Category Archives: Small Biz Tips

Challenges to Running a Home Business

There’s no doubt that starting a home business has many perks. You get to be your own boss, work how and when you want. You set your own fees, earning what you’re worth. But there are a few drawbacks that many home-based entrepreneurs forget to mention.

You’ll get less respect

Although this is a little less than it was 10 years ago, for some reason, many people don’t view home businesses as legitimate career choices. Instead, it’s something people do on the side to make a few extra bucks, or until a real job comes along.

You don’t have all the time in the world

Because you work from home, you must have time to let the cable guy in for your neighbor, pick up your sister’s kids at school, and have lunch with your mother. To avoid becoming the go-to helper, have set work hours and be a stickler to others about respecting them.

You’ll use more mental energy than at a job

While jobs do require mental energy, owning a business, in which you’re in charge of every aspect, and your success is dependent on how well you manage it. Meaning you think a lot about your business. Even when you’re not working, you’re thinking about it.

Work isn’t always fun

Even if you start a business doing something you love, there are aspects that aren’t fun. Some of these tedious jobs can be outsourced to a virtual assistant, but even then, you’ll have days where you don’t like your business.

Work is rarely ever done

Calendars, schedules, routines, and to-do lists will help you stay on top of tasks, but you’ll probably never come to the end of your list.

You’ll sit more

Because you don’t have to get up, get dressed, and commute to a job, you’ll move less. Unless your home business is in landscaping or fitness training, you’ll likely spend a great deal of time at your computer.

Work and life lines blur

Flexibility can be an advantage of running a home business, if you’re not consciously making decisions about work and off time, you can begin to feel overwhelmed and scattered. This is where time management can make a big difference in the quality of your work and personal life.

It gets lonely

The quiet and solitude of a home business are nice for being focused and productive, but it’s lonely too. There’s no water cooler for gossip or feedback from a colleague. Social media and online groups can help with this, but it’s important to make an effort to connect with people in real life.

It gets harder to go back to a traditional work situation

Once you get used to having your own schedule and working without a boss, it gets difficult to want to go back to that situation.

You’ll work too much (or maybe not enough)

Especially in the beginning, home businesses take a great deal of time to get up and running. You may not have a day off for weeks or months. This can cause problems with your family. Or, it’s possible you’ll not work enough. A home business is flexible, but not so flexible that you can make a living during your child’s nap times or working only an hour a day.

Some days you may not get dressed

Working in your p.j.s is a perk of having a home business, but spending the entire day in your jammies will make you feel frumpy. Experts suggest getting up for your home business just as you would for your job; shower and get dressed.

You’ll be home all the time

Living and working under the same roof can get tedious. On the days you don’t get dressed, also means you don’t leave the house. Fortunately, many home businesses can be run from other locations and since many public spots have free wi-fi, you can take your work on the road for a change of scenery.

 

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Rules to Charging Provincial Sales Tax on Online Sales

One of the most common questions about Canadian e-commerce is – ‘if I sell online to people in other provinces, do I have to charge and remit their provinces sales tax?’

The answer to this question is ‘Yes’, however it is complicated by the different rules in each province.

Here are the general tax rules to determining what taxes apply to your online sale;

  • If you are selling goods or services in your own province, the tax rules for your own province or territory apply.
  • If you are selling goods or services out of province, you would charge the GST/HST rate based on where the orders are being shipped to.
  • If you are selling goods or services out of province to Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Yukon (which have no provincial sales tax), you would charge only GST (5%) on the sale.

Note that you would not charge GST on taxable goods and/or services being shipped to other countries.

As an e-commerce business accepting and shipping orders across Canada, the taxes you would be collecting and remitting on your online sales are as follows;

British Columbia – GST 5% and PST 7%

Alberta – GST 5%

Saskatchewan – GST 5% and PST 6%

Manitoba – GST 5% and PST 7%

Ontario – HST 13%

Quebec – GST 5% and QST (Quebec Sales Tax) 9.975%

New Brunswick – HST 13%

Nova Scotia – HST 15%

Newfoundland & Labrador – HST 13%

Prince Edward Island – HST 14%

Northwest Territories – GST 5%

Nunavut – GST 5%

Yukon – GST 5%

In your home province, registering for PST is mandatory if you are selling taxable goods and/or services. With that being said, you should register as a Provincial Sales Tax Vendor with each province you will be doing business with and will be expected to collect and remit the sales tax accordingly.

For more information visit Canada Revenue Agency – http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/cmm/gst-tps/menu-eng.html

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6 Strategies that Drive Successful Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs can easily become overwhelmed in today’s ever changing business climate. It’s important to stay focused on your businesses goals amongst changing circumstances. Here are six points to keep in mind to clear your path to business success!

  1. Know your Competition

It’s important to identify your competitors and also understand the rival product or service they offer. This knowledge will help you market your product or service better to stand out.

  1. Research new Products & Services

With the world constantly evolving, there is always something bigger and better. Find new and improved products or services that will help you serve your customers and needs better. Look for tools that will help your business run more efficiently.

  1. Save your Money

During the early stages of business, there is bound to be a few rough patches. Get into the habit of saving money and living more conservatively. Most entrepreneurs keep a three month reserve aside for any unforeseen circumstances.

