After agreeing on an idea, consult with your accountant.  Minor children are required to file tax returns on earnings just like everyone else.  In addition, your accountant may advise your child of financial benefits such as making contributions to their very own, tax-free educational savings fund and other planning strategies.

After consulting with your accountant on tax issues and how to set up your child’s business, apply for a business license if required so your child is legally operating the business.  Next, you and your child can open personal and business bank accounts so your child has a safe place to store all that money they’re going to be earning.  Shop around because there are a lot of checking and savings accounts that offer special perks to kids that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.

Once your child is squared away with creating a tax plan, obtaining a business license, and setting up banking accounts, help your child create a simple business plan.  The exercise of developing a business plan will help you and your child focus on the guts of your business and teach your child to use problem-solving skills and creativity in devising a plan.  Your child’s business plan serves as an outline of overall business objectives, describes the business, explains how the business will operate, and presents sales and marketing tactics to be executed to achieve plan success.

With your business plan in place, you and your child will enter the start-up phase of your small business where together you will create action items in a “to do” list format technically referred to as a start-up plan. Determine what inventory items to purchase to support your child’s small business and what items are critical to getting the small business up and running.  Determine who comprises your target market and develop a message that reaches your market.  Purchase marketing items for your business such as a website or blog and inexpensive marketing tools like business cards, bumper stickers, and flyers.

Finally, put your child’s ideas into action and begin working through your business and start-up plans.  Prioritize tasks and check off items as you complete them.  Help your child overcome obstacles as they arise, discuss ways in which to accomplish tasks, and problem-solve with your child. Finally, your child will be ready to hit the streets (or the Internet) with their product or service and will begin selling!  Good places to start selling and marketing include friends and family, your local community, your local community newsletter, flyers posted at the local swim club, church, and social networking sites on the Internet to name a few. 

We hope you and your child have fun together as you enjoy the thrills of success and overcome the disappointments of failure encountered along the way to developing your small business.  Become involved with your child’s venture helping your child correct small errors that could result in bursting their bubble and their entrepreneurial spirit should they inadvertently become the pink bubblegum bandit of your neighbourhood.

 

Choose a Strong Domain Name for Your Website

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Every business website or blog benefits from having its own, unique domain name. This gives it professional status and helps it to stand out from the crowd. What's more, the domain name itself can play a key role in attracting visitors, with appropriate wording and so it pays to word it carefully. But there's more to stringing together an attractive, promotional name than you might think. It' II need to be catchy, memorable and original, for instance, while also giving an indication of what your website offers. Check your preferred domain name for maximum effectiveness by asking yourself if it will do the following: 

Lead Searchers to your Site:

Choose words that searchers are likely to use when looking for a website like yours.  If it advertises knitwear that you sell, for instance include "Knitwear" "Knit" "Wool" or another word that searchers are likely to use.  Check SEO (search engine optimization) rankings for the most frequently used words appropriate to your business, then see if you can work the top ones into your domain name.

Say or Hint at What you do:

Attract searchers to your site by indicating your specific niche or service, as well as your general topic. To take the knitwear example, perhaps you make the garments yourself or provide organic or ethically sourced ones, or maybe you offer a platform for buying and selling knitwear, in which case, say so in your domain name. The more you can reveal about your website's content in its name, the more traffic you will draw.

Offer a Soundbite or Eyecatcher:

You'll want your site to stand out from the crowd, so pick a name that will attract browsers and stay in the minds of previous visitors. Try to phrase your name so that it rolls off the tongue and sticks in the memory. It might have a catchy rhythm, quirky pun or nice rhyme, for instance, or two words starting with the same letter. Make it easy to read, too, by using short or familiar words, and separating them from each other with dots. Suppose you sell downloadable waterfall photos, for instance, and want to use that full description in your name, you' be wise to divide them up with dots. Ideally, though, you'd avoid this tricky mouthful by using a more straightforward phrase.

