Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, from large corporations with hundreds of employees to mom-and-pop enterprises. But there is one thing that all businesses need, financing. Being aware of the financing possibilities available for businesses can help a company succeed. The following is a list of various financing alternatives.
- Bank loans: A commonly used source of funding, bank loans require a solid business plan and often a personal guarantee from the entrepreneurs. More than 50% of small businesses use some type of institution-based credit to start, operate or expand their business.
- Government grants: Government agencies provide financing such as grants and subsidies that are available to many businesses. Check the Government of Canada website for business grants and financing options.
- Business incubators: A business incubator is a program that gives early-stage companies access to mentorship, investors and other support to help them get established. There are a number of business incubators in Alberta such as Innovate Calgary at the University of Calgary, The Northern Alberta Business Incubator in St. Albert, Tecconnect in Lethbridge and the Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator for food-based businesses in Leduc.
- Venture capital: A venture capitalist is a person or firm that invests in small companies, generally using money pooled from investment companies, large corporations, and pension funds. Though less than 1% of small businesses in Canada receive equity-based funding from venture capitalists, there are ways to find this type of funding by networking and meeting people at local start-up groups, or by researching, contacting or joining groups like the Venture Capital Association of Alberta. Venture capitalists are generally looking for technology-driven businesses and companies with high-growth potential in sectors such as information technology, communications and biotechnology.
- Angel investors: Angels are wealthy individuals or retired company executives who invest directly in firms owned by others. They often contribute their experience, technical knowledge, management skills and contacts. Angels tend to finance the early stages of a company. They often reserve the right to supervise the company’s management practices and may be looking for some sort of share in a company. Check out this bdc site for information on finding angel investors and the National Angel Capital Organization.
- Crowdfunding is the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new business venture. It makes use of the easy accessibility of vast networks of people through social media and crowdfunding websites and brings investors and entrepreneurs together. Crowdfunding has the potential to increase entrepreneurship by expanding the pool of investors beyond the traditional circle of owners, relatives, and venture capitalists. The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada is a good place to find information on crowdfunding for small businesses. If you’re considering the crowdfunding route, ensure that your intellectual property is protected. Read the fine print on crowdfunding websites.
- Peer-to-peer lending: P2P lending is the practice of lending money to individuals or businesses through online services that match lenders with borrowers. It allows investors to lend money directly to other individuals via a P2P platform. Check out Peerform and Funding Circle.
- Microloans are simply small business loans that are issued by individuals rather than banks or credit unions. These loans can be issued by a single individual or aggregated across a number of individuals who each contribute a portion of the total amount. They are a great option if you need a bit of capital to fund specific operational costs, expansions, or projects. They typically have specific limitations in regards to how much you can borrow. Check out Accion, LiftFund and Kiva.
- Pitch competitions are contests where entrepreneurs present their business concept to a panel in the hope of winning a cash prize or investment capital. Even if you don’t win, the pitch competition can be a way to introduce yourself to the elite world of venture capital and angel investment. Check out Hatch Pitch, Disrupt and PITCH.
- A business line of credit: This is an option for those who need cash quickly and have good credit. Check with your local bank.
- Personal funds: Many businesses use some type of personal funds to finance themselves (savings, mutual funds, collateral).
- Love money: This refers to money loaned by a spouse, parent, family member and/or friend.
If you’re interested in starting or expanding a business and you require financing, there are many and varied options available. No matter the size of your business or the amount required, there is a method to finance your company that suits your needs. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
A financial plan affects day-to-day fiscal decision-making, defining the future of a business and shaping a company’s journey. A detailed financial plan brings a company’s objectives into focus and helps in developing viable strategies.
What is financial planning for a business?
Financial planning is the task of determining how your business will finance its strategic goals and objectives. The plan is a document that describes the activities, resources, equipment and materials needed to achieve these objectives. It sets time frames for your goals and strategies for achieving them. It helps you be in control of your company’s income, expenses and investments and is essential to building a successful business. A good plan includes an assessment of the business environment, company goals, resources needed to reach these goals, team and resource budgets and risks that might be faced. It ensures a company is equipped in advance to deal with changing circumstances at both personal and business levels.
Why create a financial plan for your business?
