Incorporating your Business

When first launching your business, you have probably identified that you will be the sole proprietor. But too many fail to revisit the question of whether or not you should incorporate. This is a crucial step in your business. As your financial positions change with respect to tax or legal issues, you may need to consider alternate business structures.

To recap, under the sole proprietor legal structure, you are the only owner of your business.  You will be fully responsible for all liability and debt. If a sole proprietor enters financial instability, creditors can seek legal actions against your personal assets. The success of these legal actions can result in personal liability as the business is fundamentally inseparable from its owner. While the sole proprietor structure is recommended for its simplicity and affordability, the disadvantages reside in its personal liability for all debt, losses and liabilities of the business.

By incorporating the business, the earnings, losses and tax payments are filed separately from the owner. You will often pay a lower tax rate than a sole proprietorship. The process of incorporation will focus on the formation of a new corporation that is recognized as its own distinct entity. The many benefits to incorporating are that your personal belongings will be separate from business related activity. That is to say, all legal action would be placed against the business alone and personal assets will not be factored in, proving to be much safer in the end. Incorporating will also ensure that the name of your business is protected. If you choose to incorporate your business federally, you will be able to do business across Canada under the same business name. With provincial incorporation, you will not have name protection outside of the province.

The downside to incorporating is that it will be more costly, and it will need to be renewed annually. Incorporated entities will also require more paperwork for separate tax returns, and notification of operational changes in the business.

Some businesses should consider incorporating sooner than others, particularly those dealing directly with the human body. Any business focusing on providing a product or service that will impact the body, such as the food industry for example, should consider incorporating as soon as possible as there is a higher risk for legal action.

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Home-Based Business Insurance

Most home- based business owners overlook business insurance and assume that their home insurance will cover them to carry out their business. Not only is this not true, but operating your business out of your home could invalidate your policy if your insurer isn’t aware of your business.

Insurance coverage will depend on your business and you may need more than one type of coverage. Here are 10 types of business insurance to consider to assure your business is protected.

  1. Business Property Insurance

All home-based businesses should have business contents insurance in addition to the contents and or property insurance to cover damage, loss and theft of property. Most homeowner’s policies have content limits that would easily be exceeded by claims for business equipment. Keep in mind this coverage is only applicable when equipment is on the premises.

  1. General Liability Coverage

Another type of insurance coverage all home-based businesses should have is additional General Liability Insurance. Without this insurance, if a client falls and breaks his/her leg on your property, you won’t be covered. General Liability Insurance will cover you for injuries to clients and employees while they are on premises.

  1. Business Vehicle Insurance

If you use your personal vehicle for business purposes you need to have your vehicle properly insured for business use. Like property insurance, if your insurer isn’t aware that you are using your vehicle for business, it could void your policy if you were in an accident.

  1. Product Liability Insurance

If your home-based business involves selling a product, you should consider getting product liability insurance to protect your business from liability resulting from the product’s non-performance.

  1. Professional Liability Insurance

On the other hand, if your business provides a service, you should consider getting professional liability insurance to protect both you and your clients. Professional liability insurance will shield your personal assets and pay for your defense if a client were to claim they suffered damages through your actions.

  1. Malpractice Insurance

Similar to professional liability insurance, malpractice insurance protects you from damages caused by treatments gone wrong. This type of insurance is commonly used by hairdressers and dog groomers who operate out of their home.

  1. Errors and Omissions Insurance

You should have errors and omissions insurance if your home-based business involves giving professional advice. Errors and omissions insurance will cover your defense and damages if a client were to claim they suffered damages because your advice was inadequate.

  1. Completed Operations Insurance

If your home business provides a service at client sites, you should have completed operations coverage to protect you from liability that could arise after you have left the clients’ premises and they use whatever you were working on and injury or damage occurs.

  1. Disability Insurance

Disability insurance is strongly suggested for home-based business owners who depend on their business as a source of income. Disability insurance will cover your lost income if you are disabled and unable to carry on business.

  1. Business Interruption Insurance

You may want to consider purchasing business interruption insurance, which will cover your lost revenue if you are forced to suspend your business operations because of a fire, flood or other disasters.

After reading through the types of business insurance available, I hope you have realized basic home insurance is not enough to protect your business. Making sure you are properly covered can save you in the long run.

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4 Ways to Advertise on Facebook

With close to 850 million active daily users, more and more businesses are using Facebook to advertise their business. Here are four of the most popular types of ads you can use to reach your audience on Facebook.

Facebook Page ‘Like’ Ads

If your goal is to increase your page likes, then page ‘Like’ ads are right for your business. The ubiquitous ‘Like’ button invites viewers to like your business page. Page ‘Like’ ads can be viewed from mobile, newsfeed and right column views.

Facebook Domain Ads

If you want to drive visitors to your page to buy your products, sign up for your email list, or improve your lead generation results, consider domain ads. You can find domain ads on the right column of your page, often as sponsored ads. Keep in mind domain ads are not supported on the mobile platform.

Facebook Newsfeed Ads

Newsfeed ads are the most common type of Facebook ad and can be viewed on mobile devices, in the right column and in the newsfeed. These ads are effective for promoting your business website and are also a great way to generate likes on your business page.

Facebook Multiprduct Ads

Similar to newsfeed ads, multiproduct ads allow you to show up to three links to your business on a consistent sliding basis. These ads can be viewed on both desktop and mobile platforms. Each ad has an image, title, description and link to your page or website.

Before diving into Facebook advertising, take the time to figure out which type of Facebook ad would work best for your business.

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Is your business ready for tourist season?

Many people travel during their holidays; depending on the industry you are in, the influx of tourists in your community can help increase your business activity.

