Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Video Series - PatsyPie Trademark

PatsyPie - Trademark Application Filing Services

PatsyPie is a bakery specializing in gluten-free products such as cookies, brownies and biscotti. Started as a home business in St. Laurent, Quebec by Pat Libling, PatsyPie has grown tremendously, with products now being sold across Canada.

PatsyPie was started because Pat herself is celiac. Over the years Pat has tried practically every gluten-free product on the market but found that none of the products measured up to the quality and taste of regular baked goods. So Pat set out to perfect her gluten-free recipes and once she did, she was in business!

For Pat, finding a creative and original name for her company was easy - PatsyPie is a nickname her husband gave her years ago. As PatsyPie started to become a successful business, Pat knew she needed to protect her company name and logo, so she turned to to register her Trademark.

Check out Pat's story in the video above and for more information on PatsyPie gluten-free baked goods, please visit the website at!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Canada’s New Anti-Spam Legislation – How does it affect your business?

Bill C-28, Canada’s anti-spam legislation, was recently passed and will come into effect later this year. While its intended target is deceptive forms of spam, Canadian small and medium sized businesses should be aware of the Act in order to ensure their compliance when contacting leads, networking and developing marketing campaigns. Here are highlights of the important aspects of Bill C-28 that you and your employees need to know:

Definition of Spam

Generally spam is considered to be mass, unsolicited email from unknown or unwarranted senders. However, the new legislation applies to the sending of “commercial electronic messages”, which can encompass email, instant or text messaging and social media messages and other forms that we may not consider to be spam. Many times information that is sent may not be considered to be spam by the sender, but can be viewed as spam by the recipient. It’s important to think of how the message will be received on the other end before sending.  Hopefully, the yet to be released regulations will provide some added details or thresholds to more readily define the scope of this term.

Expressed and Implied Consent

Electronic messages are not considered spam if the recipient consented to receive the message so it is important that you first determine whether or not you have approval from the recipient to send the message. Consent comes in two forms – express and implied.

Expressed consent, as defined in the Act, is what is known as “opt-in” consent, whereby the person or corporation expressly agrees to be contacted before any communication is sent. Usually this would come in the form of a newsletter subscription sign up, adding an email address to a written or electronic list, or checking a box to receive more information. This is a more viable option for business owners because it is less likely that an issue will be raised from those who have clearly indicated interest.

Implied consent has a broader use, which can actually be beneficial to marketers and small business owners, but could also pose to be harder to prove if any issue arises. According to the new Act, implied consent occurs when “[t]he person who sends the message, the person who causes it to be sent or the person who permits it to be sent has an existing business relationship or an existing non-business relationship with the person to whom it is sent;" (Bill C-28 Sec. 9a).

If a customer has purchased wares or services from your business with the past two years, there is considered to be an existing business relationship between you and your customer, which would be implied consent. There is no time limit on the relationship status if the customer has provided expressed consent for future contact. In terms of expressed and implied consent, it’s best to err on the side of caution and try to gain expressed consent for all users when possible.


Messages must clearly express to the recipient who the message is coming from, remaining consistent with the branding used when the recipient made initial contact with the company. There must not be any misleading information in the subject line that misrepresents the message or the sender.  All messages are required to include the active contact information and postal address of the sender.

Unsubscribe Option

Businesses who have an email newsletter must have an unsubscribe option clearly stated on each message so that users can easily halt future correspondence at any time. Some users may not know to use the unsubscribe link, so including contact information for your business is important to ensure that recipients are able to contact you in another form in order to be removed from the mailing list. If a client does contact you via other means to be removed from the list, unsubscribe the user manually and notify them of the removal immediately.

Tips for Small Businesses

If you have a newsletter sign up area on your website, make sure your database saves important information such as name and date of sign up – not just the email address - so that you are able to prove consent if a problem arises. Always give your customers your contact information in any messages sent as well as the option to “opt-out” or “unsubscribe” at any time. Customers should not be automatically placed in an email database, they must be able to choose whether or not they would like to receive information from you. Don’t bombard your customers with messages, it can easily frustrate your clients if their inbox is getting constantly filled with messages from you.  Setting up an account with email marketing software can ensure that your messages are compliant with the government rules. Senders who don’t comply with the new regulations can face serious fines, so make sure your messages are useful or informative to the user in some way, this will make customers look forward to your correspondence and make your database grow.

