Everyday Money Management Tips

Starting and managing a business can be difficult and money concerns usually top the list of challenges. Here are some practical day-to-day tips you can use to manage your money more effectively.

  1. Don’t mix business and personal expenses.

Resist the urge to secure your business finances with personal funds when things get tight. It will only cause more confusion later on. The best way to maintain separation of your expenses is to set a personal budget and a business budget and stick to them strictly.

  1. Negotiate with vendors.

When making purchases from vendors or contracting with supplies, try to negotiate a better deal but always keep in mind of purchase terms like late payment fees and grace periods.

  1. Pay your bills on time.

It’s very important to pay your bills on time, every time. If you aren’t diligent with credit card and loan payments late fees can cost you. There are also serious penalties when paying your taxes if you are late.

  1. Spend some time on an accounting refresher.

Being a small business owner, you should know the basics of accounting, even if you hire a bookkeeper or accountant. It’s important to know how cash moves in and out of your business.

The better you understand your business finances and cash flow, the better prepared you will be to make smart money management decisions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips

Free SEO Resources Every Business Should Use

SEO is a way to use technology to your advantage, and there are lots of resources out there to make it easier to track that information. Some are paid platforms, but there are also plenty of free options that exist.

Here are free tools that can help you plan, execute, measure, and refine your SEO strategy in an easier and more productive way.

  • Google Analytics – is the granddaddy of all free SEO tools, offered by Google itself. Managing dozens of different websites and tracking detailed information about your site’s traffic.
  • Google Webmaster Tools – is a nice complement to Google Analytics, providing you with more in-depth and technical information about your site’s performance.
  • Open Site Explorer – has a more specific function than analytics, helping you uncover and analyze all the links pointing to your business sites.
  • Google Keyword Planner – is meant for use with AdWords, but works just fine for organic keyword research as well. This tool helps you generate keywords and phrases for your target.

Moz’s Keyword Explorer, BuzzSumo, SEMRush, QuickSprout, Spider View Simulator, SERPs Rank Checker are a few other SEO tools worth checking out!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing

A Business Plan is the Key to Success

Often times we mistake a business plan as a document that is put together for a new business and then set aside after the start-up process. But really, the plan changes over time as the business develops and should be reviewed on a yearly basis.

Here are a few good reasons why you should write a business plan when starting a new business.

  1. To test the feasibility of your business idea.

Writing a business plan is the best way to test whether or not your idea is feasible before you start. Writing a business plan can save you time and money because it will reveal if your idea is untenable.

  1. To give your business the best chance for success.

Writing a business plan will ensure that you pay attention to operational and financial goals and details like budgeting and market planning. Working through a business plan will make the start-up process smoother and help you avoid problems as your business becomes eshablished.

  1. To secure funding.

To start a new business you will need operating and start-up capital. Having a well developed business plan gives you a much better chance of getting the money you need from established financial institutions such as a bank.

  1. To make business planning manageable and effective.

Reviewing your business plan can help you see what goals have been achieved, what changes need to be made, or what direction your business’s growth should take.

Writing a business plan is time-consuming, but it is essential if you want to survive the start-up process and run a successful business.

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Business Start-Up

Networking Mistakes

Networking is a huge part of growing your business, even more so during start-up. If you don’t get out and network you could lose potential opportunities with clients, peers, and mentors to help you grow your business.

Whether you are networking at a conference, trade show or event, it is important to present yourself and your business professionally and confidently. Here are some mistakes to avoid when networking.

Not having a business card – Although we are in a technology era, physical business cards are still expected and can be a powerful touch point to boost your first impression in a professional setting.

Using DIY business cards – While not having business cards is a major networking mistake, making your own cards is even worse. Business cards are very affordable and there are many services that provide templates and custom design.

Forgetting about your elevator pitch – Often times when networking the time you spend meeting people is brief therefore it is important to have an elevator pitch to provide an overview of your business that is engaging and memorable.

Only taking to people you know – You miss out on the value that comes from networking when you stick around people you already know. Be ready and willing to get out there and introduce yourself to new people.

Neglecting to follow up – If you don’t follow up with new contacts you meet your business will probably be quickly forgotten. Whether you follow up by phone, email or social media, an appropriate follow up after networking is vital.

Being open to networking opportunities can make the difference between sustained business growth and stagnation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips

How to Build a Business without Quitting Your Job

At some point or another, most people think about starting a business but never take the first step. One of the most common reasons to not take that first step is because you already have a job. But, with the right approach it is possible to start a business while keeping your day job.

