6 Big Mistakes that Small Business Owners Make that Can Lead to Struggle and Failure

In business, ignorance is not bliss. In the last three years of running my own business consulting practice and 20 years of advising small business owners, I’ve seen a trend of “mistakes” or challenges that small business owners face that cause them to struggle, and can lead to financial failure…these are mistakes I’ve made in my business as well. Most business owners are really good at their passion (their reason for starting their business), but very few have business management and finance training – they’ve never learned to run a business…I know I didn’t have that knowledge at first when I started my business, even with my seven years of business finance and accounting education and professional designation. But you don’t have to struggle like I and so many other business owners have…here are some tips to overcome the biggest small business mistakes that contribute to those struggles.

Mistake #1 – Failing to Plan

We all know the saying, if you fail to plan, plan to fail. Yet, strategic planning continues to be one of the greatest struggles for business owners. It certainly was for me when I started out. I knew I had to have a plan (I had the offer, target client and financial forecasts, but had no sales and marketing plan), but trying to work with business plan templates used to make me nauseous…that is, until I found a more intuitive approach to business planning. It starts with having a very clear vision of you business, what you offer, to whom, and WHY (WHY you’re doing your business – your mission, and WHY customers would buy from you)…I use visualization and meditation techniques to get this clarity. This is an iterative process, and while your WHY may not change much, your offers and target clients could change dramatically over the years. My only caution here is to not get caught in the planning paralysis trap…make sure you are taking action while you’re creating and refining your plans (results come from taking action and going through iterations, failing fast and getting back in the game).

Mistake #2 – No Clear Value Proposition and Ideal Client Experience / Process

The more targeted and clear you can be with who you serve and the results you create for them, the easier it will be to communicate that value and attract new high-quality clients. It’s easy to want to serve everyone, and not leave anyone out. While this “jack-of-all-trades” mindset can work for a little while, and while you determine what you’d really like to be doing, it can lead to a huge dilution in energy, focus and profits. It’s difficult to communicate your message to the masses in a way that anyone will actually hear it. It’s better to have a focused approach, targeted to a specific group…try it for 90 days…if it doesn’t produce the results you’re looking for, target a different group with a message designed to reach them. Again, this is an iterative process.

Mistake #3 – Not Tracking and Reviewing Financials on a Regular Basis

Most business owners are not trained and educated on organizing, tracking and understanding their financial numbers. In fact, less than 30% of business owners have a good understanding of what their numbers are telling them (couple this with the fact that 85% of business failures are a result of poor financial organization and know-how, it’s no surprise that so many businesses fail). Yet, the numbers tell the story of how the business is doing and can highlight problem areas that need to be addressed. As a micro or small business owner, at a minimum you’ll want to review sales, gross margins, major expenses that you can control the most, and profit margins. You’ll also want to look at balance sheet items such as accounts receivable (how much, from who and how long have they been outstanding), accounts payable (how much, when are they due), and balances in your bank accounts. Review your numbers on a regular basis (monthly is best), and get help to truly understand what your numbers are telling you.

Mistake #4 – Not Paying Yourself Enough

This is one of my favorite things to work on with clients. The traditional business model has been to pay the owner last, with whatever is left in profits after operating expenses. When you follow this model, you’re likely to get paid a lot less than you’d like (or not at all). While working with one client, he figured he was only paying himself $2 an hour for his efforts…you wouldn’t work for anyone else for less than minimum wage, so why work for yourself for such low pay. I like to take a bottom-up approach to paying yourself first and determining what sales you need to support what you want that pay to be.  Here’s how: determine what you’d like to pay yourself (based on your personal needs and lifestyle), layer in taxes, desired business profits and estimated operating costs, to determine what your revenues and prices should be. This approach works really well for service-based entrepreneurs, and I’ve developed a whole empowered pricing course to teach this method [email me for more info].

Mistake #5 – Trying to do it ALL Yourself

Some business coaches may say that you should turn your greatest weaknesses into your greatest strengths. However, this is not what 7+ figure business owners do…they capitalize on their strengths, recognize their weaknesses, and build a ROCKSTAR team to get done what needs to be done in the most efficient way possible.  Often we feel as entrepreneurs, we need to do it all ourselves/be jack of all trades…this can work if your goal/intent is to be a practitioner for life (i.e., steady contract work), BUT, if you want to grow and scale your business successfully, you need a good team to support you.

Getting help and building a team doesn’t have to mean hiring full-time employees, but it does mean you have to think about all the different functions in your business, what is within your zone of genius, and what makes sense to outsource. Create hiring criteria (whether hiring consultants or employees) and make it a priority to outsource and delegate what is not your genius so you can focus more on what you do best, knowing that the rest will be properly taken care of.

Mistake #6 – Not having a Governance and Risk Management Plan

Most small businesses have no governance/risk management plan, yet it is one of the most important aspects of business success. Governance and risk management may not be sexy, but ignoring this aspect of business could lead to business failure. Just think about what would happen to your business if you had a significant negative tax audit, or legal action from a customer or employee, or experience a major illness or disability. It’s necessary to identify all your risk areas (legal, tax, employee, operations, economic, health, political, social, technology, business interruption, etc.) along with potential costs should the risk materialize, then implement protocols for managing and mitigating those risks within your risk appetite.

The bottom line is, when you have a clear vision for your business, supported with systems, structure, protocols and people to help you achieve your true potential, all the pieces start to fall into place…and you’ll have more ease, confidence, peace and harmony in your business and its possibilities.

These are all areas that I work with my clients to overcome and create a strategic business roadmap for success, while working on shifting their mindsets and relationship with money and the financial side of their business. I invite you to book a discovery call with me to discuss your challenges in business and what actions you could take right away to overcome them. I also welcome you to join the CFO Mentoring community on Facebook to support you in being the CFO of your business and your life!

Money Story Makeover Workshop

What would your life be like if you didn’t stress about money?
Money is the #1 factor causing stress today…leading to illness, dis-ease, lost productivity and increased health costs. However, it’s never really about Money, but rather how you relate to Money. With a few simple shifts in mindset and perception, along with conscious money management, you can reduce that money stress significantly.

I believe that in this world of abundance and infinite possibility, NO ONE should have to struggle – you can have the life your dream of, with the right knowledge, tools, mindsets, strategies and processes.

The first step to reducing money stress and creating more ease with money is having the awareness of why the stress exists in the first place…it usually relates to the stories, judgments and beliefs you have about money and your own self-worth.

Join me for this full-day intensive workshop where I will show you

  • How to change the way you think about money (and break-free of those limiting money stories)
  • How to set empowering money boundaries (thus improving your cash flows)
  • How to empower your money voice and stand in the truth of your value (and ask for the money!)
  • How to use a cash flow plan, without the stress (an essential tool for improving your financial well-being)

 

Leave the workshop feeling INSPIRED as you enter a new relationship with your money!

 

This is a full day workshop that helps you understand how you do money and make money decisions, create strategies to produce more cash flow and profits in their business.  It provides useful tools that create alignment and fluidity to reduce stress and overwhelm with money and finances.  Although I’m a Chartered Professional Accountant, I’m not a certified financial planner or advisor… I will not give financial planning or investment advice.  I just want to help people reduce their stress levels and have more joy and abundance in their life by sharing the tools and expertise I do have as a CPA and certified money mindset coach.

Join me – CHANGE YOUR MONEY STORIES, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

Register online  http://bit.ly/MoneyStoriesJune22

FAQs

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

Specific location has not yet been decided but will be in Georgetown/Milton…it’s within 40 minutes of Brampton, Mississauga, Oakville, Guelph and surrounding areas, with ample parking.

What should I bring into the event?

A workbook will be provided to participants.  Bring your favorite pen and notebook if you wish to make additional notes…or take photos of your favorite slides on your phone…sharing on social media is a definite YES.  A light lunch, water, coffee and tea will be provided.

What is the Agenda for this workshop?

Because this workshop is highly experiential, fluid and interactive, there is not a set agenda/time-table…but it is structured enough to get through all the workshop objectives listed above.  There will be plenty of breaks for all, including those attending online.

Is my registration/ticket transferrable?

Registration for this workshop is only transferrable to another person if done at least 48 hours prior to the workshop.  It is not transferable to any other program or workshop offered by VisionSpire or Linda Spencer.  This workshop is for people who seriously want to change their stories with their money/finances, to create more harmony and flow.

What is the refund policy?

No refunds will be given for this workshop, unless canceled by the organizer. Once you’re in, it is your responsibility to commit to attending the workshop.  In the unlikely event that the program is canceled, you will be given a number of options, including a full refund.

What about confidentiality?

Confidentiality and privacy are highly respected. Your privacy and that of the other participants is of utmost importance. By attending this Workshop you agree to certain terms and conditions, which include confidentiality and privacy terms.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, you do not have to bring your printed ticket.

Can I update my registration information?

You may update your registration information if you do so at least 48 hours prior to the event.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please email Linda at Linda@visionspire.ca with your questions about this workshop.

**Photography Disclaimer**   VisionSpire Business Consulting and it’s owner reserves the right to photograph/video their events, and from time to time we use these images/videos in our publications and online media. By registering for any of our events, you understand and agree that images/video of you may be taken and used, in whole or in part, individually or in conjunction with other images and video footage, to be used in any lawful manner, including, but not limited to the publication of photographs, and your name and likeness, for use in the our website and other official channels, and to be used for media purposes including promotional presentations and marketing campaigns.  You further agree that Linda Spencer/VisionSpire shall have complete ownership of the images/video in which you appear, including copyright interests, and you acknowledge that you have no interest or ownership in the images/video or its copyright, and that you waive any right to royalties or other compensation arising from or related to the use or publication of the images, photographs, recordings, or materials.  You also agree to release, defend, indemnify and hold harmless the producers from and against any claims, damages or liability arising from or related to the use of the images, photographs, recordings or materials, including but not limited to claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, or rights of publicity or copyright infringement, or any misuse, distortion, blurring, alteration, optical illusion or use in composite form that may occur or be produced in taking, processing, reduction or production of the finished product, its publication or distribution. This consent, waiver, indemnity, and release is binding on you, your heirs, executors, administrators and assigns.

Simple Steps to Start Organizing Your Business Finances

In Canada, the tax filing deadline for self-employed individuals and their spouse is June 15 (but taxes payable are due April 30th).   The biggest reason I get for clients deferring to the last minute to file (or filing late) is the lack of organization of their receipts.  Here are some tips to get you organized and tracking your finances regularly:
1 – Choose how you’re going to track your financial transactions (ledger book, spreadsheet, MINT, Money Tracker, WAVE accounting, Quickbooks, SAGE or other bookkeeping software) – I personally use a combination of WAVE (for personal), Quickbooks (for my business) and Excel (for cash flow planning)
2 – Depending on the method of tracking, download an app to your phone to scan receipts (I have WAVE Receipts for my personal expenses and HUBDOC for business receipts that links to QB)
3 – Make a date with yourself every single week, for an hour, to scan your receipts and update your finances, balance your checkbook if you will.

4 – Keep receipts and invoices organized either in electronic folders by transaction type, stapled/matched to your credit card/bank statement or in paper format in a tabbed binder.

If you follow these 4 steps alone, even if you don’t understand the numbers, at least everything will be complete an organized for your accountant come tax time, and you won’t have to wait for the last week of the filing deadline, nor incur costly late-filing penalties due to disorganization. Hey, you may even file early and knock one more thing off your list to stress about!

If you need help getting organized with your finances, I can help or connect you with someone else who can.  Send me an email Linda@visionspire.ca
________________________________
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://54.82.103.175/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/IMG_0012-resize-square.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer is a CPA, CA, Canadian Tax Specialist, Business Planning Consultant and Money Mindfulness Coach. Her mission is to eliminate the stress and anxiety you experience around money and taxes, by empowering you with the know-how and mindsets to improve your business success and financial wellness, so you can have more harmony, joy and abundance in your life. [/author_info] [/author]

So you missed the tax filing deadline, now what?

April 30 has come and gone, and we accountants have survived another personal tax season in Canada.  But we’re not done yet – the deadline for self-employed individuals is June 15, and some other taxpayers may not have been concerned about meeting the April 30th deadline.

Taxpayer:  I know I’m getting a refund (or don’t owe any tax), and I haven’t filed my return yet.  Do I still need to file my tax return?

YES! Here’s why:
1) Your refund is your money…as long as you don’t file your income tax return to claim that refund, and it’s sitting with the Receiver General, you’re giving them an interest-free loan with your money.  Also, note that CRA has limitations on how far back they can issue refunds.  The CRA will only issue a refund if you file your tax return within 3 years of when it is due (i.e., by April 30, 2018 for your 2014 income tax return).  For returns with refunds owing beyond that time (up to 10 years late), you may still get your refund (or at least have it applied to taxes owing in other years) under certain circumstances and only if you apply for relief (but this is not guaranteed and up to CRA’s discretion).

