I recently joined Dominic Mazzone on his podcast Start Attack (hosted on 360STRM) to talk about entrepreneurship and some trends we’re seeing in the Canadian workforce.
The traditional 9-5 job is under attack with many job-seekers looking for flexible work hours and freelance positions. We’re seeing individuals value short-term associations with their employers and gravitate to those businesses that offer flexible terms. Businesses need to adapt and be able to offer these types of opportunities.
You can listen to the full interview on SoundCloud
Recently we polled over 10,000 Canadian small businesses and asked them if they provided health and dental benefits to their staff. Giving employees access to these services certainly seems like an obvious way to attract and retain great people. In fact, the majority of employees would prefer working for a company that did give them access to these benefits. However, over 80% of business owners said they did not provide even basic access to health, dental and other benefit programs.
If benefits are such a great way to attract and retain employees, why don’t more small business owners offer them? Our poll showed that there were two main reasons – existing benefit plans are expensive and getting access to these plans takes exhaustive effort. It’s simply too hard to setup these programs and enroll your employees.
That changes as of today. Your staff can get access to affordable health and dental coverage with just a few clicks. There’s no medical screening required, no paper forms to fill out, no sales pitches, and, importantly, no additional cost to you, the business owner.
Employees can log into their employee payslip tool, https://PayChequer.com, and register for health and dental coverage. It takes just a few clicks and plans start as low as $16/month. Employees pay directly and are not required to be part of a company group. It’s simply the most accessible health and dental coverage in Canada.
We’re proud to partner with Green Shield Canada to bring this innovative service to Canadian businesses. GSC is Canada’s only national not-for-profit health and dental benefits provider. With a shared vision of making your workplace better, you’ll be able to access these services immediately.
As exciting as it is to be in business for yourself, there are many unique challenges you’ll face. A small business owner has to handle all the challenges of selling, delivering, financing, managing and growing the business often with no support, while trying to make it a success. You need to make sure you are on top of your game while ensuring your customers are happy. We’ve compiled a few tips on making these challenges easier to handle.
Establish a value proposition A clear value proposition can go a long way. For your business to sustain long-term growth, you must understand what sets it apart from the competition. Identify why customers come to you for a product or service. What makes you relevant, differentiated and credible? Use your answer to explain to other consumers why they should do business with you.
Identify your ideal customer
You started your business to solve a problem. Who is that audience? Is that audience your ideal customer? If not, who are you serving? Nail down your ideal customer, and target this audience as you adjust business to stimulate growth.
Define your key performance indicators
Proper identification of KPI (key performance indicators) can make or break your business. Your key performance indicators are things you can measure in your business that define your success. For example, many businesses will track the value of sales but you may also want to track how many clients you register each week. Changes must be measurable. If you’re unable to measure a change, you have no way of knowing whether it’s effective. Identify which key indicators affect the growth of your business, then dedicate time to those areas. .
Verify your revenue streams
It’s obvious that revenue is life line – a clogged revenue stream can bring your business to a grinding halt. What are your current revenue streams? What revenue streams could you add to make your business more profitable? Once you identify the potential for new revenue streams, ask yourself if they are sustainable in the long run. Some great ideas or cool products don’t necessarily have revenue streams attached. Be careful to isolate and understand the difference.
Look to your competition
Learn to learn from your competition. No matter your industry, your competition is likely excelling at something that your company is struggling with. Look toward similar businesses that are growing in new, unique ways to inform your growth strategy. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Ask yourself why your competitors have made alternate choices. Are they wrong? Or are your businesses positioned differently?
Focus on your strengths
Sometimes, focusing on your strengths – rather than trying to improve your weaknesses – can help you establish growth strategies. Change the playing field to suit your strengths, and build upon them to grow your business.
Invest in talent
Most small business owners try to cut corners when it comes hiring staff. Your employees have direct contact with your customers, so you need to hire people who are motivated and inspired by your company’s value proposition. You can be cheap with office furniture, marketing budgets and holiday parties. However you should hire a few, well qualified, employees, and pay them very well. The best ones will usually stick around if you need to cut back their compensation during a slow period. Make sure your payroll system gives your staff a great experience.
You need a strategy
Developing a growth strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. In fact, due to changing market conditions, making strategic decisions based on someone else’s successes would be foolish. That’s not to say that you can’t learn from another company, but blindly implementing a cookie-cutter plan won’t create sustainable growth. You need to adapt your plan to smooth out your business’s inefficiencies, refine its strengths and better suit your customers – who could be completely different than those from a vague, one-size-fits-all strategy.
There is magic in numbers. Do not shy away from them because if you understand your numbers, you can steer the company in the right direction. Your company’s data should lend itself to all your strategic decisions. Specifically, you can use the data from your key indicators and revenue streams to create a personalized growth plan. That way, you’ll better understand your business and your customers’ nuances, which will naturally lead to growth. Some of the best tools for managing your business finances are integrated with your payroll.
On Feb 26 at 8amET at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto we’re hosting a breakfast meet and learn event for Xero Online Accounting fans. You’ll have an opportunity to meet fellow small business owners and advisors to learn how Xero can be used in Canada for your bookkeeping. We’ll be talking about ways to grow your business and better manage your accounting, payments and payroll.