- To manage your risk and respond quickly to financial issues: A business must plan for a lot of risks (death or disability of central figures, illness, property ownership loss, lawsuits, interruption of business, lower than expected revenue, high overheads, etc.). By regularly reviewing risks and planning a response, a company is prepared to tackle issues quickly, before they become hard to manage.
- To provide a road map for growth: It’s easy to focus on daily issues and neglect long-term planning. A financial plan helps a company focus on the future by providing clear goals for company growth and performance. It helps you analyze your current situation and project where you want the business to be in the future.
- To help you develop a good tax strategy: Financial planning is helpful when it comes time to submit your tax return or if you sell the company.
- To identify sales trends: A financial plan that includes quantifiable targets and sales records helps determine which individual products and which initiatives are most lucrative, making it possible to adjust your marketing strategy appropriately.
- To prioritize expenditures: A financial plan sets clear expectations for cash flow and helps a business owner to consider spending priorities.
- To identify necessary cost reductions: A financial plan helps you refer to past spending and identify unnecessary or over-inflated costs so you can adjust accordingly.
- To create transparency with staff and investors by sharing key figures (revenue, costs, profitability, etc.).
- To show progress: A financial plan is helpful in showing increased revenues, cash flow growth and overall profit in quantifiable data, encouraging business owners.
Every financial decision your business makes has a significant impact on the overall strength of your company. Financial planning helps you be better equipped to make decisions. Corporate financial planning demands a strong understanding of commerce and how companies operate fiscally. It also calls for attention and care for the immediate financial needs and specificities of your enterprise.
Need help with financial planning? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance, financial and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
A capital asset is an item a business owns for investment purposes; an investment that is anticipated to generate some kind of value over a specified period of time. It’s owned for its role in contributing to the business’s ability to generate profit. When you sell it, you earn a capital gain or a capital loss, depending on the price. Gains are taxed at a special rate and losses can be used to reduce the amount that is taxed.
Capital assets have the following characteristics:
- The asset has an expected useful life of greater than one year.
- The acquisition cost of the asset exceeds some predetermined company minimum amount, known as a capitalization limit.
- The asset is not anticipated to be sold as part of normal business operations.
- The asset is not easily convertible to cash.
- The asset is recorded on the balance sheet and expensed over its useful life through a process called depreciation.
- The asset is expensed over the course of its useful life helping to match the cost of the asset with the revenue it generated over the same time period
Kinds of capital assets:
There are two main categories of capital business assets.
- Tangible capital assets are physical and have a finite monetary value. They include cash, inventory, vehicles, equipment, buildings and investments.
- Intangible capital assets do not exist in physical form and include things such as accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, patents, copyright, franchises, trademarks, trade names and goodwill. An intangible asset is difficult to evaluate.
Is there a set cost at which an item becomes a capital asset?
There is no fixed cost at which an item becomes a capital asset rather than a consumable item. It depends on the size of your business. A computer might be a capital asset in a very small business but would be a consumable item in a large company. However, items like batteries, cables and memory sticks are always consumables. If you’re not sure whether an item is a capital asset, speak to your accountant.
Depreciation of capital assets:
A capital asset’s value is spread across the time it takes to be used in your business (it’s useful life). A proportion of the asset’s value is shown as a day-to-day running cost for each year it’s useful. This is referred to as depreciation for a tangible asset or amortization for an intangible asset. The cost must be written off over more than one year. At the end of each year, you subtract all depreciation claimed to date from the cost of the asset, to arrive at the asset’s book value, equal to its market value. At the end of the asset’s useful life for the business, any non-depreciated portion represents the salvage value for which the asset could be sold or scrapped. Accountants use a variety of conventions to approximate and standardize the depreciation process.
Ideally, your business assets will store and increase wealth, increase income and/or reduce expenses. Selling an asset results in a capital gain or capital loss. If you need more information and or understanding regarding your company’s capital assets, talk to your accountant. They have the knowledge, experience and skills to help you with your business needs.