There will be more to come on this important topic when the regulations are released.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Choose an Accountant for Your Small Business

As you begin the journey of operating a small business you’ll find yourself entering into many new partnerships. Not only will you be building a qualified staff to help accomplish your company’s goals but you’ll also require the help of attorneys, landlords, real estate agents, insurance agents and accountants. It’s the accountant that might just become the most valuable asset to your company. That’s why picking the right account is crucial to the success of your business.

Just as with a company lawyer, it will be very hard to hide something from your accountant. That’s why you need to find a person and/or firm that you can trust. In order to pick the right small business accountant you have to understand the nature of their job. In this way you’ll be able assess possible candidates.

Beyond Bookkeeping: The Role of the Accountant

A small business that is just starting up could get by with a qualified bookkeeper to handle the accounts. This could be an employee specifically hired for the task. A bookkeeper needs to keep track of all the financial records pertaining to revenue and expenditures. Thanks to some very decent software programs, simple bookkeeping tasks aren’t complicated to maintain. However, when you bring an accountant into the equation then you are basically “super-sizing” your bookkeeping abilities.

A small business accountant will not only handle the bookkeeping duties but they will also be able to process all that financial information into advice for appropriate courses of action for the business.  One of the biggest issues that an accountant deals with is tax planning. This is not something that just happens every April 15. Business taxes need to be worked on throughout the year. Deductions, payroll, expenditures and investments all have impacts on a company’s tax return and an accountant will be in the best position to analyze the various options.

An experienced accountant is also someone who can provide consultations with regard to expanding your business. There is where they really can earn their paycheck! Although the final decision would be yours as the head of the company, an accountant should offer many options regarding an expansion plan whether that includes opening additional stores/offices and increasing the staff size. Your accountant should be as invested in your success as you are.

A small business achieves many levels of asset protection when it becomes incorporated. As the head of the company, you’ll also benefit from that protection but you might need assistance with regard to your personal finances. Your company accountant is probably in the best position to also advise you on your individual tax returns and suggest possible investment areas.

Accountant Interview Questions

As you meet with different candidates for your accountant you might want to consider asking them these pertinent questions:

·         What are your CPA qualifications?

·         How long have you been a CPA?

·         What other types of business do you represent?

·         How up to date are you with computer bookkeeping programs?

·         How do you keep on top of market trends?

·         How are your fees calculated?

·         What role do you play in the community?

Finally, ask for references and follow up with them. A good accountant should have no problems sharing their past and current success stories!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Video Series - PixelCarve, Inc. Business Incorporation

PixelCarve, Inc. - Business incorporation and document filing services

Last fall, we decided that we wanted to give our clients the opportunity to showcase their business in a video campaign. We asked our clients to tell us about their business and how helped them start up. The response was amazing! We worked hard all winter to develop a series of videos that show the impact that has had on entrepreneurs and business owners across Canada.

The first video in our series comes from Pixelcarve, Inc., an interactive digital agency in Toronto.

Founded by Curtis Priest, Pixelcarve offers its clients creative and complex web design that focuses on building unique digital experiences for premium brands. Pixelcarve's services are focused on the web and mobile devices, but also offer services in digital signage, branding, design, photography and video.

Curtis, a self-proclaimed “do-it-yourself kind of guy”, started his company in 1998 in his parent’s basement with the help of He incorporated his business with, and continues to use the document filing services to file his annual reports.

Find out more by watching the video below and visit Pixelcarve, Inc. at

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Collections: How to Collect From Slow Paying Customers

Ask any successful small business owner what keeps them afloat and they’ll tell you that cash is king. Having cash reserves to tap into can help a company float through the “lean” times. Even with those reserves, there is still the need to collect from customers who owe outstanding debts. Yes, times are tough all over but slow paying customers can be a major drag on a small business. How can your company effectively collect from slow paying customers? Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when collections are an issue.

