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Finding the Best Payment Solution for Your Business

Written By Marilyn Wilson, Senior Manager, Small Business Banking, Coast Capital Savings

Payment Solutions - tips from Coast Capital Savings

When it comes to payment, convenience is king. From tap and Apple Pay, to Amazon’s pilot of a cashier-less grocery story, it seems like new, alternative payments are growing faster than the pumpkin spice craze. It’s crucial that your business can keep up, not just to have the latest shiny technology, but because your customers will expect it.

Here are five payment solutions to keep your small business on top:

Give the people what they want – more options!

We’re living in a dizzying world of choice, but when it comes to accommodating your customers’ desires for flexibility and convenience, more options is key. Choose a payment solutions provider that accepts a wide range of payment methods – from credit and debit cards, to gift cards and loyalty programs, to currency conversion for foreign customers. If your customer can’t easily pay for the product or service you’re providing, they’ll head to your competition.

Rest assured, you’re secured

Just like you lock your front door, put a lock on cardholder data. Safeguard your customers from fraud. If you lose your clients’ confidential information, you stand to lose a lot more than just your loyal customers.

Choose a provider that has an integrated solution for customer data and payment information, and make sure they comply with the global information security standard – the Payment Card Industry Data Security (PCI DSS). It’ll put the tricksters out of business (and keep them out of your business), lower your risk of liability, and enhance your reputation as a safe place to do business.

Don’t like surprises? Know the rates and fees

There’s no getting around it – payment providers will charge a fee for every transaction your business fulfills. Some will charge you a flat rate, regardless of transaction size. Others will charge a percentage amount of each transaction. And if you’re using point of sale (POS) terminals, or offering certain payment services to your customers, like recurring billing, you might have to budget a bit more. As the old adage goes, you need to spend money to make money. Assessing if the payoff outweighs the payout will help determine what fee structure and services will best suit your business. Continue reading Finding the Best Payment Solution for Your Business

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10 Ways to Reduce your Tax Risk as an Entrepreneur

Written by Linda Spencer

“The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax”
~ Albert Einstein

tax risk for entrepreneurs

As a 20 year veteran of practicing Canadian corporate and personal tax, I have to agree – tax is complicated!  The basic principles are simple, but the interpretation and application of the ever-changing complex laws are not.  As one of my mentors in tax pointed out years ago – one could specialize in an area of tax for a lifetime and still not completely understand all the rules.

My intent here is to highlight the top 10 income tax risks faced by entrepreneurs (specifically from a Canadian tax perspective, but similar issues apply in other countries), to create awareness so that you may seek the appropriate guidance and advice from a qualified tax professional to ensure that you are appropriately managing those risks.

  1. Meet Deadlines
    Missing tax filing deadlines can be a costly mistake. In Canada, late-filing your income tax return when you owe will land you a 5% late-filing penalty (plus 1% per month filed late), along with late payment interest which is compounded daily. The penalties are doubled for repeat offenders. Be sure you are aware of your filing and payment deadlines. Personal income tax returns are due April 30 (June 15th for individuals with self-employment income, but your taxes are payable by April 30th). Corporate income tax returns are due 6 months after fiscal year-end, with balance of taxes due 2 months after year-end (3 months if you are a small business corporation).
  1. Document EVERYTHING!
    Lack of documentation remains the largest tax audit issue in Canada. Poor record keeping and lack of documentation can lead to missed and denied deductions, inefficient tax audits and costly tax assessments. For some small businesses, this could lead to business failure.
  1. Report All of Your Income
    Recently, I asked a friend about her business… she said she didn’t make enough to report it. Of course, I cautioned of the potential risks she was incurring as a result – YIKES! Tax authorities have made cracking down on unreported income a top priority. The underground economy in Canada is estimated to be about $42billion or 2.3% of GDP. At an income tax rate of 25%, that’s about $10billion of lost tax revenues. While the high rate of income tax along with a 13% sales tax rate in Ontario make cash transactions and “under-the-table” payments an attractive option, it should be noted that unreported income not only carries stiff penalties (up to 50% of the understatement of tax, as well as criminal charges for tax evasion), but can severely impact your reputation and your business.

Continue reading 10 Ways to Reduce your Tax Risk as an Entrepreneur

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8 Simple Steps to Create Your Business Success Road Map

Written by Linda Spencer

mompreneur Linda Spencer of Visionspire - 8 tips to build a successful business road map or business plan

You know how it goes – you talk to financial advisors, they work with you to create a plan for financial savings and investment. You talk to your fitness coach, they work with you to create a plan to reach your fitness goals. You plan your wedding, your home renovations, your family vacations. You spend time and money investing in planning in other areas of your life, why wouldn’t you do the same for your business?
Investing in strategic business planning is essential for your business success. A strategic business plan is your road map, your compass to guide you to where you want to go with your business. It gives you clear direction of how to get from point A to point B without getting lost. A good strategic business plan helps you to execute efficiently and not waste time with trial and error, or with what I like to call, the spaghetti method (throwing something at the wall and hoping it sticks). A good strategic plan keeps you focused.
It’s never too late (or too early) to create your business plan for success, whether you’re new to business and in the pre-launch phase, or have been in business for years.