2) If it turns out that you OWE taxes (either you miscalculated or CRA finds adjustments), the penalty for late-filing is 5% of the balance due, plus 1% per month that is late, plus interest.  For repeat offenders (you filed late more than 2 years in a row), the penalty can be double.  That’s a huge risk to take for not filing your return on time.

3) You could be missing out on tax-free money that the government gives certain groups of taxpayers

A) GST credits for lower-income taxpayers
B) Ontario Tax benefits (or other similar provincial tax credits) relating to sales tax and rent/property tax for lower-income taxpayers
C) Canada Child Benefits for families with children under the age of 18 (all families get a minimum amount based on the number of children they have; lower-income families get more)
D) Old Age Security Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors

Most of these programs have a July to June payment period based on your prior year income tax return.  If you file late, payments will at the very least be delayed.  This can be a huge cash flow problem for lower-income families who depend on these tax benefits to supplement their basic needs.  So filing on time, or as soon as possible after the deadline, is important.  AND if you’re self-employed, these are reasons to file sooner than later, and not to wait until the June 15th filing deadline.

And if you’re not filing your tax return to claim your refunds and other tax benefits, where else are you refusing to receive money that belongs to you?  Perhaps it’s in your business, with your clients, or in your job, or from friends and family members.

If you would like assistance in claiming your refunds and tax benefits, or don’t know where to start, feel free to contact me (Linda@visionspire.ca) for a complimentary consultation.  And if I can’t help you, chances are I’ll know someone who can.

______

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://54.82.103.175/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/IMG_0012-resize-square.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer is a CPA, CA, Canadian Tax Specialist and Money Mindfulness Coach. With over 20years of assisting business owners with the business and tax strategies, her mission is to eliminate stress and anxiety people experience around money and taxes, by empowering them with the tools, knowledge, strategies and mindsets that will put them in the driver’s seat of their business success and financial wellness, so they can have more harmony, joy and abundance in their life. [/author_info] [/author]

Money Stories workshop – FEB2018

What stories are you saying or running about Money? 

Time to break free of those old limiting stories and adopt new ones that empower you to have greater financial wellness?

Ever run away from your finances? Put your head in the sand perhaps, and hope it all works itself out? Or do you dive right in and play with the numbers? Is it a game? Do you take your money seriously? Have you tried every trick in the book, but still come up hitting a wall on how to get ahead of your bills or how to relieve all that money stress?  I get it…and I want you to know know that YOU DON’T HAVE TO STRUGGLE…

Change your Money Story, change your LiFE

I believe that in this world of abundance and infinite possibility, NO ONE should have to struggle – you can have the life your dream of, with the right knowledge, tools, mindsets, strategies and processes.

The first step to reducing money stress and creating more ease with money is having the awareness of why the stress exists in the first place…it usually relates to the judgments and beliefs you have about money and your own self-worth.

Join me for this full-day intensive workshop where I will show you

  • How to use the power or your Sacred Money Archetypes® (understanding what drives you and your money choices)
  • How to change the way you think about money
  • How to set empowering money boundaries
  • How to empower your money voice and stand in the truth of your value
  • How to track and understand your money/finances, without the stress
  • What numbers you should be tracking, and why
  • New INSPIRED action steps to be in relationship with your money!

Love your money and it will love you back!

This is a full day workshop that helps you understand how you do money and make money decisions, create strategies to produce more cash flow and profits in their business.  It provides useful tools that create alignment and fluidity to reduce stress and overwhelm with money and finances.

Join me – CHANGE YOUR MONEY STORIES, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

NEW FOR 2018 – I’ve added a virtual option for you if you can’t attend in person…just choose the “virtual” ticket option.  Everyone who registers gets access to the workshop recordings for a limited time.

Why would you want this?
People fear money (or lack/ judgment thereof) more than they fear death! And THAT is STRESS-FULL!  That’s just crazy! Money is here to co-create with you.  Why would you want all that stress, when there’s a simple solution (but it won’t be comfortable :)).

Every person who has been through my workshops has changed their life with money…they are no longer afraid to face it, no longer afraid to talk about it, to charge their value, and no longer look at money as a thing or just a tool – they’ve released their money stress, and see now see money as a partner/playmate to help them achieve their goals.

