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Mike Widdis: The Story Behind the Name

Mike Widdis’ story began from humble beginnings. His parents divorced when he was 6 and his little brother was 3. When Mike was 8, his mother went back to school full-time to become a teacher. During this time, she needed social assistance along with OSAP to help support their family.

As you can imagine this would have been tough on his mother doing her very best to provide (all by herself) for her family. Mike’s and his brother’s childhood were spent differently than most kids. They ate tuna and Kraft Dinner 6 nights a week for dinner and their Christmas’ didn’t normally consist of presents under the tree.

However, thanks to Mike’s mother’s ability to manage a budget and plan, his family was able to overcome the challenges that life brought them. The struggles in his upbringing taught him important financial skills at a young age. This explains why he believes that financial management is key.

He has witnessed secondhand how poor financial management can contribute to poverty, depression, violence, and dependency on drugs. As a result, Mike became really good at financial management and began helping others to get them through hard times. This led to the founding of UpSide Accounting.

As opposed to focusing on helping single individuals, Mike Widdis developed a passion for helping small businesses. He believes that small businesses drastically improve communities and the families within them, creating a larger and more sustainable impact. These are the values that UpSide upholds.

1. Tell Me About Your Situation Growing up and How It Made You the Person You Are Today.

Mike Widdis – Growing up was kind of tough. We didn’t have a lot of money. There was myself, my brother and my mom, who was a single mom from the age of six. So I kind of had to grow up fast. I was just kind of thrown into doing the typical big brother stuff at an early age, taking care of my brother after school and walking him home.

There was no time to really be a kid. There were just other priorities involved, right, and so that kind of affected me to this day to be a little bit more responsible at an early age and to want a little bit more, to try a little bit harder. Yeah, there’ll be time for fun when I retire!

Being a new dad now, I mean my daughter’s not even a year old yet. I now know kind of what my mother was going through, and to have two young boys who used to fight a lot could be stressful. I get it and she did well under the circumstances. That kind of drives me to want more out of life, to be a better person. Especially now, because like I said, being a dad you view the world in a whole new way. Suddenly things are just that little shade different.

2. What Inspired You to Do Better Despite the Odds Being Against You?

Mike Widdis – I’ve definitely bettered our surroundings from where I grew up, it was kind of a rough neighborhood. My mother was on welfare and went back to school trying to better educate herself to become a teacher. Then accounting kind of got her again after that and she’s still in accounting today.

But, again, growing up helping her to raise my brother, that’s really tough. Having such a limited budget, my mother did extremely well and I solely put that on her financial skills. Her ability to budget and manage her wants. I mean, I remember eating tuna and Kraft dinner six nights a week and that seventh night sometimes my brother and I got to go to McDonald’s across the street and get a happy meal. My mother would sit there and watch us eat it and she’d come back home and cook herself pasta, because there just wasn’t enough money for everyone.

The struggles that she got us through really made me who I am. It made me strive to get out there and teach more people about the little things you can do to change your lives. A little bit of planning and a little bit of self-control goes a long, long way.

I solely believe that the Canadian education system should teach people this stuff in school because they certainly can’t learn it from home if they’re in that type of situation. I mean, there’s no fault there. But, it’s up to the education system to kind of step in and give some basic groundwork.

A lot of people could go a lot further. Maybe you would see a reduction in crime, violence, drug dependencies and mental dependencies. Better mental health. It’s a lot of hard work. But with some basic skills I think it’s doable for a lot more people than are achieving it today.

3. How Did You Get into Helping Others with Their Accounting?

Mike Widdis – I started doing my own personal tax return at about 14 years old. I had my first job, so I had a T4 and I decided to learn how to do a tax return. Actually, my mother helped me. I found it quite easy, to be honest. So during high school when some of my other friends got part-times jobs, I started helping them do personal tax returns. Just from trial and error and my own situation, I was trying to figure out personal finances and was learning, just sharing it with friends.

That built in to sort of a hobby where I would do tax returns for some people for a little bit of money. As I was frustrated in the construction industry, which is what I entered right out of the high school, I just decided to turn to what came easy to me, what I actually liked doing. So I started offering my accounting services and went back to school to learn accounting.