·         Establish a Payment Policy for All: The hope is that every customer will pay their bills promptly but there is no way of knowing if that is going to go according to plan. One way to hedge your bets is to establish a payment policy that applies to all business. This could mean asking for a deposit up front before any goods or services transfer hands. If a potential customer has a problem with paying a deposit it could be a red flag towards collecting future payments. This payment policy should also be in writing and cover the final payment schedule whether that is net 10 days or 30 days upon completion. You can have flexibility depending on the customer but your payment policy will work best when everyone agrees to the terms.

·         Add A Late Payment Fee: A late payment charge is not something that a customer wants to be hit with but it could prove to be the incentive they need to get their payments in on time. A smart practice is to make sure the customer is well aware of any late payment penalties. Even though you put it in writing, it’s helpful if you or your representatives can go over those terms verbally. A small business can’t afford to alienate customers with hidden fees.

·         Develop A Thorough Collections Plan: Your small business collection plan should follow automatic procedures that remain consistent. First, make sure you are re-billing customers who have failed to pay right away. These past due bills can be worded with a “gentle reminder” to bring the bill up to date. You don’t have to apologize for sending out these reminders but you can frame them to put the responsibility on the customer by mentioning things like they might have forgotten the due date. For a single missed payment, it’s always best to remain cordial.

·         Repayment Plans: If a customer has a bill that is 60 days or more past due you might want to work with them to set up a payment arrangement. You could help by stopping the late fees and arrange to have payments directly withdrawn from their designated bank accounts.

·         Professional Collections: When all else fails, you can turn the customer’s account over to a professional collection agency. They will pursue the matter until it is amicably resolved. This will free up your own accounting department to concentrate on the more reliable customers.

In extreme cases, you might find that a bankruptcy is imminent. The clues could include no responses to your requests for payment. If you think this is happening then you should work with your small business lawyer to file a proof of claim. Once a bankruptcy has been filed, it might be too late to collect.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to Manage a Remote Workforce

Just because a business has been deemed as “small” doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of the same remote workforce that the big players tap into. Thanks to innovations in Internet technology, it is a lot easier (and often more profitable) to utilize the services of a remote workforce to handle a business’s many tasks. Even your own company roster could benefit from flexible hours by completing their work tasks from home. This type of scheduling goes a long way to increase productivity and promote company loyalty. Although your workers might be “off-site” and online, that doesn’t mean they still won’t require decisive and strong management. What follows are some helpful tips to help your small business manage a remote workforce.

Put It In Writing

If you are hiring a new remote worker you should create a clearly defined list of goals for the project they are working on. These guidelines should leave nothing to doubt as they will serve as a vital template for the project. It’s also helpful to provide examples of just how you want the work completed.

Tap Into Technology

While it is true that the bulk of your communication with your remote workforce will be handled through email, there is no reason why you can’t utilize other forms of communication. Today most savvy remote workers have access to web cameras and headsets which allow for video conference calls via services like Skype. It could be beneficial to schedule a weekly Internet conference call to check on the progress of an ongoing project. This is also the perfect method for providing power point demonstrations as training for new remote workers. What’s great about this for a small business is that many of these conference services can be set up for free or at a minimum cost.

You can also set up a common communication area through a project management system where all the remote workers will have access to upload their projects and share comments or questions.

Set Deadlines

Just as you should provide your remote workforce with complete guidelines it’s important to provide them with a thorough schedule of when their work needs to be delivered. For your own sake, you should pad these deadlines with extra time. As a small business it is vital that you build a solid reputation with your clients for dependability. Although a remote worker can promise to meet the deadlines, sometimes they end up faltering. You should never put your own business at risk.

