What to Look for: Hiring Professional Help

So you have decided that in the best interest of your small company, hiring outside professional help would be beneficial. Not only so you can focus your time and energy on other aspects of your company but also to have the confidence that a professional is handling the important financial requests and needs of the company. But what exactly are you looking for when hiring outside. Are there specific requirements that need to be met? How can you ensure in the best way possible that your company is in the right hands financially?

There are many qualities and qualifications you can look for when hiring and accountant. The pieces that are most important to you and you company are of your decision. But let us go over some main points prior to hiring.

“There are many things to look for when searching for an accountant.

  • You want someone who has experience or specializes in small businesses or corporate taxes along with bookkeeping. They will have the most knowledge as to how to properly manage your books and get you breaks on your taxes where possible.
  • Someone who has an accounting designation will be that much more qualified because they have that extra certification and education on their part. But take into account that doesn’t necessarily mean they are better than someone who doesn’t.
  • It is also important to ask around and see what others have to say and who they use.
  • You also want someone who’s honest, organized, and easy to communicate with that can explain things to you in a way that makes sense.” (Colleen Hurley, BBA.)
  • It may also be in your best interest to look for an accountant who is under a governing body like the CPA. CPA is the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta which has a mission of “Protecting the public’s interest by educating and regulating the competency and ethical standards of its members, and promoting the value of the CPA designation.”CPA,Alberta,2016.Retrieved from http://www.cpaalberta.ca/About-Us

 

 

Now that we have gone over what to look for in an accountant, let’s take a look into bookkeeping and what we can look for to ensure we are hiring someone that best suits the needs of your company.

  • “Reputable -check out their track record, other clients (if available), online local are business sites, Facebook, websites.
  • Respected-are they respected by the community, other clients, Facebook
  • Reasonable prices-bookkeeper range from $25-$40 per hour and offices start at $65 an hour and go up from that point.
  • Trustworthy-do they have your best interest in mind, listen to you and provide you with knowledgeable feedback on how to help yourself, your company without making you feel stupid or like you are wasting their time.
  • Depending on who you are looking to hire take into consideration big businesses, small businesses and proprietors…. they all have positive and negative points. Can they do everything for you (bookkeeping…. accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll as well as provide tax slips for personal taxes, GST returns and year ends T2 submissions)
  • When hiring an office, big or small make sure to request that one employee works on your file and become acquainted with them. This employee will have a better understanding of your company if communication from the start is open, because you and only you know how your company works and this will make the process less painful and save you money in the long run.
  • Trusting someone with your bookkeeping is trusting someone with your money. They should be willing to work with you and for you, not against you.
  • Please remember they are not magicians and cannot fix everything but if they are a good bookkeeper or accountant they should be able to make the process less stressful and not riddled with unexpected roadblocks.” (Peggy Bell, February 20,2018.)

 

Special thanks to Colleen Hurley, BBA and Peggy Bell for their insight, and information in accounting and bookkeeping.

For more information on the CPA their website is http://www.cpaalberta.ca/

For more information on BitLedger you can visit their website at https://bitledger.ca/

BitLedger is a great example of integrated outside professional help for your small company. We provide integrated services and specialize in many different areas that can be extremely valuable to your company. Some of the areas that we can take off your hands are:

  • Accounting and payroll
  • Business planning and budgeting
  • Reporting and analysis
  • Human resources

These are just a few examples of what BitLedger can support in your business. If you are interested in learning more please visit their website, facebook page, or Linkedin.

 

What do you Need

Tax season has begun, there are papers and files everywhere and the stress begins to build. That feeling is known all too well. What file goes where? Do we really need to keep these receipts? When you start asking yourself these questions within your business maybe it is time to start looking for outside help. There are services that are there to aid so you are able to keep your focus on your business and not on the stressful paperwork and numbers. But do you know exactly what will be in the best interest of your business such as a bookkeeper or an accountant or do you need both?

A bookkeeper has a very specific role they play when working within a business. They handle the day to day transactions seen within a business. Any monies that are moving in and out of the company whether it is cash or credit is kept documented in a ledger. Depending on your small business and how often you have transactions would depict how often you are using a bookkeeper. If your transactions are few then talking to a bookkeeper about using their services monthly or even quarterly might be in your financial best interest.

