Stacey Leonard No Comments

How to Become a Student Entrepreneur

We all know the struggles of being a student. Whether it’s relying on loans to get by, or living by the few dollars left in your pocket, money is definitely an issue. Even once you graduate, you might have years before all those loans are paid off. So how is it possible for any student to become an entrepreneur with all this debt? Keep reading, and we will demonstrate how you can become a student entrepreneur, despite your financial situation!

Decrease Student Debt

Loan debt is a huge problem for new graduates. Add on low starting wages and increasing housing costs, and it’s no wonder students have such little cash flow. Becoming a student entrepreneur is probably the last thing on their mind. However, the good news is that there are student loan forgiveness programs. Keep in mind though, that most of these programs are only for publicly funded student loans.

The Canada Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP) is for graduates who are having trouble making  their minimum student loan payments. This program allows you to reduce the amount you have to pay each month or eliminating the payment altogether. Every province has their own RAP, as well. Furthermore, if you’re a current student and have Ontario student loans, there are 24 grants and bursaries available to you through OSAP.

Canada also has student loan forgiveness for doctors and nurses if you’re working in a remote or rural area. Doctors can qualify for up to $8,000 per year in Canada student loan forgiveness for five years. Moreover, nurses can qualify for up to $4,000 per year in Canada student loan forgiveness for five years.

Increase Cash Flow

Now that you’re informed about how to decrease your student debt, it’s time to talk about the many opportunities available for financing your startup. Since accessing capital can feel impossible for students, governments and organizations offer secured loans and grants to qualifying young entrepreneurs.

Ontario Programs

There are several financial aids for becoming a student entrepreneur in Ontario. The Young Entrepreneurs Program Summer Company is just one example. The Summer Company program is for current students, between the ages of 15 and 24, who will be returning to school in the fall.  This program provides start-up money up to $3,000 to help you start and run a new summer business. Further, the program will connect you with local business leaders for advice and mentorship. Mike Widdis, Founder & Partner at Upside Accounting, was one of those mentors for this past Summer 2017.

There is another Starter Company Program for young entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 29, who are not attending school full-time. If eligible, this program provides funding of up to $5,000 and connects you with a business advisor, mentoring from a local entrepreneur, and training for your business. In order to be eligible, 25% of the grant must be contributed in cash or similarly.  

The Youth Accerlator Fund provides funding through MaRS up to a maximum of $250,000! This program is targeting youth who have participated in university or college-based accelerator programs or who are currently enrolled in a Regional Innovation Centre Program. However, this isn’t mandatory if the other qualifications are met.

The Northern Ontario Young Entrepreneur Program provides funding that covers up to 85 per cent of eligible costs, to a maximum of $25,000 per project. In addition, it generally doesn’t have to be repaid. Residents of Northern Ontario, between the ages of 18 and 29 are eligible. In addition, the Youth Entrepreneurship Partnership Program provides money for not-for-profit organizations. 

National Programs

There are also multiple financial aids for student entrepreneurs across Canada. The Futurpreneur Canada Start-Up Program  is one example. This program is for young entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 39, and are a Canadian resident with a good business idea. The program can provide $15,000 to help you start and run your business. There is also a similar one for newcomers in Canada.

Another method of financing Nation-wide is the BDC’s Young Entrepreneur Financing Program. There are two financing options under this program. You can apply for start-up financing if you’re in the startup phase of your business or within the first 12 months of sales. Alternatively, if your business has been operating for at least 24 monhs, you can apply for a small business loan. Under this alternative, you can receive up to $50,000 to support your business.

The Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund provides loans up to $25,000 to start or grow a business that is working towards achieving social or environmental goals. In order to be eligible, you must be between the ages of 18 and 29, and can be running either a for-profit or not-for-profit social enterprise.

Lastly, the Leadership Grant provides financial assistance for Canadian residents to support the starting or growing of a small business. An important note, Leadership Grants are not loans and thus, don’t need to be repaid.

Note, however, that these lists are not exhaustive. There are even more opportunities in Ontario and Canada-wide for student entrepreneurs. Additionally, be sure to check the the full eligibility requirements for all of the programs before applying. Thus, despite your current financial situation, it is possible to become a student entrepreneur. For more advice about becoming a student entrepreneur, give us a call at (226) 214-3233 and we would love to chat!

