KPIs for Small Businesses

KPIs for Small Businesses - Cook and Co - Professional Accountants - Featured Image

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.

 

 

References:

Fraud Tips for Business Owners

Fraud Tips for Business Owners - Cook & Co - Professional Accountants - Featured Image

All businesses are susceptible to fraud, though small and mid-sized businesses are the most common victims. These companies are targeted as they often have few preventative policies in place. Though it’s impossible to be fully protected, there are proactive steps that you can take to minimize exposure to fraud risks.

 

Types of fraud: Fraud comes in many forms from both inside and outside a business.

  • Internal Fraud: Employee theft is a common source of fraud (lost inventory, unethical accounting, theft of financial assets, fake expenses, overinflated commissions).
  • External Fraud: Customer fraud (counterfeit bills, bad cheques, stolen credit cards, fraudulent requests for refunds/returns), third-party contractor fraud (overbilling, fee schemes, failure to deliver) and computer fraud (hacking, information theft, data mining) are the most common types of external fraud.

 

Ways to reduce fraud: There are many policies and practices that can help to reduce the possibility of fraud in your business.

    • Create a fraud policy that covers topics such as what actions constitute fraud, how to report suspected fraud, who is responsible for investigating fraud, and confidentiality. Clearly outline your expectations related to employee conduct and the consequences for violating these policies.
    • Provide education for all employees (security awareness, fraud policy understanding). Make sure they are aware of the need to create secure passwords, that they change passwords often and to keep passwords safe. Inform them of the importance of phishing awareness and remind staff about the dangers of clicking on unexpected links and attachments.
    • Limit file access: Give employees access to only those files that are necessary to do their job. Require more than one person to complete key tasks (approving payments, writing cheques, managing petty cash, processing client receivables, approving overtime claims, recording in the accounting system).
    • Protect bank accounts and credit cards: Create separate bank and credit card accounts for your personal life and business. Check security systems your bank uses for online banking to be sure automatic logout is available. Ensure that your credit card provider has suitable fraud protections in place, such as automatic alerts if an employee spends over a certain amount. Limit how and with whom you share confidential banking information.
    • Keep detailed and accurate records: Accurate, detailed record-keeping (accounting records, inventory controls) helps shield your business from fraudulent activities.
    • Go paperless: Going digital reduces access to information, enables fraud preventive accounting controls, permits authorization limitations and creates an easy to trace audit trail.
    • Fine-tune payroll procedures: Ensure that payroll processes require HR and your payroll company to confirm deposit accounts with employees. Pay using direct deposit or open a separate business account to minimize circulation of your company’s bank account information. Use regular audits to keep check for falsified hours, inflated commissions, and other irregularities.
    • Use secure payment methods: Switch to direct deposit or fund transfers. Encrypt payment transactions and partner with a secure payment processor. Consider a cheque imaging solution (scanning or picture taking) making it possible for you to deposit money automatically.
    • Audit high-risk areas often: A daily check of accounts and statements is a great way to protect against fraud or accounting errors. Routinely audit areas of your business that deal in cash, refunds, product returns, inventory management and accounting functions.
  • Establish a thorough hiring process: Check each new hire’s references and previous employers. Do a criminal check, especially for those employees who handle cash, manage payments and have access to bank account information. Use a reputable service that specializes in pre-employment screening.
  • Keep your point-of-sale secure: Make sure all your POS devices are digitally secure. Install passwords and change them regularly. Choose systems that come with end-to-end encryption. Don’t connect your POS to external networks. At the end of each day, account for every POS device and secure devices in a location that only select employees can access.
  • Know who you’re dealing with: Record basic information about the businesses/clients you deal with (address, name, two phone numbers, references). Check who the owners are and how long they have been in business. Search the company’s name online with the term “scam” or “complaint.” Before engaging with suppliers, ask for recommendations from other business owners in your community.
  • Invest in insurance to help with the recovery of some or all of your losses in the event of fraud. Consult with an insurance specialist for help evaluating possible risks and determining what kind of insurance will best suit your business.
  • Get expert advice: You don’t have to figure it all out by yourself! Talk to a small business advisor and/or a commercial banking consultant about products and services to help prevent fraud.
  • Enable whistleblowing: Create a system that enables employees to anonymously report tips essential to dealing with fraud.
  • Update all devices to the latest security software, web browsers, and operating systems. Use antivirus software, anti-malware and firewalls.
  • Create a mobile device action plan to encrypt data. Make sure each employee has a separate user account, so you can trace activity if there’s a problem.
  • Back up critical business data and store the information in the cloud.
  • Secure Wi-Fi networks with Service Set Identifier (SSID) and password protection.