4. What Inspired You to Create Upside Accounting Specifically?

Mike Widdis – I started helping my mother in her own business; she’s been in accounting for a lot of years. She started her own business when I was a teenager. She’s kind of that old school bookkeeper where she just wants to go to clients and make a decent amount of money to pay her bills and that’s fine.

Whereas I was younger and more ambitious and saw a need, a giant need in financial education, because the public school system doesn’t put any emphasis on it at all. So I think that’s a real lacking skill in the world today, especially in Canada. I was good at it so I wanted to make a difference. Strike out on my own. Help as many people as I can, grow a team and really do something worthwhile for the Canadian economy.

5. How Did You Raise Enough Capital to Start Your Own Business? 

Mike Widdis – The very base of it was a couple of small clients that I attracted when I was still working with my mother. One of them was a good friend of mine I’ve known since early high school. That was the start of the income. I also then applied to a program, which is now called Futurepreneur, and I got some funding there for young adults, I was 29.

I qualified for their program and had to write a business plan. Halton Region Small Business Centre helped me write this business plan. Then I had go in front of a panel and basically justify my business plan in front of some other business experts from the community, which was very valuable. That also got me into BDC so BDC matched those funds. So it was a great program to start. I highly suggest that anybody who thinks about starting a business to check it out.

That along with the business plan and the drive to get out there and network to meet some new small business owners was enough to launch me forward and get me off the ground. It also allowed me to buy the necessary tools that I needed to start generating some income.

6. What Do You Need to Become an Entrepreneur from Nothing?

Mike Widdis – You need grit and you need balls. You need to want it! If you don’t want it and if you don’t want it bad enough you’re not going to succeed. You have to really be honest with yourself, dig down, think about it. And some people are just not meant to be business owners. Some people are not meant to be entrepreneurs. Some people are meant to be really great at what they do in an employee setting, which I think is phenomenal. The majority of the world is and the majority of the world does fall into that category.

Sometimes I’m a little bit jealous of them, because it is kind of stressful running a business. But there are some rewards too. And some people are just meant to be entrepreneurs. I’m one of those people that is just meant to be doing this.

Honesty is the most important thing that you can have with yourself. Really think about the pros and cons. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Figure out if it’s really for you and sometimes the best way to do that is try it, fail and say, “Cool. I did it. I tried it. Not for me. I’m going back to what’s better for me and my lifestyle and my family.”

7. What Advice Do You Have for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Who Think They Don’t Have It in Them to Start Their Own Business?

Mike Widdis – They probably don’t. If you have any doubt right now, it’s tough. You have to want it really bad. You have to want to get up at 5 AM and want to do things after work. It requires sacrifice. Sacrifice your health, your friends, even going to parties. You have to sacrifice a lot.

I mean, either you throw yourself into it and really get out there and do it. Or if those things are maybe more important to you, and to some people they are (and that’s fine), maybe you would think twice before starting a business. But if you really, really want it bad enough you’ll do those things gladly.

8. If You Could Go Back and Change Anything, Would You?

Mike Widdis – It’s a tough question. I mean the experiences made me who I am and where I am today. Get there a little bit sooner, maybe. Stop doubting myself. However, some of the doubts might’ve held me back from some major catastrophe so it’s really tough to say. I’m just glad I got out there and did it and tried it.

9. What Is the Best Piece of Advice You Have Ever Received?

Mike Widdis – Hire slow, fire fast.

10. How Did You Overcome the Intimidating Statistic That 90% of Startups Fail?

Mike Widdis – I think that goes back down to your want. Just keep grinding, keep pushing forward. There needs to be this fine balance between drive and holding back and planning. It’s a real fine line and sometimes you end up on the other side of it. But as long as you’re quick enough to realize that maybe you’ve gone a little bit too far or maybe you haven’t gone far enough sometimes and pull yourself back to kind of neutral, you can continue going forward and keep learning.

11. What Were the Necessary Business Tools That You Could Not Have Founded Upside Accounting Without?

Mike Widdis – The first thing you should have is a plan. Figure out some kind of a marketing strategy and figure out some kind of a budget, at the very least. Get out there and just start talking to people. Plans change. It never ever, ever goes according to plan, but you have to get out there and start somewhere.

