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
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[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]

Take Nothing for Granted

Last weekend I was visiting with my family in Quebec on the family farm.  As is tradition, we always have dessert after supper, and my son had asked for ice cream.  When he went to get it out of the freezer, it was a soupy separated mess…the very large, very old (over 50 years old) chest freezer, had finally died at some point that day.  Now normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal since my parents have 2 other somewhat large (but old) chest freezers and 3 fridges each with their own freezer compartments, and they would find room in those for the soon to be spoiled food.  But harvest season just ended, and the freezers were quite full.   It was interesting to watch as a number of family members scrambled to make room in other freezers, even next door in my brother’s freezer, and I started to think about how we just take it for granted that equipment is going to keep working (even when it’s old).

It was the same when my furnace died last winter.  Even though it was 25 years old (well past the lifespan of a furnace these days), and needed repair, I took it for granted that I’d get at least one more winter out of it.  Not so – I was forced to deal with the expense of a new furnace a year earlier than I had planned.  And my dishwasher that died this summer – 15 years old – I hadn’t planned for that, and we’ve resorted to doing dishes by hand.

We do it with our cars, our phones, our 

computers, and even our bodies.  We take it for granted that things are just going to keep working…we never think that something is going to give out, even when it’s old, and therefore don’t think about or plan for repairing or replacing it.  And when that time comes, we typically experience great stress over the hassle and cost of repairs/replacement.  One solution is to build a capital replacement reserve in your cash flow plans.

Larger businesses have policies, systems, and processes to track their capital equipment, its expected life, replacement costs and annual operating costs.  They also build up reserve funds (capital replacement funds) so that when something breaks or dies, they are prepared – they have a process and the funds to deal with those “unexpected” break-downs.  And they have similar processes for when key employees “break-down”, by ensuring that at least one other staff member is properly trained to do the job and can step in if and when needed, at least in the short term.

So what are you taking for granted in your home or business?  And what policies, systems, and processes (including financial) can you put in place to give you peace of mind and to deal with “break-downs” with greater ease and grace when they happen?

If you need assistance with your cash flow plans, send me an email…let’s see how I can help 🙂


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://54.82.103.175/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Linda-Spencer-Visionspire-cropped.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]

 

Know Your Numbers

In my 20 year career as a professional accountant and now business coach, I have worked and talked with hundreds of entrepreneurs.  I’ve seen many grow their business exponentially, and I’ve seen some fail.  Many entrepreneurs have told me they’re struggling to make ends meet.  When I ask them if they know how much money they’ve made and spent in the last 6 months, or if they have a plan, almost all of them say no…they don’t track their numbers (many handing over all their receipts for the year to their accountant at tax time), or if they do have their bookkeeping done, they don’t look at the numbers.  Many tell me that they don’t look at their numbers because they don’t know anything about finance, dealing with finance/money stresses them out, and/or they don’t have time.  This certainly backs up the statistic that over 85% of business failures can be attributed to a lack of financial planning and organization.

If you want to have financial wellness and abundance, one of the essential keys is to know your numbers and what to do with them so you can take the appropriate action in line with your business (and life) objectives.

If you don’t track and review your numbers, how would you know how you’re doing?  How would you know if the products you’re trying to sell are making you money?  How would you know if your marketing and sales efforts are paying off in profitable returns?

What numbers could you be tracking?  Literally, hundreds.  But here are some key financial numbers that every business owner should know and understand:

  • Cash in, cash out, net cash flow – What do you bring in, spend, and how much is left each month?
  • Collection rates – How long does it take you to get paid? Do you have policies and processes in place to ensure you’re getting paid on time (or faster)?  Statistics show that any money owed to you that is more than 90 days old likely won’t be collected.
  • Cash burn rate – How fast do you burn through your cash on hand? Typically, you want this to be 3 to 6 months.  It’s a fast track to failure if you don’t have cash to meet your next payroll.
  • Revenues – Are your sales increasing? Decreasing? Are you hitting your targets?
  • Product and Client profitability – How much money is each of your products/services and clients making you…you want to focus on the profitable ones, and let go of the ones that don’t make you money.
  • Gross margin and profit margin – Compare your margins to plan and industry averages – how are you doing? Do you know how much sales you have to make for every dollar you spend in order to have the profits you’d like to have?
  • Capital spending and Return on Assets (ROA) – What are you investing in your business (and do you have a plan for this)? Are the assets you’re buying making you money?
  • Cost of client acquisition – What is it costing you to bring on a new client [=total marketing costs/# new clients]?
  • Return on investment (ROI) – Are your investments making you money, and how much? You can look at this not only from actual investments in stocks/funds/etc., but from every expense line and every effort you make. For example, you may want to know the ROI on your investment in your learning, investment in marketing and advertising efforts, or investment in people.