Here are just a few success stories:

  • Sonia ignored her finances for years, fearing the process, fearing what the numbers would tell her, fearing she was not good enough and destined to a life of struggle…she’s no longer afraid, she looks forward to seeing her numbers and how they can help her grow her bank account.
  • Elvira broke down in tears with her money breakthrough – no longer afraid of money!
  • Leigh found where she was leaving $45,000 on the table and stopped that leak!
  • Adam had a love-hate relationship with money – he now sees Money as his partner/buddy, here to co-create WITH him.
  • Carolyn struggled with “getting it right” and not being good enough. By changing her money story, she now has more clarity and confidence about her offer and charging for the value she provides her clients.

FAQs

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event (if attending in person)?

We’ll be at my retreat home in Glen Williams, ON (a hamlet of Georgetown)…it’s within 40 minutes of Brampton, Mississauga, Oakville, Guelph and surrounding areas, with enough parking for 10 vehicles in the driveway.

What should I bring into the event?

A workbook will be provided to participants.  Bring your favorite pen and notebook if you wish to make additional notes…or take photos of your favorite slides on your phone…sharing on social media is a definite YES.  A catered lunch (vegetarian), water, coffee and tea will be provided.

What is the Agenda for this workshop?

Because this workshop is highly experiential, fluid and interactive, there is not a set agenda/time-table…but it is structured enough to get through all the workshop objectives listed above.  There will be plenty of breaks for all, including those attending online.

Is my registration/ticket transferrable?

Registration for this workshop is only transferrable to another person if done at least 48 hours prior to the workshop.  It is not transferable to any other program or workshop offered by VisionSpire or Linda Spencer.  This workshop is for people who seriously want to change their stories with their money/finances, to create more harmony and flow.

What is the refund policy?

No refunds will be given for this workshop, unless canceled by the organizer. Once you’re in, it is your responsibility to commit to attending the workshop.  In the unlikely event that the program is canceled, you will be given a number of options, including a full refund.

What about confidentiality?

Confidentiality and privacy are highly respected. Your privacy and that of the other participants is of utmost importance. By attending this Workshop you agree to certain terms and conditions, which include confidentiality and privacy terms.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, you do not have to bring your printed ticket.

Can I update my registration information?

You may update your registration information if you do so at least 48 hours prior to the event.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please email Linda at Linda@visionspire.ca with your questions about this workshop.

**Photography Disclaimer**   Linda Spencer (o/a VisionSpire) reserves the right to photograph/video her events, and from time to time we use these images/videos in our publications and online media. By registering for any of our events, you understand and agree that images/video of you may be taken and used, in whole or in part, individually or in conjunction with other images and video footage, to be used in any lawful manner, including, but not limited to the publication of photographs, and your name and likeness, for use in the our website and other official channels, and to be used for media purposes including promotional presentations and marketing campaigns.  You further agree that Linda Spencer/VisionSpire shall have complete ownership of the images/video in which you appear, including copyright interests, and you acknowledge that you have no interest or ownership in the images/video or its copyright, and that you waive any right to royalties or other compensation arising from or related to the use or publication of the images, photographs, recordings, or materials.  You also agree to release, defend, indemnify and hold harmless the producers from and against any claims, damages or liability arising from or related to the use of the images, photographs, recordings or materials, including but not limited to claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, or rights of publicity or copyright infringement, or any misuse, distortion, blurring, alteration, optical illusion or use in composite form that may occur or be produced in taking, processing, reduction or production of the finished product, its publication or distribution. This consent, waiver, indemnity, and release is binding on you, your heirs, executors, administrators and assigns.

Money Stress to Money Joy webinar

On Valentine’s Day – let’s talk about your relationship with Money (or lack thereof)!

MONEY is the #1 factor causing stress in today…and that stress takes its toll on our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing…it also affects our relationships.   Financial problems cause stress and anxiety…causing strain on relationships, and also leading to depression and suicidal thoughts.

BUT it doesn’t have to be this way.

In this 1 hour webinar, I will share at least 3 key actions you can take to release your money stress and have more joy with money.  I will also share a 2-minute process that will shift your thinking about money immediately!  This process alone has changed many people’s lives and, along with the key action steps, got them on their road to having financial wellness and abundance.

Join me on February 14 at 8pm (EST) – RSVP to get webinar access.