Tackle Problems ASAP

In a typical office setting, a worker who has a question about a particular project can simply walk down the hall to their manager and get an answer. A remote worker will have the same type of questions that can be related through email. It’s your responsibility as manager to answer those queries as soon as possible. You don’t want to bring a remote project to a grinding halt due to a lag response time. 

If you small business plans to active a remote workforce, treat them as you would your own immediate staff with proper instructions, deadlines and support. You might just find that with the help of a remote workforce, your business can expand faster than you’ve ever imagined.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Where is Facebook Heading? What the Experts Are Saying

If you happen to be one of the lucky workers who started out at Facebook and were paid in company stock then congratulations! You are about to become a multimillionaire. That's because Facebook is going public. With the initial IPO, estimates are that Facebook could pull in a whopping $5 billion when the company stocks are put up for sale later this year. This is a business move that has many tongues wagging over the prospect of what lies ahead for Facebook and online marketing. Considering that Facebook currently has over 845 million registered users it's no wonder that they are thought to be the social media giant that is here to stay.

The Value of Facebook

As part of the IPO, Facebook had to open up the books and reveal exactly what has been going on "behind the curtain." What the financial records have shown is that of vast array of businesses, both large and small, are pouring increasing amounts of advertising money into Facebook to promote their goods and services. These advertisements can be targeted to specific demographics allowing for a more direct return on investment in terms of pay per click advertising.

Jos White, who is the cofounder of Notion Capital, recently discussed with Forbes online the value of Facebook as it heads into the future. “Valuation is all based on future growth and potential. The bulls will tell you that they will do more than $8 billion this year and continue 100% growth for some years to come, which is phenomenal for company of this size,” he commented. “The argument is that Facebook will be the advertising platform of the 21st century because of the size of its user base, the level of engagement and also the far reaching nature of the platform across its website and applications.”

The Reach of Facebook

Not only was the announcement of Facebook's IPO good for that company and its shareholders but it also provided a boost to the various other social networking sites and their stocks. This would indicate that when it comes to online marketing tapping into a social media network is crucial for many companies.

CEO and cofounder of Somo, Nick Hynes, also commented to Forbes online about Facebook's market potential. “Facebook has market dominance; it has reach, velocity and gorilla status. It seems to be unstoppable in terms of user acquisition,” Hynes said in the interview. "While country-specific social networks have been enduring in some areas, Facebook has overtaken market leaders in Poland, Germany and the Netherlands, to name just a few, and will soon be the most widely used network in Brazil."

Next Up For Facebook

Beyond the appeal of connecting with family and long-lost friends, Facebook also allows its users to engage in many online activities such as games and surveys. The games have been adapted to be played as part of the community. This is taking social networking and online marketing to an entirely new level as it introduces online gaming too many users who probably would never even consider these types of activities. This is how Facebook is creating an ever expanding universe of online social outreach and powerful online marketing programs.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do the Super Bowl Ads Work?

Since its inception, baseball has been dubbed America's favorite past time. However, Major League Baseball doesn't even come close to pulling in the kinds of audience numbers that the Super Bowl does every year. Based on the ratings the network, which has the rights to air the game, can charge exorbitant amounts of money for a 30 and 60 second spot. For Super Bowl XLVI, NBC was able to lock down prime positioning for commercials at a whopping $4 million per spot. Keep in mind that those spots sold well before the final two teams were picked for the game.

Do Super Bowl ads really work? If you consider that this year's audience topped 110 million viewers then clearly those advertising dollars were money well spent. A small business might not have that kind of revenue resources to pour into a single commercial. However, were they to create a compelling ad becomes "buzz worthy" a small business could turn into a very big business overnight.

Building a Brand

While it is hard to tie specific sales figures to a particular Super Bowl commercial, it is easy to measure improvements in a company’s brand name. A strong brand name can have consumers searching out those particular products when shopping time rolls around. In other words, no one will rush out to buy a Chevy pickup right after the Super Bowl. But something might have resonated with a potential car buyer that increases the awareness of Chevy. Because of that, when they're ready to hit the auto dealerships they might just give Chevy a look.