These days with a smart phone, I mean you can do almost anything. We’re recording this on a smart phone right now, how’s that? That’s working better than this laptop and fancy mic that we have! So, you don’t need a lot these days. Like I said, just start with a plan. Get a cell phone, if you don’t already have a cell phone and like I said, go out there and talk to people.

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M&E: Marijuana Business Deduction

You have probably been hearing a lot about the upcoming marijuana legalization in Canada. First, Senate recently passed the marijuana legalization bill C-45. Now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just announced that recreational use of marijuana will be legal in Canada as of October 17, 2018. With that being said, we thought we would start a conversation of our own, except with an accounting twist; should there be a marijuana business deduction?

Marijuana Business Deduction

Legalization of marijuana has been a huge debate for years. Now that it’s being legalized, a lot is about to change. One potential change from an accounting standpoint is whether there should be a marijuana business deduction. The CRA has already confirmed that medical cannabis purchased under prescription is an allowable medical expense to the medical tax credit. So if the CRA is allowing this, what else will they allow once it becomes legal? 

Let’s go back in history for a moment. Remember the prohibition from 1920 to 1933? Alcohol was banned once too. However, now it’s even allowed as a business deduction under certain circumstances. For instance, currently you can deduct up to 50% of the cost of drinks during a business meeting as a meals and entertainment expense. Will that be the same with business meetings over a joint as opposed to drinks? Let’s walk through it.

Stance 1: It Should be Included as M&E

First of all, this could be beneficial to creative professionals. Certain strains of marijuana promote creativity. In other words, marketers may want to have a meeting over a shared joint instead of over drinks to induce creative thinking and ideas that they wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Or graphic designers might want to use it to get their creative juices flowing as they design your innovative logo with fine details. However, even if you don’t mind your graphic designer working high, you might not want your accountant or lawyer doing the same.

Let’s move on to comparing alcohol with cannabis. Alcohol is a depressant and marijuana is a hallucinogen with depressant effects. This means that both intoxicating substances are similarly categorized with soon-to-be similar legal rights. So how different are they really besides differing societal standards?

Another consideration has to do with health. Alcohol is fine in moderation and is often thought to be beneficial to your health. Although, in excess alcohol can also be addicting, damaging to your liver, lead to cancer and even death. On the other hand, cannabis is actually used medically for several health conditions. Marijuana provides plenty of health benefits and research shows that it is much safer than alcohol (once you are over the age of 25). So if marijuana is similar to but safer than alcohol, should there be an allowable marijuana business deduction under the meals and entertainment expense?

Stance 2: It Should NOT be Included as M&E

Despite marijuana being “legalized”, it will still be illegal to smoke everywhere except on private property in Ontario. This law will vary by province. As a result, you won’t be able to go to your regular restaurant and enjoy some marijuana with your meal like you can with alcohol. The only way you can legally conduct your business meeting over say a joint is if it’s in your house or on a private property that allows marijuana use. As a small business owner, would you want to hold a meeting in your own house? Probably not as it is less professional.

Another issue is that marijuana is still taboo. Marijuana is not widely accepted like alcohol has become. There is a stigma attached to it. BUT you could still say the same for alcohol. This stigma could make it a questionable and risky decision to request a business meeting over a shared joint. Just like some people don’t drink and might feel strongly against it, the same is true for marijuana. You would have to tread cautiously here.

One last issue has to do with the difficulty in distinguishing the amount used for business during meetings. Unless you buy a single joint to share for that specific meeting, it’s not as simple as ordering a drink or two. If you buy it by the gram, you would have to somehow verify that the amount you claimed was solely for business use. This would be challenging and cause potential dispute by the CRA.

Final Thoughts

In the end, it’s all perception and societal constructs. Now that you read our thoughts on this debate, let’s start a discussion. What are your thoughts? Should there be a marijuana business deduction for meals and entertainment purposes? Whether you think yes or no, we want to listen to what you have to say!

Are you a creative professional reading this? If so, creative professionals like yourself are our specialty! Please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to set up a free meeting to find out how we can help you and your business.

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Work from Home Like a Boss

It has become more common to work from home. Working from home has many benefits – but it also has some downfalls. Although it offers flexibility and convenience, it can also get lonely and be less motivating. After reading our tips, you will master how to work from home like a boss!

