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Searching for the perfect accountant

Sep 9, 2016 5:15 PM
Roger Pierce

An accountant is an important advisor to your business so selecting one should be done with care. The right accountant or accounting firm can save your business some money, reduce your stress levels and make your life a whole lot easier.

Understand you may need both a bookkeeper and an accountant. While many small business owners try to do their own books, it’s often difficult to stay on top of changing tax rules, filing deadlines and all that record keeping – so a firm that can handle your bookkeeping as well as complete your annual returns may be ideal. Delegating tasks is essential to business success.

Follow these tips to find your perfect accountant.

1. Decide how much service you want

You want an accountant or accounting firm that can meet your business needs. Consider these questions:

  • Will you do the bookkeeping, and hand files to your accountant to prepare year-end tax returns? Or, will you hire an independent bookkeeper to manage your monthly record-keeping in house, and file government remittances such as GST/HST returns?
  • Would you prefer your accountant handle it all? That level of service may affect price, but you may end up paying less money than you would by hiring a separate bookkeeper.
  • Will your business benefit from an accounting firm with specific experience? For example, if you’re planning to export your products or services to the United States, it may be best to work with an accountant who has experience working with exporters.
  • Do you want to meet with your accountant throughout the year to obtain business advice?

Focusing on what’s most important to your company will help you narrow the field so that you can get on with your accountant search.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Strategies to reduce taxes

A good accountant will find deductions to lower the current amount of tax you must pay. A great accountant will develop a tax reduction strategy for your business.

In addition to proactive long-term strategies, your accountant should be available to you to provide advice on short-term decisions – such as understanding the cash flow impact of a customer seeking account credit.

3. Experience with your industry

Every accountant will be familiar with standard business expense deductions (like rent, payroll and utilities). But your perfect accountant should be aware of tax credits that are geared towards your industry or type of business. For example, agri-businesses may prefer to work with an accountant or firm that understands the myriad of tax-incentives available to farmers and companies in the agriculture industry.

4. Ask for references

Don’t be shy about asking for references from your short list of accounting firms. Speak to their clients to understand the experiences of other business owners with that professional.

  • Tip: ask business owners you know to introduce you to their accountant.

And pay attention to your own first impression – you’ll be working closely with your accountant, so you want to make sure you feel comfortable with the individual or firm you choose.

5. Understand fees & billing

An accountant will actually save your business money because he or she knows how to reduce your taxes. But that expertise will naturally come at a price – so be sure to understand how much your accountant will charge for:

  • Year-end returns
  • Bookkeeping services (if you will outsource that function)
  • Business consultation & advice
  • Tax planning.

You may prefer to set up a monthly fee schedule with your selected accountant or firm to avoid a big invoice at tax time.

Lastly, start searching for your accountant well before tax season to avoid feeling rushed into making a decision. Now is a good time to start your search.

Need a small business laugh? Enjoy more Sully's Startup here. Attract business owners to your blog, website, or newsletter with our slice-of-small-business-life comic strip. 

(Image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Will your start-up idea work? Of course

Aug 15, 2016 10:35 PM
Roger Pierce

Patience and planning are required for small business success

By Small Business Expert Roger Pierce, Pierce Content Marketing

Over the past 22 years and through the course of my 13 small businesses, I’ve been very fortunate to work with thousands of start-up entrepreneurs.

Naturally, new entrepreneurs have plenty of questions and I do my best to answer them. But the most common question is, “How do I know if my business idea will work?”

I don’t have a crystal ball, so my response isn’t what these new entrepreneurs want to hear. I tell the novice business owner that a start-up idea won’t work – unless they do.

If you are planning to start a new business, you can make it a success by following these roll-up-your-sleeves tips:

Work smart

Any fool can sit behind a desk for 12 hours a day. It’s not the amount of time you spend at your business, but rather what you do with that time. Do things that add value to your business – like building customer relationships, sourcing amazing products to sell to your customers, or developing systems for your future employees to run for you.

Start cheap

If your idea requires you to spend tens of thousands of dollars before you make one dollar, it’s probably the wrong business idea for you (unless you have money to burn). Most service-based businesses can be started for less than $1000. Aim to build and launch a “minimum viable product” – which means a business with bugs – and work quickly to make improvements. Just launch.

Be patient

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the best plans, your new business will take longer to succeed than you had originally hoped. Set aside some extra funds to weather any delays. And take a deep breath and keep going.

Be great

It’s not what you do in business but how you do it. Beat your competition by offering a twist on an existing business idea, or doing something really innovative with your marketing. For example, Toronto menswear retailer Harry Rosen offers free lifetime alterations so your suit will always fit perfectly.

Test it first

Too many entrepreneurs get over-excited about their idea (saying, “I just know this will work!”) and jump in without doing any customer research or completing a simple feasibility study. Before you spend one dollar or one hour building your new idea, test it with your prospective customers.

Admit you don’t know it all and find advisors

It’s impossible to know everything about running a small business. Reach out to your personal or professional network to find an experienced entrepreneur willing to volunteer an hour a month with you.

To succeed your business idea must be written up in a proper Business Plan – that’s a step you don’t want to skip. Keep your plan simple and to the point, with no more than ten pages. By committing your idea to paper you’ll be forced to think about what you need to do to make it succeed.

Need a small business laugh? Enjoy more Sully's Startup here. Attract business owners to your blog, website, or newsletter with our slice-of-small-business-life comic strip. 

(Image courtesy of Flickr)

 

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Creativity will beat your competition

Jul 17, 2016 9:22 PM
Roger Pierce

Winning out over your competitors requires a combination of creativity, bravery, and perseverance.

Creativity means looking for innovative ways to out-smart and out-manoeuvre your competition. Bravery is required to stand up against competitor attacks on your product quality, product pricing and, sometimes, your business or personal reputation. And perseverance is that all-important “never-say-die attitude” helping you to find a way through the battlefield.

 

 

 

Consider these strategies to help edge out your competition.

Add crazy value

Price competition is a slippery slope for business owners who typically don’t trade in sufficient volume to significantly reduce input costs. But profits reside in higher prices, so that’s where you want to be.

To get that higher price, you’ll need to add crazy value to your products or services – and crazy value makes it difficult for customers to compare your offering to a competing offer.

Fortunately, as creative minds, adding value comes easily to entrepreneurs.

  • Offer 24/7 support. Be available to support your customers anytime – it’s easy to do with a virtual help desk service. Heck, just answer your phone in the middle of the night!
  • Do more. People expect so little from suppliers these days – creating an opportunity for you to “surprise and delight” customers. Offer free installation, help your customers find customers, create training videos, use a real human to answer helpline questions – it doesn’t take much to go the extra mile.
  • Remove the risk. Offer a no-strings-attached return policy, easy payment terms, and lifetime warranty. Promote confidence in your product or service by removing any hesitation to buy from your company.

Double down on a niche market

There’s always a temptation in business to be a “generalist” and try to serve different categories of customers. That’s a mistake.

Unless you are a very large company (think Walmart) with endless marketing dollars to spend, you must allocate your scarce marketing resources and energies to serving a very specific market.

Become a specialist. By focusing on a very narrow market (I know one accounting firm serving only family-owned pet stores) your business will get very good at helping a specific type of customer – and build a reputation for excellence within that market.

Let your competition target everybody while you sell to somebody.

Communicate clearly - and often

Everyone talks about after-sale support but very few people actually do it well.

By simply following-up with recent customers who have purchased something from your business, you can create a distinct competitive advantage.

  • Within 24 hours, call the customer to answer their questions about a purchased product or service.
  • Send a thank you note (yes, by mail) to acknowledge a major purchase.
  • Offer a short survey to assess customer satisfaction and use the results of that survey to address any customer dissatisfaction.
  • Here’s the best one: fulfil any promises made to your customer. That may be as simple as showing up on time, returning a phone call, or sending some requested information.

Chances are you’re the only vendor smart enough to communicate with your customers.

Like Sully, being creative is a sure-fire strategy to beat your competition. Think outside the box to discover strategies for your business to out manoeuvre those obtuse, slow-moving competitors.

Need a small business laugh? Enjoy more Sully's Startup here. Attract business owners to your blog, website, or newsletter with our slice-of-small-business-life comic strip. 

(Photo courtesy of Flickr.com)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Chasing receivables? Think like Sully

Jun 28, 2016 4:48 PM
Roger Pierce

It's a headache every business owner suffers: customers don't always pay on time. 

That money is important to your business. You depend on timely receivables to pay your employees, stock the shelves, and keep the lights on. You likely need that money to pay yourself, too.

So it can be incredibly frustrating -- agonizing, really -- to wait and wait on a customer payment when so much is riding on that cash. 

 

Try these simple tips to get your money quickly:

  1. Call accounts payable and be nice. Unlike Sully's feisty grandmother/bookkeeper in the above cartoon strip, it's best to avoid calling your customer rude names. But she had the right idea: pick up the phone and try to get a response from the person responsible for paying your overdue invoice. It doesn't hurt to invoke a little sympathy, so feel free to explain how your business is a small organization without much cash and can't afford payment delays. Try to get a firm payment date or at least a status update as to when the money will come.
  2. Call the customer. Chances are the person who placed the order with your business is quite removed from the accounts payable department. Ask your customer politely to see what they can do to prod payment. The accounting department will likely jump higher for an executive or someone within the company making the request more than they will jump for a vendor. 
  3. Talk to your bank. Most financial institutions will work with you to bridge a cash-flow gap caused by an overdue customer invoice. Explain the situation to your banker, disclose the amount of the expected invoice, and ask what he or she can do. If your business credit is good, some banks will advance you the funds (for a fee and some interest) and simply withdraw the advance from your account when the payment arrives. If you are desperate for the money, it may be worth it to pay a small amount for this factoring service.
  4. Be diligent. Stay on top of invoices that are 60, 90 or more days overdue. It could indicate financial trouble within your customer organization. Like a sales call, it may take you several attempts to get a response from someone who can issue your payment. Make it clear on any voice message you leave that you will be calling again tomorrow.

It's no fun chasing overdue accounts but it's a fact of small business life. Nothing runs smoothly! You can better accommodate a few late-payers by designing generous receivables timelines into your cash flow forecast so that you aren't sweating late payments -- as much.

Need a small business laugh? Enjoy more Sully's Startup here. Attract business owners to your blog, website, or newsletter with our slice-of-small-business-life comic strip. 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

How to create blog articles or videos people want to consume

Jun 17, 2016 11:15 PM
Roger Pierce

If you’ve embarked on a content marketing strategy for your business, you are likely wondering how to get people to read your blog article, download your whitepaper, see your infographic or watch your informative video.

Follow these suggestions to produce content that will engage your preferred audience.

Get to the point

The first thing to remember is that people are busy. Few people have time to read lengthy articles or watch 5 minute videos – so it’s important to get to the point.

Figure out your main message, lesson, or tip and build the content around that.

What do you want to say? What information is essential for the visitor to consume? Boil it down to a few key points wrapped in a short introduction and summary.

For example, your 90-second video or 400-word article can help a viewer to understand one key message – like how to reduce heating costs in wintertime – by presenting 2 or 3 quick tips.

Be relevant

Make sure your content is appropriate to your target audience. Give them something that matters to them – and to you, because great content connects the reader to your business in a natural, logical way.

For example, if you are selling business security systems, it would make sense for your business to offer tips to improve office security or eliminate inventory leakage.

Offer quality content

Pressed for time, some business owners post inferior content to their blog, website, or newsletter because they feel “something is better than nothing.” When the content is poor quality, posting no content is actually better than releasing garbage.

Examples of quality content:

  • Your easy-to-read position paper on a recent industry announcement or trend.
  • Helpful, well-thought-out tips to improve your customer’s business.
  • Interesting customer stories.
  • An eBook offering helpful instructions on a complex strategy or process.
  • Short solutions presented in an infographic, blog post, or article.
  • A downloadable tool or spreadsheet you’ve developed and want to share.

Quality content elevates the way people perceive your brand when your audience begins to think of your company as the helpful, trustworthy organization that it is. So spend a little more time or a little more money to produce content that makes you proud to post.

Post consistently

Build an audience by delivering content according to a set schedule. A consistent content schedule will help people to anticipate your next post – you’ll only disappoint them by posting sporadically. Present your blog post, newsletter, advice video, or other content at the same time every day, week or month.

For example, a clothing store might publish a ‘Fashion Fridays’ weekly blog.

Don’t forget social media

It’s not enough to wait for people to find your content online – you’ve got to be willing to share it, and make it easy for readers and viewers to share it, as well.

Most publishing platforms include social media share buttons to make it easy for you and others to post your content to channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Get in the habit of sharing each new piece of content on a few social media channels and you’ll soon catch the attention of prospects and customers.

Great content starts a conversation. Over time, consumers of your content will feel comfortable enough to reach out and make contact – and that’s when the selling process begins.

(Image courtesty of Flickr)

 

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Why it’s so easy to start-up right now

May 25, 2016 4:52 PM
Roger Pierce

Empowering technology, access to financing, and low-start-up costs facilitate new business starts

We are living in the era of the entrepreneur.

Interest in starting and running a small business is the Zeitgeist of the new millennium. Everywhere you turn it seems more and more people are starting a small business – or at least thinking about it.

Here in North America, popular television shows like Dragons’ Den, Shark Tank and Silicon Valley provide dramatic and entertaining insight into the start-up process, serving to encourage people to take the jump. In the news, one-time start-ups like Canada’s own Hootsuite, Freshii, and 1-800-GOT-JUNK get well deserved media attention because people love a good success story. And brands everywhere are marketing to small business owners through both online and traditional media, bringing to our attention to the many products and services available to assist entrepreneurs.

  • According to Statistics Canada, there are over 2.7 million self-employed people in this country. 

And, in every family, there’s an entrepreneur or two who gets us thinking we could do the same thing – be it an uncle who starts a restaurant, or a cousin doing well-paid consulting work.

Clearly, the idea of being an entrepreneur is part of our societal fabric. But what exactly enables aspiring entrepreneurs to begin? Here are a few factors at play that are facilitating starting-up.

Easy, empowering technology

Powerful, affordable, and easy-to-use technology facilitates starting up.  

Take a smartphone, for example. In addition to storing data, a smartphone gives an entrepreneur multiple options for communicating with customers, prospects and suppliers via text, email, or good old-fashioned voice calling. Go online through the device and marketing platforms become available, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Internet

Years ago a local small business was confined to doing business in its local market. The Internet, of course, has changed all of that.

Today it doesn’t matter where an entrepreneur chooses to live or set up shop: he or she can do business pretty much anywhere in the world via the Internet. It has opened up faraway markets previously unavailable to micro-businesses – customers in New Zealand can shop products or services on a website just as easily as Canadians.

Online applications are powering small businesses too, providing entrepreneurs with ready-to-go business solutions without incurring development costs. PayPal, for example, makes it possible for a start-up to instantly begin accepting credit card payments from customers. That’s a huge convenience for any new business owner.

Business expenses are minimal

It doesn’t take much money to launch a micro business. Thanks to affordable technology and anywhere access to the Internet, most service-based start-ups can get going with just a laptop computer, mobile phone, and a website. For a few dollars a month, a new business owner can open a business bank account, subscribe to bookkeeping software, and sign up for an affordable business data plan.

  • Designing a logo and ordering business cards can be done for less than $100

Access to cash

An increase in the number of small business owners worldwide has pushed traditional lenders to embrace the start-up customer. Banks and credit unions today are clamouring over each other to secure the business of small businesses, offering reasonable rates and flexible lending criteria for commercial bank accounts, credit cards, and lines of credit. Online lenders such as Kabbage.com in the United States are also picking up steam by offering quick approvals on micro-loans.

An attractive lifestyle

If someone with a job knows someone who is self-employed, that person might admit to envying the entrepreneur's boss-less freedom and schedule flexibility. While the hours worked by an entrepreneur may be long, the joy comes from being able to control that time.

Just take the leap

Given the ease of access to these and other helpful resources, the barriers that may be holding you back from starting a business may be all in your head. The evidence suggests that everything else you need to get going is available to you.

- Entrepreneurship Expert Roger Pierce talks about the issues associated with starting and running a new business.

[Image courtesy of Flickr]

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

How to polish up your sales skills

May 9, 2016 9:42 PM
Roger Pierce

There are two reasons small businesses struggle with B2B selling.

The first problem is a weak (or non-existent) sales strategy.

The second problem lies with ineffective communication.

If you've got an effective sales strategy in place but your sales aren't picking up, you may need to look at your interactions with each prospect – otherwise known as your sales skills.

Approach your next sales call with patience, preparation, and these tips.

1. Anticipate objections & prepare answers

There are only so many reasons a prospect won't buy from you. Very rarely are those reasons personal.  Here are the most common reasons a buyer won’t buy:

  • They don't need what you've got.
  • They need it but they're not ready.
  • They perceive the price is too high.

Being ready for these common objections can help you react strategically. In some cases you'll walk away. In other situations, you may find the prospect simply needs more information in order to proceed.

  • If the prospect doesn't need your product or service right now, schedule another call to see if anything has changed in three to six months.
  • If they need it but they're not ready to buy, ask what can help them to make a decision now – and give it to them. It might be something non-monetary, like a longer warranty or a trial period.
  • If they can't afford it, the prospect may simply need more information (or different information, like a customer testimonial) to fully understand the value of your offering. By probing you may discover it’s a cash flow issue, which allows you to review payment options.

TIP: Good people skills are the key to sales success. Accomplished salespeople steer clear of classic turn-offs – like coming on too strong, talking too much, failing to listen, and ignoring opportunities to build a relationship with the buyer.

2. Use a sales script

Many successful salespeople use a script to guide their conversations. When used correctly, a script can help you avoid being stumped with a tough question and keep you on message.

Using script doesn’t mean you must sound ‘scripted.’ It isn’t supposed to be followed to the letter. The goal of a script is to keep you on track so you reach your destination by the end of the call – which may be a specific offer, a follow-up appointment, or an order.

TIP: Practice vocalizing the script in advance. Use your script with a colleague and respond to the questions and objections you anticipate during a real interaction. Rehearsing will give you confidence, and after a few calls you may feel comfortable enough to lose the script altogether.

3. Follow Up

An overwhelming number of sales never happen for one foolish reason: the seller fails to follow-up with the prospect.

Sellers get distracted by other noise or the next opportunity and never return to the prospect.

  • Recall for example an engaging conversation you may have enjoyed at a trade show both with a seller who promised to be in touch. You likely exchanged business cards with that seller but never heard from him or her again.

Don’t commit the same sin. Schedule a follow up in your calendar and make it your priority for the day. Set aside enough time in your day to initiate new sales as well as follow-up calls, emails, or activities related to previous prospect opportunities. If your business will participate in a large sales event – like a trade show – be sure to commit sufficient follow-up time in your calendar after the event.

Chances are you started your business based on a particular talent or passion and selling skills wasn’t one of them. So don’t feel bad if you didn’t arrive with killer sales abilities because very few business owners have them. Remember that entrepreneurship is journey; every one of us gets the chance to develop new skills along the way.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)

 

 

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

No secret: 3 reasons to share your startup idea

Apr 12, 2016 9:35 PM
Roger Pierce

Do you believe that good ideas are a dime a dozen? Or you do think the power and originality of your business idea will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams?

Here’s an eye opener: your idea is worthless – and here’s why:

  • With over 7 billion people on the planet, chances are good that someone somewhere has the same idea.
  • Execution is what makes an idea valuable – not the idea itself. The world is full of poor dreamers with brilliant ideas that never see action.

So if you can wrap your head around both of these hard-to-swallow points, then you should be able to subscribe to the notion that keeping your idea to yourself isn’t in your best interest.

Here are three reasons why you should share your business idea.

1. You’ll enjoy feedback

Contacting potential customers, industry insiders and other entrepreneurs who are already in the marketplace can help you get a feel for how your business idea might perform in the real world outside your head. Use their comments and suggestions to improve your idea, shape it and sharpen it. As a result of feedback your ida will emerge stronger, which makes it more likely to succeed given proper execution.

Professionals such as lawyers, accountants and small business advisors – anyone who has worked with a number of businesses -- can also supply valuable feedback.

If you are worried about someone stealing your billion-dollar idea, you can try to protect it by attaching a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) signed by the reviewing party.

Caution: be prepared to receive negative feedback. Don't get defensive about your idea because you can elect to accept reviewer feedback or reject it and plough ahead anyway, as so many entrepreneurs stubbornly do.

2. People will help you to launch your idea

Sharing your idea with others is more likely to make your idea a reality when people step up to help you. Assistance may come in several forms:

  • Feedback to improve (or abandon) the idea, as discussed above.
  • Introductions to people willing to back your idea with money.
  • Marketing people interested in promoting your business once launched.
  • Employees or suppliers eager to work with you.
  • Introductions to professionals able to protect your idea (lawyers, accountants)
  • Advocates and advisors who want to see you and your idea succeed who are willing to share their network with you.
  • Potential customers who express interest in buying from you.

3. You’ll commit to your idea

Sharing your idea publicly commits you to doing it. Too often ideas rattle around in our heads for years without anyone else ever knowing what we are thinking about. By saying it, you’ll do it.

It’s kind of like committing to a weight-loss goal: you’re more likely to lose that extra 10 kilograms if you tell your friends and family you will start dieting and exercising immediately. Fear of public humiliation and disappointing personal community is a great motivator to follow through on individual promises.

And, finally, don’t worry too much about people ripping off your idea. Most people are too busy thinking about their own brilliant start-up idea to bother doing yours.

 

 

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

How to think like a leader

Mar 28, 2016 12:21 PM
Roger Pierce

BY ROGER PIERCE

Leadership is an intangible quality; it encompasses so many other traits – drive, communication skills and tenacity, to name a few – but it is more than that. Leadership (or lack thereof) can make or break a company, or an entrepreneur.

The good news is that leaders can be trained, and there are a number of skills you can foster that will position you as a true leader in your business and industry.

Think like a planner

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of planning. A good business plan can get you off on the right foot and is a key component to success. Beyond that, regular planning can help you anticipate future needs well before they arrive and stay ahead of the curve on industry trends.

There’s no need to keep your plan secret. Consider drafting and sharing a strong plan to make it much easier for your employees and colleagues to follow along and participate.

Think like a facilitator

As an entrepreneur, your job is to make your business plan a reality. That can often mean you’ll do much of the heavy lifting, especially in the early days, even as you should be thinking about how to execute the next step in your business plan.

Think of yourself as a facilitator. Try to avoid get caught up in routines or in doing it all on your own. Instead, step back and think, “What’s best for the business?” and then figure out how to make it happen. If outsourcing your manufacturing is best, you may want to facilitate a strategic partnership or hire a new employee to manage the production. If landing a marquee customer is what’s called for, consider spending some hands-on time supporting your sales department.

Think ahead and stay focused

It’s easier to reach your destination when you have an idea of where you’re going. Staying on top of the goals you've included in your business plan may stave off discouragement and help you and your business to avoid getting sidetracked.

Stay flexible, though. The business landscape is constantly changing, and you may find it necessary to alter your strategy in order to reach your goals. By regularly revising your business plan, taking into account market fluctuations, and working towards what is reasonably attainable, you’ll be able to give your business the guidance it needs.

Great leaders don’t just charge headlong into any opportunity that presents itself. They take the time to chart a course, facilitate creative ways for their organization to succeed, and change strategy when necessary. Hone these skills and you’re well on your way to leading your company to success.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Meeting with your accountant? It pays to prepare

Mar 3, 2016 9:53 PM
Roger Pierce

Taxes. - olde_scratch - Flickr
If you’ve decided to hire an accountant to prepare your business and personal tax returns this year, chances are the process will start with an appointment.

It’s an important meeting because you and your accountant have a lot to discuss, such as past year revenue, expenses, and any major purchases you might have made. Your accountant will also ask about your projections for next year and the general state of your business. Plus, you can expect to answer some questions about your household income and personal financial situation.

It’s an important meeting because of what’s on the line: taxes. Get it wrong and you may end up paying too much tax.

Keeping in mind that you and the tax preparer are both busy people, it makes sense to prepare as much as possible in advance of the meeting so you both maximize your time together.

Consider these suggestions.

1. Organize receipts. Handing over a shoebox full of messy receipts to your accountant to sort out is a waste of high-price talent. It's better to have your accountant spend their valuable time reviewing your numbers and recommending strategies to reduce your taxes.
 
Take the time to sort through your receipts before you see your accountant.
  • Ask your accountant to supply a list of receipt categories, such as Automobile Expenses or Office Supplies.
  • Write the name of each category on a large envelope and enclose the receipts.
  • Total the amount of all receipts for that expense category and write the number on the envelope.
  • Once you’ve done the same thing for all expense categories, summarize the numbers in a simple Excel spreadsheet – or better yet, enter them into accounting software such as Sage One. Bring that file to your accountant

2. Review last year’s tax return. Going over last year’s tax return before you meet with your accountant is a good way to check and see if you’ve forgotten to do anything to help prepare for this year’s tax preparation process.

3. Write down any questions. You likely won’t have much time in your meeting with the accountant, so come prepared with a list of questions or concerns. If possible, email your questions to your accountant in advance of your meeting so he or she has a chance to review them.

4. Make notes. During your meeting be sure to record answers to your prepared-in-advance questions. For example, you might want to ask your accountant if you can afford to hire additional help during the next fiscal year based on your finances. Careful notes can be used to guide your key decisions for the upcoming year.

A meeting with your accountant – in person, by telephone or online – is an important event. Even though you are paying your accountant a fee to prepare your tax returns, you’re the one who will prosper by coming to the meeting as prepared as possible.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  
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