Advertisers want to create a positive experience about the products or companies they are producing commercials for. This is how a small business selling a product or service can gain a foothold in a competitive marketplace. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to have a commercial that is so popular that it demands increased viewings.

Going Viral

In 1984, long before social media and viral videos, Apple bought air time for one spot during the Super Bowl for their “1984” Macintosh ad, introducing the first personal computer. The ad ran only once on a major network, but has become one of the most influential commercials of all time. It actually managed to go viral through news program, even before the concept of viral was popularized!

The viral phenomenon has changed the advertising landscape greatly. By now you’ve had enough time to watch, re-watch, share and discuss the best (and worst) ads from last week’s game. Today, buying just one ad spot during the Super Bowl can translate into thousands or even millions of views on social media websites. 

With the advent of sites like YouTube and Facebook Super Bowl ad viewings have greatly increased. More folks will re-watch the Super Bowl commercials and send links to them than ever before. This means that the typical 60 second spot watch by 110 million viewers will have that number increase over time. The more someone watches a commercial the more entrenched that brand name will become. Last year's Super Bowl spot featuring a diminutive Darth Vader trying to use the force to turn on a Volkswagen Jetta was one of the most-watched commercials of all time. That was a big help to Volkswagen.

Sex and Humor Sells

A common theme that runs through many Super Bowl ads are sexy spokesmodels and lots of laughs. This brings up the issue of In 2005, Go aired their first Super Bowl spot featuring a sexy model in a revealing tease that encouraged viewers to head over to their website to see the rest of the commercial. This was a brilliant piece of marketing that had the viewers scrambling to get to the Internet! As a result, was able to instantly establish its brand name even though a sexy model had nothing to do with the product it was selling. Since then the commercial has become an annual favorite that viewers look forward to during the Super Bowl. They went from a small business pulling in 16% of the market share to an online giant now capturing 50% of the market share all based on that first Super Bowl commercial. They are just one of the many examples proving that Super Bowl ads do work.

Memorable Advertising

The great thing about Super Bowl ads is that they can be so creative and memorable that the ads can easily be associated it to the brand. The Budweiser clydesdales. The E-Trade talking babies. The Geico cavemen. Marketers know that when brands are easily associated with their commercials, they’ve made a good ad. But this isn’t always the case.  Sometimes brand association can backfire if the ad content is too good, making the brand become lost in the story line. Conversation may be spurred about the content of the ad, but can fail to create buzz around the brand itself. For instance, can anyone remember what brand the ‘Ferris Beuller’s Day Off’ ad was for? Anyone? Anyone?

There was a time, before the popularity of the internet and social media, when most people would call advertisers crazy for shelling out millions for one ad spot during the Super Bowl. But now that people have the ability to easily re-watch and share their favourite ads, it makes spending such large amounts actually seem worth it in the end for the branding, memorability and buzz that are afforded to the Super Bowl big spenders.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Building a Better Work/Life Balance for the Entrepreneur

“There’s just not enough time in the day.”

How often have you said that very thing to yourself? If you are experiencing feelings of being overworked and out of sorts with the rest of your life you’re certainly not alone. Even though modern technology is supposed to improve our lives, it has also caused our lives to accelerate. You get an email from work and it has to be answered ASAP. You work with a company that has global interests and those emails and texts can come in around the clock. Juggling those demands with the demands of an active family or social live can leave you exhausted at the end of every week. You’ll then approach Monday morning with dread. Keep up this pattern and it could have a serious impact on your health and relationships. If you feel as though you’re spinning too fast, it might be time to build a better work/life balance.

Here are some helpful hints that can allow you to achieve that balance:    

Take Control of Your Schedule

It’s easy for a busy exec to plot out their business day. All the meetings, conference calls and other planning sessions that are entered into the calendar, they must be adhered to. But remember, your downtime should be equally important and should be scheduled accordingly! Mark your calendar for an appointment with friends or family and stick to that just as you would with a business meeting. Recognizing that your free time away from work is as equally important to your 9-5 schedule is half the battle of achieving that perfect work/life balance.