Need information regarding capital assets and your company? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
As your business grows, the once simple process of bookkeeping can become complicated and daunting. Yet, it’s vital that you have accurate books. If you don’t keep detailed financial records you can end up with problems; unpleasant financial surprises, an audit, forgotten paperwork, missed goals, large bills from your accountant, payroll and tax challenges. Accurate and efficient bookkeeping can help you make and keep long-term goals, smooth out the ups and downs of seasonal cash flow, improve profits and alleviate troubles with the CRA. The following are some tips to help you improve your bookkeeping skills.
- Keep business and personal banking separate: Open a dedicated bank account for your business, preferably one with online access as this makes it easier to make payments and do bank reconciliations. If you need business money for personal expenses, do a regular transfer to your personal account. This will make bookkeeping much easier. Don’t use your personal credit card for work purchases and vice versa.
- Recognize business vs. personal expenses: You need to know what type of expenses can and can’t be claimed against your profit for the purpose of reducing tax. An expense that is directly related to the operation of the business and towards producing income is tax-deductible. An expense that is for your personal pleasure is not. Mixing personal and business does not mean a full claim for business can be made. If you’re in doubt about whether or not to claim an expense, contact your accountant.
- Plan for Major Expenses: Consider what expenses will arise in the next one to five years (upgrade of facilities, new office equipment, peaks in staffing costs, emergencies). By planning for major expenses, you can avoid taking money out of the company during good months and finding yourself short in slow months.
- Utilize bookkeeping software: There are free bookkeeping software packages if you are on a tight budget (Wave, ZipBooks, Akaunting, SlickPie, GnuCash, CloudBooks). If you can afford it, purchase a good quality program that comes with occasional updates (Cashbook, Quickbooks, Xero, Sage, Freshbooks, Zoho). Choose one that is easy to use, customizable, produces charts for quick reference and combines different aspects of reporting from one period to the next.
- Organize and store source documents: Quotes, orders, delivery dockets, sales and purchase invoices, credit and debit notes, payment/remittance advice, cheques, receipts, wage records and deposit slips need to be filed and archived for 5 to 7 years. Keeping source documents at your fingertips makes it easier to prevent fraud in your business, improve your accuracy and ease finding transactions when needed.
- Read and understand monthly reports: Keep your bookkeeping system up to date and produce reports monthly. Learn to read and understand these reports, in particular the income statement and the balance sheet.
- Keep on top of sales invoices: Late and/or unpaid bills hurt cash flow. As soon as a job is complete or a product is delivered, prepare and send out the customer invoices. Put a process in place to track your billing carefully (issuing a second invoice, a phone call reminder, penalties or extra fees). Be organized.
- Know when to outsource: If you find bookkeeping too difficult or don’t have enough time for it, outsource the task. This can be cost-effective and professional help will ensure accuracy. Professional bookkeepers often give great business advice and assist with many tasks (recommend good software, attend meetings with your banker, explain accounts you find difficult, prepare annual budget and cash flow reports, etc).
These bookkeeping tips can help you improve your business, spend less time on finances, focus on growing your company and enhance your customer relationships. Give them a try!
Need help establishing a good bookkeeping system? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
In order to ensure your company is consistently progressing, it’s important to quantify your business’ performance with hard data. Key performance indicators (KPIs) help you assess your business’ results and build strategies for achieving your goals.
What are KPIs?
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a set of quantifiable measurements used to gauge a company’s overall long-term performance. They demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives and help determine a company’s strategic, financial, and operational programs. KPIs can be financial, including cash flow forecasts, gross profit margins, revenue growth rates and relative market shares. They can also be anecdotal, measuring foot traffic in a store, employee retention, repeat customers and quality of customer experience. KPIs help keep a small business on track.
Criteria for KPIs:
The goals of each firm are unique. Therefore your company must craft their own KPIs. However, all KPIs should meet the following criteria:
- Actionable: Your KPIs should concretely and objectively show you the improvements that you need to make to help your business.
- Accurate: The best KPIs are well-defined, quantifiable measurements that are easy to calculate and interpret.
- Timely: Using old data won’t give you a measure of what’s going on currently. It‘s only useful if you use it as a comparison tool for current data.
- Impact the bottom line: Whether your goal is to improve net profit margins or customer satisfaction and retention, an improvement in your KPIs should result in progress toward your goal.
