road over water

8 Things You Need to Know as CFO of Your Small Business

Let’s face it, as a small business owner, you wear many hats – one being that of Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  And as the CFO of your business, you are focused on strategy, planning and operating your business in a way that optimizes your profits and cash flow, and ultimately your financial value.  As CEO (Chief Executive/Operating Officer), you have the big picture vision, the dream.  But as CFO, you are the gate-keeper, the one that ensures the investment in the big picture vision is sound.

This is why I am sharing with you 8 key things that top CFO’s are concerned with to help you make better business decisions and avoid the top small business money mistakes.

  1. Revenue / Sales

The key to any business success is SALES!  No sales, no cash, no business.  So as CFO, you need to understand your sales numbers, as well as your products and target customers, so that you can recommend and take courses of action to ensure that you are going to hit/exceed your sales targets…things like return on marketing, cost of client acquisition and retention, pricing strategies and policies.  The key here is knowing your market and having a good sales and marketing system, as well as having good customer service…after all, it’s easier to get repeat business and referrals than it is new business from strangers.

  1. Vision for the Future

So many entrepreneurs operate by the seat of their pants, looking at short term gains with no real vision for the future.  While this might work in the short run, it is not a sustainable model for the long term.  The cornerstone of what I coach my clients is always to start with the end in mind, and have that end in mind when making your business decisions.  This includes having a written business plan (operational, financial and marketing/sales)…it doesn’t have to be elaborate (unless it’s required by investors/lenders), but it does need to be written down somewhere, vetted and shared with your team, and re-visited regularly.

  1. Talent Acquisition and Management

At one conference I attended, the common message I heard from all the women entrepreneurs who shared their success stories is that the key to their success was building good relationships and having a good team.  This is consistent with my research and with what big business CFO’s have shared with me personally.  You need to have the right people doing the right things with the right tools…and you need to have a system for evaluating their performance, rewarding them and retaining them.  You want a team that will challenge your ideas and strategies, to ensure that you are making the best choices for your business and your clients (and you’ll want to encourage them to do so).

  1. Risk Management

Risk management has been one of my main focus areas for over 10 years.  It is an area that is top of mind for big business CFO’s, but it is one of the most neglected areas in small and micro business.  Yet, risk is an area that can sink a small business in a heartbeat if not managed properly.  Do you know what your risks are?  They could be legal, operational, reputational, financial and credit, compliance, technology, privacy, economic or market risk.  What if something went wrong in providing a service to your client and they sued you?  What if you made a big order with a supplier and they didn’t deliver?  What if an employee was committing fraud?  Or someone was stealing your intellectual property? Or if you didn’t pay your taxes? Or if your technology failed, or someone hacked in and stole your data?  Some effective ways to manage these risks include first identifying your risks, then ensuring you have adequate and appropriate insurance, legal contracts, effective policies and procedures, and internal controls.  How does your business measure up to its risks?

  1. Governance

Along with risk management, comes governance.  Corporate governance is the system by which companies are directed and controlled. It provides the structure through which businesses set and pursue their objectives, while reflecting the context of the social, regulatory and market environments they play in.  For many small business owners, corporate governance and reporting is an afterthought…the reason being may be that many small business are not held accountable by any particular governing body, so governance and reporting takes a back seat to everything else in the business.  Why does this matter?  For one, good corporate governance strengthens a company’s reputation and risk management practices.

Not having good governance structure and practices could lead to things such as the following practices that could cause harm to others and ultimately cripple a business:

  • taking risks which have serious consequences, neglect of duty of care
  • dishonesty, withholding information, distortion of facts
  • misleading communications or advertising
  • avoiding blame or penalty or payment of compensation for wrong-doing
  • secrecy and lack of transparency and resistance to reasonable investigation
  • harming the environment or planet, people or animals
  • unnecessary waste or consumption
  • invasion of privacy or anything causing privacy to be compromised
  • conflict of interest, betrayal of trust or breaking confidentiality

As CFO of your business, the gate-keeper, you need to ensure you have good governance and reporting practices to reduce your risks.