Beware of the Energy Vampires

These are those events or people who can best be described as Energy Vampires. In other words, they suck the very life out of you. Maybe it’s a co-worker who constantly complains or gossips. Maybe it’s doing laundry. Whatever the issue find a way to adjust your life. You don’t have to go to lunch with the “work gossip” every day and you can drop off your laundry for fluff and fold. It all comes back to the issue of making your own down time as valuable as it should be. Don’t waste it.

Prioritize Your To-Do List

Along with our work assignments we also have life assignments. These are all the things we need to do outside of the work week to maintain a standard of living. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be more practical with your own to-do list. Instead of going to the grocery store every day after work, make one list for one shopping trip that will get you through the week. Guess what? There’s an app for that! If your dry cleaner offers delivery take them up on that offer. Need stamps? Buy them online. Find those ways to cut out the nagging errands.

Chill Out

Above all else, don’t devalue the importance of “me time.” Whether that means taking a half hour bath or carving out time to read a few chapters from the current bestseller some of the best balance can be achieved when you give yourself some time alone. Unless you find a positive way to “recharge” your batteries, you won’t be any good at work or at home!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tips For Optimizing An Email Marketing Campaign

While it is true that traditional mail advertising circulars are still an effective way to reach a customer base, email marketing can truly take your business global. An affective email marketing campaign can improve your company’s chances of increasing its customer base and bottom line. Most of the email addresses you’ll be using in your marketing campaign could be willing recipients. In other words, these folks have signed up for the information you’ll be sending them. The goal is to optimize that email marketing campaign and insure you’ll be creating a positive experience for those customers. Here’s how you can accomplish that goal:

Reconnect With Existing Leads

While it is important to constantly be on the prowl for new lead generation, it is equally important to stay in positive contact with existing leads. You might have been sending them newsletters or special offers without much feedback. We are quickly developing into a society where everyone gets to share their opinion. Why not invite your leads to share what’s on their mind about your business? Ask them about their own needs in the form of a quick survey. Invite them to check out a new “exclusive” offer and provide their comments. This could also be a way of sorting out who is really a “hot” lead versus a “cold” lead.

Use the Power of the Referral

Positive word of mouth is extremely valuable for any business. You can boost that along by asking your existing customers to refer new business you way. You can entice them with a special offer for every referral they send your way. On some level, this is doubling your email marketing when you can get existing customers to do the work for you!

Share Your Business Story

Everyone has a story. The history of a small business is what gives that company its personality and charm. Sharing the origins of your company’s start-up is an effective way to build up trust and familiarity with your customers. You’re no longer just a “shop around the corner” but instead you’re part of the neighborhood. You’re family. That kind of sharing can generate positive feelings for years to come.

Create a Strong Landing Page Lead Magnet

Just as the title implies, a lead magnet is going to pull new customers to your website with a specific offer or benefit. A lead magnet can be a piece of fresh video content or insightful report used to support your business. It’s all about keeping the content on your landing page fresh. Give your lead something new to view, read or participate in.

Provide a “Sample”

Who doesn’t like to get something for free? Grocery stores recognize this by offering free samples of tasty treats. You can provide the same enticement in the form of a free trial registration or demonstration of your product or service. This is a perfect opportunity to education a new customer base about what your company is offering. Once a new customer has been given a “free sample” they often buy the product for themselves!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Win Bigger Lead Generation and Stronger Branding With Contests

Getting the word out. That’s what every business, big or small, needs to accomplish if they are going to achieve success in a competitive marketplace. Having access to social networking sites and email lists have changed the very nature of business. No longer are companies depending on print ads or traditional media outlets to get the word out about their products. However, just because a business has access to those networking and email tools doesn’t mean they are always being utilized properly.