Offer Easy Letters for Keying in:

Some people have difficulties with typing, spelling or both, so try to avoid uncommon letters, like “Z” and “Q,” and number digits, in your domain name. Words that are difficult to spell present off-putting challenges to potential returners and could prevent some searchers from finding you at all, so pick simple alternatives when you can. If your website features pharmaceutical products, for instance, you'd be wise to avoid the long, complicated word, "pharmaceutical," using a simple, familiar alternative instead. Before settling on a domain name try keying it in yourself to see how your fingers cope.

Be Unique:

For both practical and legal reasons, your domain name must be different from all others, even if only by one letter, but that side will be taken care of automatically by the registering process. If your intended name is already in use, it will not be accepted, and you'll need to alter it (perhaps several times) to find an arrangement of letters and dots that no one else is using. Your application will then be accepted.

For further information on acquiring a domain name, such as where and how to apply and what costs may be involved, browse some of the many online sites that address these matters. You'll find advice, clarification and useful Inks for everything you need to know for setting up your online business, or for establishing an online promotional platform for an offline business, depending on the nature of your enterprise.

Registering your website's domain name will be like putting the "Open" sign on your shop door and switching on the lights, ready for customers. It's a simple step, once you've fixed the wording. Just make sure you're ready for all the business coming your way.

Improve Your Business with Integrated Workflow and Financial Software

By Randall Orser | Small Business

In the business world, time is money, and one of the biggest time sucks in your business is the sharing of information. What are you wasting too much time doing? Examples are downloading content, faxing documents (yes, we still do that especially to government), emailing lost files and simply running across the building to get that important file. Now your staff have less time to actually do what you hired them to do, and even though the tasks don’t seem that important in the overall scheme of things, they do lower productivity and then your bottom line.

Improved Productivity

An integrated workflow and financial (accounting) software system will help to boost the long-term productivity of your business. The reason is that they can directly access system resources, without needing to go to a superior or other source. You have the necessary information right at your fingertips so you are no longer wasting time searching or making pointless phone calls, emails or faxes (one day we’ll have stopped using this archaic transmission feature).

Your employees have everything direct at their fingertips, and with this easy access they’re spending less time from their desks and on needless tasks. With this new workflow system, they can remain focused without the tasks they would normally need to complete. All of this makes it much easier for your business to produce the necessary products and services without spending time on those other tasks that waste time.

Greater Financial Security While Avoiding Downtime

The financial software aspect of this integrated Workflow system is perfect for companies with multiple departments providing financial information. The sales department may need sales figures, while the marketing department must provide advertising costs.

Without the integrated workflow and financial software system available in the business, all data must first be emailed or sent to the financial department, who then compiles the data in order to come up with the accurate financial report. This is incredibly tedious and does leave the window open to possible errors and incorrect numbers, especially if someone forgets to provide their content by the designated time frame.

However, with software, it’s now possible for every department to easily upload their figures, which is fully integrated with the rest of the company and every other department. Your staff no longer have to run around collecting data just to create and finish that financial report. The software automatically collects this data and allows the financial department to quickly produce the financial report.

Reduce Waste

It’s important for any business to reduce waste as it allows it to focus this time elsewhere on other tasks, which in turn improves productivity and the overall number of necessary tasks completed. It may not seem much of a waste of time running around to various departments to gather files and reports, but over the course of a year that can definitely add up. Having an integrated workflow and financial software system in place is exactly why you can reduce this wasted time considerably. Everyone can complete their tasks, upload it to the system and even gain access to the files which they need without ever having to leave their desk.                                                                                                          


Improving productivity is always important, which is why applying such a system has very favourable meaning for the business. By integrating workflow into the financial structure of your business, you can save time, cut costs and boost productivity. All of which comes back and helps boost your bottom line.


You may be thinking, I’m a small business and don’t have departments as it may only be your or maybe a few employees. However, you still have departments as you have employees doing certain jobs and you can break up tasks accordingly and using integrated workflow and financial structure system can help you relieve the work maybe only you’re doing. You can achieve this with QuickBooks Online and Hubdoc (or Receipt Bank), and other software that works with QuickBooks Online. This can help sales people do invoicing as it happens or work orders are entered and the worker can turn it into an invoice.