  1. Operating Productivity

Often, cost control is a function of operational productivity.  This includes measuring how well you, your team and your assets are working for you.  What is your return on time and investments? You can look at revenues and costs as a function of time, or people (by function of sales, marketing, operations, technology, admin), or assets (particularly if you’re a capital intensive business).

  1. Profits and Cash Flow

No entrepreneur gets into business with a view of incurring losses…and it sucks when that happens.  Profits are often the driving force for creating financial value and obtaining financing.  But it’s not just revenue minus expenses…you have to also take into account depreciation and other costs indirect costs that you might not be thinking of on a regular basis, such as interest, taxes, and what you pay yourself (and YES – you should be paying yourself, just as you would for any other employee).

Even more important than profits, I think, is cash flow…you need to know what cash is coming in (receivables and collections) and going out (payables, payroll and taxes), and when, so that you can manage it effectively and ensure that you are still paying yourself, your employees  AND all the other bills.  That’s why it’s important to track, reconcile your accounts and review your cash flow at least on a monthly basis (or weekly is better) so you can make quick decisions to bring in more cash, especially if you’re facing a shortfall.  Doing so can also help identify problem areas in your business that need further investigation.

  1. Tax Planning and Optimization

As a small business owner, you have options as to how you structure your business, and what makes the most sense for you from a tax perspective…you don’t want to be paying too much tax, but also need to ensure you’re not under-reporting your income or over-deducting expenses.  Unexpected tax audit adjustments can be costly, and come with significant interest and penalties.  I’ve seen businesses go out of business because of unforeseen tax assessments.  This not only goes for income taxes, but for sales taxes and payroll taxes as well.

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How do you track and report all this?  Where do you start?  Start by working with your professional advisors… Ask your accountant questions so they can help you understand what your numbers are telling you.  Hire a business consultant – they’re trained to see and understand the big picture, analyze the situation and identify areas for improvement, as well as the solutions to implement for greater success.  If your concern is sales, hire a sales consultant or coach. Talk to your lawyer about hedging your legal risks, and to your business insurance agent to ensure you’re adequately covered.

Still not sure?  Send me an email…I’d be happy to discuss your situation to see how I can help directly or refer you to someone in my vast network of business experts (accountants, lawyers, marketing strategists, sales coaches, social media experts, web and graphic designers, content writers, technology solutions, insurance specialists, financial analysts and advisors, HR specialists, recruiters, and more!).  And check out upcoming workshops and programs than may assist you www.visionspire.ca/events

Contact Linda@visionspire.ca .

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer is a CPA, CA, Canadian Tax Specialist and Money, Marketing & Soul business coach. Her mission is to eliminate stress and anxiety around money and taxes, by empowering heart-centered small business owners with the tools, knowledge, strategies and mindsets to put them in the driver seat of their financial success and wellness.[/author_info] [/author]

Weath Creation

Small Business Model for Success – Make Your Profits Flow

wealth-creationAs a small business owner, you wear many hats – one being that of Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  Being the CFO of your business does not necessarily mean being your accountant – in fact, I highly recommend hiring someone to do your bookkeeping and financial reporting for you (i.e., the collecting and reporting of results).  As the CFO of your business, you are instead focused on strategy, planning and operating your business to maximize your profits and cash flow, and your financial value.  You have a big picture vision, so you look at your financial plan, forecasts, budgets and results from 30,000 feet, and analyze those results in context of your overall business objectives and strategies, asking “what if…”  You determine what your results are telling you, and make strategic, financial and operational decisions accordingly.

So, how do you do build a business model that will allow you to maximize your cash flow?

This is step 5 of my 8 Steps to Building Your Road Map to Success – create your strategic operating and financial plan (if you missed the previous steps, click HERE to go to see previous posts).  As a small business owner myself, I like to keep it simple – first by building a profit model that allows you to create fluid and sustainable profits and has these key characteristics:

  • is intuitive, flexible and has flow
  • allows for creativity and innovation
  • is scalable and has multiple layers that allows you to easily and fluidly up-sell, cross-sell and down-sell between the layers of services and packages
  • focuses on 2-3 things that you do really well, and
  • allows you to continuously dip into your well of opportunity, to connect with the people entered your world at various levels and give them the “what’s next”.