Create a Motivating Workplace

The most important step is to create a motivating workplace at home. First, choose an area of your house designated as your home office. Then place everything you need to conduct your daily tasks in that area. Once you have collected everything you need in your designated workplace area, make sure to keep it well organized. If your space is aesthetically pleasing, you will feel more organized, in control, and relaxed.  Any clutter will distract you and make you feel less productive. Another good idea is to decorate your workplace with motivational art or plants to make the space more lively.

Simulate a Beginning and End of Workday

It can be difficult getting yourself in and out of a work mindset. Since you’re not physically entering or leaving a business office, it can be a challenge to dive into work at the beginning of the day and to leave your work behind after the day is done. You can avoid this by simulating a beginning and end of your workday. For example, before your shift starts and after it ends you can go for a short walk around your block. This will help trick your mind in believing you have traveled to work and back home. A little exercise is also good for clearing your mind and increasing concentration (who knew?!).

Change it Up

Sometimes it can get boring or lonely working from home. That’s why working at a local cafe for the day, or even for just a few hours, can make all the difference. Being at a fresh new place and surrounded by people may be all you need to feel more lively and productive.

Use a Chatting App Between Co-Workers

Since our team at UpSide works remotely the majority of the time, we have discovered effective ways to stay connected. The collaboration hub that we use to chat is Slack. Slack allows you to instantly send messages to your co-workers and get back to each other faster than emailing. You can also create group conversations between your entire team or select people. It’s great for keeping in contact with your team if you aren’t always in the office to speak face-to-face.

If you work from home, you will understand these daily challenges. We hope that by reading this you learned some tips on how to work from home like a boss by staying productive and motivated! If you want to learn more about what we do, please contact us and we would be happy to chat.

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5 Ways Bookkeeping Eliminates Stress

Bookkeeping eliminates stress in many aspects of your life. At UpSide, we believe entrepreneurs should enjoy work time and family time. Why limit yourself? Experience business growth, be present, and make your life an adventure.

1. More Time Spent with Your Family

Do you find that you are missing family events, time with friends, or constantly being late for dinner? By having a professional take care of your bookkeeping, you will be surprised by how much time they save you. That way you can spend more quality time with your family and loved ones.

2. Have Piece of Mind that Your Finances are Handled

If accounting is not exactly your forte, then handling your business’s finances can be a huge burden. Worrying about your taxes for the CRA and getting audited can also be stressful. If this sounds familiar, then having a professional handle your taxes and bookkeeping eliminates stress (yay!). More importantly, you can trust that your taxes are being filed correctly and that your tax returns are being maximized (double yay!).

3. Spend Work Time More Efficiently

Moreover, instead of dedicating critical work time on your books, you can spend your time more efficiently on what matters most. This can include sales, operations, networking, marketing, and more. Get back to what made you so passionate about starting your business and continue spending your efforts on growing it.

4. Be More Present Outside of Work

Furthermore, having a professional bookkeeper means that you have someone to talk to about your finances. At UpSide, we are here to listen and give you advice. This means that you can keep your business and personal life separate – as it should be! We give you someone to talk to so that you can spend meaningful time with your loved ones (and talk about something other than your business for once!).

5. Get Advice when You Need It

Lastly, our team at UpSide will listen to your worries and give you business and financial advice. We are here to help your business’s growth and success. In addition, your bookkeeper will be familiar with your financial situation. This means that they can give you professional advice on ways you can improve your business, both in the short-term and long-term.

We know that being a small business owner can be stressful. However, we strongly believe that bookkeeping eliminates stress. At UpSide, we take care of your books so that you can spend your time on what matters most to you and for your business. If you are a small business owner looking to relieve stress, contact us and we can see if we are a good fit.

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Benefits of Cloud Accounting

There are several benefits of cloud accounting. If you do not know what cloud accounting is, it is accounting using software that is hosted on the cloud, or rather, online. Cloud accounting thus differs from the traditional accounting software hosted locally on a computer’s hard drive. Most importantly, cloud accounting holds many benefits over traditional accounting.  Read further to discover the many benefits of cloud accounting.

No More Hoarding Receipts

Is one of your pet peeves having to store physical records of all your business receipts? If so, I have good news for you! There is no longer a need to store physical records of your business receipts. For cloud accounting, you use receipt apps like Hubdoc and Receipt Bank and simply take photos of your business receipts. They are then stored digitally on your chosen receipt app that is accessible by you and your accountant.