Great Summertime Jobs for Girls

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Summertime jobs are being sought after more and more by girls. In 2017, 59% of girls were working a summer job, representing an increase from the previous year. 2018 will see an increase as well as more girls seek seasonal jobs. The summertime job is much more than just a way to pass the time between school years. Many girls are working summer jobs to help them pay for college, at the same time gaining valuable experience in the employment world. The following are some great summertime jobs for girls.

Summer Camp Counsellor/Counsellor in Training

The American Camp Association says there are about 7,000 overnight camps and 5,000 daytime camps running all over the US; Canada has quite a few too though not as many as the US. With over eleven million kids and adults participating in these camps, girls have tons of opportunities to hone their skills as a camp counsellor or counsellor in training.

Lodge and Resort Jobs

According to the US Bureau of Labour and Statistics:

"In July 2017, the largest percentage of employed youth worked in the leisure and hospitality industry (26%), which includes food services."

The hospitality industry is attractive to girls as it’s an environment that nurtures companionship among peers. Jobs at resorts are bountiful in the summer as additional staff is required to adjust to the increase in vacationing guests. Some of the jobs at resorts and lodges are: assistant management, tour guide, restaurant server, front desk attendant, greeter, and housekeeping.

Pet Sitter

Most Canadians own a pet of some sort, the majority own a cat (37%) according to government statistics; dogs are at 32%. Pet owners also need to take vacations, so there’s the opportunity to help in caring for their pets during the daytime, creating the perfect job opportunity for money-minded girls who love caring for animals.

Swim Coach/Lifeguard

Coaching the neighbourhood swim team or serving as a private swim coach for a local club or organization is a great way for active girls to get their feet wet in the job market. These are an excellent way to stay active on the job while helping others learn how to master a new sport. It also gives them a chance to work with younger children, and what it’s like to coach them.

Lifeguard is another job that could be good for active girls. This could be at the neighbourhood pool, or even the beach. Great way to stay active and get acquainted with working with the public.

Social Media Assistant

According to statistics over 70% of girls use more than one social media site, and many display a great aptitude for designing and updating social media sites than their parents or members of the older generations. Working as a summertime social media assistant allows tech-savvy girls to channel their social media expertise in a way that bolsters business for their employers. The tasks of a social media assistant can include:

  • Design social media websites for companies
  • Update social media sites with daily posts and photos
  • Assist in the preparation of social media blog content
  • Help respond to customer inquiries sent through social media sites

Amusement Park Jobs

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) says there are over 400 amusement parks in the United States; Canada not quite as many but there are over 25. These parks employ over 600,000 people, including about 500,000 seasonal jobs. Walt Disney world is probably one of the most popular parks that hires summer employees and is known for providing jobs that are seen as challenging and interesting by those who work them. If you want to work at an amusement park this summer, here are some of the opportunities available:

  • Thrill ride operator
  • Gift shop cashier
  • Front gate attendant
  • Greeter
  • Ticket issuer
  • Security assistant

Blog Writer

A growing number of girls are making money by writing blog content for companies and as freelance writers. Many companies are looking for teenage girls to server as blog writers and provide age appropriate and gender specific content. Some of the most successful young female bloggers end up blogging full-time and make thousands of dollars per month by launching their own blogs.

Tutor

Tutoring is a rewarding and lucrative job for girls who are academically inclined and who excel at helping others learn and retain information. Tutoring opportunities are plentiful in the summer, especially in the subjects of math, science, and English. You can also tutor students who are preparing for standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. Or, teach foreign students who are learning English for the first time.

Summer Intern

From internships.com:

"Employers can attract talent from all over the United States for internships over the summer months.       Companies such as the Walt Disney Company even offer housing and relocation assistance to attract the most talented students to their summer internships".

Summer internships are a great way for college students who are seeking employment while also looking for opportunities to satisfy college coursework requirements. Organizations such as internships.com make it easy for girls to search for available internships by location, company, and industry. You can even find valuable tips on finding the best internship to meet your educational needs.

