Budget & Inventory Planning for the Holidays

Are you ready for the holiday rush? Even though it’s only October, you might want to start preparing for it soon!

If you own a small business, your sales are likely down from this same time in 2019. COVID-19 shutdowns affected every industry—even businesses that are primarily digital felt the impact. This is one reason why countless businesses have been pivoting online, minimizing their physical footprint while also taking advantage of the potential boost in online sales.

This trend is likely to continue into the holiday season. Rather than deal with crowded stores and malls during November and December, consumers will likely be doing most of their shopping online. You need to have your budget and inventory planning prepared for the holidays well ahead of time to make sure you aren’t slammed by the rush.

Here are a few ideas to ensure that your business’ holiday season is full of cheer and high sales numbers!

Start Working on a Budget

Along with big holiday sales comes big holiday business expenses.

Usually, businesses rely on their previous year’s holiday budget to help guide their budget planning process. However, as things are VERY different this year, piggybacking entirely on 2019’s numbers isn’t a viable plan.

Consider that online sales are likely going to make up the bulk of purchases this holiday season. With that in mind, you need to make sure your e-commerce platform of choice can handle those additional sales without crashing. The last thing you want is your online store to crash on Black Friday! If you believe that you’re going to need extra bandwidth, take care of that right now while everyone else is still focused on Halloween.

If you still have a physical location open, then you might need to hire some extra help for the season. Keep in mind that you will need to train them in all of your COVID-19-related policies, along with your regular employee training programs.

If you’re already overwhelmed just thinking about holiday planning, you could always outsource your holiday budget planning to us. We’d be happy to go through everything and help you generate an airtight budget that will keep things comfortably humming along this holiday season!

Holiday Marketing

There’s lots of competition for shoppers during the holiday season, so you should have a well-designed digital (or physical) marketing blitz planned. If you do any holiday-related marketing, make sure that you have those expenses already budgeted.

Your holiday marketing could be entirely focused on the online space, using digital channels like Facebook, Google, and email campaigns to connect with your customers and share your holiday offerings. If you live in a smaller market, you might also want to take advantage of more traditional offerings like radio ads or even newspapers.

Be sure to look at your previous ROI on holiday marketing to find out where you can best spend your marketing dollars. This year especially, you want to make sure you’re making every cent count!

Make Sure You Have Enough Inventory

While the shipping industry has somewhat recovered from the logistics disaster of COVID-19, shipped items can still take a while to get from point A to point B. If you’re relying on shipping services to order inventory and upping your stock, you should be ordering what you need ASAP to make sure you’re not going to be in short-stocked come November.

Go through your current inventory list and then update your holiday list. It might be tricky to gauge how the pandemic will impact seasonal sales, but you can likely rely on your previous year’s numbers as a baseline, then adjust them from there as best you can.

Inventory Management is Key

So, your budget is in order, and your inventory has arrived! Now it’s time to get everything organized for the holidays.

If you have a single channel to sell your items (like an e-commerce solution on your website), this task shouldn’t be too difficult. You simply need to make sure that you have an accurate count of your inventory across the board. If you rely on multiple channels to sell your items, like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy, then this might take you a little longer, as you’ll need to maintain listings and monitor these platforms for messages and questions. Don’t forget to include any fees for sales that are taken by these platforms!

The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, and especially for small business owners. If you want to relieve some of that pressure, The Number Worlds would be happy to help you with all of your holiday-related budgeting. Not only that, but by taking advantage of our services now, it will be much easier to take care of things during the upcoming 2021 tax season. To learn more, please contact The Number Works today. Let’s get your holiday season under control now so you can enjoy the end of the year!

Back to School & Back to Business 2020

Under normal circumstances at this time of year, kids start feeling that “back-to-school” anxiety. This year has a whole different kind of stress attached to it. And even if you’re not a parent, these feelings also apply to your business.

We may be in Stage 3 of reopening, but many small business owners are still unsure how to move forward. We find that the best way to work through anxiety is to assess and plan based on real information. Here are a few ideas on how you can get a handle on things, and prepare for everything Fall of 2020 has in store.

It Starts with Your Books

Facing your books is the beginning of planning and moving forward in this pandemic world. Don’t have a panic attack. The best thing you can do is understand your numbers, assess the health of your business, and make informed decisions.

If your business was closed throughout the first stages of the pandemic, the state of your books will reflect that—it’s not fun, but this is data you need to face.

To figure out how to pull yourself out of the hole that the pandemic has may have put you in, you need to know everything about your current financial situation. We can help you analyze the information. With our experience with small businesses, we can often find places where they can cut costs and correct deficiencies to save you money. And every cent matters in this market.

Oh, and if you’re worried about your personal finances, we can help with that too.