As a business owner, you should look for creative ways to bring tourists into your business and boost your profile.

What’s going on?

Think about why tourists are visiting your community: Does your community hold a prominent festival or event? Are there many campgrounds located in your region? Is there a well known museum in your area? Now think about how you can work with these attractions for mutual benefit.

For example, the Glengarry Highland Games which takes place in Maxville, Ontario brings thousands of tourists to this small village each August. Hotels, restaurants and shops in the region are prepared for this occasion every year by ensuring sufficient staffing and inventory to accommodate the tourists that walk through their doors.

Also consider how your business can benefit by participating in weekly tourist attractions. Craft shows, tradeshows and flea markets are popular places for locals and tourists to frequent on the weekend. These venues are a great way to reach potential customers and network on a new level.

If you sell produce you might consider attending a local farmer’s market. We are fortunate to have markets in Cornwall, Long Sault, Chesterville, Alexandria, Maxville and Martintown.

Let them know you are here!

If you do not advertise, tourists and locals alike will not think of your business. Be sure to advertise new products or services, sales or promotions. If you have a storefront, make sure it is visually attractive to catch the attention of passers-by.

And remember…

Connect with your local tourism office. They maintain an events listing and are in connection with festival and event organizers. They can keep you in the know about what is taking place in your community.

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Best Hashtags for your Business

A hashtag is a word or phrase that comes after a hash mark or a pound sign (#) used on social media to group messages related to a specific topic. Hashtags started and are more commonly used on Twitter, but many other social media platforms use them to allow users to find messages related to specific topics.

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr and Vine are some of the other social media platforms that use hashtags. Using a hashtag is an easy way to attract your target audience on busy, cluttered social media sites.

Here are a few tactics to find the best hashtags to target your audience.

Use Twitter Search

Although hashtags are used on other social media platforms, Twitter is where it started and you will find an extensive collection of hashtags. This is a great way to find key words that are relevant to your content. The key is to find hashtags that are popular and relevant to your business. The more popular, the better the chance your target audience will come across it.

Create your own Branded Hashtag

Another option is to create your own hashtag for you business to use repeatedly to promote your brand. The best hashtags in this situation are unique and relate directly to your brand.

See What’s Trending

If you go into the ‘trends’ column on Twitter, there is a collection of popular trending hashtags. This list is tailored to you based on who you follow on Twitter. Check out this column regularly to see what hashtags may be relevant to your business.

Take them for a Test Drive

Once you have a list of potential hashtags, it’s time to put them to the test. A common best practice is not to use more than three hashtags per post. Share your content including your hashtags and see which hashtag words best.

 

 

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How to Project a Professional Image with a Home Business

Working from home may seem like the perfect career solution, but it can be challenging to make your business’ online presence professional while you’re working from home in your pajamas.

Here are a few ways to make your business look like a million dollar company.

Make your business look bigger than it is.

Home business’ hold less credibility than a traditional brick and mortar establishment. Having a professional website, mail box and phone line will help make your business image look better to potential customers.

Separate your business from your home.

It is important to get a separate office phone number and make your online contact form look just as professional as a major enterprise’s – including your ‘office hours’.

Focus on SEO content.

Content is key to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The more your content follows SEO best practices, the higher your website will rank on search engines like Google or Yahoo.

Improve your website experience.

You could have the best product or service on the market, but if your website is confusing to navigate through or lacks information, potential customers will be less likely to buy from your business.

Make social media count.

Your content on social media should be relevant and increase your traffic and sales. Most social media sites offer free analytics, to help you track your likes, comment, follows, and views.

Use high-quality photos.

When you showcase your product or service on your blog, website or social media pages, make sure they are high-quality photos. Low-quality photos could scare away potential customers.

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Should You Register for HST

Starting a business involves planning, gathering legal documents and making key financial decisions. Amongst these financial considerations, you will want to establish whether or not you will want to register for HST. The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) replaced the existing provincial sales taxes and the federal goods and service tax in Ontario on July 1st, 2010. HST is applied at a rate of 13%, consisting of the 5% federal portion and an 8% provincial portion. In order to charge sales tax on your product or service, you will need to register for HST.

Legally, businesses that have $30,000 or less in annual worldwide taxable sales are not required to register and collect tax. You can, however, register voluntarily. You may wish to consider doing so for several reasons. First, by registering for HST you will be able to recover all outgoing business expenses. The HST paid when purchasing materials, equipment or supplies for your business can be recovered. Without registering for HST, you also run the risk of jeopardizing the trust of your repeat clients who won’t appreciate the jolt in pricing when you hit the $30,000 mark. Your clients may also only trust to work with businesses that are already registered for HST for formality reasons.

If you decide to register for HST voluntarily, remember that you must charge, collect and remit HST on your sales or taxable goods and services.

You will have to register for HST when you no longer qualify as a small supplier because your total worldwide taxable supplies of goods and services exceed the small supplier limit of $30,000 in a year. If you choose not to register immediately for HST, always track the amount of sales you will be generating. You will be responsible for any additional sales exceeding $30,000 annually. Legally while it is technically the responsibility of your clients to pay out the additional HST costs, the likelihood of them agreeing to pay the outstanding costs will be slim. You may also sacrifice their trust in your business.

You can register for HST by the following methods:

  1. Internet: cra-arc.gc.ca
  2. Telephone : 1-800-959-5525

To register for HST you will need a Business Number, which can be collected at the same time at Canada Revenue Agency. Once registered, the Canada Revenue Agency will send you a letter confirming your BN, the accounts registered and a summer of the information you have provided.

For HST and Payroll general inquiries, call Revenue Canada’s Tax Services Office at 1-800-959-5525.

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