  1. Start Small

Tackle your niche market before you expand into a larger market. Niche marketing can be extremely cost effective if your business can meet the market’s unique needs. There is much more risk when you try to market your product or service to a larger target audience.

  1. Always be Adapting

Whether you’re adapting your marketing plan, simplifying a product or responding to new trends, pay attention to customer feedback. Listen to your customers, because after all they are who you’re trying to please. Be all ears.

  1. Respond to Change

In business, change is inevitable. As an entrepreneur you need to be prepared to accept change and adapt your business accordingly. It’s important to understand where you start is not likely where you will end up. Be flexible and versatile, don’t be left behind.

 

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5 Ways to Boost your Cash Flow

  1. Re-evaluate your prices.

Could you be selling your product or service for more? If your prices are too affordable, you may not be taken seriously. But if your prices are too expensive, you could lose business. Find that happy median, a price point that will help boost your cash flow without losing sales.

  1. Replace old equipment and inventory.

Whether you’re dealing with equipment or inventory, if either one is obsolete, not working or not being used, it should be replaced or eliminated completely. Selling your old equipment or having a blowout sale on products that don’t sell as well is another easy way to boost your cash flow.

  1. Re-negotiate long-term contracts.

Many suppliers and service providers are willing to work with you if you have been a loyal customer. Even if they aren’t willing to make changes to your account, you may discover add-ons and extras that you no longer need, improving your cash flow by cancelling those services.

  1. Incentives for early payment / penalties for late payments.

For many businesses, invoicing can be a painful process. If you find it hard to keep your clients accountable and loathe having to follow up when they’re late with payments, consider implementing an incentive and penalty program. You’ll save yourself time and resource costs.

  1. Improve your marketing.

Any improvements you make to your business will ultimately lead to better cash flow. Improving your marketing will reduce your cost-per-lead, boosting the value of your customers and opening up markets for your product or service.

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Five Key Small Business Website Elements

Incorporate these five important website elements to build an online presence that brings customers directly to your business.

  1. A powerful home page

Your website home page is the first thing your customers will see. Make sure they are getting a good first impression, clearly communicating your brand, what your business is about, and a navigation menu that directs users to other important pages on your site.

  1. User-friendly navigation

Your navigation menu should include logical categories that make it easy for users to find information. Poor navigation is one of the most common reasons people abandon a website. Whether your menu expands across the top or in a sidebar, it should contain relevant information such as; what products or services you offer, the costs, where you are located and your hours of operation.

  1. Search features

Include a search feature in addition to your website navigation menu so customers can use keywords to find the information they need. When customers type a keyword into the search box, they will be presented with relevant information so they don’t have to manually search for it.

  1. Access to help

Customers often want to connect with a human, include a contact us page with information such as; phone number(s), email address and your location so they have the option to meet with someone face-to-face to discuss business.

  1. FAQ page

Include a page of frequently asked questions and their answers on your website to make it easier for customers to find the detailed information they need.

A small business website can be an affordable and effective way to reach and expand your online customers and potential customers. These five elements will drive customers directly to your business.

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Habits to Increase Your Productivity

Here are a few tips to improve your productivity levels.

  • Arrive early, stay later

Get to your most important task right away to save yourself some extra hours. Arriving early and staying late could make all the difference.

  • Plan each day the night before

Taking 15 minutes to make a to-do list and prioritize it will give you a head start on your day. Prioritizing tasks by importance is a reminder to push you forward with achieving big goals.

  • Leave the office for lunch

Getting out of your work environment for lunch can ease stress levels, refresh your creativity and help you re-focus. It’s a chance to clear your head and think about how the rest of your day should go.

  • Minimize distractions

Distractions are everywhere. Working at a computer, there is temptation to check social media and surf the internet. Set boundaries and abide by them. Minimizing distractions will increase productivity.

  • Keep your goals in sight

Keep a list of your goals where you will see them throughout the day to keep you focused and motivated to accomplish them.

  • Always try to beat the person you were yesterday

Keep track of your accomplishments, daily victories will transform your business. Be in competition with yourself.

Everyone wants to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the work day. Break the bad habits that are taking up your valuable time. Higher productivity levels will help you accomplish your goals and lead you to a more successful business.

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Getting Through the Slow Season

Most retailers would agree that January and February are the slowest months for business in the year. Here are a few tips to keep sales going during the slow season.

Post-Holiday Sale – The months after the Christmas holiday are the best times to sell excess product. It may surprise you, but there are many shoppers planning for the following year, looking to get deals on holiday products after the holidays. Having a post-holiday sale is a great way to earn a little extra after the holidays are over.

Perform an Audit – The off-season is the perfect time to start planning and get organized. It is a good time to get an accurate count on inventory, see what products are selling and when. It is also a good time to review processes, making improvements where they are needed and get staff up to date on training.

Pop-up Sales – A pop-up sale is not advertised prior to, like a regular sale, which will keep customers checking in for specials and discounts on a more regular basis. Having a pop-up sale once a month will increase foot traffic and it is a great way to get rid of excess inventory from the holidays.

Referral and Reward Programs – Referral programs are a great way to gain new customers and reward programs will encourage loyalty and boost sales. Offer a reward or discount on products to customers that refer your business to others.

Slow months don’t have to bring your business to a complete halt. Get creative with sales and take time to review and regroup for the busier months to come.

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