 

It’s easy to put off fraud prevention until an issue arises. Be proactive! By taking a few simple steps to put a fraud prevention plan into action, you’ll protect your business, establish a culture of zero-tolerance for fraud and help mitigate unforeseen threats in the future.

 

 

References:

Is the GST Quick Method Right for You?

Is the GST Quick Method Right for You? - Cook & Co - Professional Accountants - Featured Image

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
  • campgrounds
  • caterers
  • delicatessens
  • painting contractors
  • photographers
  • taxi drivers
  • etc.

 

Who is ineligible for the GST quick method?

  • accountants or bookkeepers
  • financial consultants
  • listed financial institutions
  • lawyers (or law offices)
  • actuaries
  • 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.

 

Resources:

How to Fix a Mistake on a Filed Tax Return

How to Fix a Mistake on a Filed Tax Return - Cook & Co - Professional Accountants - Featured Image

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.

 

 

 

Resources: 

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/forms/t2sch42.html

Managing Small Business Debt during COVID-19

Managing Small Business Debt during COVID-19 - Cook & Co - Professional Accountants - Featured Image

Three-quarters of Canadian small businesses have taken on debt as a result of COVID-19. As of November 3rd, 69% of Alberta businesses are open, 39% are back to pre-COVID staffing levels but only 21% are experiencing normal revenues. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses estimates that, if and when revenues return to normal, it will take most Alberta small businesses 1 ½ years to recover.  Business owners have two choices: try to save the business while attempting to settle outstanding accounts, or allow the business to fail with an exit strategy that minimizes the financial consequences.

Financial help available for those attempting to save their business:

    • CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account) supports businesses by providing financing for expenses that cannot be avoided or deferred thereby helping to position businesses for successful relaunch when the economy reopens. CEBA is available from more than 220 financial institutions across the country. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022, will result in loan forgiveness of 25%.  CEBA support is being expanded from $40K to $60K and is available to all eligible previous and new CEBA applicants.
    • CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) covers part of employee wages, retroactive to March 15. This enables businesses to re-hire workers, help prevent further job losses, and ease back into normal operations.
    • RRRF (Regional Relief and Recovery Fund) helps businesses and organizations in sectors that are key to regions and local economies. The fund is specifically targeted to those that may require additional help to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been unable to access other support measures.
    • CERS (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy) provides direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support to qualifying organizations. Charities, nonprofits and qualifying businesses receive a subsidy of up to 65% of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Combined with the other support received under the CERS, businesses can receive a rent subsidy of up to 90%.
    • Loan Guarantee (for small and medium-size businesses): Export Development Canada (EDC) is working with financial institutions to guarantee 80% of new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized enterprises. This financing support is to be used for operational expenses and is available to both exporting and non-exporting companies.
    • Co-Lending program (for small and medium-sized enterprises): Business Development Canada (BDC) is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized businesses for their operational cash flow requirements.

Tips for businesses regarding recovery:

  • Take care of your people: Implement best practices for safety. Allow those who can to work remotely. Establish a contingency plan for quarantined workers. Schedule regular updates and optimize technology to keep the lines of communication open and clear.
  • Evaluate capacity and resources: Review your expense items to see where you can shave costs. Find recurring operating expenses that can be suspended for a short term. Align personnel to production/sales. Defer discretionary expenses. Document cash inflow and outflow. Create a rolling cash flow forecast and update it weekly.
  • Communicate with suppliers to confirm whether existing purchase orders will be filled on time. This will help you manage your customers’ expectations and update your cash flow plan. Try to negotiate deferred payment terms for payables.
  • Reach out to customers and confirm that existing and planned orders are still on track. If they owe you money, discuss the ability to pay and the timing of payments. Offer markdowns if they can pay you quickly. You may have to defer production or loosen repayment terms.  Ask customers if they need anything else. With businesses closed and supply chains compromised, there may be a new opportunity for your company.
  • Talk to your banker: Present your banker with a solid restructuring plan. If possible, renegotiate your bank loan so it’s spread over a longer-term, reducing the interest payments and also the monthly repayment cost. Investigate the opportunity to lower interest rates. Consolidate business loans into one payment, which may reduce monthly costs.
  • Consider alternative lenders: Even in tight times, there are those who are looking to invest and alternative methods of financing. Consider peer-to-peer loans, a line of credit, invoice financing, an advance funding loan, non-bank lenders (ThinkingCapital, OnDeck), invoice factoring and a merchant cash advance.
  • Be open to change and move quickly: Look beyond the status quo. Adapt quickly to the changing situation. Look for new market demands. Explore adjacent markets. Consider new ways to use your expertise. Solve unique problems resulting from the situation thereby creating a new niche. Establish a regional supply chain for continuity.
  • Embrace digital possibilities: Digital technologies can provide new marketing, financing and networking opportunities. Create digital products and services. Use online platforms to gain efficiencies and create customer value. Enable remote working. Access regional, national, and global markets in a cost-effective way using e-commerce platforms.
  • Think outside the box: What can you do to increase revenues? Can you lease out a portion of your office to another business? Could you save on rent by working remotely? Get creative. Find ways to generate additional revenue from your existing assets.
  • Get outside help: Outside assistance can help you navigate the changes. Talk to your chartered accountant, your financial planner and/or your banker. They have experience and knowledge that may be helpful.

