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!

How to Get Your Accounting in Order Before the End of the Year

How to Get Your Accounting in Order Before the End of the Year

Time flies when you’re having fun, but it might fly even faster when you’re running your own small business.

The new year is fast approaching, signifying a time to set personal goals, make improvements to your life, and focus on the future. But the new year is also a time when you want to look ahead at where your business will be going and the goals you wish to achieve in the new year.

And what’s the best way to set goals for your business and make improvements with a focus on the future?

By getting your accounting in order, of course!

Proper accounting is the foundation of any successful business, so whether you work with a CPA, a bookkeeper, or DIY, this year-end checklist will help you get your accounting in order so you will be all set for the next twelve months!

1. Review Your Profit & Loss Statements

Number one on your list of things to do before the end of the year is to review your profit and loss statement.

Why? Because it’s a helpful reminder about how your company is spending money. Doing a check now will also ensure that all your expenses are categorized, making it much easier to reference them in the new year.

It’s also a good idea to go back over your Profit and Loss Statement one more time after you reconcile your bank accounts, receipts, and other potential concerns.

Pro Tip: Accounting software such as QuickBooks will sync directly with your bank account or credit card statement to help you categorize your expenses.

2. Balance Your Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

Another critical accounting tip for the year-end is to ensure that your financial statements match up with your bank and credit card accounts, as well as your year-end statements.

If you’re using online accounting software, make sure that your ledger balance matches too.

3. Get Your Shoebox Organized

Are you the type of person who keeps your business receipts in a glove box, shoe box, or drawer? If so, it’s definitely time to upgrade your organizational system!

To keep on top of things in the new year, you should separate all your expense receipts into categories, then tally each category. By organizing your piles of receipts as you go instead of keeping them in a big jumbled mess, both you and your accountant will be much happier around tax time.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Even the best organizational system can break down, every now and then. Whether you use cloud-based accounting software or stubbornly cling to the shoebox system, if you find yourself with unrecorded transactions by the end of the year, then now is the time to get organized.

Bonus Tip: Be sure to copy down your thermal receipts as they tend to fade over time.

4. Get on Top of Your Accounts Receivable

Did you know CB Insights found that up to 29 percent of startups fail due to cash crises? That’s why, before the year is over, you should try to close out all outstanding receivables.

You should aim to collect all unpaid invoices and reissue or void checks as necessary by the end of the year. By cleaning up reconciliation issues and collecting as much as possible, you’ll be able to maintain better control of your company’s cash flow. Expediting payments before taxes are due will also be a big help.

5. Take Physical Inventory

If you’re running a service-based business, you probably don’t need to take physical inventory. But for those who run a product-based business, it’s crucial to get an accurate account of your inventory before the year ends.  

Make sure to match your inventory with your end-of-year balance sheet. Knowing how much you’ve spent on inventory throughout the year and its current value will also greatly help your bookkeeper.

6. Asses Your Accounting Practices

The start of a new year is the perfect time to reconsider whether the accounting system you’ve been using all year has done the job.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I been able to input all the financial data I need to track?
  • Have I gotten the financial information I need to make informed decisions and fulfill all tax and government requirements?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then it’s time to implement some changes to your accounting system.

You may need to consider hiring more staff to handle data entry, or maybe it’s time to try a different accounting software solution.

No matter what the issue is, if you take the time to resolve it now, you’ll ensure that your business continues to grow and succeed in the year to come.

7. Take Time to Look Back and Plan Forward

The end of November is a great time to review the past year’s performance and stack the results up against your preset goals and milestones.  You can then use this information to help you judge the viability of your upcoming year’s objectives.

Pull out your original business plan, objectives, and/or action plans, then start to revise them by setting new goals and action plans for the future. Making visual and tangible financial goals at year’s end can be a useful guide for where you want your business’ books to go over the next 12 months. If you do this now instead of waiting until December 31st, you’ll have a jumpstart on your new plans as soon as the New Year begins. This will help make your next fiscal year even more profitable.

 

Every emerging company wants to grow, but many don’t establish the procedures that are required to make growth happen. So, take action before the end of the year and tick these procedures off your checklist. Not only will this help your business scale, but you’ll also be better prepared when tax time rolls around.

We Can Help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to get your business ready for the holidays and New Years, don’t worry! An accountant can really help!

If you find that you don’t have the time, need a second pair of eyes, or would like a more detailed review of what all the numbers mean, we’d be more than happy to work with you!

Get in touch with us today! We’ll help review your financial position and make sure your business is prepared for the end of the year.

Is your Business Prepared for the Holiday Season?

Is your Business Prepared for the Holiday Season?

Did your business have a good summer? Hope so, because winter is fast on its way!

As the cold weather starts to set in, we’re reminded that the holidays are just around the corner. And although it’s not quite December yet, as a business owner, the festive season can take up a considerable chunk of your time – and your money! So it’s important to start preparing for the holiday season well in advance.