Get Unstressed – Organization tips to get you ready to file your taxes

I hear it all the time – people STRESS about their taxes and getting their taxes done.  Here are some tips to get you ready for your 2017 tax returns and reduce your tax preparer fees, as well as reduce your stress levels, knowing you’re prepared:

1 – Gather all your tax slips in one folder (T4’s, T5’s, T3’s, other T-slips, RRSP contributions, donation receipts, medical receipts.  Your T-slips should all be available to you by February 28th, except for T3’s and T5013’s which can take a few weeks longer (but by March 31st).

2 – Group like slips together

3 – If you have a lot of investments, keep a list of your accounts and account numbers, and check your T5 and T3 slips against your accounts to see what’s missing

4 – Group medical receipts by patient

5 – Group donations to the same organization together

6 – Gather details of any investment dispositions, including real estate, into a spreadsheet.  Include details of the historical cost and other transactions affecting your cost base.

7 – If you are a sole-proprietor or have rental income, use accounting software to capture income and expenses details for each of your business and rental properties (separate books and records for each business or property).  Hire a qualified bookkeeper to do your bookkeeping for you (freeing your time to spend on higher-level business matters). At the very least, use a spreadsheet to track your financial transactions.

8 – Don’t delay – start the process early.  The sooner you get your information to your tax preparer, the less stressful it will be for both of you.  Tax preparers would much rather get your returns done in March than scramble to meet the deadlines in the last final week.   If you’re getting a refund, wouldn’t you much rather receive that sooner than later?  And if you owe, wouldn’t you like to have peace of mind knowing how much you owe and that you still have time to make that tax payment (due April 30th), rather than waiting until the last minute.

9 – A caveat to #8 – it’s more efficient (and less costly) to get your complete tax information package to your tax preparer at the same time.  Sending bits and pieces in dribs and drabs will only add processing and review time to the process, which could result in additional billings by your tax preparer.  Having said that, don’t hold up if you’re just waiting for a couple of slips or receipts.  Just note what you are missing with as much detail as you can (for example, if you’re missing an RRSP contribution slip, note the amount you contributed and date of contribution).

You must have adequate and reliable records to support your tax filings.  Here are some helpful links on keeping records.

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/businesses/topics/keeping-records.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/ic78-10r5/books-records-retention-destruction.html

Need help?  Send me an email (Linda@visionspire.ca), and I’d be happy to answer your questions.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://54.82.103.175/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/IMG_0012-resize-square.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer is a CPA, CA, Canadian Tax Specialist and Money Mindfulness Coach. With over 20years of assisting business owners with the business and tax strategies, her mission is to eliminate stress and anxiety people experience around money and taxes, by empowering them with the tools, knowledge, strategies and mindsets that will put them in the driver’s seat of their business success and financial wellness, so they can have more harmony, joy and abundance in their life. [/author_info] [/author]

What’s new in tax for your 2017 personal tax returns

It’s that time of year again – personal tax season!   Now, there are a few things you should be aware of that may affect your 2017 tax returns…here’s a quick summary (this update is for general information purposes.  Please speak to your tax advisors for specifics regarding your personal situation):

RRSP Contributions – The deadline to make RRSP contributions that can be deducted on your 2017 tax return is March 1 this year.  Many people ask whether they should contribute to their RRSP or Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), and I always respond by recommending they consult with their financial advisors.  Generally, however, it is advantageous to contribute to your RRSP if you are in a high income tax bracket and expect your retirement income (when you withdraw from your RRSP) to be in a lower tax bracket.  For 2017, you can contribute 18% of your 2016 earned income to your RRSP, up to a maximum of $26,010 for 2017 (plus any unused contribution room from previous years).  The TFSA contribution room is $5500 for 2017 (plus any unused contribution room you may have from previous years – up to a cumulative total of $52,000 at the end of 2017).  TFSA contributions are not deductible, and the income earned in the TFSA is not taxable.

Child Fitness and Arts Amounts – 2016 was the last year to claim the child fitness and arts credits.  No need to keep your children’s fitness and arts program receipts for income tax purposes.

Credit for Education and Books – 2016 was also the last year to claim the education amount tax credit.  If a student has unused education credits from 2016, they can still be used in 2017 and later years.  The tuition credit amount continues to exist, which has been enhanced for certain occupational and apprenticeship programs.  A proper T2202A will be required to claim the tuition credits (students should be able to get a copy through their student account).  Check the CRA website to see which programs qualify for the enhanced credit amount.