Stacey Leonard No Comments

What is Bitcoin and the Blockchain?

Blockchain is the future of finance, and the future is right around the corner! With technology constantly advancing, it’s critical for your small business to keep up to date. Otherwise, you risk falling behind and getting lost in the past. To stay informed and learn more about Bitcoin and the blockchain, including its benefits, keep on reading!

What is Bitcoin and the Blockchain?

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” – Don & Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution

So what is Bitcoin and the Blockchain that everyone’s talking about? A blockchain is a public ledger of all Bitcoin transactions that have ever been carried out. The completed blocks are constantly added to the growing blockchain in a chronological order. More specifically, the blockchain contains the full history of the transactions, where you can think of the blocks as being individual bank statements. Thus, the blockchain creates a permanent and unalterable database of all Bitcoin transactions.  Also, since the blockchain is decentralized, you can carry out Bitcoin transactions directly, without any third-party intermediary. In sum, the blockchain’s mission is to create more a open, fair, and accessible financial future.

Benefits of Using Bitcoin

“As revolutionary as it sounds, Blockchain truly is a mechanism to bring everyone to the highest degree of accountability. No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved. Above anything else, the most critical area where Blockchain helps is to guarantee the validity of a transaction by recording it not only on a main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism.” – Ian Khan, TEDx Speaker

No Intermediaries

Wait, so we don’t have to wait for days for a transaction to clear the banks? That’s right! Bitcoin allows two users to make an exchange without the intermediation of a third party. As a result, Bitcoin transactions only take minutes to complete and are processed constantly. Hence, people around the world can now validate and transact immediately using Bitcoin. Moreover, by eliminating third party intermediaries, costly transaction fees will be minimized.

Decentralization

The blockchain consists of decentralized networks that are spread over millions of computers. Therefore, this eliminates the risk of a central point of failure or weakness. In effect, the blockchain is more resistant to malicious attacks since no centralized information exists for a hacker to exploit. The data is accessible to users all around the globe and is secured by encryption technology. Encryption technology is more secure because it uses randomly generated strings of numbers that can only be decrypted using a private key. This is much more effective in comparison to the common “Username” and “Password” security method.

Transparency

Any changes made to public blockchains can be viewed by all parties, which creates transparency. The data is public because it is embedded within the blockchain network as a whole. Furthermore, all Bitcoin transactions are immutable. This means that they cannot be altered or deleted, which minimizes fraudulent activity. Consequently, the transactions are internally audited through blockchain technology. In other words, small business owner’s won’t have to worry about keeping track of these transactions (say goodbye to hording receipts!). On top of that, the stress and pressures of an audit are reduced, since all of the transaction information is permanently stored.

High Quality Data

Lastly, Bitcoin transactions provide high quality data that is complete, accurate, timely, and universally available. Since blockchain technology records every Bitcoin transaction ever executed, it can also provide historical insight. 

Hopefully, after reading this you have gained some insight about Bitcoin and its benefits. In brief, the blockchain and Bitcoin provide endless opportunities to those around the world, such as secure cost- and time-saving benefits. At UpSide Accounting, we are now accepting the digital currency, Bitcoin! If you’re a small business that currently operates using digital currency, phone us today at (226) 214-3233 and we would love to see if UpSide is a good fit for you. 

Stacey Leonard No Comments

Small Business 201: Find Me the Money!

Congratulations, you got your small business off the ground and running! Where are you going? You know the basics now, like strong bookkeeping, the importance of an accountant, and the pros and cons between sole proprietorship and incorporation. As you continue to streamline, your services get a little fancier with your business practices. We’ve got some great tips to help you find the money to do so.

Begin with Budgeting

Balancing your books is only part of the battle to business success. Realistic and emergency budgeting is at least as vital to making it past 5 years. Your budget should include the things you expect like overhead, wages (including yours!), benefits (also including yours!), taxes, and marketing. It should also include things you don’t expect, like downtime and emergencies. Ideally you should reinvest up to 50% of your capital back into the business. After taxes, of course. If your business is growing at the speed of light, it’s not crazy to go ahead and reinvest 100% after taxes.

You might like to set aside a few hundred dollars to support local community events or join the local chamber of commerce. This will help get your name out there and build your professional network. We also advise that you tuck something away to pay for professional development opportunities, either for yourself or employees. And a little something more for awards – if you’re fortunate enough to be nominated for a business award, there’s a very good chance you’ll need to pay for your own dinner at the event ceremony itself.