This event is presented in conjunction with Fuel Accounting – Canada’s award winning Xero experts.
The 2014 deadline for filing your T4 tax slips is Monday, March 2nd. You must provide your employees with a paper or electronic copy of their T4 by this date. So it’s crunch time for preparing T4 tax slips in Canada. You also need to provide copies of the T4 slips to the Canadian Revenue Agency, along with the T4 Summary for your company on March 2, 2015.
If you are filing more than 50 T4 slips you must file electronically, not by mail. Here are some of the most important points to understand for filing T4s and T4As for the 2014 tax year, compiled into the ultimate resource with links to the appropriate sections of the Canada Revenue Agency website.
Filing T4 Slips
A few notes on the important lines to fill out on each employee’s T4 slips with links to more information on the CRA website. Be sure to check out the CRA’s complete guidelines for completing the T4 slips.
Box 14 – Employment Income: Input the amount of salary and wages, bonuses, vacation, taxable benefits etc.
Code 40: In addition to any taxable benefits included in box 14, enter the amount of any taxable allowances or benefits provided to an employee in the ‘Other Information’ section of the T4 slip with “Code 40”
The CRA provides a detailed account of the many types of benefits and allowances that can be included in an employee’s income
Boxes 16 & 17 – CPP or QPP Contributions: Input the employee’s contributions that were deducted from pensionable earnings
The maximum contribution amount, for employer and employee, is $2,425.50, or 4.95% of the pensionable earnings
Maximum pensionable earnings for 2014 are $52,500 and the basic exemption amount is $3,500
Box 18 – Employee’s EI Premiums: Input the amount of EI you deducted from the employee’s earnings
The EI premium rate for 2014 is 1.88%, up to a maximum of $913.68 deducted for the year
Box 24 – EI Insurable Earnings: Input the total amount of insurable earnings that were used to calculate EI contributions
Maximum annual insurable earnings for 2014 is $48,600
Code 42 – Employment Commissions: Input the amount of commissions paid to an employee in the ‘Other Information’ section of the T4 slip with “Code 42” (Be sure to include this amount in Box 14 as well)
Box 26 – CPP/QPP Pensionable Earnings: Input the total amount of pensionable earnings paid to the employee, up to $52,500 (This amount is usually equal to Box 14)
Filing T4A Slips
The T4A slip is a different kind of tax slip that you generally prepare for independent contractors, or anyone that you have paid other types of income related to employment. Filing a T4A is typically optional, but it becomes mandatory if you have deducted income tax from any payment, or if all the payments totaled more than $500.
You can submit your T4As by mail, unless you are filing more than 50, in which case you must file electronically
Box 20 – Self-employed Commissions: Input the amount of commissions paid to an independent agent, but do not include any GST/HST paid
Box 22 – Income Tax Deducted: If you deducted income tax from the recipient, then you input the total here
Box 48 – Fees for Services: Input the total amount paid for services, but do not include any GST/HST paid
Make sure you report the amounts in Canadian currency (sorry, Bitcoin not accepted yet).
Do you have staff in Québec? You’ll need to fill out an RL-1 as well.
Simplify by using PaymentEvolution Payroll
If you are thinking about filling out your slips by hand or are planning to sit at your laptop for hours manually creating these T4 statements – STOP. Using PaymentEvolution Payroll will reduce the process time to just a few minutes – and you’ll even be able to file the slips electronically to the Canada Revenue Agency. Oh, and you’ll be able to do this for every province and territory in Canada – including creating the RL-1 slips for Québec. Make this tax (slip) season stress free with PaymentEvolution.
On January 29 at 6pmET at Toronto’s Brassaii Restaurant (461 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1K4), PaymentEvolution, Kashoo, FBC and easyrecordbooks will host the 2015 Small Business Meetup. Actually, let’s not be so formal – it’s a small business party!
We’re bringing together small business experts, advisors and cool local businesses to connect and talk. You’ll also have a chance to check out some new to-be released services from Kashoo and PaymentEvolution.
Address employees’ C/QPP contributions, who turned 18 or 70 in the year
Verify active employee data (names and addresses); Validate social insurance numbers (SINs), especially for those who are non-residents or citizens (ie SIN beginning with the number “9” and/or those with an expiry date)
Verify your Business Number (BN) or Québec Enterprise Number (NEQ) and address
Make adjustments (any bonus or commissions have not been paid out) to last two final pay cheques and remittances
Generate/edit T4 and RL-1 (QC)
Make sure Box 24 and Box 26 of the T4 are completed even if they are zero; enter “0.00” in Box 24 and 26 if zero
Make sure Box 24 not exceed the annual maximum insurable earnings ($48,600.00)
Make sure Box 26 not exceed the annual maximum pensionable earnings ($52,500.00)
Make sure Box G and I of the RL-1 are completed even if they are zero; enter “0.00” in Box G and I if zero
Make sure Box G not exceed the annual maximum pensionable earnings ($52,500.00)
Make sure Box I not exceed the annual maximum insurable earnings ($69,000.00)
If there is no amount or code to report in a box leave it blank, do not fill or enter the word “Nil”
Report benefits and allowances under the correct codes on the T4 and RL-1 slips