An accountant is going to take the information provided by a bookkeeper and create reports. They look over all of the numbers and with that they are able to prepare financial reports such as your taxes, and they are also able to give guidance on your spending. What you will notice is that your bookkeeper and accountant are really working towards the same goal just working on different pieces.

Both of these services can be very beneficial to a business. Not only does it reduce the amount of stress on running your business, they allow you to put your focus elsewhere. Choosing to hire an accountant and/or bookkeeper will also help ensure that your numbers are where they should be. Do you know what you need?

Join us next week when we take a look into what to look for in a bookkeeper and accountant.

Mobile Device Safety

Last week we shared some extensive information on computer safety within your business. Now we decided why not continue the conversation but shift to our mobile business devices. When you think about it we have many precautions we take with our computers but what are we doing with our cell phones?  The content on our phones generally is a lot more personal than our computers so why are we not questioning the safety on the device. In a business our phones are an essential part of how we stay connected, and can also be used in the same manner as our computers with online banking, sharing business ideas etc. We can be on the move and have quick access to whatever we need. For these reasons it is important to look at what we are doing to reduce the risks of having our information stolen without our knowledge.

In another great podcast done by the channel “Hackable?,” by McAfee, they team up with a man by the name of Yanick Fratantonio whom is a professor at Eurecom. The goal was to see how easy it is for someone to hack into your mobile device to steal your personal information. Yanick, who lives on a completely different continent was able to infect their mobile device using malware called “Cloak & Dagger,” through a link in an email. This malware once downloaded, maps your screen so the hacker is able to see everything you are typing. From inputting your email address and password to your banking information, all the way to the text messages you are sending. That in itself is a very unsettling thought knowing that your mobile phone could be taken over so easily.

So what can we do to protect our mobile devices from being hacked and our personal/business information stolen? Here are some key points from the podcast mentioned above.

  • Be careful of what you are downloading. Malware can be found in email links sent to you, even in applications that you download from the app store.
  • Before considering opening an attachment from someone you know, make sure it was intended.
  • Update your device on a regular basis to reduce vulnerability.
  • The older the device the more careful you should be with what you are downloading.
  • Use the same amount of care and consideration you do with your computer with your mobile phone.

If your interested in learning more, the link below is to the podcast from Hackable?

https://hackablepodcast.com/#/episodes/cloak-and-dagger

Business Computer Safety

Are you really safe when you are using your computer devices? Have you ever stopped to think if someone has the ability to hack into your personal information through the wireless internet? These are questions we need to start asking ourselves in our personal life and with a business.

When running a business, there are endless amounts of personal information that is stored on your computer. Right from employees personal information and files to your business banking, sharing of files, clients information and much more. With the growth of technology, we have to ensure we are protecting our companies to the best of our abilities which can start with some simple tips on wireless safety.

Let us start with some background information. Here in Canada and in the Province of Alberta we are legally entitled to the right of privacy. There are numerous laws that protect us from cyber crimes such as computer hacking and the theft of private and personal information. One of the acts that this falls under is called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

A man by the name of Bruce Snell from Mcafee sets up what they call an “Evil Twin,” which is a duplicate wireless internet connection. The connection name could range from “Super Fast Internet,” to your regular carrier name. Once you connect they are able to see everything you are doing on your computer. If you are working on your business proposals, client emails, online banking, they have access to all of that. Furthermore these hackers can inject malware into whatever you are downloading on your computer sending you a virus. These are very unwanted scenarios that unfortunately could happen to any business if we aren’t mindful of what we are connecting to. This also includes educating our employees on best practice of safe internet use.

Now I am sure you are asking yourselves what can we do to aid in the prevention of computer hacking to ensure your business information isn’t being stolen. Here are some tips that were sited on the podcast webpage https://hackablepodcast.com/#/episodes/the-evil-twin

  • Use a VPN aka Virtual Private Network which is encrypted making all your communications private.
  • Be suspicious of wireless names and only join official networks.
  • Avoid sensitive websites while on public wifi such as online banking, and online shopping.
  • Turn off sharing features on your computer.
  • Always log out.

Through all of this shocking information we can hope that you as a reader will take a way some helpful information on how to keep your business safe. It is without a doubt unnerving knowing that your information can be stolen so easily. Let’s work together to reduce these safety risks, keep our businesses clear of theft and help to educate others.

If you are interested in learning more, the link to the podcast is below.

https://hackablepodcast.com/#/episodes/the-evil-twin

If you are interested in learning more about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) there is a link provided.

https://ca.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/2-508-3428?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)

2018 Started With New Employment Standards…Were You Prepared?

 

In June 2017, the Government of Alberta passed Bill 17 which came into effect last week .  Bill 17 includes various changes that effect business, HR professionals and employees alike. The majority of the changes center around “Job Protected Leaves of Absence” but the bill also includes changes and additions to holiday pay, overtime, terminations, rest periods and payroll deductions.  As a business, you need to be aware of these changes to ensure you are in compliance.

 

PROTECTED LEAVES OF ABSENCE

Note that all employees, including temporary, term and seasonal, are eligible for ALL leaves after a probationary period of 90 days.

  • Parental Leave: While maternity leave has been around for a long time, the Alberta government has decided to match the terms set by the Federal government.  The Federal government has increased the amount of time for a maternity leave from 12 to 18 months.  This does not increase the amount of pay the employee will receive from unemployment maternity, but extends the allowable time.  Your employee can now access this time in Alberta too.
  • Compassionate Care Leave: Changes include employed for 90 days (instead of 52 weeks), the employee no longer has to be the primary caregiver and the leave has been extended from 8 to 27 weeks
  • NEW Protected Leaves:
    • Personal and Family Leave: 5 days per year. Are intended to deal with situation involving family, sickness, mental health etc.  These are unpaid days but are protected.
    • Long Term Illness and Injury Leave: Can be up to 16 weeks in duration and medical documentation is required to access this leave. (Short and long term disability will take precedence over legislation when appropriate).
    • Bereavement Leave: 3 days per year are allowed for the death of an immediate family member
    • Domestic Violence Leave: An employee is allowed under the legislation to accessed up to 10 days (unpaid) per year due to domestic violence. These days can be used if an employee, their dependent child or protected adult residing with the employee are subject to almost any form of domestic violence.  There are some limitations to access this unpaid leave.  This leave is intended for medical intervention, counselling, relocation, or legal matters.
    • Critical Illness of a Child: 36 weeks in duration is allowed for parents of a child who is critically injured or ill.
    • Death or Disappearance of a Child: In the event of a child disappearance, a parent can access up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave and double that in the event of a death. Either of these instances would be if a crime were committed.
    • Citizenship Ceremony Leave: An employee can access a half day to attend a citizenship ceremony for themselves.

 

  • General Holidays and General Holiday Pay: An employee is now immediately eligible for holiday pay instead of having to be an employee for 30 days. In addition, employees will now be paid for a holidays regardless if it’s not a regular work day for them.  There is a calculation to determine the amount of pay required.  Please check with https://www.alberta.ca/employment-standards.aspx for more information
  • Overtime Banking: In the past, employers have been able to bank overtime on an hour to hour basis.  Under the new guidelines, banked overtime must be calculated at 1.5 hours per hour worked.  Banked overtime can now be paid out over 6 months rather than 3.
  • Terminations: Changes to termination are around layoff notices, definitions to “temporary lay-offs”, and termination pay.  Please see the employment standards website for more information.
  • Rest Periods: In the past, employers were required to ensure that employees were granted a 30 min rest period for a shift in excess of 5 hours.  The wording under Bill 17 now states that an employee is to have the same 30 min rest period but within every 5 hours.  The difference is subtle but important.  Breaks can be broken into two 15 minute periods.
  • Deductions in Pay: Employers are no longer permitted to deduct monies for faulty work or cash shortages.  More information is coming as to the actual wording so keep an eye out for more information.

Employees and employers count on each other everyday to ensure their livelihoods.  Having a good working relationship with your employees will not only ensure government compliance but also result in lower turnover and increase employee morale so spend a little time to understand the new policies and develop effective internal policies to make things clear for EVERYONE.

 

 

Information gathered with the help of Sherry Shephard.

 

 

Insurance 101: The Basics On Securing Your Business

Is Your Business Adequately Covered?

The insurance world can be a foreign place to navigate through. Without the right professional advice, you may be opening yourself and your business to unnecessary exposure and liability. In today’s litigious world, proper insurance coverage is a necessity.

But what does YOUR business NEED?