Available Anytime, Anywhere

Since your data is stored in the cloud, it is available anytime, anywhere. This means that while you are traveling, whether it be for work or pleasure, you can still access and manage your business’s financials. Moreover, you can submit your business receipts immediately instead of hording them for the entire trip.

Real-Time Overview of Financials

Another one of the many benefits of cloud accounting is that your data is able to be updated in real-time. This allows you to have a clear overview of your current financial position. By being able to access your financial data and information quickly, you will be able to make more informed business decisions with less delay.

Greater Efficiency, More Time Spent Where it Should

Cloud accounting software has automatic updates so you can spend more time doing what you love. Furthermore, the time saved from eliminating the need for sorting receipts and driving them over to your accountants office means more time spent where it should. Instead, the minute you get your receipt you can quickly take a picture of it on your receipt app and then forget about it. Let the receipt app do the sorting and labeling for you. On top of that, you no longer have to worry about downloading and emailing or printing all of your business bank statements on a monthly basis. Cloud accounting software such as Quickbooks Online or Xero and receipt apps connect to your bank accounts and update your transactions and statements in real-time.

Save Money

Another one of the benefits of cloud accounting is that you are able to significantly reduce upfront business costs. Cloud-based software does not incur costs such as upgrades, maintenance, system administration costs, and server failures like those associated with traditional software.

Environmentally Friendly

Cloud accounting facilitates a paperless environment by eliminating the need to physically store paper documents. This is beneficial not only to the environment, but also from a cost and office space perspective.

Security

As a small business owner, there is much concern about the security of the cloud. Contrary to popular belief, the cloud is actually a more secure way of storing information. There are several reasons for this. First of all, cloud accounting software has automatic backups. This ensures that your data is never lost and ensures that your information is always protected and accessible. Secondly, if your device is stolen, no one can access your data without your login information. This is because your data lives online instead of on your hard drive. Finally, in the event of a fire or natural disaster, your data is not affected because all of your information is securely stored off-site. As long as you have access to the internet through a computer or mobile device, you are good to go.

The cloud is the future and it is important for your business to keep up and work smarter and faster. Cloud software can save your business valuable time and money. If you want to learn more about growing your business and maintaining a competitive edge, please contact our team. We would be pleased to help you through this transition smoothly.

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Beware of CRA Fraud Scams

Unfortunately, it is that time of year again where CRA fraud scams are prevalent in many forms. It may seem hard to detect whether the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is actually contacting you or if it is a fraud. However, there are some red flags to look out for that will alert you that it is a scam, as well as ways to protect yourself.

What is a CRA Fraud Scam?

Taxpayers should be skeptical when they are contacted by what is thought to be the CRA requesting personal information such as credit card number, social insurance number, passport number, or bank account number through telephone, email, text message, or email. These CRA fraud scams may insist that this personal information is necessary due to an error on their tax return or neglecting to file it. They may also insist that taxpayers visit a fake CRA website to verify their identity by entering this personal information. The fraudulent communication may even threaten individuals with calling the police, blacklisting, or jail time to scare them into paying fictitious debt to the CRA. Taxpayers should recognize these fraudulent communications as scams and not respond or click on any links provided.

What the CRA Will Do

If you signed up for online mail, the CRA will do the following:

  • Send a registration confirmation email for the online mail service.
  • Notify you by email when new online mail is available in the CRA’s online services portal.

What the CRA Will Not Do

It is important to note that the CRA will not do the following:

  • Send an email with a link asking you to reveal personal or financial information.
  • Ask for personal information by text message or email.
  • Request payments by prepaid credit cards.
  • Give taxpayer information to another individual, unless formal authorization was provided by the taxpayer.
  • Leave personal information on an answering machine.