Always with your core business purpose and ideal client in mind, the key is to set up your business model and services/packages in a way that allows you to maximize every opportunity to its full potential.  Start with your platinum service level that will bring you top dollar and platinum client, then your entry level service that will allow people to connect with you for little investment, and then fill in the middle with a couple of gold and silver level offers that will engage and create momentum with your clients.

Ultimately, you want to maximize your profits, so when you create your business profits model with the different layers of packages/offers, you’ll need to run the numbers.  This is what gets scary for a lot of people, especially creative types in my experience (as a creative myself – I write poetry and design jewellery for the everyday occasion – I can empathize.  But I also have a very analytical mind that allows me to help bridge the gap for other creatives in building their business models for success.).  But without knowing your numbers –  the cost of inputs (including what your time is worth and overheads), capital requirements, desired profit margins, projected unit sales and break-even points – you may find yourself struggling to make ends meet.

When clients come to me for assistance with their pricing and what to charge, I have found that every one of them has undervalued what their time is worth and how much time the spend developing, marketing and delivering their products and services, leading them to charge to low a price.  This results in lower profits and having to work even harder for the revenues they do collect, leaving them cash and time poor.  With my easy pricing model, I then show them how to quickly determine what their time is worth and how to price each of their packages and services to create maximum value.

This is just one of the things that I will be showing participants at my upcoming workshop on February 29th in Milton.  If you want to know how to easily charge what you’re worth and price your packages and services for maximum value, then you MUST come to the workshop!  Click HERE to secure your spot and get all the details.

 

[button link=”https://www.eventbrite.com/e/workshop-improve-your-business-cash-flow-with-your-4ps-of-success-tickets-21330914339″ type=”big” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] SECURE MY SPOT AT THE WORKSHOP![/button]

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://54.82.103.175/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/linda-contact-e1447279259479.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer is a Creator, Visionary, Business Coach and Savvy Canadian Tax Specialist. Linda believes that NO ONE should have to struggle to create the life of their dreams. This drives her to empower business owners with the knowledge and tools they need to gain insight and clarity into their business strategy and to take inspired action to streamline their processes, improve their cash flows and reduce their stress levels, such that they can more easily create the life of their dreams. With 20 years experience helping businesses with their financial, tax and business plans, managing tax risk and advising on Canadian corporate, personal income tax and sales tax matters, Linda combines her expertise and knowledge with her intuition and creative abilities to arrive at sound tax and business solutions. She is also known for successfully leveraging cross-functional teams and creating efficient processes that translate into tangible business results. Discover how you can create more ease and flow in your business at www.VisionSpire.ca (formerly www.LindaSpencerTaxConsulting.com)[/author_info] [/author]

For Whom Are You Creating?

Think of your business as a road trip (and not the scenic kind – you’re on a mission!).  You identify where you want to go, where you are starting from, who you’re going with, who you’re going to see (or pick up along the way), the fastest route, alternate routes, what you need for your trip, and you start navigating your way to where you want to go, in the most efficient way possible.   In this 8-week series, I help you get clarity with the different steps of creating and navigating your road map to business success.  This is the fourth installment- Understand and clarify your market.

ForWhomAreYouCreating

What would your business be without your clients?  But are your really clear about who your target clients are?  Why is this important?

This is what step 4 of my 8-step blueprint for creating success in your business is all about – getting clear about your market.  You need to identify your target market, understand them (get inside their head) and your competitors. Do your homework and get really crystal clear here – it will drive your marketing plan and almost everything else in your business plan, including how you’re going to fill some of those gaps you identified in Step 3 (if you missed last week’s installment on Gap Analysis or any of the last 3 weeks posts in this series, you can find them HERE [add link]).

Why is niche clarity important?  Well, imagine you’re developing your service offering or product…how much easier do you think it is to develop and market that product/service when you have a clear vision of who you’re developing it for?  Is it easier to speak to and attract the world…or a specific group of people? In honing in on your specific target market, or niche, you’ll want clear answers to these 5 questions:

  • Who are they?
  • Where are they located?
  • What is their biggest challenge that they want solved right away?
  • How does your offering solve that challenge, and what would it mean for your client to have that challenge solved? and
  • Why would they choose your offer over someone else’s? What is your unique selling proposition?