Well, always talk to a professional that you trust to start. Work through where your liabilities are and what you can do to cover the gap.

The following is a breakdown of different types of business insurance and what they do.

PROPERTY:

Property insurance breaks down into two categories: BUILDING and CONTENTS. Ensuring to full replacement value is imperative.

LIABILITY:

Commercial liability insurance covers you and your business against the following:
Personal injury while on the premises
Medical payments
Tenant’s legal liability (For rental/lease).
Liability coverage protect your business from lawsuits caused by injuries caused within your business and issues unknowingly caused by you or your employees.

BUSINESS INTERUPTION:

Business interruption insurance kicks in usually after a disaster and during the rebuilding phase. It can cover:
Profits
Fixed costs
Temporary location costs
Some additional expenses

ERRORS AND OMISSION INSURANCE:

This is professional liability coverage required by some industries including service and advice providing individuals or companies (Think investments, insurance etc). It covers against the brunt of the costs associated with a claim won by a client regarding negligence, or as the policy is worded, Errors & Omissions. This does not cover against criminal prosecution but rather only civil suits.

CRIME and CYBER COVERAGE

These policies are to protect your money. They cover against fraud, employee theft, cyber crimes/fraud, robberies and more.

ABUSE COVERAGE

This type of policy is helpful in certain industries where your company is exposed to a vulnerable sector. It covers the agency and it’s employees.

WCB

As an employer, you are required to ensure that your employees are taken care of while at work.
The policy covers their wages if injury occurs while at work or as a result of. Documents are needed to be filled out immediately to ensure proper coverage.
There are a few exceptions where it’s not necessary but make sure to check with WCB before bringing employees onboard.

GROUP COVERAGE

Group coverage is your basic coverage for prescriptions, other medical needs, dental, sometimes optical and other hospital benefits.
It can cover (usually) full time employees, management and owners alike.
There are many different tiers and levels of packages available depending on the size of your business.
Group benefits are a great way to attract the right people to employ and help with staff retention.
This is a glossary of different types of insurance that businesses may come across or need at some point. Find a broker or other professional that can teach you exactly where your exposures are, what type of policies are available to cover that need, and where to get started.

Thank you to Kathy Anders from Foster Park Brokers Inc. in Edmonton, AB for information related to this article. If you have any questions on insurance products, she can be reached at Kathy.Anders@fpb.ca

 

 

Business Foundations: How to make your business official

So you have your business name and your plan and now you’re ready to run.  Only a couple of things left on your “list of things to do” and you’re on your way so let’s get this done so you can share your vision with the world!

One of the next first steps is to get your business registered on the federal and local levels.  This is not automatically completed when you pay the registrations office to register your name, that is only part of the process. At the Federal and municipal level, there are different processes that must be completed whether you are incorporating your business or whether you have a Sole Proprietorship/Partnership.

To Register a Sole Proprietorship/Partnership:

Your business is most likely going to need a federal business number. If you do not live in BC, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario or Saskatchewan, you will not receive this automatically with your provincial registration papers.  In this case you will need to register for one.

A Federal Business Number is a 9-digit number that is used across municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.

This number is used to open:

  • GST/HST Accounts
  • Payroll deduction accounts
  • Corporate income tax accounts
  • Import/Export accounts
*There are additional requirements for Quebec.

Keep in mind that when you’re running a sole proprietorship, you may not need all of the above accounts.  Taxes are paid on your income personally when you run a sole proprietorship and GST accounts are not always mandatory but do become so when you hit certain revenue thresholds. Make sure you’re in compliance by visiting the CRA websites or check with a business professional.

For municipal regulators, there are things that must be done as well including acquiring your local business license. Check with your local municipality for details on this including rates.

To Register a Corporation:

To register a corporation, the above must be completed, but there is still a little more to do. Once your NUANS name search is completed, and you have your name registered, you must also:

Complete Articles of Incorporation

Your articles of incorporation detail how your business corporation is structured. It also lays out where you will conduct business, any share structures, directors information, restrictions and any other provisions required. Once these articles are completed, you can submit them online

Your business is almost ready to go, so get things done right the first time, check with professionals or agencies and start your business with a STRONG FOUNDATION!

Below are links you may find helpful

Click for turnaround time and costs.

Link to forms

Find List Of Provisions

Articles of Incorporation