Maybe you’ve already begun stocking your shelves full of candy canes and tinsel, in preparation for the holiday cheer. Or perhaps you’ve noticed the need for extra inventory to get ready for your sales, discounts, and promotions. Whatever your usual holiday prep, here are five tips to make sure your business is more than prepared for this year’s holiday season!

1. Keep on Top of Your Cash Flow

It’s no surprise that the financial health of a company is one of its most vital aspects for any small business owner or entrepreneur. By understanding your business’ cash-flow, you’ll be able to properly budget for your added holiday inventory, as well as forecast for the new year.

It’s amazing how quickly the last six weeks of the calendar year can slip away from busy business owners. Even if you’re busy preparing for the upcoming festive season, it’s important to take the time now to go through your accounting ledgers and see where your business stands.

This is where an accountant can really help! If you’re too busy, need a second pair of eyes, or would like a more detailed understanding of what the numbers mean, give us a call! We’d be happy to help review your financial position to ensure that your business is adequately prepared for the holidays.

2. Stay Organized

Getting ready for the holiday season means organizing your books! Be sure to have all of your receipts and expenses filed neatly in preparation for the upcoming tax season. You may also wish to do some winter organizing in your filing cabinet or digital filing system.

Trust us. If you take the time to do this now, you’ll be stress-free in a few months when you need to budget and forecast for the new year. It will also free up time to focus on a strategy for your holiday inventory (more on that in tips #3 and #4.)

Most importantly, now is the time to double- and triple-check that all your invoices have been paid and anyone who owes you money is paying up! You’ll want to catch any clients with overdue invoices before they go on their Christmas break.

3. Strategize Your Sales

Now is the perfect time to do some research on your customer’s preferences so that, when the holiday season arrives, you’ll be stocked up on precisely what your target audience wants to buy.

Carve out some time to engage more meaningfully with your customers by asking them what they like—or dislike—about your business’ current products or services.

Collect customer feedback by going through the comments and criticisms left on your website or social media channels, being sure to track and log this feedback in your company’s CRM or customer database. To gain additional data, you could even conduct an online survey with a holiday incentive for completing it!

4. Expand Your Offerings

The holidays are a perfect time to introduce a new product or service! Don’t underestimate the power of innovation. As a small business owner, you know that taking risks by offering new products or services can often be rewarded with increased sales and customer growth. Wouldn’t that a great gift for the holidays?

So, take some time now to strategically think about how you can expand your company’s offerings. Use tip #3 and consult your customers to find out what additional products they would like your business to offer throughout the holiday season and into the new year.

5. Budget for Discounts and Promotions

The holidays aren’t only synonymous with gift-giving; they’re also closely associated with discounts, promotions, and sales! By offering special holiday promotions, you’re sure to increase sales and attract more customers. However, if you don’t start preparing now, putting on these sales could end up putting you in the red. Yikes!

If you followed tip #1 and took the time to meet with an accountant, you should have a good idea of the types of discounts you can afford to offer. Whether it be 40% off the regular price, a “Buy One, Get One Free” special, or merely adding a small bonus like a free sticker with purchase of $20 or more, make sure that your business will be taking advantage of this holiday period to increase sales. Really, just let your customers know that you care by giving them a little extra!

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget about your hardworking staff!

Ask your accountant to review your financials so you can budget for a little holiday bonus or a sweet holiday office party! Remember, your business is only as good as the team who helps run it. So don’t forget to show your team how much you appreciate them during this time of love and sharing.

Now that you’ve begun to prepare your business well in advance of the holiday season, you shouldn’t feel stressed or overwhelmed. But if you still need a little help, that’s more than ok! I’d be happy to be your one-stop-shop for all your accounting needs. Let’s connect and get started making this upcoming holiday season your best one yet!

Getting Your Business Ready Well *Before* Tax Season

Getting Your Business Ready Well *Before* Tax Season

Did you know that a survey conducted by The National Small Business Association (NSBA) discovered that 33 percent of small business owners spend over 80 hours on federal taxes? That adds up to two full weeks!

Although getting your papers in order so you can file your taxes isn’t very exciting, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your business. Believe it or not, tax time doesn’t have to be a burden so long as you start to prepare well in advance.

So here are four things you need to know to get your business ready and help ease the stress of filing your taxes come April:

What Will My Accountant Need Come Tax Time?

As a business owner, there are no shortage of important forms and records that your accountant will need to properly file your taxes. Pulling all of these documents together can be one of the most time-consuming parts of their job if you aren’t already properly organized. And, as you know, accountants are usually paid by the hour. So if you want to cut down on accounting fees for your business, preparing well in advance of tax season can make a big difference on how many hours you’re paying for – and, trust us, your accountant will love you for being so organized.