Why not quit? – There are some valid reasons to not quit your job, but the reality is you may not need your job as much as you think.

You need the money – Money is a key factor during the start-up process of a new business. If you can secure enough capital or a line of credit, you may not need your job to keep you afloat. You may want to keep your job as a safety net, but safety nets don’t always lead to better overall performance.

You’re unsure about your idea – If you don’t have a good idea yet, you probably shouldn’t quit your job. While this is a valid reason, why not spend more time developing your idea?

If you have considered any of these reasons to not quit your job, and you still aren’t convinced it’s a good idea, follow these strategies to start a successful business without quitting your job.

Be Realistic – First, be realistic about how much you can handle while still maintaining your job. There are only so many hours in the day, and you will have to commit to one or the other eventually.

Focus on the idea – You won’t be under the gun with deadlines, and you won’t be strapped for cash, so make the most of this time by developing the best business plan you can.

Networking – The wider your range of professional contacts is, the more options you will have when it comes to growing your business. You never know when or where you could meet a potential partner, client, or employee.

Take baby steps – Never rush the process of starting a new business, take your time and slowly advance your idea forward. Test the waters.

Tread carefully – If you spend too much time on your business, your professional work will suffer. Find a health balance to keep both moving along well.

Remember, there is no perfect time to start a business.

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Business Start-Up

Steps to Closing a Business in Canada

Closing a business isn’t as easy as telling your customers and liquidating stock, there is more to it. You also need to cancel your business name and close your Canada Revenue Agency and tax accounts.

Here are the steps you should follow to close your business properly.

  1. Cancel your business registration for your sole proprietorship, partnership, or voluntarily dissolve your corporation.
  • Use the Change of Business Information on the Service Ontario website to cancel your business name registration for a sole proprietorship or partnership.
  • To close a corporation, the appropriate Articles of Dissolution must be submitted to the Companies and Personal Property Security Branch, along with a letter consenting to the dissolution from the Corporations Tax Branch, a covering letter and a $25 fee.
  1. File your last tax return if you have a dissolved corporation.
  • If you have dissolved a corporation, you need to send the Canada Revenue Agency a copy of the Articles of Dissolution when you file the final return for your corporation.
  1. Close your payroll accounts with Canada Revenue Agency.
  • You need to send all CPP contributions, EI premiums, and income tax deductions to your tax centre within 7 days of the day your business ends.
  • You also need to complete the necessary T4 slips and T4 Summary and send them to the Ottawa Technology Centre within 30 days of the day your business ends.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency also suggests you complete Form RC145, requesting to close business number accounts, and send it along with your final return.
  1. Close your GST/HST accounts with Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Once you have filed all of your outstanding GST/HST returns and paid any outstanding accounts, send Form RC145, request to close business number accounts, to Canada Revenue Agency.
  1. Cancel any Municipal Business Licenses
  • If you have obtained a business license to operate in a town or city, you need to notify the municipality that your business is no longer operating and your licenses should be cancelled.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips

Do’s and Don’ts for Your Elevator Pitch

Elevator Pitch – Do’s

  1. Start with a great hook. It’s crucial to attract your audience’s attention quickly. Start with a statistic, quote or question that frames the conversation and leaves your listener wanting to know more.
  2. Structure your value proposition. Once you’ve delivered the hook, jump into the details and specify the problem your business will solve.
  3. Have qualitative data to back your claim. After you’ve structured your value proposition, back your claim with data or a statistic.
  4. Spotlight the key differentiators. Point out what is unique about your idea, product or service that makes you stand out from the crowd.
  5. Give the audience a takeaway. If you’ve delivered an effective elevator pitch, your listeners will want to learn more. Hand out your business card so they can contact you.

Elevator Pitch – Don’ts

  1. Don’t wing it. An elevator pitch should come across as spontaneous, but it is crucial that you practice it.
  2. Don’t oversell it. Overselling your benefits and using words like “life-changing” can paint your pitch as unrealistic.
  3. Don’t go too heavy on the data. It is important to back up your claims, but don’t bury listeners with too much context.
  4. Don’t ignore competitors. You don’t need to list all of your competitors, but highlighting your differences will help communicate why your idea, product or service is better.
  5. Don’t forget the call to action. If you finish your pitch without giving listeners a way to contact you or find out more, you could miss out on opportunities.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips