Corpcentre's Blog

January 5, 2010

Risk Management: The Financial Safety Margin

Investing is a part of our culture. Many of us invest a portion of our income for our needs, present and future. However, investing carries with it an element of risk. Therefore, it makes good sense to build a safety margin into your personal investment plans.

Playing the stock market is virtually a national pastime. However, as recent history has proven, the value of stocks can plummet, sometimes quite rapidly. Therefore, some investors will attempt to pay the lowest possible price for stocks. If the floor should fall out from under that stock, you stand a good chance of recouping most of your money.

Even if your cash flow is healthy at present, always be prepared for the inevitable. Many jobs today are not 100% secure. Take a couple of months of living expenses and tuck the money away in a savings account or money market.

The dream of many newlyweds is the purchase of their first home. