Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Named vs. Numbered Corporations

Choosing a name for your business can be a tough task. Not only do you need to come up with something distinctive and original that describes your company, you also have to make sure that the name isn’t similar to any other named corporation out there. Each jurisdiction has its own set of requirements for names and this can lead to a frustrating process.  Sometimes your first choice just doesn’t cut it and you have to go back to the drawing board.

 Numbered corporations allow you avoid delays and expense involved in searching for and reserving a corporate name. So if you need to incorporate quickly, this is a good option. You would be required to use your incorporated number for any legal matters or relations (i.e. contracts, government filings), but you are able to register a trade name and be known to your customers as operating under such trade name. Or, you can always file Articles of Amendment at a later time to change from a numbered to a named corporation.

If you’re set on having a named corporation, make sure you have at least 3 possible options for your name.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket or the outcome may be very disappointing! Having variations of your name submitted allows for a better chance that at least one will be approved and you’ll avoid the back and forth paperwork, time and expense of re-submitting names. Stay tuned for our blog post on how to choose a corporate name, for tips on best practices when coming up with a name that suits your business AND the legal requirements.

There are positives and negatives to choosing between a named and numbered corporation and it is dependent upon the objectives of the business and its shareholders. For the best outcome, weigh your options carefully and create a plan of attack before you begin.

For more information, visit our website at www.CorporationCentre.ca !

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Canadian Corporate Taxes

How to Maximize Your Return

It’s that time of year again –the dreaded tax season.  For business owners with incorporated corporations whose fiscal year has ended, this means having to file two separate returns – personal and corporate. It’s a daunting task to say the least, which is why many businesses chose to hand over their paperwork and receipts to a trusted accountant. But for those of you who are do-it-yourself types, here’s a guide to help you maximize your corporate tax return.

Type of Corporations

There are various types of corporations in Canada, all of which are subject to tax rates dependent upon corporate status. The corporations that have the lowest tax rate are Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs).  These are entirely private corporations controlled and operated within Canada. CCPCs are eligible for the Small Business Deduction which, at this time, stands at 11%, the lowest tax rate available to corporations. All other corporations that do not fall under this category, whether private or public, are taxed at a higher rate. It is worth investigating at the outset the potential of having your business structure set up as a CCPC in order to benefit from the deduction.

Corporate Tax Credits

Research and Development Tax Credits: To qualify for an R&D tax credit (or the SR&ED Program) your company must be involved in experimental development, applied research, basic research and support work which would lead to advancement or address uncertainty in technological and scientific areas. This can encompass a wide range of R&D and is particularly useful for tech and environmental start-ups that are developing new products or improving upon existing products in the marketplace.

Tax Credits for Small Businesses: In addition to R&D tax credits, Canadian businesses can benefit from a range of tax credits for small business. Some credits are dependent on jurisdiction or depend upon industry, while others are Canada-wide and not industry-specific. Tax credits include areas such as apprenticeship job creation, designated activities on qualified property, child care spaces and pre-production mining.

Corporate Income Tax Deductions
If your corporation doesn’t qualify for any tax credits, take a look at potential corporate income tax deductions, you may be surprised what can be included! Below are some examples:

·         Gifts to employees
·         Automobile expenses
·         Insurance
·         Office expenses
·         Mortgage interest & security
·         Business meals/entertainment
·         Conventions
·         Canadian advertising expenses
·         Accounting/legal services
·         Home-based business expenses

Taking the time to research all the available tax credit and deductions for your small business can definitely help you save money in the long run. Take advantage of the incentives the Canadian government provides small business – that’s what they are there for! Good luck and happy filing.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Free Shipping on Business Registration

If you’re thinking of starting a small business, now is the time!

Why not start small with a business registration? A business registration, or sole proprietorship, is the simplest form of operating a business - the registration process relatively easy and the start up costs can be minimal.

This week we’ll save you even more with FREE shipping on any business registration orders. From April 14-18 use the promotional code CCBR19SHIP* in your shopping cart to receive the free shipping discount ($19 value). 

Use the promotional code yourself or pass it along to the other entrepreneurs in your life!

Starting your business is easy with CorporationCentre.ca!

Click here to start the business registration order process or call 1-866-906-2677 for more information.

*Code valid from April 14-18, 2014. Discount for shipping costs valued at $19 for business registration orders only.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Averting Disaster – Do Your Research (Part 1)

I was recently privy to one of the worst branding disasters I’ve ever encountered. The effect on the team launching the product was near catastrophic and hindsight proved just how avoidable it all was. There are a few simple rules to a product launch and I’m hoping that my recent experience can shed a light on how to avoid this problem in the future.

The following story is true. Certain names and details have been altered to protect the privacy and integrity of those involved.

The Product

I work as a digital media consultant responsible for developing content for various companies that choose to market their business on the internet. A well-intentioned individual who runs a website and blog devoted to tea was looking to expand their audience by hosting an online tea conference bringing experts from all over the world to discuss everything concerning tea, called “The Tea Council”. The online conference would be composed of 30 presentations and interviews on various subjects as they relate to tea marketed for free over a one-week period, and available for sale thereafter through the blog and various affiliates for $29.99.

The Team

A tremendous amount of work is involved to put together one of these online conferences for which there are numerous benefits to the consumer. First, during the week of the conference the information is available for free. Second, there is no need to buy a ticket, purchase a flight, or book a hotel room in another city - the entire conference can be enjoyed from one’s bedroom. And finally, the information is available to the consumer in perpetuity. In order to create this product, a whole content team and marketing team need to be assembled to create the product and to put it out to the world. Web space for the “theteacouncil” was purchased and all content and marketing for the conference would be channeled through that space. A single online conference takes a solid 2 to 3 months to put together employing about a dozen individuals all trained in their specific discipline as well as coordinating with a large group of experts who all have a stake in how great the reach is for this conference.

My Role

As the one responsible for designing the content, it was my job to consult with our client on how to make the best use of digital media to communicate the information of an expert with an audience of lay people. An interview is conducted between the conference host and the expert that is recorded and edited, and then turned into a final podcast-type deliverable for the consumer. Those interviews are then transcribed, from which a power point presentation is created. This power point is then turned into a video and is matched with the audio presentation which itself is delivered to the consumer. All in all, for thirty presentations, on my end alone, it was about 100 hours of work.

How It All Broke Down in the Blink of an Eye

We were less than a week away to launch. All the content was in place, all the affiliates were on board, and initial pre-registrations had already taken place. Heavy traffic was already heading to the website and sales were already being made. The client received a cease and desist letter from the owner of a website called “councilonteas.com”. After an initial review from a lawyer, although being reassured that the Council on Teas didn’t have much of a case, legal fees alone would cut significantly into the budget of the conference. The owner of the Council on Teas was also adamant that a deal could not be struck and that the Tea Council was in breach of a trademarked product and would be legally blocked from launching their product, and would face legal repercussions and be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, should they continue with their launch as planned.

 Lesson Learned

A simple Google search would have shown the existence of the Council on Teas company and their website, and the initial decision to launch the conference as “The Tea Council” had to be considered a terrible oversight. Even if the desired web space was available, it would have been preferable to do some initial market research and explore any websites and names that might have even been remotely similar to anything they wanted to launch.


Stay tuned for more information on what it took to finally get a completed product completely rebranded and launched.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How To Start a Non-Profit Corporation

The non profit sector is one of the fastest growing in North America today.  With over 15,000 registered charities in Canada alone, it is important for newly formed non profits to fill an existing need in the community.  Non profit organizations must have a clear understanding of their mission and goals in forming the organization in order to not impede on existing corporations and to find success as an organization.