Then Look at Financing

Those first few years of a new business are astronomically stressful because oftentimes you’re starting from scratch. No office, no equipment, no employees, no street cred, no customers, not even any Facebook followers. Before you bleed your savings dry, look into the many forms of financing available to get you started.

Bank loans are a main staple. Plus you’ve got the Canada Small Business Financing Program, angel investors, and crowdfunding. Both bank loans and the Canada Small Business Financing Program are handled by financial institutions. Angel investors are trickier to attract. However, with some solid online sleuthing, networking, and a solid business model and product, you may find what you’re looking for.

If you’re business is in Waterloo Region, you’re in luck! Check out the Golden Triangle Angel Network. We also recommend watching Dragon’s Den for pointers if you’re brand new to business. Finally, crowdfunding could be exactly what you’re after. Platforms to launch crowdfunding include rewards, donations, equity, and debt-coverage.

Tax Incentives and Grants are Reliable

Although retroactive, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t scope out available tax credits and plan ahead to capitalize on them. In particular, the Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax credit (a.k.a SR&ED pronounced “shred”) is designed to help businesses recoup a percentage of materials and time lost during product development. It’s open to all kinds of manufacturing, as well as some digital industries. Talk to your accountant for advice on how to track your time and materials in preparation.

Applying for grants requires serious budgeting and forward-thinking but the rewards are worthwhile. Government grants change regularly. Although, they’re generally available for expansion, hiring, professional development, capital investment, and research and development. There are consultants for hire to help you apply for grants. The government agencies themselves also tend to provide excellent support so you can apply on your own. However, beware that grants cannot be retroactively applied and often take upwards of 6 months to win approval.

Upside Accounting supports your business beyond the books. Our consulting services cover a wide range of industries and business needs from budgeting, best practices, and customized growth strategy planning. Contact us to find out how we can help your business by calling (226) 214-3233.

MikeWiddis No Comments

Should I Outѕоurсe My Small Business Aссоunting аnd Tаx Filingѕ?

Tоdау lеt’ѕ tаlk a littlе mоrе аbоut bеѕt business рrасtiсеѕ – specifically, twо thingѕ that саn bе a rеаl сhоrе: small business accounting аnd taxes.  Likе it оr nоt, accounting and tаxеѕ аrе a vitаl part оf your small business. Thus, it’ѕ сritiсаl thаt thеу bе hаndlеd соrrесtlу.  Whеn уоur buѕinеѕѕ rеасhеѕ a сеrtаin ѕizе, you may decide tо hаndlе thеѕе funсtiоnѕ in hоuѕе, but fоr mоѕt ѕtаrtuрѕ, it makes mоrе ѕеnѕе to оutѕоurсе your small business accounting and tаx filingѕ.

Time is Money

Unless you hаvе аn accounting оr tax bасkgrоund, you’ll likеlу ѕреnd far tоо much timе in “do-it-yourself” mоdе.  That’s time уоu could have ѕреnt marketing your buѕinеѕѕ аnd ѕеrving your customers inѕtеаd.  Thus, in most саѕеѕ, it’ѕ probably cheaper for уоu tо hire аn еxреrt thаn it is tо ѕtrugglе thrоugh it уоurѕеlf.

For example, lеt’ѕ ѕау уоu’rе a grарhiс designer who charges $75 реr hour.  Yоu соuld еаѕilу wаѕtе fоur or five hours оf уоur own timе оn ассоunting tasks that wоuld tаkе a рrоfеѕѕiоnаl аn hоur tо dо.  Yоu соuld hаvе earned $300 in thаt time frame.  Inѕtеаd of dоing it уоurѕеlf, уоu соuld hаvе раid a pro half оf that or lеѕѕ to gеt thе ассоunting dоnе fоr you.

In sum, nо one likеѕ to ѕреnd money on whаt seems likе ѕuсh a waste of gооd profits.   Small business accounting аnd tax рrераrаtiоn аrе twо аrеаѕ thаt dоn’t еxасtlу ѕсrеаm “luxury!” However, thе ѕаvvу еntrерrеnеur knоwѕ this iѕ indееd аn аrеа where mоnеу is wеll ѕреnt.