You don’t want a target a niche that is so small that it won’t give you the sales you’re looking for, but at the same time, you don’t want target one that’s so diverse that you get lost in the ocean.

At this point, you’ll also want to know about the arena you’re playing in – information on your competitors, your market potential, and the overall environment that your business is playing in.  These factors could have a significant impact on where and when you decide to play, and the specific business, finance and marketing strategies that you will play with to win the game of business success in that arena.

This is not a quick and easy step to get through, and should be given considerable focus and attention.  Get assistance and feedback from experts, peers and focus groups to help you get clear with your market, market environment and competition.  The best input and feedback I’ve ever received is from not only my business coaches, but the mastermind and business support groups that I participate in.

 

If you would like assistance with clarifying your target market or building your business road map to success, contact me to set up your complimentary Business Clarity Breakthrough Session.

 

PS – Speaking of niche…with my target customer in mind, I’ve been working on a great new line up of workshops and programs for passionate small business owners, to help them master their business cash flows more effectively and efficiently.  Watch for our Events Calendar and MARK YOUR CALENDAR for the next workshop coming up on February 29th (registration opening soon)!

Want exclusive offers and bonuses not available to the general public?  Get on the VIP Invitation List (in fact, the only way to get these special offers IS to be on the VIP Invitation List).  CLICK the image below to JOIN NOW!
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Gap Analysis – it’s a matter of perception

When you take the time to look at things from many angles you not only expand your awareness, you multiply your opportunities. r2g-p5-ai7-Dont-Wait-web

Think of your business as a road trip (and not the scenic kind – you’re on a mission!).  You identify where you want to go, where you are starting from, the fastest route, alternate routes, what you need for your trip, and start navigating your way to where you want to go, in the most efficient way possible.   In this series, I help you get clarity at the different steps of creating and navigating your road map to business success.  This is the third installment of this eight week series. 

In last week’s post, you determined where you are currently in your business.  This is your starting point, point A of your road map to success.  So now you know where you want to go (point B, determined in Step 1 – Start with the end in mind), and where you’re starting from (Point A, determined in Step 2 – Know where you are now), the next step is to figure out what you’re missing and need to put in place (Step 3 – Analyze the gaps between where you want to go and where you are now) in order to effectively build your action plan for how you will achieve the goals you set for your business in Step 1 of the 8 steps to create your road map to success.  (By the way, If you missed my 8 Steps to Building your Road Map to Success post, or the posts for Step 1 (Kick-start Your Year with Clarity and Focus) and Step 2 (Do You Know Where You Are?), you can get them HERE.)

So, what are you missing?  Where do you need to invest more time/effort/resources. What skills and training do you need to develop/upgrade?  Where do you need to shift your time and resources?  What money and success mindsets and habits do you need to adopt to help close those gaps?  What systems and automation do you need to help you run your business more efficiently?  What support do you need, from who?  Who do you need to add to your team?

This is an exercise in self-awareness and being truthful with yourself.  It’s not about figuring out how to do it all yourself, or how to get all your tools into your tool chest before embarking on the adventure or your business, but rather, it’s about identifying what you know to be missing to get you from point A to point B in your business.  Sometimes, the gap is filled by hiring someone (staff or outsource) to do certain tasks for you, allowing you to spend your time more efficiently on the tasks that you are a specialist in and that will generate revenues for you. Sometimes, the gap is filled with the tools that you will acquire along the way in your adventure.