How to choose the right KPIs for your small business:
There is no definitive list of KPIs that all businesses should track. What you measure depends upon your industry, stage of business growth and company goals. However, there are some things you should consider when choosing your KPIs.
- Your business objectives: Good KPIs help you measure what’s important to your business. What are your company’s goals related to your customers or clients, your employees, your operations and your marketing? Choosing KPIs based on your business objectives makes them more valuable.
- Your business stage: A new company might focus on customer acquisition cost and user activation rate. Established companies may focus on employee retention to help them grow the business. Focus on KPIs that are most relevant to your stage of business.
- Lagging and leading indicators: A leading indicator is forward-looking and can influence results. A lagging indicator is backward-looking and will tell you what results have happened. For example, customer satisfaction is a leading indicator while profit is a lagging indicator. Both are necessary barometers of how your business is and will perform.
KPIs most every business should track:
There are a few key performance indicators that are advantageous for almost every business to track. Though they are not the only KPIs that your company should track, they’re a good place to start.
- Sales revenue refers to the income from all customer purchases and is the first KPI most companies evaluate to gauge success and market demand.
- Cash flow forecast: Flow in and out helps business owners assess whether their sales and margins are appropriate and estimate payment timing and likely costs. It also helps in tax preparation, new purchases, or identifying any cash surpluses. This is one of the most critical KPIs for small companies to track.
- Net profit and net profit margin: Net profit equals your revenue minus expenses. Keeping track of this KPI lets you know whether your business earns more than it spends. Your net profit margin is used to measure how profitable your business is and is a stronger indicator of your company’s financial health.
- Gross profit margin is an analytical metric expressed as a company’s net sales minus the cost of goods sold. It shows the amount of profit made before deducting selling, general, and administrative costs. The benefit of tracking this KPI over time is that you can easily quantify how much money you’re keeping against the amount paid out to suppliers.
- Monthly recurring revenue (MMR): If your firms’ focus is on retaining customers and preventing churn, then this KPI is important. You’ll want to measure new MRR (new customers), expansion MRR (customer who upgraded their plan) and churn MRR (revenue lost from customers cancelling before their expected average customer lifespan).
- Customer acquisition cost is a measure of how much you have to spend to get one new customer. This KPI helps to determine how costly, and ultimately how profitable, growth is for your company.
Tracking KPIs is vital to the health of your business. The most successful businesses use KPIs to help them measure outcomes. Picking the right KPIs and utilizing tools to monitor them can help you make informed decisions to grow your business. Small business owners should incorporate key performance indicators in their business strategy to help evaluate progress and set goals. Keep your company on track with KPIs!
Need advice and help to grow your company through the use of key performance indicators? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help your business. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
Now, more than ever, small business owners need to make wise decisions to help grow their companies. The pandemic has created the toughest challenge businesses may ever face. From employee training to marketing, every aspect of a business needs attention. Companies need to adapt to withstand economic pressure and constantly changing needs. The following are multiple strategies for growing your company during the pandemic.
- Make a plan: Come up with a plan of action, one that you can execute. A clear strategy is the best way to grow a small business at any time and even more necessary now.
- Pay attention to your customers: Consumers are the lifeblood of a business and the pandemic has made it even more essential that you maintain core patrons. You need a clear picture of the type of customer that uses/buys your product/services, what motivates their decisions and how their behaviour is evolving with the pandemic. Let your customers know you value their feedback. Provide multiple opportunities for them to communicate with you. Use this feedback to develop products and services that are suitable to the current demands of the market. Ensure your customer service is exceptional. Address problems and answer questions quickly.
- Maximize social media and online presence: The pandemic has us spending more time online; working remotely, taking virtual classes, participating in business meetings, hosting family gatherings and making household purchases. Make sure your company is easy to find online, your website is simple to navigate and your social media is generating interest. Monitor social media channels for mentions of your brand, your product and your competitors. Read comments, answer messages and build your social brand. Find out what customers are saying about you, gain insight into their behaviour, identify keywords and trends that appeal to your target market. Use this information to improve your customer service and provide what your users want.
- Manage your costs: Pay close attention to the costs associated with running your business and getting your products/services to customers. Analyze your balance sheet, profit and loss account and cash flow statements to keep business expenses under control. Lower these costs where you are able. Liquidate low-earning products and/or eliminate low-performing services.