Whether your focus is on marketing, sales, productivity or profits, you need to track the appropriate numbers and review them on a regular basis to make sure you’re on track with your plans.  By looking at your numbers, and understanding their story, you can then identify the money/productivity leaks and opportunities on which you can take action to grow your business and your profits.

Every person has the opportunity to have financial wellness and abundance.  The difference between the 30% of the population who thrives financially, and the 30% of the population that struggles to survive, is that those who thrive have a plan, track and review their numbers, and take inspired action to grow their net worth.

Your numbers tell a story.  They tell you where you’re making money, where you’re losing money, and whether your efforts are paying off.  Do you know what story your numbers are telling you?

If you would like to empower your financial wellness and abundance, and get to know you numbers better, I can help.  Drop me a line and let’s talk.

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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer, CPA, CA Certified Money, Marketing & Soul Coach [/author_info] [/author]

Gearing up for Tax Season

It’s that time of year again – Tax Season, and while some people are eager to get their taxes done early, many stress and wait until the last minute (or later) to get their tax return filed. So, how can you better prepare yourself for this coming tax season?

  1. Be aware of the changes in tax law that may affect you. In Canada, the changes that were made in the last year relating to the 2016 personal tax year include:
  • Children’s arts credit – The maximum eligible fees per child (excluding the supplement for children with disabilities) has been reduced to $250 for 2016. This credit will be eliminated for 2017 and later years.
  • Children’s fitness tax credit – The maximum eligible fees per child (excluding the supplement for children with disabilities) has been reduced to $500 for 2016. This credit will be eliminated for 2017 and later tax years.
  • Home accessibility expenses – You can claim a maximum of $10,000 for eligible expenses you incurred for work done or goods acquired for an eligible dwelling.
  • Family tax cut – The family tax cut (allowing income split allocation of up to $50,000 for families with children) has been eliminated for 2016 and later years.
  • Eligible educator school supply tax credit – If you were an eligible educator, you can now claim up to $1,000 for eligible teaching supplies expenses.
  • Canada Child Benefits (CCB) – 2015 was the last year of the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB). As of July 2016, the non-taxable CCB has replaced the Canada child tax benefit (CCTB), the national child benefit supplement (NCBS), and the universal child care benefit (UCCB). You may have received taxable UCCB payments up to June 2016 that you would have to include in your 2016 income tax return.
  • Sale of principal residence – Starting in 2016, the sale of a principal residence must now be reported on your tax return in the year of sale, along with any principal residence designation. Under proposed changes, the CRA will be able to accept a late designation in certain circumstances, but a penalty may apply.
  • Reassessment period – Under proposed legislation, for tax years that end after October 2, 2016, the CRA may at any time reassess your income tax return if you fail to report a sale or other disposition of real estate. So make sure you report those real estate sales, including the sale of your own house.

 

  1. Open your mail as it comes in and keep separate file folders if you have a lot of different types of slips. Every year I get clients who bring in their tax slips in unopened envelopes.  First, I wonder why they wouldn’t open their mail (What if the information on the slip is incorrect, or if it’s the wrong slip altogether? Or what if it’s a request that needs a response by a certain date?)  Keep like slips together. I recommend keeping separate file folders for different types of slips/receipts (such as charitable donation receipts, T4 slips, T3 slips, T5 slips, RRSP slips, medical receipts).  Please note that most slips will have been sent out to you by February 28th, but some (like T3 slips for mutual fund and trust investments) are not due until the end of March.  You can always log in to your online account with CRA to check for missing T-slips.

