By Debbie Stanley
For a long time I put off my estate plan and any conversation that had to do with planning my legacy. If you had asked me, I would have preferred to go to the gym and awkwardly run on the treadmill while day dreaming about chocolate rather than discuss something so personal and scary. I had a will, my husband had a will…. this was enough of a plan, right?
Now I know you may be thinking, I am a qualified licensed professional who deals with Trusts and Estates every single day. Why would I have put this off? Well, to be honest it is a scary thing and even someone who dedicates their life to this subject is not immune to the fear. I found an excuse to do something else, change the subject, or work on my clients affairs instead of my own. Finally I decided that it was time to give myself some tough love and signed my husband and I up to walk through the process that I go through with my clients. We planned out all the details of our estate; starting with reviewing our wills, working on and organizing finances and lastly discussing our funeral wishes. After the exercise I reflected on some of the emotions I was feeling after such a deeply personal experience.
Estate Planning gives a sense of clarity. When we go through the motions of everyday life, we tend to get bogged down by all the daily details and tasks that call for our attention. Stopping and making the time to speak with a professional (yes I know it was myself!) about my estate plan brought a sense of clarity to my wishes that I never knew I had. There are tough questions that are asked, and sometimes difficult decisions to be made and it forced me to admit things or look at things in a manner that I normally wouldn’t. While the subject matter is uncomfortable, gaining a better sense of understanding of all the moving pieces of my estate is a feeling that is pretty hard to describe. Continue reading 3 Benefits of Estate Planning
Written by Andrea Henry
Let’s start off by admiting that as much as we love what we do, as small business owners, we do this to make money.
Let’s also admit that we have clients who have not really grasped this concept and who just don’t pay us on time — or at all.
How do you deal with it? As always, prevention is better than the cure. Here are my top three tips to getting paid on time.
Get it in writing.
Relying on verbal agreements and handshakes is for amateurs, and you my friend, are a professional with bills to pay. State your fees and payment terms in writing so that you avoid misunderstandings about payment expectations. Your written contract should also include, at a minimum:
- a Scope of Work Clause which is a very clear, very specific description of exactly what you are going to provide to the client.
- a Cancellation Clause which will tell your client if and when they can cancel and what, if anything, they will still owe you after cancellation.
Make it super convenient and easy to pay you.
In your intial meetings, ask the client what works best for them in terms of timing of invoices, credit terms and payment type. Instead of just accepting cash and cheque, consider accepting credit and debit cards, online payments, direct deposits and email transfers. Paypal, Square, Quickbooks and Freshbooks are just a few companies which allow you to send invoices that clients can pay with just a few clicks. Continue reading Getting Clients to Pay on Time
Written by Andrea Henry
Can I protect my name and my brand?
Choosing a name and establishing a brand can be the most fun part of starting a business, but it can also be fraught with difficulty. For most entrepreneurs, part of choosing a name for their new business is doing a Google search and then searching the business name database to ensure no one else has registered that name. With your Master Business Licence in hand, you feel sure your business name is protected and no one else can use it but not so fast… have you checked to see whether the name has been trademarked?
I have had clients who started a sole proprietorship, registered a business name and happily used it for a few years before realising, only when they applied to register their trademark, that someone had beaten them to it. The problem is, the business name database and the registered trademark database are not the same things, and obtaining a business name registration does not mean that you have the exclusive right to use that name to distinguish your business in the eyes of consumers. The only way to make sure that only you can use your brand name, your logo or your tagline is to register it as a trademark.
If the owner of the trademark you want has not used it for three or more years, you can request the Registrar of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office to, essentially, strike the registration from the list, but that requires a long and expensive court battle.
Avoid long and expensive court battles; search the trademark database before you start using a name and apply for trademark protection as soon as possible.
Am I too small or new to incorporate?
This is a conversation you need to have with your accountant AND your lawyer. At any stage of its life, there are many ways a business can benefit from becoming a corporation. Just a few of these are:
- Limited Liability. This advantage is the one everyone knows about – if you carry on business as a sole proprietor or a general partnership, your assets are at risk if the business incurs any liability. That means that if a client sues your business, really, he’s suing you, and your house and car and bank account are all at risk. A corporation is a separate legal person with its own assets. That means if a client sues your corporation, he can get at the corporation’s assets, but not your personal assets.
- Increased credibility. Seeming bigger and more established than you really are is crucial when you’re the newest one in the pool.
- Ease of raising capital. How do you sell a part of your business if your business is you? While maybe some investors would take a kidney, issuing shares in a corporation is the easiest way to exchange a share of your business for that influx of cash you need to grow.
- Tax reduction or deferral. A big reason why people incorporate is to reduce or defer the tax they pay and to provide flexibility in finances.
Continue reading Top Ten Legal Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask
Written by Andrea Henry
I can’t believe we’re in the second quarter of 2017 already! We start the year with such good intentions and then…life happens. It’s never too late though, to begin again. Among your brilliant marketing initiatives and hiring strategies, make time to implement these 5 things and save yourself money, time and worry in what’s left of 2017.
Get it in Writing.
If you do nothing else, resolve to get EVERYTHING in writing. Seriously. You will save yourself so much time, money and grief if you make sure that your agreements are set out in writing. Taking the steps to put the agreement in writing will help clarify what both parties expect, ensure that you both are on the same page and help avoid some of the more obvious disputes. Plus, should a dispute arise, written contracts will make asserting or defending your position in court that much easier. To paraphrase my mother, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and thousands of dollars worth of legal fees and business losses.
Know who you are doing business with.
Who are you dealing with- a sole proprietor, a corporation or a partnership? Has the person on the other side of the contract ever gone bankrupt or had a judgment made against them? The best contract in the world will provide little comfort if the other party is a corporation with no assets or an individual with a history of failing to meet his or her obligations. Continue reading Top 5 Things to Do for Your Business Before 2018
Written by The TruShield Insurance Team
If you’re a mompreneur, then you may likely fall into the category of small business owner. If you’re a small business owner, you need small business insurance. If you have small business insurance then we hope you’re insured with TruShield Insurance. If you’re a TruShield customer, we’ll be right there with you as your business grows.
We understand that you may look for a new insurance provider someday. While the idea of this hurts, we understand why you might want to switch to another provider. Here are 7 reasons why you should switch.
Continue reading 7 Reasons to Switch Insurance Providers
Written by Susan DaSilva-Romeo
If you’re like most Canadians, you’ve worked hard to plan for an enjoyable retirement, and to develop a sound investment plan. You’ve carefully thought about your pension, your RRSP, and other sources of retirement income.
But what would happen to all your plans if you had a heart attack or stroke or were diagnosed with cancer today or a few years from now? How would your lifestyle be affected? What would happen to your savings? What would happen to your family and your future?
Using your current investments could have a long-term impact on your portfolio, which may be difficult to recover from. Your retirement income goals could fall short of allowing you to retire on your terms. Continue reading Investments Should Be for your Future – Not Medical Bills
Every year, Canadian retailers lose about $4 billion to theft. With holiday shopping gearing up, controlling for theft can be difficult. Here are some steps you can take to reduce the possibility of employees and/or customers stealing from your inventory:
Adequate staffing: More eyes on the floor can reduce the chance of a theft happening. Ensuring your sales area is serviced by an adequate number of employees will give you peace of mind.
Check receipts: Every transaction requires that you give the customer a receipt. Receipts are issued for all purchases and refunds, so this prevents shoplifters from returning to the store with a stolen item and demanding a refund or store credit.
Store design: Check your store’s layout to ensure there’s sufficient lighting, bell alarms that notify when customers enter and exit the store, and an elevated sales counter for better store visibility. If your store is large, consider hiring a greeter to stand at the door and monitor customers as they enter and exit the store.
Surveillance cameras: It’s hard to see everything that goes on when you’re busy attending to customers. Having clearly visible security cameras — or closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras — installed around the store helps you keep an eye on the store when you’re unable to cover every nook and cranny.
Outline store policies: Establish clear policies and procedures on how to deal with shoplifting incidents. This includes listing all emergency contact numbers and media protocols. Keep in mind that retailers do not have a legal right to search a bag, so customers can refuse to have their bag searched. Continue reading Tips to Protect Your Business Against Retail Theft
With summer coming to an end, you may be planning some sort of an off-site event to bring your employees together to celebrate the warm weather. While you’re getting everyone together and organizing the event, an important part of that planning should focus on getting everyone to and from the event safely, and making sure that the facility itself is clean and safe.
To help you ensure that the event goes as planned and reduce any flare-ups, we’ve put together a checklist that you can use for any recreational outing that takes place outside the workplace.
- Collect signed consent forms
- Complete written agenda – include:
Name and address of location visiting
List of all individuals going on trip
Expected return time
Main contact person and number
- Provide the written agenda to staff who will not attend the trip
Continue reading Make safety a priority at your next staff event