Landscaping Technician

We tend to pay more attention to our lawns and landscaping during the summer as we spend more time outdoors. Girls who love the outdoors and appreciate greenery are great candidates for summer landscaping jobs. As a landscaping technician, you would be maintaining lawns, gardening, planning trees and shrubs, and enhancing the overall appearance of outdoor properties.

Selecting the best summertime job for you is process that should be more than asking how much money you get. When deciding on a summertime job, take the time to think about your passions, your skills, and your future goals. Ideally, the summer job you choose should facilitate your skills and passions while being challenging and rewarding. No two girls are created with the exact same set of skills and aptitudes, and you deserve to find a summertime job that will allow you to shine.

Four Tips to Help You Work Successfully from Home

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Working from home is fast becoming a trend. Many have succeeded in their home business although there are others who fail in such a set-up. The most common reason a lot of people fail in a work-at-home set-up is they lack the motivation. It is quite easy to adopt a lax attitude if you run your business from home. The comforts of home (e.g., the TV, video games, the fridge!) are temptations that are simply easy to give in to than resist. You need to create an environment that is conducive to working if you wish to achieve home business success.

Define Your Workplace at Home 

It is important that you designate a specific area of your home you can use as your office. Having a defined workspace helps you achieve two things. One, you will subconsciously associate your home office with work so that every time you sit at your desk, you automatically get into your working mood. Two, you will be able to organize your work better. Your home office can be a spare room or even just a quiet corner anywhere in the house. The only requirement is you have enough space where you can have all the things you need when you are working. You should also be able to isolate yourself during your working hours to avoid being distracted by the daily activities at home.

Get the Appropriate Office Furniture and Equipment 

As you build your home business office, you may easily be tempted to buy stylish furniture, high-tech pieces of equipment, and fancy gadgets. If you do give in to that temptation, you may discover sooner rather than later you have only wasted money if it turns out you hardly have use for them. Thus, plan the furnishing of your home office and plan it right.  

Depending on what kind of home business you have, you must first determine the types of furniture and equipment you will need for your daily operation. Identify which ones are necessary and which items you could do without. This way you could shop wisely and save your money for other, more productive uses. And do not forget your communications system. You will need a separate telephone line and an email account to be used exclusively for your business. You may also need a fax machine but do check your actual communication requirements, which must depend on how or what you will communicate with your customers, associates, and suppliers.

Develop Self-Discipline 

When you decide to work at home, you become your own boss. With this comes the responsibility of finishing your work on time. This means you should not be playing with your kids when you know you must be working on a project. Arrange for a sitter or place them on day care when you have to work but do set a family time so you can spend quality time with them. Online chatting and playing computer games are also big time robbers that you must be smart enough to pass up during your working hours. Of course, you also need to go on breaks during your workday but schedule those breaks to avoid disrupting your focus. 

Organize Your Work and Create a Routine 

One way you can efficiently work from your homebusinessoffice is to regard it as a regular work place. Organize your paperwork, file your documents regularly, and schedule all your tasks. Observe cleanliness in your home office and keep your desk uncluttered at all times. Set priorities and arrange your schedule accordingly. 

Follow the aforementioned tips and you can be certain to achieve home business success.


PESTLE Analysis for Your Business

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Politics, economics, sociology, technology, legal, and environmental (PESTLE) is an analysis framework the allows businesses to determine the health and potential of their business. These six factors of the PESTLE method contribute contextual information that expedites more targeted and informed business decisions. You can gain a better understanding of your business and industry by doing your due diligence of these six areas. In the end, you’re much better placed to make proactive decisions that promote growth and stability.

Politics

What is the government on the federal, provincial and local level up to as it relates to your industry? Whatever the government does can have an impact on your industry and the economy. Tax laws and trade restrictions (think the trade war happening now) can greatly influence your operational procedures and sooner or later your profit margins. You need to stay informed of any pertinent changes to political policies or legislation.