 

Do everything you can to keep your business running. With luck and perseverance, you can survive and possibly thrive through this pandemic. Learn from this experience so that you can bounce back stronger.

 

Need help navigating the current situation? Draw on the knowledge and experience of 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.

 

 

References:

Cybersecurity and Your Business

Cybersecurity and Your Business - Cook & Co - Professional Accountants - Featured Image

Cybersecurity is the technologies, processes, and practices designed to protect networks, devices, programs, and data from attack, damage, or unauthorized access. You may think that your business will not be a likely victim but the risk is not limited to businesses that sell products and handle credit card information and it’s not just large companies that are targeted. If your business collects, processes, and stores data on computers and other devices, you are at risk. Protecting your company and its information needs to be a top priority. There are a number of safety measures you can take to ensure that your systems, data and site are as secure as possible.

    • Train your employees: Establish basic cybersecurity practices and policies for your company and train all employees regarding these. Inform employees regarding all security issues. Have a clear email and Internet use policy. Provide regular updates on new protocols and conduct regular training sessions to review IT security best practices. Create a culture of cybersecurity awareness.
    • Secure your network, database and website: Install the latest anti-malware, antivirus, spam blockers, spyware detection and anti-ransomware software. Consider using a service like PayPal to process payments and protect customer information.
    • Establish safe passwords and authentication practices: Data breaches often happen due to lost, stolen, weak or easy to guess passwords. Consider a  Password Manager App, a software application designed to store and manage online credentials in an encrypted database. Multi-factor authentication that requires additional information to gain entry is another possibility. Change passwords every 3 months. Give employees access to only the specific data systems that they need for their jobs and require permission before installing any software. No one employee should have access to all data systems.
    • Implement penetration testing: Penetration testing involves hacking into your own system to expose vulnerabilities in your host network and network devices. It identifies problematic access points in your system and provides suggestions for hardware and software improvements to upgrade your security.
    • Provide firewall security: Install a firewall on all devices; a set of programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. If employees work from home, ensure that their home systems are firewall protected. Firewalls give you the best chance of protecting your site before an attack is successful and they result in a faster and safer website. Many companies install internal firewalls to provide additional protection.
    • Do private browsing with a VPN (virtual private network): Business owners/employees often use temporary workplaces and remote locations (coffee shop, airport, home office) increasing the risk of outsiders gaining access to business data. A VPN creates an encrypted connection between your computer and the remote private network making it necessary to have the key to decode information. Your data can’t be monitored, tracked, collected and stored.
    • Create a mobile device action plan: Mobile devices (laptops, tablets, USB drives, smartphones) create a security risk for your company. Require employers to have password protection, encryption software, and a remote lock and wipe app.
    • Encrypt your emails: Email messages and attachments are not a safe way to send confidential/sensitive information. Email encryption software ensures that only the sender and recipient can read the email/attachment thus preventing data breaches. The email contains a hyperlink to a website controlled by the sender.
    • Subscribe to a Cloud service; an easy and affordable way to get data security from a company that specializes in handling security threats.
    • Backup business data and information: Automatically backup critical data (word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, accounts receivable/payable files) and store the copies offsite or in the cloud. Check your backup regularly to ensure that it is functioning correctly.
    • Outsource your IT: A third-party IT provider hires and trains the best security people, gives you a set monthly fee, remotely manages your servers (24/7) and responds to emergencies.
    • Dispose of data safely: When disposing of outdated computers, completely destroy the data on the hard drive by using a wiping/degaussing system and then physically destroying it with a hard-drive shredder or crusher.
    • Secure your Wi-Fi network: Set up a wireless access point/router that is secure, encrypted and hidden. Password protect access to the router.
    • Talk to your professional accountant to ensure that your information is protected on their end.