Invest in Online

It’s crazy to think that only six months ago, few people had ever heard of Zoom. Now, it seems to be the video conferencing app of choice for countless businesses around the world.

Even though things like schools and businesses are reopening, there will still be an increased emphasis on the digital side for the foreseeable future—or maybe even forever! With this in mind, it’s important to invest in your digital assets.

For example, if you haven’t updated your website in years, you should get on that immediately. Your website is your digital storefront, and given that many people will still be remaining inside, it’s the only storefront they will see! Also, take a look at reinvigorating your social media accounts to engage directly with your clients and customers. What about sprucing up or starting a new email marketing campaign? Since face-to-face contact is out, finding new ways to keep in touch with your customers can help. And with digital advertising, you can gain visibility with new customers at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.

If you sell products, a great online shop could completely transform your business. These days there are so many options to choose from; Shopify, Woocommerce on WordPress, and Squarespace are just a few options. A great online shop combined with some savvy social media marketing could push your business ahead this fall, just in time for the holiday season.

If you run a restaurant or a service-based business, make sure your menus and offerings are clear and appealing. A good copywriter can help you entice potential customers while also optimizing your keywords for Google. And now might be the right opportunity to consider an app for your business.

Now is also a good time to invest in some upgraded technology for both you and your children. For example, most laptops’ webcams are terrible, resulting in a horrible image for digital conferences and remote learning. Similarly, the built-in microphones usually aren’t great either. By investing in a decent quality webcam and microphone/headset, you can vastly improve your digital networking capabilities. In this environment, it’s an investment worth making.

Create a Revamped Business Plan

If you wrote a business plan before March 2020, you’ve likely thrown it out the window by now!

Even though the world has changed, it’s still essential to have a business and financial plan in place to chart your path for future growth, with your goals, hopes, dreams, challenges, and solutions assessed and prepared. We’ve been helping many small businesses with the financial side of their new business plan, giving them some direction moving forward into the fall.

We Can Help

If you’re experiencing some anxiety about your business right now, that’s entirely natural. After all, things are still changing and we don’t know where this pandemic will end. But by starting to make some plans for your business, you can take back some control and get a better grasp on things. This will certainly help reduce that anxiety!

If you need help understanding your numbers and your business’s financial health, contact The Number Works today. We can help you take control of your finances and create a financial plan for the months to come!

Money Saving Tips for Small Businesses

Money Saving Tips for Small Businesses

Have you been tightening your belt lately at your small business?

It seems like everyone is looking for places to save some money right now. And that makes sense, as most small businesses have been closed for the last few months. Even though we’re well into reopening across the province, it’s still going to take some time for everything to get back to normal. For businesses to rebound quickly, they’re going to need every spare penny they can find!

If you’ve been going through your small business’ budget looking for places to trim some fat, here are some ideas on how you might save some money throughout the rest of the year:

Change Up Your Advertising

When it comes to advertising, new small businesses sometimes think they need to break the bank to get people to notice them. That could be a big mistake, especially if they’re already working from a limited budget.

Rather than spending as much money on marketing as possible, it would be a better strategy to make the biggest impact for as little money as possible. ROI is crucial when it comes to marketing, so don’t splurge for that full-page newspaper ad right off the bat!

Do you have a professional-looking website? You should! If you’re just starting out, avoid going with a custom design and stick with a service like SquareSpace or WordPress. These are “do-it-yourself” website building and hosting companies that can deliver incredible-looking and easy-to-manage sites.

Once you have your website up, start building your social media presence online. It’s free to create profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your business. From there, you can start to create social media ads. They cost a fraction of what traditional advertising methods cost, but can deliver big returns!

Optimize Your Time

Some people think “time is money” is just an old cliche. Small business owners know better.

The more time you spend on small but time-consuming tasks, the less you’re going to have to spend on the big important stuff that actually makes you money. If you have a staff, you want to be paying them for hard work, not busy work and wasted time. To do this, you need to optimize how you’re spending your hours at work.

To do this, we recommend using a project management system such as Asana or Teamwork. Disorganization is usually the reason why time gets wasted, so fix this by using a tool that keeps your projects and tasks in one place! You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you and your staff become when everyone is clear on what they need to do.

Use Alternative or Open-Source Software

One of the biggest drags on the income of small businesses is the computer software they use. For example, if you work on PCs, then you likely have Microsoft Office installed. If you go with the standalone version of the software that you can only install on a single computer, you’re going to be paying $250. If you go with the subscription model, you’re going to be paying $100 a year. Either way, that’s a lot of money!

There are much cheaper alternatives out there for such software that offer almost identical functionality. For example, Google Suite is not only free, but it includes a great word processor, calendar, spreadsheets, and just about everything else you could get from Microsoft Office. Or, if you want a more Office-like experience, why not try LibreOffice? It’s a free, open-source productivity suite that is very similar to Office in terms of functionality and interface.