Political changes often reflect the attitudes of your target market, so it’s smart to stay on top of local and national political sentiment. The political environment can be a positive as well as a negative influence on your day-to-day business, however, knowing about any changes in advance helps you to be proactive in your preparations so you can at least try to take advantage of any situation that occurs.

Currently, the housing market is one area right now (2018) that the government is sticking its nose into thinking it can make housing affordable, not realizing that by doing so many owners may end up in financial ruin.

Economics

The success of any business is fundamentally related to the wider economic climate. You need to look at how present and anticipated economic factors, such as inflation and interest rates, are affecting your business. Stay informed about the economic outlook for your industry and community and make decisions based upon what’s right for your business.

The timing of major financial decisions can have a great impact on your financial prosperity. An example would be getting a loan when interest rates are low would save a large amount of capital that could be better spent in other areas. The key to using various economic changes to your advantage is keeping abreast of what’s happening so dedicate sufficient time and resources to collecting economic data.

Sociology

Your market demographics should be a foundational component of your sociological research. Take the time to determine the descriptive characteristics of your market such as their age, location, and disposable income. The more you know about your potential customers, the more strongly you can direct your product and marketing to them.

Knowledge of all cultural and demographic aspects of a market can help you develop your service. All businesses need to fulfill a role in society and only through detailed sociological analysis can you clearly define yours.

Technology

Technology is often a critical driver of innovation and market growth. Keep apprised of technological advances that could improve your efficiency and profitability. Technology is changing faster than ever, but you still need quickly figure out which ones will have a tangible and positive impact on your business.

Whether you commit to your own research and development or just keep your finger on the pulse of innovation, technological research is an important aspect of business development. Determine your current setup and identify any areas that could be improved by a change in technology. Executing technological changes in your business will prove to be a wise investment if it increases efficiency and widens profit margins.

Legal

You need to assess the legal landscape of your industry and business as they may directly affect the operation of your business. You need to be aware of the basics all businesses must follow, such as consumer and employment laws, but you also need to know of any legislation that may specifically relate to your business.

There may be industry specific laws that your business is subject to, however you may find that you’re actually exempt from others. Governments will regularly encourage certain industries via individualized legislation and tax breaks, so it pays to be aware of the law as it applies to your business.

Environmental

Some industries can more keenly benefit from environmental research, however, it’s definitely advantageous for all businesses to have a base knowledge of how environmental factors may impact business. For example, the climate and ecology of a specific area are certainly relevant to the tourism, insurance and farming industries. The environmental impact of your business may also be driving potential customers away, so apart from the ethical side of things, it can be undeniably more favourable to lessen your environmental impact of your operation.

An analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of your business, in relation to your industry and market, will increase your understanding of the operational health of your business. Using a mix of the factors in the PESTLE framework is a simple and dynamic approach to assessing your business and its potential for growth and sustainability.

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How Resilient is Your Business?

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Being flexible is an essential attribute for any successful business of any size. However, smaller businesses have a much higher chance of being impacted by changing market forces or unanticipated events. How your business reacts to and recovers from unexpected events is in direct correlation as to how you structure and manage it. The following tips will help improve your businesses resilience and increase your potential for long-term stability.

Clients

Your most important aspect of your business is your customer as they generate your income. The best way to protect that income is to diversify your customer base and have more than one revenue stream. You end up exposing your business to risk if you rely on a small number of clients.

Focusing on just a narrow range of paying clients that you may struggling to cope when client numbers drop. Now this isn’t to say, don’t niche, you definitely want to pick a niche; however, you can have several niches. Your time and money should be invested into attracting a healthy pool of clients to lower the impact of a fluctuating client base.

Staff

Your staff, much like your customers, are relatively unpredictable variable. You don’t want to have too small of a staff. A focused care of reliable and trustworthy ones is good, but if their numbers drop off thought whatever circumstances, you need to be able to adapt.

Train your staff in multiple, overlapping areas of your business so each can cover the other’s absences, and train new employees as necessary. If one member of your team has a niche knowledge set, you may find them hard to replace when they leave.