 

Increase your vigilance regarding online security in order to protect your intellectual property, financial data, personal information, or other types of data from unauthorized access or exposure. Undertake proactive measures to protect your business computer, network, data, and website. Be aware of recent attacks and adjust your protection as needed. Stay ahead of cyber attacks, cybercriminals and emerging trends in cybercrime. The Canadian Center for Cyber Security provides online training, checklists, and information specific to protect online businesses.

 

Concerned about the safety of your company’s information? Want an accountant versed in cybersecurity? 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.

 

 

 

References:

https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2019/03/12/video-advertising-trends

https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2019/10/31/pre-roll-ads

https://smartyads.com/blog/what-is-ott-advertising/

https://instapage.com/blog/pre-roll-ads

https://instapage.com/blog/digital-advertising-trends

https://financesonline.com/advertising-trends/

https://financesonline.com/advertising-trends/

https://marutitech.com/benefits-chatbot/

https://blog.templatetoaster.com/google-alp/

https://www.business2community.com/digital-marketing/top-10-trends-in-digital-advertising-in-2020-02263555

https://www.singlegrain.com/digital-marketing/digital-marketing-trends-2020/

https://instapage.com/blog/what-is-outstream-video

https://www.curalate.com/blog/google-shoppable-ads/

https://www.3playmedia.com/2018/09/20/3-reasons-why-you-need-video-transcription/

https://www.tintup.com/blog/user-generated-content-definition/

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=what+is+a+remarketing+ad

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/over-top.asp

https://digitalguardian.com/blog/biggest-incidents-cybersecurity-past-10-years-infographic

Preparing a Business Plan

Preparing a Business Plan - Cook & Co - Professional Accountants - Featured Image

In order to secure the money your business needs from a bank, you’ll have to prepare a business plan. It’s a factual description of your business and its projections. This document describes your plan for your company showing its structure, products, services, marketing strategy, budget and financial projections. It’s an informational document intended to showcase your company’s operations, goals and potential. Make sure it includes the following:

 

  • Executive summary: This section briefly summarizes the entire business plan. It describes the company, your product/service, the industry, your competitive advantage and the prevailing economic climate.
  • Description of the company: This segment of the document fully describes the history, current operations, strategy, mission statement, principals, strategic partners and corporate structure of your company.
  • Management team experience: This is your chance to showcase the skills, experience and qualifications of yourself (owner), any co-owners and each member of your management team. Include an organizational chart and salary forecasts. If you have a board of directors, list them along with relevant experience.
  • Key financial data: Report the fiscal strength of your company. Provide financial statements and forecasts for the next 2 to 3 years and include historical results for the past three to five years. This portion of the plan should include income statements, cash flow statements, capital expenditure budgets, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, sales forecasts and relevant financial metrics for your industry. Provide monthly, quarterly and yearly projections.
  • Market analysis: Provide a competitive analysis of your market identifying existing gaps that your business intends to fill. Include an industry overview, information on your target market, planned marketing strategies, your knowledge of relevant regulations and your past compliance with them.
  • Production plan: Describe your company’s product/service in detail. Itemize the product line with the current and planned pricing structure. Include the estimated life-cycle of the product/service and a description of any trademarks/patents/intellectual property rights you own.
  • Supporting documents: Append principal’s resumes, tax returns, real estate documents, processing flowchart, letters of intent from buyers of your product/service, marketing materials, training certificates, research supporting your forecasts, clients testimonials and media reports.

Tips:

  • Use simple language, avoiding technical terms and acronyms.
  • Your proposal should be clear, well-structured and easy to read.
  • Don’t hesitate to sell yourself!
  • Demonstrate that you have contingency plans.
  • Consider working with a professional to help you to lay out the document.

 

Preparing a clear, well-documented business plan is crucial for getting the money your business needs. Create a detailed, precise, informational document that presents your business in the best possible light. Demonstrate your willingness to make a success of your business. If you need help creating your plan, talk to your chartered accountant. They will have the knowledge, experience and skills to help you create a professional business plan.

 

Need help preparing a business plan? 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.