Another expensive piece of software that almost every small business uses is Adobe. Adobe programs like Acrobat and Photoshop can be essentials for any workplace, but they can also be incredibly expensive. Subscribing to a single app can run you up to $30 a month. If you want to use all of them, that’s going to be closer to $80 a month. But there are alternatives!

If you want to spend less money on editing PDFs, you could try Nitro Pro. It offers similar functionality to Adobe Acrobat, but for a one-time purchase of $160. If you want a free graphics editor, your best bet would be GIMP (short for GNU Image Manipulation Program). Its interface might take a little getting used to, but its feature set is fantastic!

Have an Accountant Take Care of Your Books

Early on in their business, some small business owners think a great way to save money is to do their taxes themselves. Unfortunately, they often learn the hard way that this is not only a bad idea, but it could cost them money in the long run.

First, doing your own business’ taxes is super time-consuming. If you’ve never done them before, you’re likely unaware of credits and deductions that could significantly reduce your tax bill. Add to that the several hours that it takes to complete and send your taxes off to the CRA, and it often becomes a time investment you can’t afford.

When you work with a professional accountant/bookkeeper, all of that is taken care of for you. We have worked with dozens upon dozens of small businesses over the years, helping them reduce their tax burden and saving them money and headaches. Not only that, but we also help them find places in their budgets where they could cut back and save even more. We realize we’re slightly biased, but hiring a great accountant is a terrific investment in your business’ future!

If you want to learn more about how we can help you manage your business’ finances, we invite you to contact The Number Works today. With our years of bookkeeping and accounting experience, we’ll work to save you money and help your business thrive throughout the rest of 2020!

Economic Slump? Tips to Recession-Proof Your Business

Economic Slump? Tips to Recession-Proof Your Business

Does the recent recession have you worrying about your small business?

COVID-19 has had an unparalleled impact on economies around the world. The damage to the stock market and the shelter-in-place orders that kept small businesses closed for months has resulted in fears that the Canadian economy was slipping into a recession (or even a depression). The Federal government has put programs into place to support both businesses and individuals, but for many, that isn’t enough. A recession can last months to years, so your business needs to be ready for the long haul.

If you’re worried about decreasing sales and consumer confidence, there are some steps you can take to make your business recession-proof. Here are some suggestions!

Watch Your Cash Flow

During a recession, protecting your cash flow becomes the most critical part of keeping in business.

In an ideal situation, you’re bringing in more money than your expenses and turning a profit. If your sales and clients are down because of a recession, making a profit can seem like an almost impossible task. To find some extra money, you’re going to need to hit the books.

Every small business, no matter how well-run, always has some inefficiencies. These can cost your business anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars every year. The trick is to figure out where these inefficiencies are.

A professional bookkeeper can help you sniff out these inefficiencies and suggest some places where you can save money. For example, you could be spending far more than you need to for internet or phone services. Switching to cheaper plans could save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Reduce Inventory Costs

During a recession, your sales could be down, which means you might have surplus inventory just sitting in a warehouse, taking up space and costing you money.

Your inventory costs are a place where you can potentially find big savings. For example, you could consider switching from a warehouse to a drop-shipping alternative for your products. You could also shop around, as many businesses have dropped the price of their services due to the impact of COVID-19. You might be able to negotiate a better deal with your current warehouse provider. You never know until you ask!

Support Your Current Customers

A recession goes hand-in-hand with a reduction in customer confidence. Even if their personal cash flow hasn’t taken a hit, people are less likely to spend money during a time when the economy is in trouble. To keep in business, you’re going to need to shore up your relationships with your current customers.

It’s a great time to contact your loyal customers to see how they are doing and if there’s anything you can do to help. Their needs may have changed because of the recession, so you should do your best to meet those needs if you’re able. If this means giving your customers a temporary deal on your services, it could be worth it. After all, keeping loyal customers now will mean that they’ll stay on when times improve.

Win New Customers

Expanding your customer base during the good times is important, but expanding it during the bad times is absolutely vital! It might be time to offer some sales or discounts on your products or services. Do some research on the kinds of marketing your competitors are currently doing to avoid being undercut. And speaking of marketing…

Keep Marketing Yourself

When you look at your current cash flow, you might think an easy place to trim some fat would be in your marketing budget. However, this decision could significantly damage your ability to connect with new customers.

A better plan is to get smarter with your marketing dollars. For example, if you’re running print ads with little return-on-investment, it might be time to switch to digital marketing avenues like social media. This shift in strategy is especially important when more and more people are spending time online.

No business can become entirely recession-proof as there are too many variables at play. But what you can do is put some measures into place to help you survive a recession and come out the other side in much better shape than others in your industry!

