Just Do It

Over the years that I have been offering ‘business services’ to individuals and small business, I have been approached numerous times by would be entrepreneurs who want to ‘be their own boss’. Many individuals face a point in life where they believe that the time has come for them to take the step and go into business for themselves. If you are contemplating such a move and are questioning whether or not you have the skills to be successful at operating your own business STOP and seriously consider the following traits that are common with successful business owners…

  1.  Passion for your work. You care deeply about whether you succeed as a business owner and that your customers are satisfied.
  2. A person who takes action. Some people talk, others are quiet—but real entrepreneurs DO!
  3. Strong work ethic: You work until you have completed your checklist of tasks for the day.
  4. Ability to think strategically: You set objectives and find ways to accomplish them.
  5. Flexibility: You can handle working in a changing environment.
  6. Self-awareness: You understand your strengths and weaknesses.
  7. Humility, Part 1: You are willing to ask for help-and accept good advice when its offered.
  8. Humility, Part 2: You find employees, advisors, suppliers or even technology to do the things you cannot do yourself.
  9. Leadership: You have a vision and you can inspire other people to follow you towards a goal.
  10. Creativity: You are innovative.
  11. Self-discipline: You can control your ego and your creativity and keep your eye on realistic objectives.
  12. Financial Discipline: You are familiar with basic concepts of business finance and bookkeeping, and understand the need to budget resources.
  13. Good communication skills: You can sell your ideas to customers, partners, employees and other shareholders.

If after reflecting on the above and you have what it takes, follow the advice given by a company that grew from selling shoes from the trunk of a car to one of the World’s largest sporting goods companies and ‘JUST DO IT’.

The principles of All Year Taxation Limited have nurtured many individuals through the process from ‘dream-to-reality’. If you need help to go through the process, give us a call.

This blog was written with the help of RBC Small business Financial Services.

12 Tips on writing an online brochure

12 Tips on writing a brochure that will support your (online) marketing efforts and increase your sales:

1. KNOW WHAT YOUR READER WANTS. Write your brochure or leaflet from the reader’s point of view. What are the reader’s concerns? What do they need to know before they make a purchase? Try writing down all the questions you hear from your customers and try and answer them in your collateral.

2. MOTIVATE YOUR READER TO LOOK INSIDE. The first page your reader will see is the front cover. Get it wrong and you will probably lose the sale. Start with the benefits of your product, or use thought-provoking statements that motivate the reader to pick up the brochure and open it. Tell the reader there’s something inside just for them – an exclusive invitation, a free report, a special discount, or advance notice of sales. Don’t put just your company logo or product name on the front. This will not work.

3. LIST THE CONTENTS. In brochures of eight pages or more, a table of contents is essential. Design it so that the table of contents stands out from the rest of the text. Use the contents to sell the brochure. Don’t use mind-numbing words like ‘introduction’ or ‘Model A848DHGT’. Use your key sales points in your heading.

4. LOST THE PRODUCT’S BENEFITS. Purchasers care about benefits, not features. To develop a list of benefits, draw up a list of product features and add the words ‘which means that…’ after each point. For example, ‘The cake is made from an original recipe, which means that …it tastes better.’ Or, ‘The car has a 300 horse-power engine, which means that…it goes faster.’ Benefits are what sell products.

5. MAKE THE BROCHURE A KEEPER. Putting helpful information in your brochure will encourage the reader to keep it, refer to it often, or pass it on to other people. If you are selling paint, you can provide hints on colour schemes, painting how-to information, tips from the pros, or other information. If you are selling skin care products, you can give your readers tips on how to combat pimples, dry skin, fine lines, and wrinkles.

6. ALTER THE SHAPE. Who says a brochure has to be 8 ½ by 11? If you are selling sandwiches, design a brochure in the shape of a sandwich. Season tickets to soccer matches? Design it in the shape of a soccer ball. Use your imagination to come up with an original, eye-catching piece. According to Direct Magazine, a recent mailing by CSi, a company that conducts customer satisfaction surveys for automobile insurance firms and repair shops, got a 15% response rate with a brochure delivered in a 32-ounce squeeze sport water bottle. The headline read ‘Thirsty for more repair orders.’ Try tall and slim, square, oblong, whatever you like. The only limitation is your imagination, and of course, your budget.