A typical web surfer has a very limited attention span. That’s why they need to be hooked through added incentives to stay longer on a website and come back again. A fun contest can earn your business bigger lead generation and stronger branding possibilities. A contest also affords the opportunity to optimize your marketing dollars for the maximum return on investment. Consider these benefits for creating contests:

Contests Generate Buzz

Even a local business who offers a special prize package of goods or services can benefit from a contest. The very word “contest” invites customers to take a second look. “What can I win?” and “How do I play?” are the two primary concerns. If a business can provide engaging and simple answers to those questions the chances increase for a wide participation among potential customers. Bottom line: everybody loves to win. Why not tap into that fun for your own business?

Stronger Branding Potential

If you embrace the “getting the word out” philosophy of attracting new customers then a contest can serve that purpose on many levels. You don’t even have to offer a prize that is associated with your business. For instance, a dry cleaner could offer a free iPod in a customer raffle. If that brings in new customers and generates new business then the prize is secondary. You could also offer an essay contest asking why your product makes a difference in someone’s life. This is a perfect way to build up traffic to your site and create a valuable log of positive testimonials and reviews. All of that is going to improve the brand.

Building Big Lead Generation

Sharing an email address is as commonplace as handing out business cards. With a contest you have the potential to gather a huge influx of email and other data that will be in your control. Think of it this way: every person who enters your contest with an email address is a potential new customer that you can later target with advertising. A growing lead list is gold!

Before diving into a contest for your business you should check out all social media rules and regulations as well as any federal or provincial laws regarding these types of activities. As long as you’re working within those guidelines there is no reason why your contest can’t be an ongoing event. Consider the millions of lottery players who happily fill out their tickets every week for a chance at the big prize. Yes, everybody loves to win. Now your business can cash in on that attitude with its own lead generating and brand building marketing tool.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tips to reduce your income tax for small businesses

With the tax deadline fast approaching, it’s time to start planning now. To help you get prepared, we’ve provided a few quick tips to reduce your business tax bill. Some of them can be applied immediately and will definitely help reduce the amount of income tax you would have to pay.

1.       Take advantage of your business deductions

All expenses that you incur during business operations can be tax deductible. They can range from parking, postage, or even coffee. As long as you collect your business receipts, you can maximize your deductions when filing your return. 

If you either have a home office or lease a place, there are a few deductions that you can make that can help you reduce your income tax.  For home-based businesses, expenses such as insurance, electricity, phone, Internet are all expenses that can be claimed by you. According to the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), any expenses that are incurred while operating your business – be it home or elsewhere, are tax deductible.


2.       Use your RRSPs to your full advantage

Using your RRSP is one of the best ways you can reduce your small business income tax. It’s unique in that it’s designed to be used as a long term savings vehicle while reducing your tax rate at the same time. So, if in one year you have a high income, you can determine how much you want to contribute into your RRSP as the more you contribute, the more your income tax is reduced. In a low income year, making an RRSP contribution won’t help so you might as well let the unused contribution carry forward when you need it, so that you can make a larger contribution.

3.       Donate to charitable causes                                                       

When you donate to charities, you receive tax credits from the government. By giving more to any registered charity, you’ll be able to maximize the tax credits resulting in a lower tax income rate. 

4.       Pay your family by splitting your income

By splitting your income, you get to take advantage of the different tax rates especially if your income is high. When your income is high, you’re placed on a higher tax bracket, however, if a portion of your income is transferred to your spouse or your child (if they are in a lower tax bracket), you’d be able to reduce your tax rate on your income. 

So if your child is going to university, by transferring a portion of your income, you would be able helping them with their school expenses while reducing your tax rate at the same time. Likewise, you can also gift your children any appreciable assets such as stocks, bonds or property. Any capital gains that they receive are taxed in the lower tax bracket.

5.       Write off your car expenses

If you use your vehicle for your business, you are allowed to claim any automobile costs such as:

-          Car insurance
-          Gas
-          Parking
-         Car maintenance

You have to be aware of some requirements before you can claim any automobile expenses: 

  • You must have an employee agreement between your business and employee that the car is used for work purposes; 

  • The government requires you to fill out form T2200, stating this agreement.

These tips will help you lower your tax burden – however, we highly recommend speaking with your accountant about other ways to save on taxes.