- Invest in employees and company culture: In uncertain times, you need qualified and dedicated employees. A smart, diverse team is a company’s greatest asset and one that deserves protection. Adapt employee work duties to accommodate shifting needs. Provide the resources employees need to do their work remotely. Allow flexible work schedules so that working parents and those with increased home stresses can better manage their work-life balance. If you’re hiring, choose experienced professionals who can work with minimal help and supervision.
- Be open to funding: The pandemic has adversely affected the global and local economy. The government has developed programs to cushion small businesses against these pressures. Consider accessing this funding to boost your working capital, respond to the crisis, refinance debt, and finance growth. Available assistance may ensure your company’s survival and growth.
- Undertake strategic marketing: The pandemic has had a huge impact on household incomes and consumer spending. A solid marketing plan is essential. Use marketing technology to actively measure and track results. Determine which posts are performing, which products and services are selling and how your customers are responding. Pay attention to bounce rates, page visits, average time on site, and how your audience is arriving at your website. Use this information to drive your decision-making. Offer greater convenience by delivering products to your customers. Consider hiring an agency/consultant with marketing expertise in your industry to help boost your profile and drive up customer interaction across your social media platforms.
Make the changes needed to ride out the storm. Keep goals and measurable results in mind and implement your plan systematically and consistently. Find initiatives that address your company’s specific needs. Keep searching for growth opportunities. Be creative and your company may do more than survive. It may thrive!
Need advice to help grow your company during the pandemic? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help your business. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
Completing your company’s GST claim can be a hassle! You have to track the GST you’ve been charged and the GST you’ve paid and back up these claims with invoices and receipts. If you miss any input tax credits, you pay too much. Luckily, the GST quick method can save business owners both tax and time. You can use the quick method if taxable sales for your business do not exceed $400,000 for the fiscal year. Instead of claiming the GST paid on purchases as an input tax credit, you need only remit a portion of the tax you collect to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
The GST Quick Method:
- Is a simplified accounting option (eliminates the need to record and report the actual GST paid or payable on most purchases)
- Reduces paperwork
- Simplifies calculations
- Requires submission of 2.6% of the first $30,000 of gross revenue and 3.6% of the gross revenue after that
- Can save you $1,000 or more each year
- Allows you to claim ITCs on purchases of real property, capital property (computers, equipment, vehicles), eligible capital property, and improvements to those properties
You can use the GST quick method if:
- You’ve been in business continuously throughout the 365-day period ending immediately before your current reporting period
- You’re a new registrant and you expect your taxable supplies to be $400,000 or less in your first full year of business
- You didn’t revoke an election of the quick method or the simplified method for claiming ITCs during that 365-day period
- You’re not a person listed under Exceptions
- Your revenues are not more than $400,000 for either the period consisting of the first four consecutive fiscal quarters out of your last five fiscal quarters or the period consisting of the last four fiscal quarters out of your last five fiscal quarters.
Who can use the GST quick method?
Most goods and service-based small businesses are eligible to use the quick method.
- IT consultants
- delivery services
- dry cleaners
- auto repair shops
- quick-service food outlets
- house-cleaning services
- painting contractors
- taxi drivers
Who is ineligible for the GST quick method?
- accountants or bookkeepers
- financial consultants
- listed financial institutions
- lawyers (or law offices)
- notaries public
- listed financial institutions
- audit services
- tax return preparers or tax consultants
- municipalities, or local authorities designated as municipalities
- public colleges, school authorities, or universities, established and operated not for profit
- hospital authorities
- charities and non-profit organizations with at least 40% government funding in the year
How do you elect to use the quick method?
You can elect to use the quick method by using online services:
- You can also elect to use the quick method by completing Form GST74
Do you find calculating GST difficult and time-consuming? The GST Quick Method is faster and easier to use than the general procedure and, in most cases, saves you money. Check out your company’s eligibility for the Quick Method. Save time, money and hassle! Sign up for the GST Quick Method today.