7. MAKE IT PERSONAL. An experienced speaker talking to a large audience will pick out someone in the crowd, and talk directly to him or her. This connection allows the speaker to make the talk more personal. In a similar fashion, write your brochure with an imaginary person in mind. Why? Because writing in a direct ‘I’m talking-only-to-you’ style will increase response.

8. ADD ATMOSPHERE. You don’t want your brochure to sound aloof. Let your reader share your feelings. A brochure about a wood-burning stove does not need to go into the ins and outs of how the stove works. Tell your reader your reader about rain swept winter evenings and snowbound afternoons. Let your words show them how warm and snug they’ll be when they purchase one of your stoves.

9. START SELLING RIGHT AWAY. Not everyone needs to know about every aspect of your product or service. Don’t waste their time selling them about things that don’t convey a benefit.

10. ADDRESS YOUR READER’S NEEDS. Don’t get carried away with your own interests. Talk about your reader, not yourself.

11. GIVE DIRECTIONS. Organize your brochure so readers can flip through the pages and easily find what they want. Provide clear signposts throughout the brochure and make sure each one says ‘Hey, pay attention to me!’

12. ASK FOR ACTION. Regardless of how you organize your brochure, there’s only one way to end it. Ask for action! If you want your reader to respond, include an 800 number, reply card, or some form of response mechanism. In fact, to increase your brochure’s selling power, include your offer and a response mechanism on every page.

Need more help? Email David L. Galet at dgalet@allyeartaxation.com

Shoebox Bookkeeping

Over the many years that I have serviced literally thousands of clients with bookkeeping, accounting and tax preparation services the one consistent comment that I hear is – I don’t know how to keep my records! And I have always advised – do what you do best and leave the bookkeeping to a professional. In other words spend 100% of your time devoted to your business and leave the record keeping to a record keeper – an accountant or bookkeeper.
The next question is how and what receipts should I keep and should I list them and how!
In a recent study conducted for American Express 39% of the 1,000 small business owners questioned said they put all their receipts in a shoe box and then periodically drop it off with their accountant. Interestingly, the highest percentage of those who use the ‘shoebox bookkeeping’ method are in the 18-34 years age group – the most computer knowledgeable group. These people know that their time is their most valuable commodity and that time should be spent on their business and not on their record keeping!
Another part of the survey shows – not surprisingly that 83% of small business owners are stressed out by record keeping and tax reporting.
Twenty years ago the author Donald Katz wrote a book about a small business that grew and grew and grew! The company was called NIKE and the title of the book was ‘Just Do It’. The book shows how Phil Knight grew a business started out of the trunk of his car into a world powerhouse by concentrating on what he knew and did best – marketing, and leaving the record keeping to the professional. Since the book was first published in 1994, Nike has grown many times over by ‘Just Doing It’.
So learn from the successful entrepreneurs and leave the mundane world of record keeping to those that enjoy it and get on with concentrating on what you do best!

Back in the Saddle

Several months have passed since I last posted a blog. The problem I faced must face all individuals who start a blog. After several postings I was swamped with so called ‘comments’. So many that the website was closed down while the techies put up a firewall thereby preventing access by anybody and everybody. Those who really care can contact me through the email address on the website or call me with questions or comments.

In the early part of the year I wrote a blog suggesting to everyone the as part of their new year (2013) resolutions, they look at all their expenses and determine where they can save money. A suggestion was made to call all your service/product suppliers and ask them how you can save money on their services or products without reducing or diminishing the service/product. It sounded great to me at the time and so I decided to take my own advice and call Bell and Rogers and ask for a ‘discount’. Both were eager to ‘keep our business’ and promptly offered savings. The savings achieved were in the 22%-25% range. Unfortunately for us we have very few suppliers since our business is based on labour, but the theory could very well apply to your business. Let me know the savings you have achieved!