I get it, creating a business plan can be daunting (I know – I’ve seen the templates, tried to use them myself, and abandoned them as they gave me headaches). You don’t need a 50 page business plan document, but you do need to invest some time and energy into the planning exercise if you want to have focus and direction. My own business plan isn’t a 50 page document… it’s an organized, tabbed binder with different sections of business planning consideration (such as goals, target market, products & services, pricing strategies, sales & marketing strategies, financial plans, etc).

Having a good strategic business plan is absolutely essential to your success and the lack thereof is why so many businesses fail.
In fact, 85% of business failures are due to lack of improper planning and organization.
But you don’t need a 50 page plan to succeed. What you do need is a simple, executable plan that will help you succeed! And you need to do your homework! A written plan is just evidence that you’ve done your homework to ensure the viability of your big idea and to set a clear direction and path to success.
Here are 8 simple steps to creating your business plan for success:

Continue reading 8 Simple Steps to Create Your Business Success Road Map

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Your Business, Your financial Institution & You

… a love triangle you want to be in

By Heather Tully
Senior Manager, Small Business Banking, Coast Capital Savings 

tips for banking from coast capital savings

Whether you are a new entrepreneur or a long-time business owner, you are the master of your own destiny—but it can be lonely at the top. Sometimes, it’s nice to know someone has your back. As a business owner, you should know that your financial institution can be that someone. They offer services and resources that’ll make your day-to-day back office operations run more smoothly, and ensure you’ve got the resources you need to take your business to the next level. In short, building a relationship with your financial institution allows you to focus on your first love… your business.

Breaking up is hard to do

Co-producing the next blockbuster, co-habiting with your love, co-operating on a community project… all good. Co-mingling your personal and business banking, not so good. Once your business is more than a hobby or an occasional pastime, it’s time to talk to your financial institution about opening a business account.

Having two accounts isn’t designed to make your life more complicated (as a mompreneur it’s plenty complicated already), in fact it’s just the opposite. A dedicated business chequing account will help ease record keeping, bookkeeping and tax compliance, and can lend credibility and professionalism to your business. Look at opening a High-Interest Business Savings account where you can stash five to 10% of your profits for contingencies or planned future purchases. It’s also a perfect solution for storing any taxes you collect throughout the year, like GST. Doesn’t an easier tax time sound good?  Continue reading Your Business, Your financial Institution & You

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Still Waiting for That Cheque? Here’s How to Get Paid.

Written by Cate Barker

tips to get paid, from godaddy

The 12 years I spent as a work-from-home mom were some of the most satisfying of my life. Working for myself meant I could set my own hours, writing during the mornings when my son was at daycare and at night after he went to bed. It also meant I could keep one foot in my profession while I spent afternoons in the park with him. I’d seen other women go through re-entry shock after years away from the workforce. I figured if I kept working, no matter how part-time, I wouldn’t be woefully out of step with the industry when it was time to go back to full-time work.

My least favorite part of working for myself was getting paid. I’d fire off an invoice as soon as I finished a project, only to wait weeks before getting a check. It didn’t seem to occur to the former colleagues who hired me how rude it was to not pay me promptly.

Tips to keep your cash flow steady

Continue reading Still Waiting for That Cheque? Here’s How to Get Paid.

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Why Money is Simply a Tool

Written by Korean Whitney

financial education - tips from Mompreneur Korean Whitney of WFG

MONEY. This word alone conjures up all kinds of pre-conceived ideas, thoughts and feelings. For a lot of people, these ideas, thoughts and feelings are primarily negative. But what IS money, really? It is simply a tool.

My husband has this quaint saying, “Honey, you need to use the right tool for the job.” This is usually following my attempt to use a stapler to hang a picture in my office – who keeps a hammer in the office?! He is, of course, absolutely right! That hammer would have made the picture hanging SO much easier!

Without understanding how to use the tool or what the purpose of the tool is, many people can and do find themselves in deep water. Consider this: What is a car? It is simply a tool we use to get from point A to point B. If we want to cross the Atlantic we are not going to be able to do this in our car, however – we will need an airplane, or we’ll find ourselves in deep water! How do we know the airplane is the better choice? We’ve been taught what a car and an airplane are – what they can and cannot do. Education is the key.

Should we learn about money in school?
I do a lot of workshops, speaking engagements and one-on-one appointments with families and individuals. Every time I ask this question, the answer is a resounding, “YES!!”

Ask yourself, “What did you learn about money in your high school?”