Cоmрlеxitу Invitеѕ Cоѕtlу Miѕtаkеѕ

Tаx lаwѕ аrе complex.  You соuld gеt into trouble if you inсоrrесtlу prepare аnd filе уоur tаxеѕ оn уоur оwn, withоut thе help оf a рrоfеѕѕiоnаl. A tax professional not only knоwѕ the inѕ аnd оutѕ оf fеdеrаl tаx law but hе оr she is аlѕо uр to speed оn the uniԛuе lаwѕ that аррlу to thе province аnd lосаlitу where уоu dо business.

Hiring a рrоfеѕѕiоnаl will give уоu the реасе оf mind that your ассоunting and tаx filingѕ hаvе bееn dоnе соrrесtlу.  In fасt, the confident ассоunting firmѕ will guаrаntее thеir wоrk.  That iѕ, if you’re еvеr аuditеd, they’ll bе there to wаlk with you through еvеrу ѕtер оf thе аuditing рrосеѕѕ.  In most саѕеѕ, уоur ассоunting firms саn еvеn ѕреаk with thе аuditоr оn уоur bеhаlf.

Keep Mоrе Mоnеу In Your Pocket

Hiring a рrоfеѕѕiоnаl for ассоunting аnd tax filing can actually ѕаvе you money.  Whеn уоu hirе an accountant оr bookkeeper, thеу’rе wоrking for уоu.  They’re running a buѕinеѕѕ juѕt likе уоu are, аnd thеу wаnt tо mаkе уоu a happy сuѕtоmеr.  More specifically, some tаx and ассоunting рrоfеѕѕiоnаlѕ even go out of thеir wау to find you every dеduсtiоn possible, аnd offer tiрѕ аnd ѕресiаl wауѕ tо ѕаvе your buѕinеѕѕ money.  If your’s isn’t….get a new one.  Thеу tаkе continuing education сlаѕѕеѕ tо kеер abreast of the lаtеѕt сhаngеѕ in thе tаx соdе. Bе honest – would you tаkе thе timе to dо thiѕ each уеаr? The fees you pay fоr tax preparation саn end uр saving your buѕinеѕѕ thоuѕаndѕ оf dоllаrѕ every year.

Chооѕе With Care

Whеn уоu оutѕоurсе bookkeeping аnd tаxеѕ, уоu’ll be rеvеаling private finаnсiаl infоrmаtiоn аbоut уоur buѕinеѕѕ tо аnоthеr party.  Therefore it wоuld bе wiѕе tо dо some research firѕt.  Gеt rесоmmеndаtiоnѕ, аnd don’t gеt just оnе.  Aѕk аrоund.  Depending оn уоur linе of buѕinеѕѕ, thеrе mау bе a tax professional thаt specializes in уоur аrеа, ѕо don’t be ѕhу about аѕking.

Dо your rеѕеаrсh wеll, аnd mаkе ѕurе thаt уоu’rе wоrking with ѕоmеоnе of good сhаrасtеr. Intеrviеw a few ассоuntаntѕ оr bookkeepers until you find thе best fit for уоu аnd уоur buѕinеѕѕ.  Yоu wаnt someone you саn rеаllу truѕt.  Always аѕk fоr rеfеrеnсеѕ – аnd сhесk thеm.  Yоu want tо сhооѕе a firm (оr an individuаl) with роѕitivе customer satisfaction rаtingѕ.  Furthermore, if уоu gо with a lаrgе ассоunting firm, уоu’ll wаnt tо еnѕurе that уоu wоn’t bе treated аѕ “juѕt a numbеr.”  Actually, ѕit dоwn and mееt with thе реrѕоn whо will bе аѕѕignеd tо уоur buѕinеѕѕ ассоuntѕ.

A final word of саutiоn: ѕоmе CPAѕ and ассоunting firms mау not hаvе еxреrtiѕе in аll thе areas уоu nееd.  Sоmе ѕеrviсеѕ mау come with аn еxtrа сhаrgе.  Hence, be sure to aѕk ahead of time fоr a full, writtеn explanation of еxасtlу what services аrе included and thоѕе thаt аrе nоt inсludеd.  It wоuld bе wiѕе to hаvе еvеrуthing ѕреllеd out in a service contract so that there are no unexpected surprises whеn the bill arrives.

Interested to see if UpSide Accounting is the right fit for your small business accounting? Contact us today at (226) 214-3233 and we will happily see how we can help you!