 

  1. Have all your tax documents and support in order. If you are self-employed (i.e., you run your business as a sole proprietor), or have interest in a partnership or rental property, gather, organize and summarize all your transactions into categories and put them in a spreadsheet (or on a piece of paper, or in a bookkeeping program such as QuickBooks or Freshbooks).  Accountants and tax preparers really do not enjoy getting a shoe box or grocery bag full of disorganized slips…and it can add a significant amount to your accounting bill since it does take time to go through them and verify with you the business purpose and category of expenditure they relate to.  The same goes for your revenue invoices and receipts.  The more you can organize and summarize yourself, the more efficient (and less costly) the process of getting your tax return completed and filed.

 

  1. Keep your business transactions and documentations separate from your personal documents. Always keep a separate business bank account, and if you make business purchases by credit card, I recommend keeping a separate card just for business purchases and don’t use it for personal items. It’s easy to get things mixed up, but the mistake of claiming personal expenses as business expenses can be a costly one when faced with a tax adjustment or audit.

 

  1. If you use your vehicle for business or work, keep a log of your business and total km’s travelled. If you don’t already keep a log, you’ll need some way of documenting and supporting your business usage claimed in your tax return.

 

  1. 6. Get your taxes done early. The deadline to file and pay your Canadian personal tax return is April 30th, without incurring penalties and interest on any amounts due.  If you are self-employed, June 15th is the filing deadline (but the tax payment due date remains April 30th).

 

The information reported in your tax return is ultimately your responsibility, not your accountant’s.  Therefore you should at least be aware of the rules that apply to you, so that you are comfortable signing off on your return before it’s filed.

 

Here are some helpful links to find further information:

For individuals – http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/menu-eng.html

For small business owners and self-employed individuals – http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/sm/menu-eng.html

I also love taxtips.ca for their tools and calculators.

If you have a specific tax or business question you want answered, or would like assistance with your income tax return, feel free to send me a direct email at Linda@visionspire.ca.

You may also want to attend my upcoming workshop in Georgetown, ON on March 22, 2017 – Tax Essentials for Small Business, where I will be showing you essential tips and best practices regarding income tax and GST/HST compliance for small business in Canada.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Visionspire-Linda-Spencer-Ontario-quote.jpg[/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]

What is a Money Story?

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?

Everyone has a money story, ones that keep you safe, ones that have you spending more than you’re making, or watching every dime that comes in or goes out, ones that have thinking there’s never enough (even though you may be doing really well financially).

What’s Your Money Story?
“It’s really not about the money…I just love what I do”
“I can’t afford to…”

“Money makes you evil, greedy, selfish…”
“I don’t want to become THAT person who has money”
“It’s hard to make money”
“I can never seem to get ahead”
“I could never make any more than I do now”

“There is never enough…money leaves as fast as it comes in”
“I wish money didn’t exist”

“Money will take care itself”
I know I should be paying attention to my finances, but I don’t have time”
“I’d rather be ____, then doing my finances”
——————————————
Money stories like these can: 
  • keep you playing small and afraid to step into something bigger
  • prevent you from making necessary investments in your business and yourself
  • leave you feeling over-worked and under-paid
  • leave you exhausted, burning the candle at both ends just to pay the bills
  • lead you to give your power away to others and cause resentment
  • lead you to think you have more money than you actually do
  • have you ignoring your finances in a big way, potentially leading to financial failure

 

A money story is the combination of thoughts, beliefs and behaviours that are dictating the way you do money, and they may or may not be in alignment with your core values and priorities.  The good news is that you can create whatever money story you want – preferably one that gives you freedom of choices and grows your net worth.  The first step to changing your money stories is having awareness of what they are in the first place.

How do you know what your money stories are?  Look at where you are spending your time and money…and ask “Who’s is this?  Where does it come from?  What stories am I running here?”.

Want to change your money story?  Attend a money story workshop (there’s one on September 21 in Milton – Re-Set Your Money Story).  Or book a session with me.

  • Uncover money blocks and discovery how you do money on  a spiritual or energetic level;
  • Transform your beliefs and actions with money right away;
  • Learn practical tools for creating awareness of money patterns so you can change them.

