Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | February 28, 2015

From family business to employee health, here are some of the small business blog posts that caught our attention this week:

Happy reading!

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Businesses inspired by Back to the Future Part II technology

By Samantha Garner | February 21, 2015

tech-small-business It’s been 30 years since Back to the Future Part II, and we are now living in that movie’s future. And nothing today is like that future, right? Not quite!

Microsoft for Work recently published a great rundown of some of the technology seen in that movie, and how we’re seeing some of that tech today. Here’s a taste:

Wearable devices. The bulky, high-tech glasses used by both young McFlys of the future look a bit awkward and silly, but the idea is spot on. Wearables are generally regarded as the next big tech trend, with more consumers wanting access to their data. Devices allow you to monitor health and activity levels, as a means to track and achieve fitness goals, or keep you in touch with email previews and calendar reminders (or a device that happens to do both).

While devices that fit on the wrist are the most common form of wearable tech, shoes, necklaces, rings, glasses, and clothing are all areas getting a high-tech makeover.

The tech and products linked to in the article are Microsoft’s own, but there are great examples out there of small businesses that are making some of these ideas come to life – for example, Calgary-based Vivametrica. They analyze data from wearable devices to help measure corporate health and wellness programs. Or American company Nest, who makes “smart home” self-learnable, programmable thermostats and smoke detectors.

The future’s not so bad!

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Entrepreneurial Inspiration: Velcro and the power of creativity

By Samantha Garner | February 14, 2015

Creativity is not just the domain of artists and musicians – it’s inherent in all entrepreneurs, too. Creativity is the ability to view the world in new ways, find hidden patterns, make connections between things that seem unrelated, and to find solutions. The ability to connect the dots in this way is the basis of some of the world’s most creative ideas and small businesses.

So, how can entrepreneurs be creative? Just think of Velcro.

In 1941, Swiss engineer George de Mestral took his dog on a hunting trip in the Alps. Back at home, Mestral, good engineer that he was, got out his microscope and examined the burrs that kept sticking to his clothes and his dog’s fur. He saw that they had hundreds of “hooks” that caught on anything with a loop, like his dog’s fur. And it knocked his socks off. He used this inspiration to invent Velcro – one of the world’s most popular products.

Mestral merged previously separate things to create a new combination that changed the clothing landscape. He used his creativity to see everyday things in new and useful ways.

Your creative ideas don’t have to be earth-shattering to be considered truly creative – what seemingly unrelated things can you combine to inspire a great new small business idea or way of improving your existing business?

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Accounting records that small business owners must keep

By Samantha Garner | February 7, 2015

It may not be fun, but as a small business owner you’re required to keep accurate financial records of all activities for your company for six years.

In addition to your financial statements, you’ll need to to keep accurate records for all the individual accounts that make up those statements. Here are some of the major ones:

  • Accounts receivable – Who owes you, how much do they owe, and for how long have they owed you?
  • Accounts payable – Who do you owe, how much and for how long?
  • Inventory – How much did you buy, when did you buy, and how much did you pay? how you account for your inventory will affect your cost of goods sold.
  • Payroll – Total salaries paid to employees, payroll taxes and deductions.
  • GST/HST and Provincial Sales Tax – All businesses with an income greater than $30,000 per year are required to collect and submit on behalf of the federal government a Goods and Services Tax (GST) and, depending where your business operates, Provincial Sales Tax (PST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
  • Cash – Cash inflows and outflows should be recorded to maintain proper control of cash.
  • Fixed assets – Record what you bought, how much you paid, and when you bought, along with depreciation amounts.
  • Other records – Insurance, leases, investments.

To support any tax claims for your small business, you’ll need to keep good records. Income records must include the date, amount and source of income as well as sales invoices, contracts and fee statements. Expense records must also show the date, name and address of suppliers/ sellers, name and address of buyers and a full description of the goods or services. You should also keep records of daily income and expenses.

Want more advice? Check out our blog post Tip of the Month: Small Business Record Keeping.

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Small business advice from real entrepreneurs

By Samantha Garner | January 31, 2015

When entrepreneurs decide to strike out on their own and start a small business, they often get advice from everyone they encounter. Some of it can be useful, but wouldn’t it be great to get some small business advice from other entrepreneurs who’ve been where you’re going?

Check out the article in our Entrepreneur Library: Jumping Off the Deep End: What Would-be Entrepreneurs Must Know Before Starting a Business. Here’s a snippet of some of the advice contained within:

Be sure your values are reflected in the work you do. “It’s important that your business goals match your morals and ethics,” Lacroix said. Is sustainability important to you? Community service? When your business values echo personal values it’s easy to build them into your over all business plan.”Be good,” he adds. When you show people are are honest and trustworthy, they are more likely to come back to you and to recommend your company to others.

Happy reading!

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