Here’s a list of common business records you’ll need to give your accountant for tax season:

  • All of your business’ financial statements, such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
  • If your business has employees, your accountant will need your payroll information.
  • Your accountant will need the receipts from your travel expenses, advertising expenses, rent, utilities, office supplies, maintenance, telecommunications, internet costs, raw materials, shipping, etc.
  • If you have a company car, you’ll need motor vehicle expense information, such as your business’ use of the vehicle, operating expenses, vehicle driving log with business kilometres driven, etc. 
  • Having asset additions or disposals during the year, including land, buildings, vehicles, machinery, etc. is also crucial.

Lastly, your tax accountant will require your tax records including:

  • Last year’s Notice of Assessment
  • Amounts paid by instalments
  • A copy of your income tax return filed in 2017 (if you’re a new client)

Phew! So now you see why it’s important to get your business ready for tax time before you end up in a time crunch!

By preparing well in advance, you won’t feel the stress of having to gather all this information at the last minute. If you have any questions about these forms or receipts, your accountant will have ample time to answer them before they’re drowning in a mountain of paperwork come March.

How Can I Legally Deduct My Business Expenses?

This is where preparing well ahead of tax season can really benefit you and your business.

In order to maximize your deductions, you must have all your business-related receipts. In fact, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires that all of your business expenses be backed up by receipts, and you actually need to keep these receipts for at least six years, as the CRA can ask to see them again if needed.  

To prepare your business for tax season early, you should get in the habit of asking for a receipt after every transaction, no matter how small. Train yourself to look at your receipts when you first get them to ensure they clearly show what the purchase was for and that they include a legible vendor’s name and date.

As our experts here at The Number Works know, illegible or incomplete receipts are a hassle when it comes to accurate record-keeping, especially if you or your bookkeeper are trying to record what an incomplete receipt was for months later.

Creating a habit of checking all your receipts as you get them is a crucial first step to maximizing your business income tax deductions.

What Else Should I Do Right Now to Prepare My Business?

Get organized! Being as organized as possible will ensure a stress-free tax filing for both you and your accountant.

If you’re looking for a place to start, try creating a system where you clip groups of receipts together by type, using post-it-notes to show each category of receipt on the top. If your accountant isn’t wasting their time trying to figure out what the receipts are for, you’ll actually be saving money!

It’s essential that all your records are accurately summarized and tallied. Cheques, invoices, and business expenses should all be categorized and totalled. If you have a system where you sort all your information slips by type, you’re bound to save more time come tax season and, therefore, more money!

Ask your accountant what will make their job easier. Trust us, they will have lots of ideas! Together, you can find ways to better organize your records and documents based on the type of business you run. By figuring out potential problems with your accountant in advance, you’re sure to have their full attention and work out any kinks in the system well before it’s too late.  

Remember, your accountant is here to help by giving you tax planning advice such as how to maximize your credits or deductions or ways of restructuring your business finances to reduce your tax exposure. So don’t be shy to pick up the phone!

What Kind of Income Tax Return Does My Business Need to File?

It’s important to determine which form you’ll be filling out well in advance because the paperwork you will need can change based on how your business is structured. For example, if your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership, you must report your business income on your T1 personal income tax form because, in this case, your business is you. For a sole proprietorship or partnership, you’ll want the T1 income tax return package, which includes Form T2125 (Statement of Business or Professional Activities), for you to report your business income.

What if your business is incorporated? In that case, you will report your business income on a T2 corporate income tax return. By law, your incorporated small business is a separate entity, thus it needs to complete and file its own Canadian income tax return. However, don’t forget to file your own separate T1 personal income tax return. If your business is incorporated, then you as a person are a separate legal entity, and that’s why you’ll need to fill out both the T1 and T2 forms.

If your business needs to file a T1 return, your tax accountant will also need your relevant personal information slips and tax-related documents in addition to the business ones.

Some of these forms may include:

  • T4 slips (if you have employment as well as business income)
  • T4A commissions & self-employed
  • T5013 Partnership Income
  • T3 Income from Trusts
  • T5 Investment Income
  • RRSP contribution slips
  • Charitable donations
  • Medical and dental receipts
  • Child care information

How Can I Save Even More on Accounting Fees?

Another great way to prepare your business well before tax season is to start using cloud-based accounting software (if you haven’t already).

With current cloud-based accounting packages, you can have all of your accounting information in one easy to access place, and your accountant can even access it online at any time.

Not only will cloud-based accounting software keep track of your expenses and revenue, it can even do payroll and time and billing, as well as generate income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets as needed.

By switching over to a cloud-based system now, you’ll have ample time to get used to the new system and test out all its features long before tax season, making tax time even easier!  

The Bottom Line

So, what are you waiting for? If you want to make sure that all of your tax documents will be in order with every form filed on time, don’t hesitate to contact us today! Here at The Number Works, we’re more than happy to answer any and all of your tax-related questions to help you get your business ready well before tax time.