 

Learn More about the September 21 Re-Set Money Story Workshop (click the workshop title, or type this URL in your browser:  http://54.82.103.175/moneystoryworkshop)

 

 

Do You Know Where You Are?

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.”So many entrepreneurs just don’t know where they’re starting from, and end up taking inefficient and ineffective action to get to where they want to go.  For many, the first glimpse of their past year results is when they have their taxes done, which I have found in my 20 years of preparing tax returns for small businesses to be 4+ months after their year-end and into their current fiscal year.  But how can you get a good handle on your strategic action plan for a successful year if you don’t even know where you’re starting from?

That’s why I feel Step 2 – Knowing where you are now, financially, systematically and operationally, is an essential step in the process of creating your strategic action plan for success. This means you’re going to have to get organized with your financials and conduct a little internal assessment of where your are now in your business.

Once you have a good picture of your current financial situation, skills and resources, internal controls and risk management practices, you can 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 last week’s post on Step 1 – Start with the end in mind, you can get them HERE.)

Statistics show that 85% of business failures are a result of improper organization and planning.  So why is it that so many entrepreneurs don’t have their records organized and up to date?  Some of the reasons I hear are: not enough time (and no one to help), not knowing how, and outright fear of money and finances (YIKES!).

On of my clients, Susan, recently shared with me that 2015 was her best year in a long time, that she had a lot of growth in the fall, and that a big part of that success had to do with me helping her to change her mindset about finances and understand her financial numbers in a strategy session we had back in the summer.  She had long been tracking, monitoring and using her marketing and social media metrics to gain more traffic and clients, but had fallen short of using her financial metrics effectively to grow her profits and cash flow.   As she put it, finances scared her, so she ignored them.  I helped her see that they weren’t scary at all (and in fact, they could be her best friend) and showed her how she could use her financial metrics to make more effective business decisions based on what her numbers were telling her.  So kudos to Susan for using her new knowledge and mindset to create a great year!

If you find yourself resisting the task of getting your finances up to date and organized, or if you just struggle with tracking and understanding your financial numbers, I can help.  Contact me to set up your complimentary Business Clarity Breakthrough session to discuss a strategy for success with this essential step in creating business success, and ask for my Business Management Assessment Questionnaire.

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Kick Start Your Year with Clarity and Focus

“Be INSPIRED to create what you imagine” (Linda J. Spencer)

Mondo nell'acqua dell'oceanoWelcome to a brand new year…time to kick-start your strategic action plan with clarity and focus!  Strategic business planning is essential for your business success.  Your business plan is like a roadmap – it gives your direction for where you want to go and how to get there with the most direct route.  A good strategic plan keeps you focused.

In November, I posted my 8 Steps to Building Your Road map to Success.  Over the next 8 weeks, I’ll dive deeper into what each of those steps are, and specific actions you can take to create your own road map to success.

So, where do you start?  You should start with the end in mind…this is Step 1 to creating your business success road map:  define and clarify your goals.

The key with defining the end result you want in your business is to get really clear about what you want and why.  Ask yourself key questions like:

  • Where do you want your business to go? What do you want to create with your business? and WHY? Write down your goals for the next year, 3 years, 10 years.  Really challenge yourself – Dream BIG!  Studies show that if you think small, you’ll play small – so think BIG and play BIG!
  • What would really make your heart sing to achieve in your business long-term?
  • What impact would achieving these goals have on your life? What would it mean for your family?
  • What are your SMART (specific, meaningful, attainable, relevant, time sensitive) stretch goals for this year? List your BIG revenue goals as well as things like the number of customers you want to serve and any new projects you want to launch / implement.  Don’t try to boil the ocean here, but make them big enough to excite you and be impactful…pick just 1 to 3 key things that you’ll focus on this year that will really pull your business forward to meeting your long term BIG objectives.  Chunk them down into key milestones, and add target dates to them.

With your goals for the next year clarified, you can now move forward with focus in making business decision and taking inspired action that is aligned with those goals.

Stay tuned for next week…I’ll get into Step 2 of creating your business success roadmap…the essential step of knowing where you’re starting from!