When you take the time to look at things from many angles you not only expand your awareness, you multiply your opportunities.  When I took the time to look at what I was missing, and how I could fill those gaps (from many different angles, asking many questions to help me see the big picture, along with all the details), I realized that a really big skill that was missing for me was effective marketing using social media.  You see, I consider myself a great student.  I learn quickly and typically recall things quite easily.  However, when it comes to marketing with technology, I tend to flounder and have to work extra hard to understand how make it work.  I’m just not technologically savvy, no matter how much training I’ve had with it so far.  Taking a different view, and a shift in mindset from doing everything myself, instead of spending a lot of time and money to try to master this skill in marketing with technology, I will instead focus my time and energy on what I’m an expert at.  For 2016, this has led me to seek the counsel of a marketing specialist, to learn some key strategies and processes, and HIRE someone to execute the best strategy for me.  As a business advisor and coach, I’m continuously learning new skills and content to create value for my clients. My mastery is in creating and delivering great content to clients as it relates to money mastery in business. The marketing must be done, but it doesn’t all have to be done by me…and I get to multiply my opportunities to create 🙂

When you expand your awareness of the gaps in your business, you find more opportunities to close those gaps. So look at where you want to go with your business, and what’s missing from your tool chest to get there, ask key questions and focus on taking inspired action to close the gaps to realizing those business results that you want to achieve! 

If you would like assistance or clarity in building your business road map to success, contact me to set up your complimentary Business Clarity Breakthrough Session, or ask for my Business Management Assessment Questionnaire to help you identify the gaps in your business.

PS – Speaking of content and creating value, I’ve been working on a great new line up of workshops and programs for small business owners to help them master their business cash flows more effectively and efficiently.  Watch for our calendar of events and MARK YOUR CALENDAR – the next one is coming up on February 29th (registration opening soon)!   Get on the VIP Invitation List to receive added bonus offers that will not be offered to the general public (in fact, the only way to get these special offers is to be on the VIP Invitation List)VIP List

Your Real Goals

Compass Plan quote

Welcome 2016!  For me, as with every other year past, the year started with making more concrete my action plans to realize my goals.  Goals are important. Everyone knows this. That’s why there are goal-setting retreats, workshops, seminars and journals. If you never pick a point on the horizon, how do you know which direction to walk?

However, most people’s goals aren’t really their goals. Many people set goals in reaction to the responsibilities, expectations and demands they face in their life. Maybe your goal is to make six figures this year, but you are motivated to make that money because you have bills to pay and mouths to feed. Maybe your goal is to finish writing your book, but it’s not because you care about the book…you just want the approval of those who’ve said, “Hey, you should write a book!”
Maybe you are striving to get that advanced degree, but it’s only to satisfy the prodding of your parents.

Real goals are the ones that YOU actually care about. They light you up, give you energy and make you feel excited. Real goals have nothing to do with expectation or obligation, and everything to do with what matters most to YOU.

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.”

Of course, we’re bombarded every day with expectation and obligation. We have to react to a constant barrage of requests, demands and last-minute emergencies. And when those are handled, it’s time to rest so we can get up and do it all again tomorrow.

My friend, it’s time to break the cycle. It’s time to dream.

In order to get in touch with the things that will make your life amazing, you need to take quiet time to reflect on and listen to what it is you REALLY want.  I used to set goals only for my job and my family.  But in the last few years, I have another drive – the drive for REAL goals, my soul’s desires that light me up and motivate my every other goal and action plan.

Leaving your family and responsibilities for a long weekend to venture into the woods for a journey of self-exploration may not be feasible.  But you can start with a simple “sit-down”.  A “sit-down” is a five-minute meditation followed by 20 minutes of journaling. Ask yourself, “What do I really want?” The real answers will feel thrilling. Write them down. Circle the most exciting ones, put realistic deadlines next to them, and create your action plan.  This is how I spent my afternoons this first weekend of 2016 – sitting quietly in nature, resting at my favorite tree on the ridge, listening to the answers come to me in the wind.  The answers were nothing new, just affirmations of what I already knew that I wanted, but had set aside months earlier…giving me a kick to restart and refocus on their fulfillment this year, and I created an action plan and target dates to accomplish things.  For me, 2016 is the year to make what’s possible into reality 🙂

Often our dreams feel far away, impossible to achieve, or unreachable for a variety of reasons we’ve made up in our minds, or others have told us.  But MANY goals are achievable when we think them through, plan them out in simple steps, and consistently allocate time to them.

Life is too short to spend it chasing someone else’s goals or dismissing your own because someone else said it’s not possible.  Don’t wait another moment – pursue your real goals today!