Professionals with unbilled Work-in-Progress (WIP) – Certain professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, generally carry WIP (income that has been earned for services provided, but not yet billed at year-end) on their balance sheet.  If you had WIP at the end of the year, you could generally take a reserve to defer the income inclusion to the following year when it is billed.  Effective March 22, 2017, such professionals will need to include their year-end WIP in income.  There are transition provisions available.  Please seek guidance from your tax professionals to ensure the transition year is being reported properly on your return.

Caregiver Tax Credit Amounts – As our population ages, more and more adults are caring for their elderly parents.  If this is you, you may be entitled to claim certain additional tax credit amounts on your tax return.   Effective for 2017, the caregiver tax credit, infirm dependent tax credit and family caregiver tax credit are being replaced by a NEW Canada caregiver tax credit.  This credit is equal to 15% (Federal) of caregiver expenses incurred, up to $6,883 of expenses, and up to $9,033 of caregiver expenses incurred for your dependent spouse or child who is infirm.   This credit is reduced dollar-for-dollar when the family member’s income exceeds $16,163.

Other noteworthy items:

For those who are self-employed – Remember that you pay double the CPP premiums – 9.9% of net business income, to a maximum of $5,128 for 2017.  You will also get a CPP credit amount for half of that (the employee portion).

The combined top marginal tax rate in Ontario is 53.53% (on income over $202,800).  The highest top marginal tax rate in Canada is in Nova Scotia at 54%, while residents of Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan see the lowest top marginal rates (47-48%).

Where are those high-income earners (over $200k)?  Here are some 2015 stats from Statistics Canada:

In 2015, there were 390,000 people in Canada who earned over $200k in income (or 1.45% of all income groups), over 100,000 more people than in 2011.  The median income for all of Canada was about $34k in 2015.

More than half of the over $200k income-earners can be found in Ontario (157,450 people or 1.55% of Ontario income-earners).

Interestingly, almost 900,000 people (8.7%) earned over $100k in Ontario in 2015 (2.2million or 8.27% across Canada).

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://54.82.103.175/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/IMG_0012-resize-square.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer is a CPA, CA, Canadian Tax Specialist and Money Mindfulness Coach. With over 20years of assisting business owners with the business and tax strategies, her mission is to eliminate stress and anxiety people experience around money and taxes, by empowering them with the tools, knowledge, strategies and mindsets that will put them in the driver’s seat of their business success and financial wellness, so they can have more harmony, joy and abundance in their life. [/author_info] [/author]

Play a Game with Money

Do you regularly track your money coming in? Do you track it daily? What patterns do you see? Perhaps those patterns gave you the impression that Money is a bit elusive.

Well, if you are the least bit competitive, you could play a game with Money. Here are some games or challenges you can play using the Daily Money Tracking tool.

Game #1 – See how many non-zero money days you can have in a month…challenge yourself to have more positive money days than zero days.

Game #2 – Create a challenge for bringing in a minimum dollar amount for a number of days (ex: $1500 or more coming in at least 1 day a week).

Game #3 – Challenge yourself to beat your highest positive money day from the previous month.

Game #4 – Challenge yourself to hit your bold money goal for the month BEFORE the end of the month (ex: if you bold money goal is $10,000 for the month, set a target of hitting that goal by the 21st).

One of my clients went from completely ignoring her money to using the Daily Money Tracking tool as a game board to see how much more money she could receive each month. With a Maverick Money Archetype, she openly admits to now playing the game to win and is having fun with it!

Choose your challenge, then brainstorm all the ways that could happen. Think outside the box, and outside of your current situation. Then, once you’ve decided on a strategy, start taking consistent action – each day/each week. Be sure to track your activities and results daily so you can see what’s working and what needs adjusting.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://54.82.103.175/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/IMG_0012-resize-square.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer is a CPA, CA, Canadian Tax Specialist and Money Mindfulness Coach. Her mission is to eliminate the stress and anxiety you experience around money and taxes, by empowering you with the know-how and mindsets to improve your business success and financial wellness, so you can have more harmony, joy and abundance in your life.[/author_info] [/author]

Creating Business Success with the 6 Pillars of Gratitude

Happy New Year!

Have you reflected on your year and given gratitude for what has come to you?  This is the perfect time to reflect and to give gratitude to those who have contributed to your growth this year.  Don’t forget to include yourself in that list.