Need help calculating your GST? Wondering if you qualify for the GST Quick Method? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help you. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
You’ve added a stamp and mailed the envelope or you hit the send button and e-filed your tax return. Feels good to have this task done! Then you receive another receipt, realize you used the wrong date for your medical deductions, get another information slip in the mail, notice you incorrectly calculated your deductions, realize you input the wrong social insurance number and/or gave an incorrect bank account or routing number. Don’t panic! There are procedures to follow so you can change your tax return after filing and fix the mistake you’ve made.
If you’re requesting a change to a T1 income tax return, the adjustment can be accomplished online or by mail. You can request a change to the current year or any of the previous nine years. A separate request is required for each year you wish to amend.
- By mail: Send a completed T1 Adjustment Request form (T1-ADJ) to your tax center or send a signed letter asking for an adjustment to your return. You’ll need your social insurance number, the year of the return you are amending, your address and a phone number at which you can be reached.
- Online: Use the change my return option found in My Account, a secure online service. You can access My Account in one of two ways, through a Sign-In Partner (selected financial institutions such as BMO and ING Direct) or by creating and using a CRA log-in. You’ll need your social insurance number, date of birth, current postal code and your copy of the tax return you are amending.
If you’re requesting a change to your T2 income tax return, you can do so by mail or online.
- Online: Use commercial Canadian tax software or send your amended T2 tax return in barcode format to the CRA.
- By mail: Send a letter to your tax center. Make sure you include the name of your corporation, your business number, the tax year and details including revised financial statements and revised schedules. Use Schedule 4 to carry back a loss, Schedule 21 to carry back foreign tax credits, Schedule 31 to carry back an investment tax credit and Schedule 42 to carry back a part I tax credit.
After making online changes to your tax return, keep all your receipts and supporting documents in case the CRA asks to see them. Provide supporting documents only if asked to do so and using the method of submission indicated in the CRA’s contact letter.
How long will it take for the change to be made?
The CRA will review your request for a change and advise you if the change is allowed by sending you a notice of reassessment or a letter explaining why the changes you requested are not possible. It will take approximately two weeks for a change requested online and eight weeks for a change requested by mail. Additional time may be needed if the CRA contacts you for more information or documentation. Requests which are submitted during the CRA’s peak return processing period, between March and July, will take longer.
If you realize, after submission, there’s an error on your tax return, don’t worry! There are procedures in place to help you make changes and adjustments. Tired of completing complex forms for tax? Contact a chartered professional accountant. They have the knowledge and expertise to make tax claims a breeze.
Need help preparing your tax return? Require assistance correcting a tax return? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help you. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
Starting a business is exciting! It’s also scary! Approximately 95,000 new businesses are created each year in Canada while 85,000 businesses close annually. Less than 50% of Canadian businesses last 10 or more years. If you’re thinking about starting a business, there are some important steps that you should know to help promote your chances of success.
- Generate an idea: The hardest part of starting a business is coming up with a great business idea. Watch current business trends. Examine budget and profit potentials. Consider your skills, goals and passions. Do you desire to improve upon existing concepts or contribute something new to the market? Do you want to own your own business or purchase a franchise?
- Do the research: Market research combines consumer behaviour and economic trends to confirm and/or improve your business idea. It helps determine if there is an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business and helps you reduce risks. Have a look at the demographics of your potential customer base (age, wealth, family, interests, income). If possible, talk directly to potential customers (surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, in-depth interviews). Observe your potential competitors. Peruse their websites. Talk with similar businesses. Keep up with the latest small business trends.
- Choose a business structure: Which of the three basic business ownership structures you choose influences your day-to-day operations, taxes, personal liability, risk, capacity to acquire finances, etc. A sole proprietorship is a business owned by a single individual, is easy to form and gives you complete control of your business. A partnership is a company jointly owned by two or more people whose shares, rights and responsibilities are spelled out in a partnership agreement. It’s the simplest structure for two or more people to own a business together. A corporation is a business owned by shareholders. This form of business ownership protects its owners with limited liability.
- Develop a business plan that can be presented to investors and lenders. It’s a roadmap for how to structure, run and grow the business. It guides you through each stage of starting and managing your company. The plan should include an executive summary, a company description, market analysis, a description of the organizational and management structure, marketing and sales plan, details regarding products/services offered, financial projections and funding requirements.