Waste

Eliminating waste is always a good thing to practice. When business is doing great, we tend to slip into or ignore wild actions. Unfortunately, these bad habits end up carrying over into the less profitable times. Your staff are challenged to break out of their pre-established routines in order to keep a level of efficiency at all times. If your business becomes wasteful, the transition to frugality may be too much for you and your staff to adjust to when it’s necessary by changing market forces.

Plan

You need an action plan you can refer to in order to react quickly to an unexpected event. Having an emergency plan for unforeseen events eliminates a lot of mistakes that come about from panicked decision making. Look at each of your staff’s roles and how you’d want them to react to a range of various scenarios before they know their role.

Part of your contingency plan is ensuring you have an emergency cash reserve, so save as much as you can at all times. Create a specific fund (bank account) and add to it as often as you can, so you can pay your bills and fulfill your obligations if revenue streams dry up. Your cash reserve will more than likely be your sole savior of your business when it faces hardship or financial adversity and most successful businesses credit their success to falling back on emergency funds early on in their operational history.

Monitor

Knowing about an approaching crisis can give you the power to react to it effectively. Educate your staff on the warning signs of potential problems relevant to your business model and ensure there is a clear and effective channel of communication in place so concerns from anywhere in your organization can be conveyed quickly to the people in positions of greater power.

If your staff seem troubled, take their opinions seriously. Your staff as they work in the business everyday are more likely to identify potential problems but, unfortunately, they’re also often the last to be heard. Once you’ve identified an issue early, you have the benefit of being able to be proactive rather than reactive.

The difference between failure and success of your business is knowing how to react when disaster strikes. Your business needs to plan for unforeseen events so as to have a better chance of weathering the storm and coming through the other side as more resilient, healthy and profitable.

 

How does the CRA Select a Return for Review?

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Canada’s tax system is based on self-assessment, therefore, every once in a while the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) must conduct reviews or audits to ensure you’re filing correctly. Each year, the CRA conducts a number of review activities that promote awareness of and compliance with the laws it administers. These reviews are an important part of the compliance activities CRA undertakes in order to maintain the Canadian public's confidence in as well as the integrity of the Canadian tax system. 

There are a number of reasons why an income tax return may be selected in one of CRA’s review programs. These reasons include:

  • random selection;
  • comparison of information on returns to information received from third-party sources, such as T4 information slips;
  • types of deductions or credits claimed and an individual's review history.

The process of selecting returns for review is the same whether the return is filed on paper or electronically. Therefore, the chances of a return being selected for review are not impacted by the method used to file the return. We refine the focus of our reviews annually based on review results and problem areas identified.

Most income tax returns filed each year are processed within two to six weeks. The CRA processes most returns without conducting a manual review of the information reported so that a Notice of Assessment and/or refund can be issued as quickly as possible. However, all returns are screened by the CRA’s computer system and may be subject to review at a later date.

Even in this electronic age you should keep all receipts and documents to support your claims for at least six years in case you are selected for review. And, in a format that CRA can access, such as PDF or Word files. If you’re a small business, keep all your accounting data backed up and have one for each year.

I would say that 90% of tax returns slated for review are just random, however, there are some things that can trigger a review, or even an audit. 

  • You’ve had a major life change happen from the previous year, such as moving, or getting married or divorced.
  • There’s a major deduction that you’ve never claimed before, such as legal fees, employment expenses, support payments.
  • Higher than normal tuition/education credits. I found this with people who went to flight school which can cost upwards of $60,000.
  • It’s your first year filing as a proprietorship or partnership. Many times CRA does a review when you just start your business to get you off on the right foot; especially if you filed your own return.
  • Larger than normal medical expenses claim will definitely get you a review.
  • The public transit amount is another deduction that gets review frequently. Remember that daily passes or tickets are not eligible. 

If your return is selected for review, the first thing is don’t panic. The second is to read the letter carefully, determine exactly what it is they’re reviewing, and find the documents they’re seeking (only give them what they asked for, and nothing more). You have nothing to worry about as you’re organized and have all your documents in a safe place, and easily accessible for just such occasions. 