How to Protect Yourself

It is important to remember how to protect yourself from these CRA fraud scams. The following includes some tips on how to protect yourself and your sensitive personal information:

  • Never provide personal information through email or the Internet.
  • Requests to pay taxes or fees to the CRA on sweepstakes or lottery winnings are scams. You do not have to pay taxes or fees on those winnings.
  • Keep your user IDs, passwords, and social insurance number secret.
  • Caller ID can be altered by criminals. Never use only the Caller ID to confirm the identity of the caller.
  • Store unwanted documents in a secure place or shred them.
  • Be cautious before clicking on links in any email you receive.
  • Pay close attention to your bills and inquire about any suspicious transactions.
  • Choose your tax accountant carefully – make sure you choose someone you trust! Always review your return, agree with the content before filing, and follow up to be sure you receive your notice of assessment.

For a more exhaustive, detailed list, please visit Canada Revenue Agency’s website. When in doubt, if you are contacted and told you owe money to the CRA, you can always call the CRA or check My Account to be sure. If you have any further questions about these CRA fraud scams or want to know the importance of having a tax accountant, please do not hesitate to contact our team.

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How to Successfully Target Millennials

Why target millennials you might ask? Well, the fact that there are 9.6 million millennials that account for 27% of the total population in Canada is reason enough (Doug Norris, Millennials: The Generation Du Jour). That means that millennials account for more than a quarter of Canada’s total population. Not only that, millennials are highly influential and trendsetters across all industries. Convinced yet? Keep reading for some tips on how to successfully target millennials.

Brand Authenticity and Ethics

Millennials place high value on brand authenticity and ethics. Your brand image and transparency plays a big part in their loyalty. Millennials generally are attracted to brands that contribute in a positive way to the environment and to society. Thus, you should find a small way to make a positive impact to society and promote awareness of this contribution. It can be as simple as using less plastic in your packaging or donating a small percentage of your sales to a good cause. Moreover, millennials seek brands that are transparent with their motives. In other words, if you advertise false or exaggerated product features or omit information and they discover this misrepresentation, you will lose their trust and loyalty. As such, it’s important for your brand to be authentic and genuine at its core.

In-Store Experience

If millennials aren’t online shopping in the comfort of their home, they want their in-store experience to be worth their while. In-store experience doesn’t necessarily have to be events or activities. It can take the form of friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful staff. It could also simply be providing free testers and demonstrations. The experience that millennials get from making a purchase impacts their purchase decisions and post-purchase loyalty and gratification. Whatever your brand image is, your customer should feel as though they embody your brand after making a purchase. For example, if your brand represents innovation and sophistication, your customer should feel innovative and sophisticated after making a purchase.

Convenience

As mentioned previously, millennials like the convenience of online shopping. It is becoming critical for businesses to have an efficient and user-friendly online website. Having a website allows customers to easily find your business and discover what products or services you offer. Convenience is a really important factor in the millennial customer’s buying decisions.  They will be more likely to buy a product online that offers free ship-to-your-door convenience, than purchasing the same product only available in-store or online with a shipping charge. Millennials favour products that offer maximum convenience at the lowest price. They want everything available to them at their fingertips, when possible.

Content Sharing Capability

As I’m sure you know, millennials love social media. They like to capture their experiences and share them with others. This is actually an advantage for your business! If you can provide an incentive for them to share their experience with your business or of your product, others will become aware and be more likely to purchase as well.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding about how to successfully target millennials. Truthfully, it’s really all about providing additional value beyond what they are purchasing. Interested in gaining more business advice? Contact us and we would be more than happy to advise.

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Bitcoin’s Rise: Should I Invest in Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the flagship of cryptocurrencies. With Bitcoin reaching its all-time high combined with attractive future value predictions, it’s no surprise people want to invest. But the real questions is: when and how much? Although we can’t provide an exact answer, we can give you the information you need to.

Bitcoin’s Rise and All-Time High

“The bitcoin price set another all-time high yesterday, rising as far as $8,380 on bitcoin exchange Bitfinex after recovering from the post-Tether hack market volatility. The bitcoin price has since receded to $8,292, but this still represents a 24-hour gain of almost two percent. This provides bitcoin with a market cap of $138.4 billion, making it just larger than French “Supermajor” Oil and Gas Company Total S.A.”  Josiah Wilmoth, Bitcoin Price Sets New All-Time High as Crypto Market Cap Nears $250 Billion.

Bitcoin has dramatically risen from $966 on January 1, 2017 to a high of over $8,200 on November 22, 2017.  Everyday there is news fueling Bitcoin’s rise. This is caused by the increasing amount of prominent investors, billionaires, and fund managers who comment on Bitcoin. These knowledgeable individuals’ opinions generate public trust and interest.