If you would like to assistance to clarify or to review your goals and action plans, to make sure that they are aligned, feel free to give me a call or complete the form below.  I’d be happy to have a discussion and help you!

Complete the following form to request a private Clarity Session with Linda

How can I help? What are your top 3 business priorities/pressing issues that you would like solved right away?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.

12 things you can do before the year is through to increase your cash flow and get ready for 2016

With a few weeks left of the year, there’s still time to take some action to increase your cash flow and get organized for 2016.  Earlier today, I shared these tips with some fabulous entrepreneurs over my first annual holiday networking lunch and now I share them with you.  Here are just a few things you can do to end out your year on a positive note for your business and your bank account.

YEAR-END BUSINESS TIPS (that you can do any time of the year):

1. Look at where you are leaving money on the table.
• Take advantage of early payment discounts on payable invoices, and bulk purchase discounts (if they make sense for you)
• Take advantage of zero to low interest deferred payment options

2. Collect outstanding receivables
• Have tough money conversations with the people who are past due with paying you what they owe you
• Set up an automated payment plan – get your customers to pay your something, anything, to show they are committed to paying you for the services/goods they received from you
• Review your pricing and payment policies and procedures

3. Pre-sell, and get paid for services/goods to be delivered in the new year.
• Think of a Boxing Day/Week promotion that you can offer to pre-sell a 2016 package
• Plan your January and February time slots and get clients booked in those spots now

4. Plan 2016 with the end in mind. Think about your overall goal, where you want to play, how you will win your game, what capabilities/resources need to be in place, and what systems (including policies and processes) need to be adopted to achieve your goals. Set SMART (Specific, Meaningful, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-bound) goals not only for the year as a whole, but chuck them down into 60-90 day periods as well.

5. Look back at 2015 and see what worked, and what didn’t, so you don’t make the same mistakes and can make improvements going into 2016. This means you have to get your year-to-date finances and accounting in order now (not April next year) since your numbers paint the picture of what has happened. Your numbers let you see the peaks and valleys of your business so you can better plan for them in 2016 – to make the valleys smaller and create more consistent (and increasing) revenues and cash flows throughout the year.

6. When looking at 2016 planning, book in your time off/vacation/self-care time first (make you the most important asset and take care of you first – afterall, if you’re out due to illness, who will run your business for you?). You’ll also want to book in your CEO/CFO strategy and reflection dates and stick to them (A reflection date is when you take the time to reflect on your business results for the last period and decide what actions to take to keep moving forward). I recommend reviewing your numbers weekly, but with deeper dive at least quarterly, giving you many more chances in the year to address issues and take necessary detours as things come up, and to be pro-active rather than reactive in your business.

YEAR-END TAX TIPS:  Most people don’t think about taxes until filing their return after the year is over. However, with various tax changes in store for us in 2016, there are a few things that you’ll want to consider BEFORE the year is done to optimize your taxes for the coming year.  Before the end of the year, to reduce your taxes for this year, you should consider:

7. Purchasing business equipment before year end – If equipment purchase is on your list to do, consider purchasing equipment before year-end instead of waiting until next year.  This allows you to accelerate your CCA (tax depreciation) claim and reduce your net income this year.

8. Paying reasonable salary to your children and spouse who are working for you
If you have kids or a partner who does work for your, pay them what they’re worth (a reasonable salary) – especially if they are in a low tax bracket. This keeps the money in the family and reduces your tax bill by legitimately splitting income.

9. Making car repairs if your car is used for business
If you use your car for business and it’s in need of repairs, and you’re looking to reduce your tax bill, consider getting those repairs done before the end of the year so you can deduct them on your 2015 tax return.