If you like what you’re reading, be sure to get on our mailing list to receive our weekly INSIGHTS newsletter delivered right to your inbox.  You’ll receive our Monday Morning Inspirational SPARK as well as weekly insights to help you drive success in your business with greater ease and efficiency.  You’ll also receive news about upcoming training programs and workshops designed to help you, as CFO of your business, define and execute strategies that impact key areas of your business.

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The Power of a Promise

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This time of the year, probably more so than any other, is the time that we reminisce over our past, and contemplate our futures.

While we are attending gatherings with friends and families, breaking bread together, sharing gifts and good times, and rolling into the new year with new energy and gusto, we are also creating big dreams, setting exciting goals, and making important promises.  “I’m going to make 2016 my best year ever”, “I’m going to grow my list”, “I’m not going to work so hard”, “I’m going to finally get my health back” , “This is the year to pay off my debt.”

You know your promises – you’ve probably made them more than once in the past. Some you have kept; many are nagging reminders of unfulfilled commitments.

In Bill Phillips’ book Body for Life, he explains why keeping promises to ourselves is much more important than it appears on the surface.

Bill writes, “When you set an important goal you must promise yourself that you will finish what you start, no matter what.  That vow, although it might be very easy to break, is by far one of the most important ones to honor.  You see, the very essence of confidence is self-trust.  Would you trust anyone who repeatedly lied to you?  Someone who broke the rules of the game again and again?  Of course you wouldn’t. 

Beautiful woman with her fingers crossed behind her back

So if you’ve developed a pattern of not honoring self-promises, this is a great time to make a change.  If you can’t honor, trust, and depend on your own word, well… that may be the root of a lot of challenges in your life – a lot more than you realize.

 This is a critical – and eye opening – issue for each of us to face.

 Most people have a very hard time answering the simple question, “Do I keep my word to myself?” (Or, should I say, they have a hard time answering it honestly.)

 The thing about lying to ourselves is that we never, ever get away with it.  On the surface we may fool our minds into ignoring and not admitting what we’re doing, but deep down, in the place where all truth resides for each of us, in the place where we know and see ourselves as we really are – in that place, we are causing pain and damage every  time we’re not totally honest with ourselves…

 …It doesn’t have to be like that though.  No matter how long it has been like that, it doesn’t have to stay that way.  Contrary to what many people think, it’s a lot easier to keep the promises we make to ourselves than it is to break them.

 Keeping these promises unleashes enormous energy and potential.  That potential emptiness created by self-deception will become filled with strength, certainty – and yes, confidence – if you honor self-promises.  (We’ve all heard the phrase “The truth shall set you free”.  Well, nowhere is that more true than when we apply it to our relationship with ourselves.)”

So how can you take this knowledge and apply it to your business, career, health, finances and relationships?  Are there promises that you are making and not keeping?  How does that affect your energy, motivation and progress?  How does it make you feel about yourself?

So what can you do to make this shift?  How about starting small?  How about setting daily goals and sticking with them? commitment How about making the commitment to establish a business plan with activity goals and financial goals so you know where you are headed?   How about giving yourself permission to fail?  How about agreeing to measure and adjust along the way so you know you are not “stuck” with a plan that is not ideal?  What else can you do?

Fill out the link below to request the Power of Promise Assessment and Accountability worksheet…Complete the activities on this worksheet to increase your awareness around promises you make and keep, and those you make and break.  Additionally these activities will strengthen your promise making and keeping ‘muscle’ for more commitment, follow-through, confidence, and yes – trust.

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The significance of keeping promises to ourselves is profound.  Examine your own habits to see if in fact you break the promises you make to yourself.  And if so, make the shift to putting your promises at the top of your commitment list.

I can help you get clear on your business promises and provide you with accountability…ask me how!  Click HERE to request your complimentary Business Clarity Session where you will:

  • Gain CLARITY into exactly where you want your business to go and what’s standing in your way of more income and cash flows,
  • Leave the session CLEAR about the steps you need to take to leverage your time and create more profits and cash flow in your business, and
  • Find out the one simple step you can take IMMEDIATELY to get into action.

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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

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!

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