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.
Tax season is upon us! It’s time to gather your receipts and organize your documents in preparation for filing your business tax return. Canada Revenue Agency offers a number of tax deductions to small business owners. Are you aware of all of them? Following are some deductions you will want to keep in mind as you file your taxes this year.
Operating Expenses are expenses incurred during your company’s day-to-day activities or normal business operations. Some are deductible at 100% while you may only claim a portion of others.
- Capital cost allowance: When your business purchases items such as buildings, computers, computer equipment, vehicles and/or a franchise, you can depreciate these articles over time providing a tax benefit for several years.
- Bad debts are debts that remain unpaid after you have exhausted all means to collect. The CRA allows you to claim bad debts except those which are for a mortgage or resulting from a conditional sales agreement.
- Start-up costs are costs incurred preceding the start of business operation and can be claimed as an expense.
- Fees, licenses and dues: You can claim fees for professional licenses, professional service fees and professional association fees (membership in a trade or commercial association).
- Use of home expenses: If you operate your business from home, you can claim a portion of the following: interest on your mortgage, electricity costs, home insurance and heating costs.
- Delivery, freight and express: You can claim fees for services such as mail and delivery.
- Fuel costs: You can deduct the cost of fuel (gasoline, diesel, propane) motor oil and lubricants used in your business. This does not include fuel used in your motor vehicle.
- Insurance: You can deduct all business insurance policies such as general business liability, business property insurance, business interruption insurance and fire insurance. You cannot deduct the insurance for your motor vehicle or your life insurance premiums.
- Interest and bank charges: You can write off any interest you have incurred on money borrowed for business purposes or to acquire property for business purposes and bank charges which are given when processing your payments.
- Maintenance and repairs: You can deduct the cost of labour and materials for any minor repairs or maintenance done to property you use to earn business income.
- Management and administration fees: You can deduct any fees you paid to have your assets and investments managed.
- Meals and entertainment: When you attend a convention, conference, or similar event you can claim up to 50% of the cost for food, beverages, plane tickets, hotel rooms and gratuities. When you take a client to an entertainment or sporting event, you can claim 50% of the cost of tickets, entrance fees, cover charges, food, beverages, gratuities and room rental for a hospitality suite.
- Motor vehicle expenses: If you incur expenses through the use of your personal vehicle for business purposes, you can claim those expenses by keeping an accurate log of use. If your business owns a vehicle or a fleet of vehicles, you can claim fuel, insurance, parking, repairs and maintenance.
- Legal, accounting and other professional fees: You can deduct the fees you incurred for external professional advice and/or services such as accounting and legal fees.
- Prepaid expenses are expenses you pay ahead of time such as yearly rent and can be claimed.
- Office expenses can be deducted such as the cost of pens, pencils, paper clips, stationery and stamps.
- Other business expenses are expenses you incur to earn income that are not included on a previous line of your claim such as disability-related modifications, computer and other equipment leasing costs, property leasing costs, convention expenses, allowable reserves private health services plan (PHSP) premiums and undeducted premiums.
- Property taxes: You can deduct property taxes you incurred for property used in your business such as taxes for the land and bulding where your business is located.
- Rent: You can deduct rent incurred for property used in your business such as rent for the land and building where your business is located.
- Salaries, wages and benefits: You can deduct gross salaries and other benefits you pay to employees but not a salary paid to yourself or your business partner.
- Supplies: You can deduct the cost of items your business used indirectly to provide goods or services such as drugs and medication used in a veterinary operation, cleaning supplies used by a plumber, supplies used to manufacture a product or software used to supply a service.
- Telephone and utilities: You can deduct costs for telephone and utilities (gas, oil, electricity, water, and cable) if you incurred the expenses to earn income.
- Travel: You can deduct up to 50% of travel expenses incurred to earn business and professional income such as public transportation fares, hotel accommodations and meals.
Donations: Don’t forget that you can claim donations made to registered charities, registered Canadian amateur athletic associations, registered national arts service organizations, registered Canadian low-cost housing corporations, government bodies, registered municipal or public bodies, registered universities, certain registered foreign charitable organizations and the United Nations.
Advertising: You can deduct expenses for advertising and promotion, including amounts you paid for business cards and promotional gifts. You can also deduct expenses for advertising in Canadian newspapers, on Canadian television, Canadian radio stations and online or digital advertising.
These are just some of the many deductions available to small businesses in Canada! Allowable tax deductions are constantly changing. If you aren’t aware of or don’t understand all of the deductions possible, don’t despair! Get in touch with your CPA. No matter what type of business you operate, what size your business is or where you operate from, your CPA will ensure that you receive all the deductions you’re entitled to. Let your CPA help you determine how much you can save this year.
For all your tax needs contact Cook and Company Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, we can use our experience and expertise to make tax time a breeze. Contact us to request a meeting.