Similarly to corporations, non profits need to also address the legal requirements associated with starting their organization.  Non profit corporations are required to have a board of directors.  Likely this will be a group of founding members of the organization.  The board should be established right off the bat so that all other decisions are made by those who have a vested interested in the corporation.  Mission, roles, responsibilities, headquarters and financing will need to be hashed out before any legal paperwork can be started.  Most importantly, the board will need to establish a name for the organization and whether to incorporate the organization, become a registered charity, or both.

After selecting and registering your corporate name, you may choose to incorporate your non profit.  Though not essential to do so, incorporating will give the organization a legal status and with it rights and responsibilities.  The process to incorporate a non profit is generally the same as a corporation.  You can incorporate federally or provincially and requirements are dependent upon the jurisdiction in which you incorporate.  The one difference is the option to also register for charitable status.

In order to be granted charitable status, you must apply through the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency by fulfilling a number of requirements. In order for an organization to be registered its purpose needs to either relieve poverty, provide advancement in education, advancement in religion, or benefit the community in certain ways in which a court has deemed acceptable.  The process can take up to 8 months to complete, but after completion your non profit will have the advantage of providing tax receipts to charitable donors as well as receiving certain tax deductions. 

Following these first steps will help your non profit corporation achieve success in its mission and future activities in the community!

Click here to find out more about non profit incorporation and to start the incorporation process!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It’s Good to Be the Boss

We all come to a crossroads at some point in our life - a defining moment to choose one path over another and accept where it leads us. After college I bumped around from job to job trying to build up my experience, and my resume, looking for the right opportunity to grow and be a part of something big. I hated it. I mean I really couldn’t stand it. Everything about holding a job made me feel rotten inside. It’s not that I’m averse to working hard, or that I think that having a job is wrong for everybody, it was just that after a decade in the rat race I discovered a few important things about myself.

Balance

The first thing that I learned was that working for someone else made me really tired. The simple expectation of adjusting my schedule to suit someone else left me lethargic and with a distinct palpable malaise that made me angry at life, and it seeped into my free time. Since starting my own business I actually work more than I ever have, but because it’s on my own terms I seem to have a lighter step and am able to walk between the raindrops which has helped me to enjoy my free time even more. The positive impact this has had on my health and wellbeing has also been noticeable as, because I no longer suffer from the same lethargy, I find myself using my free time to be more active as well as making time to cook a proper meal instead of settling for something quick and devoid of nutrition.

I Have Really Good Ideas

Within every company I ever worked for there was a hierarchy. It seemed odd to me that all the people higher up the chain of command were celebrated for having all of the best ideas. All of my contributions were immediately scoffed at and dismissed – until they were implemented and passed off as the boss’ big new idea. Now sure, there’s an argument for stick-to-itiveness, and that if I bided my time I could work myself up the ranks and start making the decisions. Maybe so, but I felt more burdened by the idea of seeing myself forced to pawn off the brilliant insight of an office lackey as my own because by the time it was my turn to get all the credit I was out of ideas.

I Don’t Value Security

I’m a risk taker and I always have been. I have gumption and believe that every time I get knocked down that I reemerge stronger than before. I know that there’s something comforting about having a job and knowing exactly where your next paycheck is coming from but it’s overshadowed by my own sense of excitement at starting something new and helping it grow. Having a steady job allows you to plan everything in advance and keeps you looking forward to your two-week vacation that was organized more than a year in advance, but being your own boss forces you take each day one day at time and keep your mind on what’s important right now.

Helping Others Grow

Within the hierarchy of all the companies I worked for I felt alone. I know I was supposed to emulate the work habits of those above me, but I felt like they kept their secrets of how they got to where they were under lock and key. Since striking off on my own, one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job has been mentoring and learning from those that work for me. Sure, I sign the paychecks, but in my efforts to build a successful small business it feels like it’s something we all share. It’s also very rewarding to share my expertise with my colleagues who might not have as much experience as myself.