10. Making charitable donations
Charitable giving is very tax effective (giving you up to $45 tax credit on every dollar given) and you help those in need at the same time. But you must actually make the donation before the year is over. Also, one caveat I give clients, is to always check out the charity and how their dollars are spent before giving to the cause. It might sound like they’re doing good things, but when they spend 80% of the donations on administration, maybe not so much

11. Consider selling losing stocks to offset realized gains
If you have made capital gains on stocks that sold in the year, and you have some investments with accrued losses, consider selling them to offset the gains. Just be careful of the 30 day stop loss rule (where you cannot buy back the same stock you sold at a loss in the first 30 days of the sale, or the loss is denied)

12. Now that I’ve given you all these great tips, here’s the kicker…you may actually want to defer some of these tips until the new year, depending on what tax bracket you’ll be in. You’ll want to consider how the new Liberal government tax initiatives that are expected to take effect Jan 1, 2016 will impact you and plan accordingly, namely with respect to:

  • New higher taxes for personal income over $200k (Ontario combined rate will be 53.53%, now 49.53%) – if your income will be over $200k you might also consider whether you should incorporate and defer some taxes
  • A reduced tax rate for personal income between $44.7k and 89.4k (Ontario combined rate will be 20.5%, now 22%)
  • The reduced small business corporate tax rate to 11% from 9% which the new government is proposing to change/defer the 2% reduction to a later time
  • Proposed changes to what companies will be eligible for the small business deduction
  • The elimination of the Family Tax Cut
  • The elimination of UCCB and CCTB, replaced with Canada Child Benefit, which is purely income driven (payments starting in July 2016 based on 2015 income)

It’s really about knowing your numbers and what to do with them to maximize your cash flows.  So, what can you do right now, with 3 weeks left of 2015?   Estimate your 2015 income and tax liability NOW, and estimate your 2016 income and tax liability based on your 2016 plan.  Then, take action to optimize your income and tax liability between the 2 years, so you’ll know exactly what you’re paying/receiving for 2015 well in advance of filing your return – leaving you with peace of mind for tax time, and the freedom to focus all of your energy come January on running your business and creating results for 2016 in 2016.

If you would like assistance with your 2015 year-end tax strategy and with planning your 2016 vision, contact me ASAP to book your complimentary Clarity Session (a conversation whereby I help you get clarity on what to focus on in your business and the one inspired action you need to take to get going).  Limited spots available in December.  www.visionspire.ca

Helpful links:

Canadian Charities Listing – http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html

Canadian Income Tax Estimator – http://www.taxtips.ca/calculators/canadian-tax/canadian-tax-calculator.htm

Liberal tax changes (as per their election campaign, confirmed in the Dec. 4th Throne Speech) – https://www.liberal.ca/files/2015/05/Fairness-for-the-Middle-Class.pdf

Think You Don’t Need a Business Plan?

In this video, Marcus Lemonis, host of The Profit, (thank you to Ink from Chase for posting on YouTube) tells you why you should have a business plan, and although it doesn’t have to be formal, it should be written down.  I whole-heartedly agree – writing things down provides a ton of clarity, and for me makes ideas more tangible and workable.  Once the ideas are clear, then you can develop a good plan, that answers a few key questions, against which you can execute and bring those great business ideas to fruition with much more ease than without a plan.  Statistics show that 85% of business failures are due to improper planning.  And as Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.  So, if you want success and better results, get those ideas written down and write out your plan (do your homework!).

If you don’t have a business plan, and/or don’t know where to start, you’ll want to read my post from last week 8 Steps to Create Your Road to Success  (8-simple-steps-create-business-success-linda-spencer).  Have questions or need help?  Contact me for a complimentary Business Clarity Session (valued at $247) Business Clarity Session Request Form

In one week, I kick-off my 4 month Success Readiness Program:  Create Your Business Roadmap to Success.  This intensive program is all about building the foundation for your business success.  Success Readiness is about learning and implementing the tools and best practices for you to create clear goals and action plans for your business.  Want more information – click Here (PS – registration closes Monday November 23rd, and there are only 2 spots left!)

https://youtu.be/qpmlKe6UoJ4

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8 Simple Steps to Create Your Business Success Road Map