To help you monitor and manage your finances, we invite you to contact The Number Works today. With our years of bookkeeping and accounting experience, we can help your small business navigate this recession and whatever is yet to come!

New 2020 Tax Deadlines Are Approaching

Reminder: New 2020 Tax Deadlines Are Approaching!

Are you aware of the changes the CRA has made to your tax return deadlines?

COVID-19 has brought about so many changes in our lives. Zoom meetings, physical distancing, homeschooling, stay-at-home orders… it’s been overwhelming for us all. And then, as the cherry on top, we started to get notice of assessments in the mail saying that our taxes were due on April 30th, 2020. Yikes!

Thankfully, the government saw fit to give us all a break in April and moved most income tax deadlines a month into the future. This decision has given Canadians some much-needed breathing room. After all, doing your taxes is stressful enough already, let alone doing them during a global pandemic!

So, here are the dates that you need to know to make sure you get everything submitted to the CRA with time to spare:

Filing Date for Individuals

The deadline for filing your personal income taxes this year was moved a month later, to June 1st, 2020. You’ve likely already done most of your tax prep back in March or April (and if you haven’t, we could probably help with that). So all you need to do is fill out the forms and file online or through the mail.

Another way that CRA is helping Canadians is by delaying the payment dates of your income tax to on or before September 1st, 2020. You don’t need to send any money until that date, with no threats of interest or penalties. This deferral could free up some additional room in your budget over the next few months.

Filing Date for Corporations

Similar to individual income taxes, the deadline for filing corporate tax returns is now on or before June 1st, 2020 for those originally due after March 18 and before June 1. Corporations with a filing deadline in June, July or August is extended to September 1st, 2020. This delay was a big stress reliever for business owners, as many of their businesses had been closed due to physical distancing guidelines throughout March and April. But sadly, the “bill” has come due – if you’re a business owner, you’ll need to get your taxes in by the end of the month!

The payment date for corporate taxes has also been moved to September 1st, 2020. Again, this deferral should free up some much-needed budgetary space for businesses of all sizes during this difficult time.

Filing Date for the Self-Employed

Here’s where things get a little tricky. While the CRA moved tax deadlines for individuals and corporations, the deadline for the self-employed remains on or before June 15th, 2020. We understand that it would be nice to get a bit more time to finish your taxes, but that’s still two more weeks than the other groups!

Much like with individual and corporate taxes, the payment date for your taxes has been moved to September 1st, 2020.

Reasons to File Your Taxes ASAP

Just because you have some extra time to do your taxes doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute. If you ignore them until a week before the deadline, you’re going to be pretty stressed out. By doing your taxes now, you’ll be taking a huge burden off your shoulders, helping you better manage your current situation.

You should also keep in mind that waiting to file your tax returns could result in a delay of any of your benefits under the GST/HST tax credit or the Canada Child Care Benefit, along with potential refunds.

Take the Pressure Off Entirely!

Way back in March, we had dozens of our clients send us all of their relevant financial documents so we could do their taxes. They told us that knowing they didn’t have to do anything was a massive weight off their mind.

Today, individuals and businesses are back in the same situation, except now it’s even more stressful. People usually dread doing their taxes at the best of times, and this is NOT the best of times!

Fortunately, we can help. Even though our physical location is closed due to COVID-19, we’re still putting our nose to the grind doing bookkeeping and taxes for our clients! If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you could easily send us all of your receipts, invoices, pay stubs, and other financial documents. We’ll take care of the rest! The best part is that you’ll know that a tax professional is making sure that you get every credit and deduction that’s available to you and your business.

So, if you want to take the pressure off doing your taxes, contact The Number Works today. We’ll take care of your taxes so you can take care of yourself!

COVID-19: Understanding Emergency Options for Small Business & Entrepreneurs

COVID-19: Understanding Emergency Options for Small Business & Entrepreneurs

UPDATED April 8* &  April 15**, 2020

Has COVID-19 impacted your small business? Probably!

If not, you’re in the minority. There are very few industries that haven’t felt the strain caused by the coronavirus. Even “essential” businesses that remain open like grocery stores have needed to make some significant changes, like adjusting for supply chain demands, increasing health and safety precautions, and working long and exhausting hours as people panic shop for food and supplies.

If you own a “non-essential” business, however, you have likely been forced to shut down operations until further notice. The Ontario Government issued a State of Emergency, releasing a list of all non-essential businesses on March 24th. That list is being updated as circumstances change. (To find out if your business is considered non-essential, check this list).

No one knows just how long we’re going to be physically distancing and that’s putting incredible strain on small businesses. Thankfully, the government is offering some ways you can augment your income and help support your small business throughout the crisis.