I Did It My Way

Everyone is different, and owning your own business is incredibly challenging. It’s certainly not for the feint of heart, and before entering into something so profoundly life altering one has to really have a clear picture of who they are. I was ready to sink or swim, and learn the hard way, because I knew that if I was going to feel fulfilled I had to put myself in a work environment where I felt that I could operate under my own terms. The decision to choose the path that I did has made all the difference in my life and I never thought twice about retracing my steps.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Nuance of NUANS

Your name can mean everything. It is what people associate with your brand and it is what will inevitably define your business in the minds of others. Therefore, it is imperative that you choose a name for your business that is original and that will stick in the minds of your target clientele. It is also important that once you have the perfect name for your business, that you protect it so that people don’t confuse your business with someone else’s. Below are some of the finer points of what one can expect when using NUANS (Newly Upgraded Automated Name Search) for registering or incorporating their business.

Not all provinces are created equal

No matter which province you live in, you will need to file a name search report. But, depending on where you live, you may have to file a name search report within your own province’s database. What NUANS actually refers to is a database for the following jurisdictions: P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta, as well as the database of Canadian Federal Corporations. If you are registering your business in Quebec, for example, you don’t need to conduct a NUANS report, but you can if you wish. Doing so will give you an insight into whether or not someone has registered a business with the same, or similar, name as yours in another province, specifically those included in the NUANS database.

Don’t forget that no matter what insight you glean from any name search report that you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that your company name does not infringe on any third party rights.

The varied depths of NUANS search

Filing a NUANS report carries with it a fee to conduct the report. As a cost saving mechanism, it is possible to conduct a preliminary report at the fraction of the cost of a full report – a preliminary search costs about $0.23. However, the preliminary report only eliminates proposed names with exact matches to the names of other companies. A full NUANS report provides an even greater depth of insight by reporting company names that may be close, or could even illicit confusion, but costs significantly more and is required to register your business within the given jurisdiction. The reason a preliminary report can be beneficial is by allowing you to quickly ascertain whether or not a certain company name is available or not without the commitment of a full NUANS report. If you are satisfied with your company name, and its availability, you can then file for a full report and register your business.

Ordering a NUANS search report


Although there does exist a NUANS self-serve website, it is preferable in most cases to obtain your NUANS search report with the assistance of a NUANS registered member. The reason for this is that the self-serve website is limited to conducting NUANS reports for federal corporations. On the other hand, there are a variety of NUANS registered members available to you that are capable of not only filing the search report, but also of guiding you through the process of registering your company. 

Please visit CorporationCentre.ca for more information and to order your NUANS Report!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Advantages of a Shelf Company

Some Things Get Better with Age

You’re feeling good, you’ve rolled out the business plan, you’re partners are in with you, and everybody’s jazzed because it’s time to incorporate and move into the next phase of owning a business. But wait a minute, your accountant advises you that based on your company’s current credit rating you’re not going to be able to secure the type of loan you’re going to need to get things up and running.

“Why not?” you ask.
“Well, in order to get the kind of loan you’re looking to secure from the bank, they want to make sure that your company has more of a history of good credit.”
“But we’re brand new. What do we do?”

The answer is: don’t panic.

One option that is worth investigating could be investing in the purchase of a “Shelf Corporation”. Also known as an “Aged Corporation”, a shelf corporation is a corporation that has been around for a while, but just hasn’t been doing very much of anything.

How it Works – The Delicate Art of Credit Chemistry

To say that a shelf corporation has been doing nothing would be misleading. Like a fine wine it has spent time in the cellar patiently waiting for its moment to be corked. Most shelf corporations were designed and setup with the sole purpose of being launched at a later date and what transpires between bottling and the moment it is poured can be profound when it comes to a balance sheet.

First, by purchasing a shelf corporation, the relationship your company establishes with the bank is like one between good old friends. Right away they can see that your company has been around for a while and that you have a good credit score which makes them more trusting of your ability to pay your loan.

Second, much of what was required to start a company has already been taken care of. All of the basic ingredients have been blended together and it’s simply a matter of customizing them to your needs. A lot of the red tape that can potentially delay a start up is already taken care of.