I believe, and have experienced greatly, that every facet of our lives is intertwined – there is no separation – and have adopted an attitude of gratitude for every single facet.  Even as I sit with a Christmas cold, I can be grateful for all the remedies and tricks I’ve learned from my light-working friends to stay out of the density of the cold virus.  I can be grateful for having a partner who likes to take care of me, for a quiet space to rest, for fresh water to make soothing herbal tea, for the tea, and so much more.

And what if we could be grateful for everything, not just the “good” stuff?  As you reflect on your year, what are you truly grateful for?  What new things have you learned this year?  What new relationships have you formed?  What or who have you let go of that no longer serve you in the highest (and can you be grateful for what they did give you)?

My gift today is to share with you 6 pillars of gratitude – having an attitude of gratitude will bring you more things to be grateful for.  Think of how you can express your gratitude and appreciation to each of these pillars:

  1. Clients – As a business owner, without clients and customers, you have no revenues. If you’re an employee, you have clients too (the business group you serve).  So how can you show gratitude to your customers?  It can be as simple as a thoughtful thank-you, or a client appreciation gift or special VIP treatment.  And it’s not just what you do to show appreciation, but how often as well (but not too often that it becomes an expectation).  Having regular points of contact will increase the client’s experience with you.  No doubt, as a client, I like to feel appreciated and that I’m getting the best product or service for my investment.  As a client, when I feel appreciated, I’m more likely to do more business with you and contribute to your cash flow.  It’s certainly easier to produce revenues from a few appreciated clients than it is to make cold sales.

  2. Employees (and contractors) – If you want to grow your business or further your career, you will have a team to support you, either a team of employees or a team of contracted support workers. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to do your business effectively, and your client’s experience would then suffer.  It’s a fact that happy employees are more productive and loyal employees.  It’s easy to give feedback when things aren’t going right, but what’s necessary is to give gratitude and appreciation to your team when thing ARE going right.  When employees feel appreciated, they will be even more committed to producing better results for you.  How are you expressing gratitude to your employees?


  3. Suppliers – We know that client and employee appreciation are key to driving your revenues, but what about your suppliers? I find that when I’m engaged with my suppliers, and show my gratitude for them with thank you’s and referrals, I’m more likely to get even better service from them.  It instills greater trust in the relationship with them and reduces my stress levels because I can trust that I’m going to get great results.  Showing supplier appreciation can help get things done right the first time, and they may give you even more than what you paid for.


  4. Referral Network – I have to say that most of my clients have come from referrals. Without my referral network to support me when I started my business, I would have struggled and worked a lot harder to have those clients enter my world.  It goes without saying that I feel a world of gratitude to my referral network, but I could do a lot more to show that appreciation.  It doesn’t have to be big, but I think showing your gratitude to referrals goes a long way in growing your business and improving your business success.


  5. Family and Friends – Where would you be without the support of family and friends? When you’re so busy in your business, it’s easy to take family and friends for granted.  However, this group is likely your biggest fan base, and wants to see you succeed and celebrate in your success.  It’s important to stay connected and spend quality time building and maintaining your personal relationships and showing your appreciation.  Speaking first hand, I know this is an area I struggle with – sometimes it’s easier to appreciate strangers than it is to show your family and friends how much you love and appreciate them.  However, without support at home, the stress in your home relationships will spill over to create more stress in your business, and both will suffer.


  6. You – YOU are your business…As a small business owner or solo-preneur, chances are, without you, your business would not operate. Therefore, it’s important to the success of your business that you appreciate you – take care of your body, mind and soul.   When you value and appreciate yourself, you are more likely to attract the types of clients, team, and suppliers who will also value and appreciate you, and you will be more likely to value and appreciate your support network (family, friends, referrals, etc).  And THAT is great for business success!

To sum it all up, when you truly appreciate all of these pillars and give no one more importance over the other, true success happens.  The trick is finding and giving balance to create harmony amongst them.  Take the time to reflect on each of your 6 pillars and decide where you will take inspired action to improve those relationships.

Having an attitude of gratitude is a key to success…and I am eternally grateful to you.  So, THANK YOU…without you, I have no reason to share these gifts!

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://54.82.103.175/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/IMG_0012-resize-square.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer is a CPA, CA, Canadian Tax Specialist and Money Mindfulness Coach. Her mission is to eliminate the stress and anxiety you experience around money and taxes, by empowering you with the know-how and mindsets to improve your business success and financial wellness, so you can have more harmony, joy and abundance in your life.[/author_info] [/author]