Federal Support – Canada Emergency Response Benefit

On March 25th, the federal government announced they were streamlining their emergency benefits programs into a single benefit, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB. This $24-billion fund will deliver money straight to Canadians who have either lost employment or had their income significantly curtailed because of COVID-19.

The Benefit is available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
  • Who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and,
  • Who have not quit their job voluntarily.
  • When submitting your first claim, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week benefit period of your claim.

The program will be until October 3rd, 2020.

As of April 6th, you can start to apply for the benefit, but because they’re expecting so much demand, they’ve created a system based on your birth month, so as not to overload their system:

  • People born January, February, March – apply on Mondays starting April 6th
  • People born April, May, June – apply Tuesdays starting April 7th
  • People born July, August, September – apply Wednesdays starting April 8th
  • People born October, November, December – apply Thursdays starting April 9th

On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays anyone can apply.

You can apply for CERB through either Canada Revenue Agency or Service Canada.

Other Support

Unlike EI, which has strict requirements, the criteria for applying for the CERB are much broader. If you applied for EI after March 15th, your application will be automatically transferred to the CERB program.

There are other federal measures currently in the works for businesses, including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which would cover 75% of salaries for qualifying businesses (ones that have lost at least 30% 15%* of their revenue compared to last year) for up to three months. There is also another program currently in place, Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers, that covers 10% of remuneration, paid from March 18th to before June 20th.

Another way the federal government is helping businesses manage the tax burden is by allowing businesses to defer the payment of any income tax (until August 31st) owing on or after March 18th and before September 2020. There will be no interest or penalties on those amounts between those periods.

There are many other programs the federal government is putting into place to help businesses, industries, and individuals manage throughout the COVID-19 crisis. You can find more about them here.

Provincial Support

The Ontario government is also helping small businesses during this time. They’ve announced several measures to help mitigate the impact of the crisis, and there are more on the way.

Currently, there’s a provincial tax deferral on the Employer Health Tax, Tobacco Tax, Fuel Tax, Beer Tax, Mining Tax, and other provincially-administered taxes until August 31st. These deferrals will be without interest or penalty. WSIB premiums will be deferred until August 31st as well. The Employer Health Tax exemption threshold will be increased to $1-million for the next year, and property tax reassessments being conducted for the 2021 tax year have been postponed.

Another support measure that will help individuals, small businesses, and families is a drop in electricity prices, which have been placed at “low peak” for all hours.

Further Measures

An additional COVID-19 measure being planned for the near future is an interest-free loan program offered through Canadian banks for small businesses. Currently, the federal government and banks are still hammering out the details of the program, which will provide small businesses interest-free loans of up to $40,000 until the end of 2022. These loans will be guaranteed and funded by the federal government, up to $25-billion. To be eligible, small businesses must prove they had an annual payroll of $50,000 to $1-million in 2019.

Up to 25% of the loan (up to $10,000) will be forgiven so long as the borrower repays the balance before December 31st, 2022. If a small business is unable to pay back their loan by the end of 2022, the loan will then be converted to a three-year loan at a 5%-interest rate.

Emerging Updates

While these measures are going to be very helpful to individuals and small businesses all over Canada and Ontario, they will not solve the economic crisis. With record levels of unemployment due to COVID-19 layoffs and an unstable stock market, it’s going to be months at best before we get a firm grip on the full financial implications of the pandemic. However, until that point, we do have these measures to help us navigate the situation and keep our businesses afloat.

If you find yourself confused about how these emergency financial measures will impact your personal and small business bottom line, contact The Number Works today. We can help you understand your numbers so you can weather the storm and come out the other side.

Managing a Small Business During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Managing a Small Business During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Are you worried about the impact of COVID-19 on your small business?

Probably! This is a tough time for all of us!

In just one week, it seems like everything in the world turned upside down. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on our society in modern times, with social distancing being practiced on a mass scale to prevent the rapid spread of the virus. This situation has forced small businesses all across the country to either temporarily close or dramatically change their daily operations.

Like all Canadians, we’re watching all of the new developments of COVID-19 with rapt attention—and especially those that impact Canadian businesses. From the stock market crashing to bars and restaurants being closed indefinitely, it’s currently a scary state of affairs.

What’s important to remember, however, is that this *is* temporary. Things will likely swing back to normal (or close to normal) in a few weeks or months. When that happens, you want your small business to be in a position where it can rapidly bounce back from the damage caused throughout the crisis.

Here at The Number Works, we don’t have all of the answers, but we can certainly provide some financial advice that might help you navigate through these challenging times.

You Still Need to Think About Your Taxes

The good news is, we’ve all gained more time this tax season. The CRA has deferred filing due dates as a result of the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals (other than trusts) now have a due date of June 1st, 2020.