Third, even if you are effectively getting your business off the ground today, depending on the shelf company you buy, you can literally say you’ve been in business for as long as the business has been in existence. Contracts that you may wish to bid on may require that a bidding company need have been in business for a minimum amount of time which would have otherwise have excluded you from bidding on the contract. With the years of experience you’ve gained through the shelf company, no one need be the wiser.

Finally, you can even merge your existing company with your shelf company as a means to facilitate building business credit.

Things to Consider

Remember, a lot of the heavy lifting has already been done for you and there’s a cost that comes with that. Like a good scotch, the price goes up the longer it’s aged. Sure the cost of the shelf company may be higher, but it also has a longer established history and that can go a long way.

Also keep in mind that before it becomes yours, a shelf company is literally a product on a shelf. There are lots to choose from so it is still important to do your research and find one that’s right for you. Not all shelf companies are created equal either. It’s important to get detailed information about the shelf company before you buy one.

Many companies that offer standard business registration and incorporation services also offer shelf corporations as well, and can help guide you through the process of determining what’s right for you.

For more information on buying a shelf company, please visit CorporationCentre.ca.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Business Essentials: Project Management Software

Business Essentials: Project Management Software

Tech companies have been hard at work over the last decade finding ways to streamline their workflow. As a result, numerous companies have entered into the domain of developing software specifically designed to manage their various projects and they have addressed almost every growing concern under the sun. Project management software in this day and age is powerful, easy to use, ubiquitous, and cheap. Businesses are quite literally spoiled for choice in this area and, if your company is not currently using any project management software to coordinate your projects, it’s time to take a serious look at how one of any of the number of programs that are out there might add value to your company.

What’s out there?

Sometimes choice can be a difficult thing to handle. With so much choice out there, how do we know which program is going to be the right one for our business? How do we know that it will be able to do the things we need it to do? Basecamp, Asana, Microsoft Project, Smartsheet, what’s the difference?

Generally speaking, there is no difference – they are all designed to help you manage your projects in one way or another and all will perform many of the same functions. Where they differ is in how you interface with each program. One could choose blindly and accept that there will be a learning curve to understanding how the program operates. No matter which program you choose, eventually it will become an extension of how your business operates.

However, there are a couple of points worth investigating first:

Web-based or on-prem? – One thing you need to decide is whether or not you want to operate your project management software literally from within the building (or “on premises), or if you want your project management to be handled on the web. On-premises software has the advantage of typically being more robust than web-based software. However, companies more and more are trending toward web-based programs because they have been stripped down in order to be more easy to use and because it does not involve installing the program on every computer in the office. Instead, project members simply visit the relevant website.

Proprietary, GPL, or Open source? What these three terms refer to is the type of license a program might use and defines what you are allowed to do with the software once you have it. Whether a program is free to use or not, project management software will most commonly use a proprietary license meaning that you agree to use the program the way it is simply to help you with your business. Other licenses may give you the freedom to tamper with the code and tailor the software to your company’s needs, but this does take some savvy and you’ll need a competent computer engineer.

How they work

As mentioned earlier, every project management software is initially designed to do more or less the same thing and most will cover all the essential components of what it takes to coordinate a project.

Communication – If a program does not allow for a team to communicate with each other, then it’s not of much use. Virtually all programs keep each project separate from one another so, when running more than one project at the same time, it’s easy to track what’s been discussed about which projects. It’s even possible to cherry pick who needs to know which pieces of information so that the right people get the necessary information while everybody else doesn’t have to feel bogged down by excessive communication that is not relevant to them.

Scheduling – Project management software also allows your company to set milestones and completion dates for aspects of a project. Anyone involved can then go to the calendar and see what tasks need to be completed, allowing them to better manage their own work.

File Sharing – Any project management software acts as the central hub where all the information regarding a specific project is located. It is open for all the people involved in the project to get their hands on. Relevant documents can easily be uploaded and shared for all to give their insight or make changes.