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You know how it goes – you talk to financial advisors, they work with you to create a plan for financial savings and investment.  You talk to your fitness coach, they work with you to create a plan to reach your fitness goals.  You plan your wedding, your home renovations, your family vacations.  You spend time and money investing in planning in other areas of your life, why would you not do the same for your business?
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Investing in strategic business planning is essential for your business success.  A strategic business plan is your road map, your compass to guide you to where you want to go with your business.  It gives you clear direction of how to get from point A to point B without getting lost.  A good strategic business plan helps you to execute efficiently and not waste time with trial and error, or with what I like to call, the spaghetti method (throwing something at the wall and hoping it sticks).  A good strategic plan keeps you focused.
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It’s never too late (or too early) to create your business plan for success, whether you’re new to business and in the pre-launch phase, or have been in business for years.
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I get it, creating a business plan can be daunting (I know – I’ve seen the templates, tried to use them myself, and abandoned them as they gave me headaches).  You don’t need a 50 page business plan document, but you do need to invest some time and energy into the planning exercise if you want to have focus and direction.  My own business plan isn’t a 50 page document…it’s an organized, tabbed binder with different sections of business planning consideration (such as goals, target market, products & services, pricing strategies, sales & marketing strategies, financial plans, etc).

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DREAM. PLAN. EXECUTE, with ease, by going the most direct, efficient way possible.
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Having a good strategic business plan is absolutely essential to your success and the lack thereof is why so many businesses fail.  In fact, 85% of business failures are due to lack of improper planning and organization.
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But you don’t need a 50 page plan to succeed.  What you do need is a simple, executable plan that will help you succeed!  And you need to do your homework!  A written plan is just evidence that you’ve done your homework to ensure the viability of your big idea and to set a clear direction and path to success.
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Here are 8 simple steps to creating your business plan for success:


  1.  Start with the end in mind – where do you want your business to go? Write down your goals for the next year, 3 years, 10 years.  Really challenge yourself – Dream BIG!  If you think small, you’ll play small – so think BIG!

  2. Know where you are now, financially, systematically, operationally. This means you’re going to have to get organized with your financials and conduct a little internal assessment of where your are now.

  3. Analyze the gaps to see where you need to invest more time/effort/resources. What skills to you need to develop?  Where do you need to shift your time and resources?  What money and success mindsets and habits do you need to adopt to help close those gaps?

  4. Clarify your target market , understand your market and competitors, and build your marketing plan. Do your homework and get really crystal clear here – it will drive almost everything else in your business plan, including how you’re going to fill some of those gaps you identified.

  5. Build your service offerings in such a way that addresses your clients biggest pain points with ease, and create a financial plan based delivering those service offerings (focus on a few key priorities instead of trying to offer everything under the sun to everyone). You can now tweak and finalize your marketing plan.

  6. Identify systems and your team that will support you and your business. You can’t do it all yourself, as least not efficiently and without burnout.  You need a team, whether it’s hiring employees or hiring out certain functions of your business (such as bookkeeping, sales and administration).  Decide on the systems that are going to support you the most and create the most ease for you in your business.  Systems can be as simple as checklists and calendars, to full operations manuals and fully automated end-to-end solutions.   Automate as much as possible.

  7. Have back up plans for when things don’t quite go as initially planned. Every business hits roadblocks at some point – power failures, illness, market crashes, changes in direction.  And you need to be prepared to make detours so that the roadblocks don’t derail your journey to success.

  8. Start driving your way to success, and celebrate the milestones as you reach them. Check in with how you’re doing against your plans, and build in what I call reflection days – days that you take to reflect how your week/month/year went, what you’re doing well, and where you’ve fallen short, so you can adjust your course as needed.

Remember, business success does not happen over night.  And business planning is not a one-time thing.   Your plan is a living, breathing document (or binder with tabs in my case), that should be revisited at least annually (quarterly is better). Take time to stop and reflect regularly to see where you are in achieving your goals, and to adjust your course as necessary to get back on track if you’ve been derailed.
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Where you focus your attention is where you will get results.  So get planning and take inspired action to realize those business results that you want to achieve!  I love success stories and would love to hear how you’re doing so I can share in celebrating your success!   Email me at Linda@visionspire.ca.
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PS – If you are ready for assistance with building or even reviewing your plans, book your complimentary clarity call to clarify what your next steps should be.  I’d be happy to help you build your strategy and action plan for success!

Complete the following form to request a private Clarity Session with Linda

How can I help? What are your top 3 business priorities/pressing issues that you would like solved right away?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.

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