Why a Small Business Needs a Budget

Why a Small Business Needs a Budget - Cook & Co - Professional Accountants - Featured Image

A budget is a financial plan for a company’s future. It projects revenue and expenses, enabling a business to make confident financial decisions. Many business owners underestimate the value of a budget. The following are a number of reasons why your company needs a budget.

 

  • Enables accurate goal setting: A budget helps a business to set goals, priorities and spending caps. It shows where funding comes from and where new strategies might bring in revenue. A budget reminds you of your overall strategies when making decisions.  
  • Assists in writing a business plan: A realistic budget is an essential part of the business plan needed to raise capital for a company. It Indicates that the company has a viable strategy and a practical plan for making a profit.
  • Allows planning in advance: A budget helps your company account for long term needs, maximize profits and distribute revenue effectively over the course of a fiscal year.
  • Informs spending decisions: A budget establishes spending limits, promoting accountability. It shows how increased expenditures in one department can be balanced by a decrease in another, helping managers work together to avoid overspending while still providing necessities. 
  • Informs and motivates employees: A budget helps to unify and engage your employees by giving them quantifiable goals on which to focus. It encourages them to think of solutions to sales shortfalls/expense overages and to help the business hit its budget targets.
  • Unifies stakeholders: A solid budget gets stakeholders on board with your goals, keeping all parties in agreement with the company’s objectives and plans for meeting them. It helps gauge progress enabling investors, shareholders, owners and managers to work together to keep the company healthy and on track.
  • Enables performance evaluation: By tracking revenue and expenses, a budget helps evaluate the performance of your business over the course of the fiscal year. It ensures your company is sticking to the plan, pinpoints problems and identifies opportunities.
  • Attracts investors/satisfies lenders:  A detailed budget that your company adheres to shows lenders and potential investors that your business plan is working and inspires confidence in your business. 
  • Aids in determining staffing needs: A comprehensive budget will help you decide how many full-time, part-time or contract employees you need to reach your goals. It will assist you in determining whether you should do your own accounting/payroll or hire an outside consulting firm. 
  • Assist communication: The clear plans and expectations of a budget minimize confusion and create clear communication between departments and levels of management.

 

Budgeting is especially important for small businesses where being off on cost projections or estimated earnings can have a devastating effect on the company. Creating a budget for your small business makes operating your company easier, more efficient, gives you the best chance of achieving your long term goals and helps you reap rewards for your hard work. Consider hiring a Chartered Professional Accountant with expertise in business finance. They willl help your business create a detailed and viable budget. 

Need help in creating a detailed and realistic budget for your business? 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.

Cash Flow Management Tips for Small Businesses

Cash Flow Management Tips for Small Businesses - Cook & Co - Professional Accountants - Featured Image

Has your business ever had trouble paying vendors, making loan installments or meeting payroll requirements due to cash flow issues? You’re not alone! Cash flow management is one of the biggest challenges that small business owners face. Though every business’s needs are unique, the following are some strategies that may improve your company’s cash flow position and ease the strain on your working capital.

 

  • Ask for a deposit: If your product or service requires considerable cash or effort before delivery, consider asking clients for a deposit.
  • Examine your debt collection procedures: Be prompt with your collections and follow up on past-due accounts receivable by sending reminders. Offer a discount for early payment of invoices.
  • Cut and/or delay expenses: If your company manufactures products, consider using lower-cost inputs to deliver the same goods. If you are a service company, opt for spending less time on the same work. Exhaust existing inventory before purchasing more. Hire part-time or contract employees to replace full-time employees.
  • Get a business credit card: Choose a card that rewards with points that can be used for travel and business purchases. Many cards come with innovative reporting options that illustrate spending trends to help business owners optimize their cash flow.
  • Get creative with marketing: Instead of expensive radio, TV or newspaper ads, opt for a less costly social media marketing campaign.
  • Restructuring your terms with vendors (an extra week or two for payments) can make a substantial difference. Once you have reached an agreement, be timely and dependable with your payments.
  • Finance purchase orders: If you’re a manufacturing or merchandising company and you require a significant amount of cash to fulfill your orders, financing purchase orders may be helpful. The financing company pays the vendor so you can acquire the merchandise/inventory you need to fulfill the order. This allows you to take large orders that you don’t yet have the cash to fill.
  • Increase margins: If your business has a unique product/service or a high demand for your product/service, consider increasing your margins by increasing your charges. 
  • Sell or lease idle equipment: Utilize eBay or Craigslist to sell redundant or idle equipment and use the proceeds to ensure cash flow.
  • Sell future revenue: Consider taking a loan that is automatically repaid via a percentage of your business’s credit/debit card transaction volume. 
  • Turn down, shift or postpone work to manage the volume of business for consistency over time. Offer good clients a discount for postponing their work, order or service. This will not be a viable strategy for companies with strong seasonal businesses (retailers, accountants, etc.).
  • Invoice factoring involves selling your invoices (an asset) to a factoring company. Instead of waiting 15, 30 or 60 days for your money, your business gets payment upfront.
  • Hire an accountant: A Chartered Professional Accountant will have the knowledge and experience to offer you creative solutions to your cash flow problems. 
  • Restructure payroll: Switching to a less frequent pay period can save on administrative costs (collecting, verifying, tabulating information). Direct deposit can also help stabilize your payroll withdrawals.
  • Borrow money before you need it: When your business is doing well, open a business line of credit. Interest rates can be as low as 6 to 7%. Ask for more than you need so you have reserves to draw from when times are tough.
  • Evaluate your cash flow on a regular basis. Calculate how much debt you can take on and not be overleveraged.  Factor in time, interest, ROI. Have a repayment plan in place for borrowed money. If possible, maintain a rainy-day reserve in case of an emergency.
  • Take advantage of technology by using apps and software to streamline your business processes and increase efficiency. Technology can enable you to spend less time worrying about cash flow and more time running your business.