Although these represent the core of what most project management software will address, each program provides its own nuance, bells and whistles, and special features. How you decide to use these features is anybody’s guess but you’ll eventually find that there 101 ways to solve any number of problems right at your finger tips. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Business Essentials: Building a Great Website

It wasn’t all that long ago that for a business to have a website seemed a novel thing. The tipping point has long past, and for a start up company to not prioritize their website as a major arm of their business seems sophomoric. The hurdles that confronted the early pioneers of website building (technical complexity, cost, technological limitations) have disappeared and there is now no excuse not to have a website. There is, however, one basic rule that has not changed – nor will it ever – and that is: the better and more effective you want your website to be, the greater the investment it will represent. Below are a few handy tips that will hopefully give you greater insight into what steps are involved in building your website and allay any concerns that it might represent.

The Anatomy of a Website

There are essentially two vital parts to any website that businesses need to consider: the code and the server.

The Code: Everything you see and read on the internet is nothing more than a series of binary codes – a seemingly endless stream of 1’s and 0’s. It’s like the DNA of your website. And as your DNA eventually becomes the you that others can see and interact with, so the code is what will become the part of your website that others see and interact with.

The Server: The code, in order to be seen and read by others, needs a place to be stored and easily accessed. The place where these codes are stored, or hosted, are on servers owned by companies that continuously allow the transfer of information. These hosting companies pay for their servers, and to transfer all those billions of bytes of information, and they make their money by your renting space for your website on their server in the form of a “domain”.

A website thus becomes a website when your code occupies the domain space that you have rented.

What You Pay For

Renting space with a hosting company is a piece of cake and can be done for as little as a few dollars a month. A simple Google search will likely bring up a myriad of companies that offer hosting with different options. Most have a help line that you can call and simply knowing a little bit about what you want your website to do will easily give them a sense of what option is best for you. Most often it comes down to whether or not you plan to have a lot of data-heavy bells and whistles like streaming audio and video. These things take up space, which means you may need to rent more server space.

Once you’ve rented the space, you need your space to have a name. This is how people will remember your website. Ideally, you’ll want your domain name to reflect the essentials of what your business is about and it should be snappy and easy to remember. Acquiring a domain name is somewhat of an art. It’s quite possible that your perfect domain name is something no one has yet thought of, at which point it’s easily acquired through your hosting company at no charge. However, if your perfect website name is owned it can be a challenge to acquire. There are entire companies that purchase domain names with the sole purpose of brokering them to people who want the name for their business. At this point you have to decide what the domain is worth to you. If someone has already beat you to it and has built a whole site around that domain name it might be best to explore other options. If it is available for purchase, then it all comes down to what you’re willing to pay.

The code you can also pay for, but most hosting sites now come with their own website builder which can handle the code for you. Although these website builders are rudimentary, they can easily handle a variety of different website formats and give the user several different style sheets to choose from. If you have time, building your own website can be fun.

WordPress

Stepping it up a notch, WordPress has become the gold standard in website design. WordPress takes a day to learn and a lifetime to master. Ultimately, it is an incredibly powerful and versatile tool for building websites. The program (or code, since technically it’s not a program) is free, but you’ll definitely be investing your time to learn how to use it. It can be as simple as downloading the code for a template, or completely building your own style sheet and code right from scratch. Scouring the web there all kinds of add-ons that are available that are simple enough to add to your website’s code and that can make your website all the more engaging to the visitor.

Website Design

Website design has become a niche all unto itself and there are plenty of companies and freelancers out in the marketplace who are happy to do the legwork of building the code for your website for you. This is essentially the code that you can pay for and although prices can vary substantially, so can the quality of the workmanship. Obviously, a more complicated website brings with it a heftier price tag. It’s standard practice for companies and freelancers to have a portfolio of designs so that you know what your getting into before you buy, but ultimately their job is to make your website as concise, easy to navigate, and engaging as possible.