If you’re expecting to receive benefits under the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC) or the Canada Child Benefit, we encourage you not to delay filing as those credits will surely come in handy during these times.

Trusts with a taxation year ending on December 31st, 2020 now have a filing due date of May 1st, 2020.

The CRA will allow all taxpayers to defer until after August 31st, 2020 the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

Even if you aren’t expecting tax credits, now while there’s some downtime is a great opportunity to get organized and move on your taxes. Please get in touch with us if you need any help.

Communicate With Your Customers

Whether your business usually operates out of a brick-and-mortar location or not, now is the time to communicate with your customers online. Use social media and, if you have a collection of email addresses, a newsletter system to reach out and keep your clients informed.

If you haven’t already done so, it’s also a good idea to send out an email addressing COVID-19 and any changes that your business is making. That might be to business hours, operations, sanitizing, or any kind of safety adjustments.

If you’re stuck at home, you could spend some additional time every day working your business’ social media accounts. By commenting and interacting with your customers online, you’ll be engaging with them just as much (if not more) than you did in person. This strategy can be essential to keep your customer relationships secure throughout the crisis.

Put Your Focus Online

Shifting your focus online at this time might be the only way to “keep in business.” While we’ve already mentioned email and social media, there are other ways to engage with your customers digitally. For example, your website.

If you haven’t updated your website in months (or even years), this is the perfect opportunity. There are going to be more people online than ever over the next few weeks, so you want to be putting your best foot forward. Polishing up the webcopy on your site, posting updated photography and graphics, updating your news or blog, or giving your website a full facelift can be excellent ways to improve your business while you’re stuck at home.

Even better, these improvements will pay off even after we’re all safely back at work!

Work On Your Future Plans

At times like these, it can be difficult to remember that things will get better. But as a small business owner, you need to keep an eye on your future plans now.

If you haven’t already got one, now is the time to implement an emergency savings system for your business. Think about how you can put away savings for your business so that in case of any future emergency, you have some money put away for a rainy day.

There’s really a lot of planning you can do right now, while things are slow. By taking some steps today to refine your product line, generate new marketing campaigns, and reexamine your finances, you can put yourself in an even better position when everything has reopened for business. And if you need any help with the financial side of that, we’d be happy to help!

Bringing It Home

Just like every small business across Canada, The Number Works is having to adapt quickly to everything that’s happening. We may be working from home, but that certainly doesn’t mean we’re lounging around in our PJs! We’re crunching the numbers and helping out our clients wherever we can to weather this storm.

If you’re looking for some help with your tax returns, bookkeeping, or simply want someone to take a look at your finances, The Number Works would be happy to help. Contact us today, and we can get started helping you manage your small business’ finances throughout this pandemic.

First Time Filing Your Taxes as a Small Business Owner? This is What You Need to Know!

First Time Filing Your Taxes as a Small Business Owner? This is What You Need to Know!

Have you already completed your taxes for your small business?

Chances are that you just let out a big sigh, followed by “…no.” Well, don’t worry! You still have some time before you need to get your business and personal tax returns to the CRA. Of course, you might also be incredibly busy between now and then—after all, running a small business is one of the most stressful jobs you can have!

If you’re concerned about filing your small business taxes, here are some of the things you need to know, from the professionals here at The Number Works!

What Actually Is a Small Business?

A small business can be just about anything that brings you income. If you’re self-employed, then you have a small business, even if it isn’t incorporated.

That said, the structure of your small business will play a significant role in how you file your taxes.

If you’re self-employed, then everything can be filled in the T2125, Statement of Business Activities form. This form informs the CRA of your income and deductions.

If, on the other hand, you’ve incorporated your business, you’ll need to file a separate return. This is a Corporate Tax Return, or a T2, for the business. All of your business’ income and deductions end up in this return.

You must know the forms that you need to fill out. The last thing you want is the CRA knocking at your door because you didn’t fill out the right ones. If you’ve filled out your small business’ taxes in the previous few years, you can likely use them as a template. If this is your first time filing your taxes as a small business, then you might need a little bit of help (which we would be thrilled to provide).

The Importance of Keeping Records

The main reason why so many people have a difficult time during tax season (when it comes to both their business and personal returns) is because of poor record-keeping.

When you are running a small business, you can’t just keep shoving all of your receipts and invoices into a shoebox sitting under your desk (you shouldn’t be doing this with your personal taxes either, FYI). Instead, it would be best if you made sure that your books are being kept up-to-date continuously, with detailed financial information.

Maintaining the books is one of the reasons why many small business owners hire a bookkeeper year-round. We can ensure that everything will be exactly where it should be. A professional bookkeeper makes tax time a snap, as you don’t need to dig through dozens (or even hundreds) of documents to find the ones that you need.