Working capital is the fuel that powers small businesses. Managing cash flow is critical to running a profitable long-term business. Constantly look for new ways to improve cash flow management in your company.

Looking for ways to examine and improve your cash flow? 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.

What Financial Statements Does my Business Need?

What Financial Statements Does my Business Need? - Cook & Co - Professional Accountants - Featured Image

Financial statements are a set of documents showing a company’s current financial status. They communicate what your business owns and what it owes at a fixed point in time and provide details about your assets, liabilities and equity. There are three statements that all businesses require for tax, financing and investing purposes.

 

Balance sheet:

The balance sheet is a snapshot of a company’s performance at a given time. It identifies the company’s assets (inventory, equipment, vehicles, furniture, property, cash), liabilities (short term debts, long term loans, accounts payable) and equity (what would be left if assets were sold and debts paid). The balance sheet is an indication of the health of a business and helps business owners make decisions regarding how much inventory to order, if assets should be sold and whether a cash infusion is called for. Lenders use a company’s balance sheet to evaluate collateral and risk.  

 

Income statement:

The income statement, also known as a profit and loss statement, summarizes a company’s revenue and expenses for a given period of time. This report shows the company’s bottom line. The income statement consists of four sections; revenues (net sales), cost of goods sold (inventory, freight, labour, indirect expenses), expenses (wages, advertising, depreciation, payroll taxes, office expenses, utilities) and other income (assets sold, interests on loans/investments). The income statement is the document you show to potential lenders/investors and is necessary during tax season. It indicates the profitability of a business’ current operations and guides management in how to expand or cut operations for greater profits.

 

Cash flow statement:

The cash flow statement reports the cash and cash equivalents that flow into and out of a company in a given time period. It measures how much cash a company has on hand. Your income statement shows your company’s bottom line while the cash flow statement shows how your business earns cash and where it goes. The information in this report is used to project how much revenue can be expected in the future, estimate upcoming expenses and make judgments re revenue gaps that may result in non-payment of business liabilities and debts. There are three activities documented in a cash flow statement; operations (accounts receivable, accounts payable, wages, merchandise expenses), investments (equipment and merchandise purchased, purchase of an asset, loans made to vendors, payments related to a merger or acquisition)  and financing (bank loans, shareholder monies, personal investments, dividend payments, loan repayments, sale of company stocks). This report informs management of how much cash is available to pay expenses and invest in the business. Large discrepancies between the cash flow statement and the income statement help identify problems in a business’s operations.

Financial statements are written records that convey a company’s activities and financial performance. The balance sheet provides an overview of assets, liabilities, and stockholders’ equity. The income statement focuses on a company’s revenues and expenses. The cash flow statement measures how a company generates cash to pay its debt obligations, fund its operating expenses, and fund investments. These three main financial statements are interrelated and help you make smart financial, investment and management decisions. All businesses should prepare these reports on a regular basis. Talk to your chartered accountant. They will have the knowledge, expertise and experience to provide you with the financial statements you require. 

Need help with your company’s financial statements? 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.