If you answered, “I learned nothing,” and/or “I learned how to spend it!”, then you answered on par with 90+% of other North Americans! Continue reading Why Money is Simply a Tool

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The Money Diet

Written by Shalini Dharna

Money Diet - tips from Mompreneur Shalini Dharna

Who hasn’t started a diet? Take pizza for example; as a pizza lover, you could commit to no carbs, no sugars, no saturated fats, and/or no MSG…  and somehow, as soon as you start your diet, O.M.G there are pizza commercials everywhere! Day 1 isn’t always so bad; a few cravings maybe, but overall you think to yourself, “you’ve got this!” And then it happens: by Day 4 you’re hiding in your closet eating a large pizza to yourself. You thought you were strong, you thought you were doing well — how does this happen? Why does this happen?

The truth is, as soon as you restrict yourself, your mind automatically wants what it can’t have. 

Budgeting is the same thing. You come up with your budget and every expense has an allocation. You take time to put guidelines in place to stay on track. And as soon as your budget is set, O.M.G there are sales everywhere! BOGO, 80% off… one shopping spree later, there goes your budget for the month.

The common criteria for both dieting and budgeting is the idea of restriction. As soon as you think you’re restricted, subconsciously you see things that appeal to that restriction EVERYWHERE. 

So what’s the cure? The key to getting healthy is the same as having better finances – making small changes that are sustainable.

Once you can control your impulses to purchase something at every sale just because it’s on sale, or once you can identify if you really need something new vs. just thinking it’s beautiful or perfect for you, you’ll be led less by impulses and more by thinking about whether this is something you should spend money on.

  • Start with expenses you cannot avoid – your fixed expenses.
  • Then with the money you have left over, think about what you’d rather have: do you want to save for that vacation/car/downpayment, or do you want to have yet another gadget taking up space in your drawers?
  • Once you’ve prioritized your money, you’ll be less likely to impulse shop and therefore have a healthier budget.
  • The impulse won’t go away overnight though. Like with dieting, find a picture of what you hope to achieve (that vacation or car) and keep it somewhere you can see to keep you motivated.
  • The same concept applies to spending money for your business. There are a lot of great ideas out there that you may feel you have to get in on. But as a business owner, you need to first determine the priorities of your business. Once you identify this, any great idea that doesn’t fall in line with your business goal should not be considered a priority, and therefore you do not need to spend money on it.


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Shalini Dharna is an Elite Mompreneur® Member based out of Mississauga, Ontario. Her company Dharna CPA is  your one-stop shop for all your accounting, finance and tax needs!


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6 Tips for Financial Success

Written by Stacey Aarssen

Financial Tips for Mompreneurs written by Stacey Aarssen

Planning is the cornerstone to any goals, yet most of us don’t take the time to plan our financial path. We take more time to plan our upcoming vacation than we do our own finances. Any coach will tell you, it has to start with a goal; a plan to know where you’re going.

Just like any goal, getting your finances stable and becoming financially successful requires the development of good financial habits.

Tip 1: Get Organized.
Create a budget or spending plan. It’s so important to understand where the money is coming from and going to. Set financial goals now and for the future.

Tip 2: Debt Reduction
One of the best money moves you’ll make is to get rid of personal debt. That means credit cards, personal loans and mortgages – anything that you don’t earn a tax deduction on.  Continue reading 6 Tips for Financial Success

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How to Plan & Protect Your Family Business

Written by Stacey Aarssen

How to plan and protect your family business, tips from mompreneur stacey aarssenFor centuries, family businesses have been the back bone of the Canadian economy.  Innovation and employment are driven by family business. As an entrepreneur, balancing business and personal financial needs can seem like a daunting task, but an item that is more frequently overlooked. Protect your business, family and future.

Plan early, and often, even though a business owner’s retirement might be years in the future. Selling or passing a business down is a lengthy process and the earlier you begin, the better off you will be.

The financial planning process is designed to help ensure that:

  • You have enough income in retirement to support your desired lifestyle.
  • You are currently maximizing the tax planning opportunities available to you.
  • You have a savings plan in place to cover future expenses (children’s education, vacation etc.)
  • The financial needs for you, your family, and your estate are met in the event of disability or premature death, etc
  • You have an estate plan in place that helps ensure that your estate assets go to your intended beneficiaries and maximizes taxes.

Your planning focus will shift as your business moves through the stages of the business cycle: survival, growth and maturity.

The Survival Stage requires personal financial planning for the owner: Continue reading How to Plan & Protect Your Family Business

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Good Debt vs. Bad Debt

Written by Melissa Bendo

Mompreneur Melissa Bendo - tips for good debt vs. bad debtOne of the first things to understand when planning your financial future is the difference between good debt and bad debt.

Going into debt for an appreciating asset such as a house or an income property is considered “good debt”, whereas going into debt for a depreciating asset such as a new car, vacation or a recreational vehicle is considered “bad debt”.

Now it may seem counter-intuitive to think of any debt as “good”, but what would you rather have, a ten year old vehicle that has burdened you with a monthly payment for a good portion of that ten years and is now worth almost nothing or a house that has increased in value by fifty percent of its original purchase price? Continue reading Good Debt vs. Bad Debt