The Structure of a Self-Employed Tax Return

There are three parts to a self-employed tax return: Identification, Business Income, and Business Expenses.

Identification is simply the details about your business, including its name, address, industry code, information on partners or co-owners, and the fiscal period you’re covering (usually the fiscal year). You likely have all of this information readily on hand, so this section is typically a piece of cake to fill out.

The business income is precisely that—this section is where you are putting the income you’ve gotten from your small business. It’s important to remember that this is your gross income before you calculate your experiences. You will be putting your expenses in the next section.

The business expenses section is the place you list all of the expenses that you built up while running your business. Here, you can include things like office supplies, marketing, vehicle expenses, and meals (50%). If you have no experience filling out your small business’ taxes, this section can be tricky because you might not know which deductions you qualify for—that’s where we come in. At The Number Works, we know all of the deductions that you’re eligible for. In fact, the money you save on your dedications can often cover the cost of hiring us to do your taxes!

Common Mistakes or Assumptions

New small business owners often make mistakes or assumptions about their taxes. Here are some things to keep in mind:

First, it doesn’t matter how much money your business makes, you still need to file a tax return. Some people think that if their business doesn’t bring in any income, then they don’t have to do their taxes. This is most definitely not the case! After all, many businesses fail to show a profit for the first few years in operation. If that is your situation, then you can often deduct the loss to your other forms of income. So, don’t make this mistake!

Another belief is that if you make less than $5,000 a year, you don’t have to file your income taxes. Again, this is a misconception. You need to consider Canada Pension Plan contributions and other factors. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, you still need to file.

Finally, it doesn’t matter if you are a student or not—you need to file a tax return if you are self-employed or own a small business. This can be tricky as students are often overworked and have little time. Many rely on their parents to file their returns, but this can be a big mistake. It’s best to get involved with your taxes at a younger age, so you don’t feel overwhelmed when it falls to you to complete them in the future. We can help you learn what you need to make sure you’re better prepared to handle your taxes once you graduate!

The reality is that nobody likes to do their taxes, either small business or personal. It’s stressful, takes up a ton of time, and one mistake can result in months of headaches. At The Number Works, we do whatever we can to help small business owners take care of their taxes so they can instead focus on the job of building their business. Contact us today to get some help doing your taxes. But do it soon, as filing deadlines are coming up fast!

Your Accountant is Here to Help: Just Ask!

Your Accountant is Here to Help: Just Ask!

How often do you speak to your accountant?

For some people, their accountant is this borderline-mysterious figure that appears once a year to help with their taxes. You rarely have face-to-face or even telephone contact with them. You simply send off your financial documents and, poof, taxes are done. They’re like a reclusive math wizard that you met on the internet!

As flattering as it is being considered a “wizard,” at The Number Works, we have a slightly different idea about what an accountant and bookkeeper should be to your business. We are a resource that can do much more for you than just your taxes—

although that’s super important.

With our help, you can launch a new business, reduce costs and expenses, set up your accounting software, and get a ton of busywork off your plate. All you need to do is ask!

Startup a Startup!

If you’re an entrepreneur who is looking to build a brand new business from the ground up, getting your financials in order can be one of the most daunting things on your to-do list.

You need much more than just a good idea to start a business. You need to identify your startup costs, plan your operating costs, figure out your business’ legal structure (sole proprietorship, LLC. etc.), and work out the fine details of your business plan.

One of the best things about bringing your accountant into the earliest stages of your business planning is that they’ll be there from the very beginning. As your business grows, your accountant will already know everything about the company. In times of financial difficulty, they’ll be able to help guide you with expert advice. Plus, in the event of an audit or other financial challenges, you can rest assured that your accountant will already have detailed records on hand from the very start.

Set Up Accounting Software

As accountants, we have a love-hate relationship with spreadsheets. It’s just part of the job! But if you’re keeping all of your finances in Microsoft Excel, then you need to get with the times.

Setting you up with online accounting software is another service that accountants can offer in the earliest days of entrepreneurship. It’s also a valuable service at any stage in the life of a business. With cloud-based accounting software, you and your accountant can access your finances from anywhere at any time. With professional features ranging from customized reporting and analysis to rock-solid security, setting your business up with a cloud-based system like QuickBooks Online, Xero, or Wave can be more than a worthwhile investment.

The trick is finding an accountant who can recommend the best platform for your business or one who is already familiar with the program you want to use. That way, they can rapidly import all of your current financial information into the system. All that work could take days if you’re doing it yourself. But if you hire a professional accountant to do it, everything will be ready in no time at all!

Reduce Costs and Expenses

Running a growing business is complicated. There are so many moving pieces that even the business’ owner might not be fully aware of how everything works.

An accountant can help you get a grip on the financial workings of your business, including your incoming cash flow, expenses, and costs. As a professional accountant, they can also identify places where you aren’t spending money optimally, offering you advice as to where you can trim the fat, so to speak.