All-Time High… For Now

“Billionaire and ex-fund manager Mike Novogratz has restated his belief that bitcoin will end the year at $10,000, adding that ethereum could close at $500.” Sujha Sundararajan, Mike Novogratz Doubles Down on $10,000 Bitcoin.

“Wall Street strategist Tom Lee raises bitcoin forecast, now predicts 40% increase.” Tae Kim, Wall Street Strategist Tom Lee raises bitcoin forecast, now predicts 40% rise.

As these predictions and comments become prominent headlines, more people are taking note and investing in cryptocurrencies. This only further fuels Bitcoin’s rise. While all of this is intriguing and compelling, investors should exercise with extreme caution.

Proceed with Caution

“As the price of the digital currency continues to smash through record highs, hitting $US8200 for the first time, a growing number of commentators are drawing comparisons to the dotcom bubble and even the Dutch tulip mania of the 17th century.” Frank Chung, ‘Every generation gets sucked in’: Bitcoin bubble worse than dotcom boom, price ‘should be $US100’.

“Finance chiefs say bitcoin is ‘real’ but many think it’s in a bubble right now.” Arjun Kharpal, Finance chiefs say bitcoin is ‘real’ but many think it’s in a bubble right now.

If you are considering investing in bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency: do your homework, proceed with caution, and prepare for volatility. Due to the risk of these types of investments, only invest what you can afford to lose.

Did you know? Here at UpSide Accounting, we accept Bitcoin! Contact us and we would be happy to talk more about Bitcoin or any other financial questions you may have.

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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, contact us and we would love to chat!

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Debt-Crushing Habits for Small Business

Debt is such a normal state of finances that the idea of it isn’t as scary as it was a generation ago because everyone’s dealing with the same things; lease for office and manufacturing space, vehicle payments, and the business loan that helped get you off the ground.

The truth is that debt is scary, and a serious player in the success or failure of your business. Without a plan to pay your debt not just down but off you can’t get ahead. Work these debt-crushing habits into your business plan now and make a business plan to thrive rather than merely to survive.

Set a budget, stick to it, and practice tidy bookkeeping.

Budgets require so much care they’re practically living beings. You have to make adjustments based on your expenses, your income, rising prices for equipment and wages, and interest on your loans. It’s smart to set up a budget at the start of every fiscal year, and it’s wise to review it at least every quarter. Know where your money goes by tracking every single expense. Look hard at where you’re failing to stick to your budget and find out why. Don’t fix the failure by assigning a higher expenditure to the failing part of the budget unless you can cut back somewhere else or dramatically increase your income.

Pay down debt.

You’ve already got debt, that’s business. Pay it off! Pay it off at a higher rate than the minimum or else you’ll never get anywhere. You have additional bills to pay, you want to grow your business, and you want to earn a living. Hold off on incurring more debt before paying off what you already owe. You’ve got the saying, “You have to spend money to make money,” ringing in your ears, but that’s a general idea, not words to live by. Take calculated risks rather than hoping for the best. Look at your tidy books and forecast your projected income to see whether it’s worthwhile to invest in another machine or hire another employee this year or if next year is the smarter option.

Make more money.

If your income isn’t enough to cover your debt and then some, find ways to increase your business or upscale your services. Create more appealing packages, consider partnerships, find out what the needs of your clients are and fill them. Increase your rates. If you can’t make more money, scale back your expenses. Find smaller office space, use only 1 vehicle, and sell seldom-used equipment that you can rent when needed.

Save Money!

In addition to your accrued debt, you’re going to owe taxes and your accountant. You may want to give your employees a year-end bonus. You should be prepared for an emergency. Save at least 10% of your income to cover expected and unexpected expenses. How do you do that? Pay your savings account first. It’s a popular suggestion of financial consultants everywhere because it works. Make saving money a priority in your bookkeeping rather than an “if” and see if you don’t sleep better at night.

Feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about your debt? Want to know what reasonable debt is and how to tell your accounts are out of control? Book a consultation with Upside Accounting for sound advice from one small business to another. Contact us from anywhere in Canada to set up an in-person, phone, or virtual appointment.

Debt Free Party!