New Year’s Resolutions Part 1

Every year I always wait until the second week of January before verbalizing my resolutions. That is because even though I think about them around New Year’s eve, I usually don’t carry most of them out……so a week wait confirms my intentions.
This blog is Part 1 of 3 and will deal with improving not only my business but yours as well.
All of us have a tendency to procrastinate and one if the worst places to do so is with the billing and colection cycle on our accounts receivable. Once a service is performed or a product sold you should immedialely issue an invoice. If you go into a store to buy something they ring up the cash to complete the sale. Every business should do the same. If you can’t hand the invoice to the customer at the end of the service you should email, fax, deliver, etc the invoice immediately. Snail mail will still work but could prolong the time the invoice is outstanding and hurt your cash flow. So stay away from any service that adds to the collection time. In so far as collection, offer ‘aids’ to help the customer pay quickly……wire transfer, credit card, debit card, email transfer, etc.
Take a look at your accounts receivable and determine why there are some accounts that just will not pay ‘on time’. By improving your billing and collection processes you will iliminate excuses that your customer can use for delaying payment.
Should you require any specific advice that involves your invoicinga and clooection system, we can help. Give us a call or send me an email with your questions.
Next week I will deal with why we should review all our costs of doing business at least once a year and why the beginning of the year is the correct time.
Have a safe, profitable and HAPPY NEW YEAR

5 more end-of-year tax saving tips

To every blog there is a ‘good-news’ portion and a ‘bad-news’ one. First the ‘good-news’! The last few weeks have been extraordinarily busy one here at AYTL. It would seem that every time when the CRA sends out a large quantity letters to individual who have not filed that our volume of work increases. This year the last several weeks have been filled with late filers—hence we have been very busy and yes we make more money when we are busier but alas ‘bad-news’ happens. In this case I have been unable to get to writing my blog on a more punctual basis and the 5 last minute tax saving tips that I promised several weeks ago have been late. But no more waiting and here they are:
1- Moving: If you are planning on moving early next year (especially to a province with a lower marginal tax rate) you should consider moving by December 31 of this year. Since you pay tax in the province of residence on December 31 you may have an advantage if you move now rather then later.
2- Loan to Spouse: Income splitting or loaning funds to your spouse may be advantageous. This is a touchy subject and musty be handled carefully to be accepted. However it should be considered for high income individuals. Better do some planning and call either Anthony Mastrogiovanni or myself for assistance in setyting up.
3 – RESP: If you are contributing to a Registered Educational Saving Plan, make your contribution before the year end in order to qualify for the 20% Canada Education Saving Grant.
4 – Installment payments: Don’t wait until early next year to make your final installment on your 2012 income taxes. Make your payment before December 31 and save the interest. Call us for more information.
5 – RRSP: YES I did show this a a year end tip on my previous blog, but it is the best and worth mentioning again for emphasis. I could mention it a third time but I am sure you get the point.
That is it! If you followed our advice you should save money on your next Personal Income Tax return.
I am signing off now and wishing one and all a safe holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

Going for GREEN in 2013

Many of you have comented on our new website. It is not easy to think out, design and put together a website that shows not only the merits of our company but contains the philosophy in a hidden message. David Mouritsen has done a great job in subtly presenting the ‘message’. The first clue to going GREEN is selecting the colour. After rejecting many shades of GREEN the precise colour chosen was Pantone 376 – a remarkably uninformative name for a colour. It does have a lighter, brighter and less institutional look then our old colour and speaks out with the following clear voice–although very quietly.
All Year Taxation Limited would like to help the environment, one piece of paper at a time. Please provide us with your email address when sending us information. This will allow us to update our database and provide you with pertinent and timely information in an efficient manner.
As most of you are aware the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has changed the rules for filing starting January 1, 2013. Henceforth all tax preparers who file a large number of returns – like All Year Taxation Limited – must do so in an efile format. This will speed up the filing and refund process and save on paper. Someone (there is always someone) has figured out that to file a T1 Personal Tax Return takes the equivalent of 1 tree worth of paper. By efiling All Year Taxation Limited will save the equivalent of a small forest. So that is how we are going GREEN in 2013. What are you doing?

Tax Free Saving Accounts

Last week I stated that I would list an additional 5 year end tax saving tips this week. However the CRA have just announced that starting January 2013 the annual contribution limit is now $5,500 (an increase of $500) for every Canadian resident over 18 years of age. This information is too good to pass up–so that 5 year end tax saving tips will have to wait another week.  Now the total limit that an individual can contribute to a plan (since the TFSA started) is $25,500. As a tax saving this is getting too large to pass up. While contributions are not tax deductable, any gain or loss within the account is not taxable when withdrawn.  A simple calculation will show that investing the account similarly to an RSP over a period of time will be more beneficial than a RSP when the funds are withdrawn. If you need more information call me or drop me an email or visit any financial institution. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians can’t be wrong. Check it out!