Get Stuff Off Your Plate

One of the busiest livelihoods out there is that of a small business owner.

While demands can vary depending on the size and type of the company, a small business owner is typically overwhelmed by the amount of work on their plate. Everything, from marketing decisions to customer service to product development, needs to be run through them. It isn’t unusual to have upwards of two dozen non-negotiable items on your to-do list every single day.

That’s why asking your accountant to help with the daily financial headaches of your business can be a massive relief. Rather than having to pour over the numbers, you can instead focus your energies on the things that only you can do as the owner of the business. By outsourcing your financial planning and management to a professional accountant and bookkeeper (like us here at The Number Works), you can strike off dozens of those to-do list entries in one fell swoop.

Get the Help You Need

Accountants might be “math wizards,” but we aren’t mindreaders! There are so many other ways that we can help your business grow in addition to your yearly taxes. All you need to do is ask! At The Number Works, we want to do whatever we can to help your business grow. If you have any questions about your business’ finances or how an accountant can help, please feel free to contact us today! Sometimes, all it takes is one question to change everything about your business’ future!

Bookkeeping New Year's Resolutions

Bookkeeping New Year’s Resolutions

Do you always keep your New Year’s Resolutions?

Unfortunately, studies have shown that most new year’s resolutions simply don’t work. We enter into the new year with the best of intentions, planning on making significant changes to our lives, but before we know it… it’s February, and we haven’t taken any steps towards our resolutions.

One of the reasons for this is because most resolutions resemble wishes rather than actual goals. They are too general, e.g. “I want to lose weight,” or overly ambitious, e.g. “I want to be able to run a marathon by February.” If you want to make a new year’s resolution that you’ll keep, it needs to be both realistic and actionable.

This year, why not make your new year’s resolution about your small business’ bookkeeping? There are a ton of concrete steps you can take to make your bookkeeping habits and practices even better for the upcoming year. Take on any of the following resolutions, and you’ll not only be able to keep them, but you’ll also see some major positive changes to the way you handle your personal and small business accounting!

Resolve to: Digitize Everything

The days of keeping your receipts and invoices in a series of shoeboxes are long gone. Nowadays, thanks to digital technology, you can make sure that everything is optimally organized so that you can find any document in a matter of minutes (if not seconds).

While you do need to keep paper copies of all your receipts, you should be creating digital copies that are correctly named and organized on your computer. It isn’t as difficult as you might think, as there are dozens of high-quality apps that allow you to simply take a photo of a paper receipt with your phone. These apps will then automatically name and file that record into the proper place in your bookkeeping system.

Creating a system like this can have countless benefits. First, searching for a necessary receipt is going to be easy as pie. Just type the name into the search, and the corresponding document will pop up. If you’re using accounting software, it will help you keep track of all your receipts, organizing them for you by date and type.

It’s also going to be easier to work with a bookkeeper or accountant when your financial documents and records are already “filed” and organized on your network!

Resolve to: Hire a Bookkeeper

One of the biggest time sucks for small business owners is doing their own bookkeeping.

Bookkeeping is something that needs to be constantly updated and maintained. If you’re a super busy small business owner, that can result in updating your financial records being put on the backburner. Over time, this ends up becoming a huge backlog of work that you MUST do to keep your business happily humming along.

When you hire a professional bookkeeper, you’ll have the time to focus on the job of growing your business rather than having to monitor and update the books every day. The cost of hiring a bookkeeper is often more than covered by your increased productivity, and that’s not even mentioning the levels of stress that you’ll be avoiding!

If you don’t currently have a bookkeeper, you’re probably dreading going over all of your year-end financial records. By hiring a bookkeeper, you can instead rest easy and enjoy the start of the new year!

Resolve to: Modernize Your Bookkeeping Software

Do you keep all of your financial records in an Excel spreadsheet? Now, there is nothing wrong with that—Excel is a fantastic program! But wouldn’t it be better if you could use a program designed specifically for bookkeeping and accounting, rather than continually having to customize spreadsheets to your desired specifications?

By using online cloud-based accounting services like Xero or Quickbooks Online, you’ll be streamlining the way you input your financial information and records. You’ll also be ensuring that everything will be safely backed up to the cloud. If the unthinkable were ever to happen, all of your financial information would be secure.

At the start of this blog, we told you that most people don’t keep their new year’s resolutions. Why not be an exception to that rule this upcoming year by making your resolutions into actionable plans and strategies that will simplify your life? At The Number Works, it’s our goal to help you keep all of your finances in order with exceptional bookkeeping services. If you want to get the new year started right, please feel free to contact us today! We can’t wait to make 2020 the year that you get all of your bookkeeping under control!