Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Averting Disaster – Do Your Research (Part 2)

When close to 1000 hours of work have gone into designing and marketing a product and suddenly, because of legal complications, the product has to be completely rebranded – where does one begin?

The following story is true. Certain names and details have been altered to protect the privacy and integrity of those involved.  Read Part 1 of the article.

Step 1 – Scramble

Upon receiving the news that The Tea Council had to be retooled, three things happened almost immediately. The first was our project manager had a brief meeting with each individual involved in the project and asked us what was necessary and what was possible based on what needed to be rebranded. He asked specifically if it could be done in a week. The second thing that happened almost instantly was a decision was made on what to now call the conference. It was changed to “The Tea Lovers Summit”. Finally, an email blast (about 40,000 emails) was sent to everyone who had already signed up for, or purchased, the summit explaining that it was being pushed back by one week.

Step 2 – Rethink Possible

My initial reaction was that it couldn’t be done. For my part, I would have been responsible for removing any mention of the term “the tea council” from both audio and video of all content materials. When I considered that I had already put in 100 hours of work and had to contemplate the host of the conference potentially redoing or scrapping several interviews, I thought there was no way it could be done along the desired timeline. Upon deeper reflection, I thought about removing most of the work from my own time and allowing most of the work to fall on my computer’s shoulders.

It takes far longer to grow a hedge than it does to trim it. Removing any specific mention of “the Tea Council” didn’t mean listening through and completely reediting the interviews or completely building a new video – the processes that are the most time consuming – it meant just chopping off a few bits and making a new file. Luckily the lawyers did a lot of the work for me. Transcripts of every presentation, which had already been done by our team, were handed over to the summit presenter’s lawyers and were then transferred over the Council on Teas legal team for review so as to determine what kind of verbiage would need to be omitted from the presentations. We discovered that the Tea Council was only ever specifically mentioned during the introduction and outro of every presentation. I had the presenter record a standard introduction that used the new moniker for the conference, which I then replaced with all the previous introductions, and simply cut any mention of the conference should it have happened an the end of the presentation. This meant that almost 99% of the presentation stayed in tact. From there it was a simple replacement of the audio from the videos with the new presentation audio, instead of building a brand new video from scratch.

Step 3 – Prepare For a Few Sleepless Nights

Besides all the work on my end, there was the website which thankfully didn’t have to be rebuilt, only migrated. All the copy had to be changed, and with all the banners and logos the style was fine and only the wording had to be tinkered with slightly. Getting all the content back out took a mere 3 days, and most of that work was my computer rendering new files - I simply had to be around to set it up and execute it.

The Fallout

At the end of the day we had all our materials approved and ready for the new launch a solid 48 hours before the conference was finally released to the public. Dealing exclusively digitally meant that no manufactured products had to go to waste. Ultimately, what it amounted to was nothing more than 24 hours of unwarranted panic because of course it was possible to rebrand the entire conference. All it takes to do anything is a competent team, assured in their own strengths, with the commitment to get the job done. Admittedly, the conference did not achieve the lofty expectations we had initially set out with, but we learned what our team was capable of when put under duress – and the response was nothing short of splendid. Furthermore, we learned a very valuable lesson – before you do anything, do your research.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

GST Registration for Canadian Businesses

Most Canadian businesses are required to register for GST.  The exception being some small suppliers – sole proprietorships, partnerships or corporations that have total taxable revenues that are less than $30,000 annually after expenses or if your business only provides GST exempt goods or services (i.e. child care or music lessons).  To determine if you are exempt from GST registration, click here  for the CRA requirements.

Even if you qualify as a small supplier, you may want to consider registering for the GST anyway.  Because you’ll be paying GST on purchased goods for the business, your GST registration will allow you to recoup some of the GST paid out on business purchases through Input Tax Credits. 

Registering for GST is actually quite easy.  The main thing to remember is that it needs to be done within 29 days from the day in which your business exceeds the small supplier amount in revenues ($30,000).   GST registration can be done either online or over the phone with the CRA.  You’ll be given a GST/HST number (also called a Business Number) to be used on invoices, for accounting and on all tax-related paperwork. 

Once you’ve registered for GST, you’ll be assigned a reporting period based on your total annual sales, which can be either monthly, quarterly or annually.   For your reports you’ll need to prepare a GST return showing the amount of GST/HST you’ve charged customers as well as the amount of GST/HST paid to suppliers.  This can get complicated when factoring in your Input Tax Credits as well as the various classes of GST/HST goods and services.  For more information on this, please visit follow the link

It’s important not only to keep your records and bookkeeping up to date and accurate, but also to understand the GST registration and reporting process from the outset so that you’re not scrambling to prepare your reports for each period and you’re maximizing your Input Tax Credits as much as possible.