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5 Investments Every Smart Small Business Owner Makes

It’s easier than ever to start a business from scratch without any overhead costs, which is great news for aspiring business owners who don’t have the capital to start anything big. But to grow a business from an idea to something profitable, you do have to put some money into it. Here are five investments you should make to grow your business. Every business owner needs a coach or mentor. The opportunity to tap into the knowledge, experience and connections of an expert is worth every penny…

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Overview of charging and collecting sales tax

As a Canadian business owner, it’s important to know how and when to charge sales taxes for the goods and services you sell and supply to your customers. Our guide to charging and collecting sales tax will provide you with an understanding of your responsibilities, as well as some valuable resources to help you charge sales taxes and remit them properly to the government.

This information is an overview on charging and collecting taxes for business. Before making any business decisions on taxation…

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When the minimum is too much

by David Descôteaux

Raising the minimum wage may do more harm than good for those at the bottom of the income ladder.

Imagine you are the CEO of a small or medium-sized enterprises that employs minimum-wage workers.  How would you react to news that the minimum wage would gradually increase to $15 an hour from $10 an hour?

At the office on Monday morning, your announcement might be something like this:  “Good morning, staff.  I have some good news and some bad news.  The good news is you will be getting a 30% pay raise, thanks to a recent increase in the minimum wage by our political leaders.  The bad news is I will have to gradually reduce everyone’s hours.  If our small business is to remain profitable, total payroll can’t exceed a certain percentage of sales.  And since sales haven’t increased by 30%, I can’t give you as many hours.  I will therefore have to find another solution to cover the hours you no longer will be working.  This is a frustrating situation for everyone, but it is not of our choosing.”

This is an aspect of “economics 101” that all those – increasingly vocal – proponents of a $15 minimum wage seem to forget.

Of course, workers who will keep their jobs after such a measure is introduced will be happy.  But others, whose productivity or experience does not justify a $15-an-hour wage, will not.  It is though we are saying to these people, often students and inexperienced workers, “You no longer have the right to offer your services for less than $15 an hour.”

Now image a climb up the labour market ladder.  Raising the minimum wage would effectively remove the first rung, which is the entry level to the job market where someone can gain his or her first work experience.  To get to the ladder, workers will now have to climb onto a higher rung, one that everyone short on experience or skills is unable to reach.

So what would be a fair salary for people at a the bottom of the ladder?  Difficult to say.  The market can determine wages much better than politicians can.

This so-called “invisible hand” was recently at play in the U.S. Titans such as Walmart, McDonald’s and Target announced increases in their base salaries for employees.  Why?  Because the big players are competing to attract and retain a quality labour force, which is in short supply.


Today, inexperienced and unqualified workers are facing another threat: robotization.


Reprinted from CPAmagazine, August 2016, with permission from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Any changes to the original material are the sole responsibility of EPR Canada Group Inc. and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

How to conduct your own low-cost research on the competition

To build a successful business, you have to come up with products and services that stand out from the competition. But to create those unique offerings, you need to know who your competitors are and what they are bringing to the market.

Small and medium-sized companies often get too focused on their own business and fail to pay enough attention to what they can learn from the competition, says Normand Coulombe, a Senior Consulting Partner at BDC.

“You can’t drive with your eyes closed”, says Coulombe, who has helped hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses. “You have to be aware of what’s going on in the market. You have to know what your competitors are doing.”

While you may not have the budget to hire a professional market intelligence firm, you can find out a lot about the competition by doing…

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The Cost of Bad Leaders

by Trevor Wilson

Leaders who act inappropriately or contemptuously toward staff can put their organizations at risk of attrition and litigation.

Less than a decade ago, one of the largest employers in Canada was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of diversity.  A senior manager was sent what he thought was an innocuous memo referencing “the ghetto boy” in the mailroom who happened to be black.  The memo went public and then viral.  Within a year, this leading employer was forced to hire a full-time director of diversity.  Earning a six-figure salary, the individual was tasked with creating a multi-year diversity strategy that included standardized sensitivity training for every manager in the organization.  It was a classic case of a death-bed conversion.

Organizations that tolerate offensive behaviour fall into a common trap, which occurs when individuals reach positions of influence and few employees have the power to tell them about their unacceptable conduct without fear of reprisal.  This leads to a continuation and possible escalation of the behaviour, causing employees to either leave the organization or, if forced to stay for monetary or other reasons, mentally quit their jobs.

Correcting obnoxious, inappropriate leadership behaviour doesn’t just rest with  managers; organizations bear the responsibility for setting the tone for acceptable conduct in the workplace as well.  Some companies think that diversity initiatives alone are enough, but they are not.

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This article is reprinted from CPAmagazine, August 2016 , with permission Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Any changes to the original material are the sole responsibility of EPR Canada Group Inc. and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.