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.
Selling a business is a complex process. It’s time-consuming, stressful and can seem overwhelming. If you want the sale of your small business to be a smooth transition, there are some things you need to consider. The following are some tips for preparing your business for sale.
- Determine the value of your business: The value of a business is determined by cash flow, earnings (before interest/taxes/depreciation/amortization), industry trends, market demand and location. The asking price of your business needs to be comparable to the industry median in order to attract suitable buyers and open negotiations. It’s important to get a business assessment from an accredited business appraiser as a third-party valuation adds credibility to your asking price.
- Hire legal experts: There are many legal documents required when selling a small business including an asset purchase agreement, the legal contract for the sale, a letter of intent and documents proving ownership of patents/trademarks and other intellectual property. Hire the necessary financial, legal, tax and business advising professionals to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. This guarantees that you are fully protected with a strong contract. Choose experts that specialize in dealing with businesses for sale.
- Engage a business broker: While a lawyer structures the deal, a business broker helps you find a buyer. They will give you market visibility, contact potential buyers on your behalf, submit paperwork correctly, secure a favourable price, and fulfill any licensing and permitting requirements. Keep regular contact with them to discuss sale expectations, contracts, advertising, and other concerns. Brokers charge a commission of 5 to 10% of the sale price.
- Prepare your paperwork: Potential buyers will want to see a profit and loss statement for the last 3 years, a current balance sheet, a cash flow statement, business tax returns for the last 3 years, a copy of the lease, any insurance policies, an executive summary of the business, supplier and distributor contracts, an equipment listing, your policy and procedures manual and employment agreements. Ensure a smooth process by taking the time to get these documents organized. Your professional chartered accountant can assist you with this task.
- Pre-qualify your buyers: Many deals fall through because sellers enter transactions with buyers who are unable to secure financing. Ask your buyer what kind and size of business they desire, how soon they wish to purchase, how long they’ve been looking for a business, what business experience they have, how this experience will help run your business and what type of financing they have in place. Have the potential buyer provide a letter from their financial institution or accountant that shows they have the funds required to purchase your business.
- Tidy up loose ends: Make good on all payments, late payments, defaults and promises. Have your professional chartered accountant audit your financial statements. Review crucial employment contracts. Have an intellectual property attorney review all of your business contracts.
Selling a small business is exciting! It also requires careful planning. Follow these tips to set yourself up for success, increase your chances of finding the right buyer, boost the sale price of your business and create a smooth transaction.
Need help preparing documents for the sale of your business? Need advice regarding the sale? 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.
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.