Last week someone emailed me with a request for a joke, so………………

An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor, “Doctor, I just can’t get to sleep at night.”

“Have you tried counting sheep?”

“That’s the problem – I make a mistake and then spend three hours trying to find it!”


Year End Tax Saving Tips

If you are like most other people, you don’t start thinking about saving money on your taxes until you sit down sometime in April of the following year to comply with the CRA regulation of filing your personal income taxes by the last day of the month. As you learn each year, you should have sat down with or without your advisor towards the end of the tax year – November/December and looked for tax saving opportunities. Here are a few items to consider:-

  1. Tax loss selling – If you have large capital gains for the year perhaps you should consider to finally dumping those ‘dogs’ and apply the capital losses.
  2. Charitable donations – Making a donation before December 31 of this year will help reduce current taxes.
  3. Employer bonus – Deferrring is always a good choice, so if you are entitled to a bonus in 2012 take the money after January 1, 2013. This is the simple answer, but your tax rate in each year may tell a different story. Looking at the issue now could lead to saving money!
  4. RRSP conversion –  If you are turning 71 in 2012 make sure to make your contribution before December 31 – don’t wait until late February 2013. The deduction will not be allowed!
  5. Fees – Pay all deductable fees – tuition, mamagement, safe deposit box, accounting, childcare, etc. before the end of the year.

Remember each taxpayer is different and the above tips and comments are but a short ‘idea’ reminder. Should you need more information please post your question or give me a call. Next week – 5 more tax saving tips that will look good on your bank account.

Key Performance Indicators — How to Measure True Business Success

If a business is to attain true and lasting success, it can’t rely on old news.

Counting on financial statements—snapshots of a business weeks to months old—to direct the future profitability of a business can lead instead to failure. To make the right decisions, a businessperson needs to know what is happening right now.

The get that information, a system must be put in place to measure all areas of business performance. The goal is to improve the quality and timeliness of the information available to decision-makers. After all, what can be measured can be managed.

A businessperson will quickly discover that it is the current non-financial numbers that are absolutely critical to the profitability of the business. By having relevant information more readily available, and the ability to identify trends more quickly, a businessperson will have the tools to manage the business more profitably.

It is vital to the success of a business that “Key Performance Indicators” (KPIs), discussed in detail a little further on, be monitored in a consistent and timely manner. This will yield instant feedback about all areas of the business’s performance so that adjustments to strategy can be made without potentially costly delays.

In the world of small business, owners and managers tend to spend the majority of their time working “in” their businesses rather than “on” their businesses. They become so focused on financial statement measurement that they miss seeing the big picture. Most wait until the end of the month or quarter—or even of the year—to see the outcome and assess how the business has fared. As a consequence, they are forced to make critical business decisions on a limited amount of already outdated financial data. Such delay may cripple their decision-making.

The concept and benefits of measuring activities are not hard to grasp: More information about the business—quicker! However, being able to identify the activities critical to the business’s goals does take some work. To simplify the process, the decision-maker should start by dividing the business into four key activity centers: Sales/Marketing, Management, Operations and Finance.

Under these four headings, KPIs are then defined and measured in order to provide better information for making critical business decisions in a timely manner. Some examples of KPIs are the following:


  • Conversion ratios
  • Average transaction value
  • Frequency of customer contact
  • Number of customer complaints


  • Absenteeism
  • Productivity
  • Total staffing
  • Sales per administration staff member


  • Returns and rework
  • Labour productivity
  • Downtime
  • Make-up pay / Overtime pay


  • Accounts receivable days
  • Operation cash flow
  • Inventory turns
  • Dead inventory

There are literally hundreds of potential KPIs to be measured in every business—each with the potential to yield timely information vital to decisions that optimize profitability.

Businesses that adopt this process should commit to it for a minimum of one year. Experience has shown it takes at least that long for a consistent and disciplined application of this approach to reliably identify trends and achieve long-lasting results.

With these feedback mechanisms in place, decision-makers will know what is currently going on without having to be intimately involved in every detail of the operation. Together, they function like the dashboard in a car, which relieves the driver of having to lift the hood every few minutes to check if the engine is performing properly. Decision-makers are then able to work “on” the business rather than simply “in” it, since they will possess the information needed to make timely course corrections as they navigate their businesses toward true and lasting success.