 

Use Heptalysis to Evaluate Your New Business Venture

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Is there a way to analyze a potential new business opportunity? Yes, it’s called Heptalysis, which is a seven-part framework for analyzing and interpreting such opportunities. The insights gained by using Heptalysis provide the groundwork for a successful enterprise as well as starts the business off on a great footing. The following seven considerations can definitely benefit your business.

Market Opportunities

You need to analyze the market before launching any new product or service. You need this market research to determine whether or not there is interest in your product or service and to figure out the varying needs and characteristics of your target demographic. For your product or service to be successful, you need a ready and willing market.

Once you have determined that there is a need for your product or service, it’s time to check out the competition. Your market share will depend on how many and how large your competitors’ brands are. Your best bet is to find a gap in a sustainable market before going forth with any plans.

Problem/Solution  

You need to figure out the top of mind problem of your target market. Work on your product or service until you know its definite purpose. Don’t worry about resolving problems that aren’t required by your target market.                                                                                                                     

You’re much better off marketing and selling a clearly defined product or service that solves a real problem of your target market. What does your market urgently want? Give them that or else they’re going elsewhere. Spend time and budget clarifying your product or service until it definitely solves a relevant issue.

Execution  

Now is the time to build a solid plan of action for your young business. You need to set out your strategy in order to manage a succinct and consistent company-wide roll out. Determine the structure of your business and the roles of the individual people who will fill them. Include your colleagues in the creation process as their specialized input could be valuable.

You want your team working cohesively towards the same goal, so having a good plan of execution will ensure that. Cover as much detail as you can, however, be ready to evolve and adapt as time goes on, and variations occur.

Financial Engine

Your business’ health is dependent on financial planning and is very important to young ones with limited cashflows and narrower profit margins. Construct a thorough outline of your anticipated fiscal situation including payments and money generating strategies.                                                                                                                                     

For the best detailed plan, include even the smallest financial commitments in your calculations. You won’t be able to think of every eventuality but having an extensive estimate of your potential cash flow will help in your decision-making. You will also need to provide future creditors you negotiate with such financial information.

Human Capital

This will be your employees and partners. Of course, the most important asset of a business are the people who run it. Come up with an organizational structure for your business and who will be doing what. You can identify any significant discrepancies or inefficiencies. 

Any partners should be taken on with extreme caution, do they fit in with your goals and way of thinking. For staff your best to hire slow and fire fast. Having the right people in their most suitable roles can be the best decision a young business can make so invest your time and money in getting it right the first time. The specific knowledge and expertise of the individuals in your organization also comes under the umbrella of human capital. Tap into the resources available to you by heeding the advice of anyone who can offer an informed opinion.

“It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do;                                                                                               we hire smart people, so they can tell us what to do.”
                                                                          Steve Jobs

Potential Return  

What is your potential return you expect over time, looking at your market, structure, and product or service? Predicting your possible return on investment allows you to map out how you’re reinvest or otherwise use your proceeds.  

Designate a time limit within which you will see a return and implement methods for plotting your growth. Think ahead to track any changes in crucial areas of your business that you’ve identified as performance indicators.

Margin of Safety

Starting a new business always has some level of risk. Determine your key areas of risk and create a plan to minimize the threat and to deal with any issues that might arise. You’ll never avoid risk altogether, however, you can lower the impact of adverse events through careful planning.

When assessing potential problems, take internal and external factors into consideration. Legislative changes are something that happens frequently and can have a massive impact on your entrepreneurial ambitions. Recently in Canada, the federal government decided to change how corporation compensation works, and got lots of flack for it.  The business owner had to adapt the way he compensated other owners and family members. You need to keep informed and give yourself a healthy margin for error in all your calculations.

Heptalysis provides the young business with the framework need to analyze the potential market and its suitability for exploitation. There are tons of perplexing problems that businesses face in their beginning stages but using a tried and true method like Heptalysis eases the burden and makes the process simpler. You can start your enterprise off on a foundation of knowledge and confidence with careful analysis and meticulous planning