- Choose a name that communicates what your business does in a visually interesting, memorable, and positive way. Take into account legal considerations. Protect your name by registering it with the right agencies both federally and provincially.
- Find funding: Your business plan will help you figure out how much money you’ll need to start your business. If you don’t have enough funds of your own, you’ll need to raise or borrow capital. Consider a line of credit, a business bank loan, venture capital, crowdfunding, angel investors, private lenders, a merchant cash advance, invoice factoring, business-to-business lending and/or government-sponsored small business grants, loans and/or subsidies.
- Get a business license: You may need to get a business license before you can operate legally within your municipality. If your city or town doesn’t have a website, you can find contact information for government agencies online.
- Pick a location: The location you choose (including an online store) affects your taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Take into account the location of your target market, business partners, and your personal preferences. Consider the costs, benefits, and restrictions depending upon location (salaries, minimum wage laws, property values, rental rates, insurance rates, utilities, licencing fees, zoning ordinances, etc.).
- Register for GST/HST/provincial sales tax so you can take advantage of Input Tax Credits which assist your business in recouping GST/HST paid out on purchases for business use.
- Open a business bank account to help handle legal, tax and day-to-day issues. Common business accounts include a checking account, savings account, credit card account, and a merchant services account. Rates, fees, and options vary, so shop around to make sure you find the lowest fees and the best benefits.
Embrace both the excitement and fear of starting a business! Put yourself on the path to successful entrepreneurship. Follow the key steps outlined here to help ensure the success of your endeavour.
Thinking of starting a business? Need help, guidance and advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you wish to operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help you. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
After your passing and before your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries, outstanding debts are settled within your estate including income taxes, probate fees and possibly capital gains tax (on investments, real estate, trusts, etc.). Your legal representative will file a “Date of Death” or “Terminal” tax return resulting in possible taxes being payable from the estate as it is settled. Any assets not automatically rolling over to the surviving spouse/partner will be subject to a “deemed disposition” at fair market value possibly resulting in a potential capital gain or loss on the deemed sale. Careful tax planning, conducted ahead of time, can help you avoid a substantial tax hit to your estate and help you preserve more value to be distributed amongst your surviving heirs.
What can you do to minimize the taxes and other mitigations of your estate?
There are ways to protect your estate from current and future liabilities such as trust planning and estate freezes. These procedures work best when done in conjunction with other strategies.
- Estate Freeze: A typical estate freeze allows you to exchange your common shares of your business for preference shares and have the company issue new common shares to a family trust or to your children and possibly yourself. The value of the preferred shares issued in the exchange will be “frozen” at the value ascribed to them at the date of exchange with all future appreciation and growth in value accruing in favour of the newly issued common shares; thus, capping or limiting any future tax liability on the disposition of the preferred shares.
- Trusts are a particularly useful tool for mitigating tax because they create a unique legal relationship that maintains ownership of an asset on behalf of the beneficiary. A trust can assist a surviving spouse avoid an adverse marginal tax rate they might otherwise be exposed to while also allowing for a continued and orderly splitting of income amongst family members. Assets, like a family cottage, etc., can also be placed into trusts possibly deferring taxes for the next generation.
- Charitable Donations spread your legacy, create a lasting social impact and are a powerful tool for lowering estate tax. The capital gains taxes can be substantially reduced and possibly eliminated altogether. When assets, having appreciated in value, are donated to charitable causes.
- Transfer Property to Your Spouse: One of the easiest and most straight forward ways to defer taxes on death is to have your property rollover automatically to your surviving spouse. The surviving spouse would simply slip into the shoes of the deceased spouse in regard to the assets’ ownership and carrying costs, etc. thereby deferring any gain on disposition until the death of the surviving spouse.
- Buying Assets in Your Child’s Name: A simple and legal route to reduce estate taxes is to buy the article (artwork/property/jewelry, antiques, etc.) in your child’s name. They own the article and any appreciation in the value already belongs to them.
Significant tax losses on your estate are an important concern. Pass on the rewards of your efforts to the next generation. If you want to maximize the wealth of your estate and minimize the tax burden, contact a CPA. They can help reduce and defer the tax on your estate.
Interested in reducing and/or deferring the tax burden on your estate? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a conglomerate with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help you. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.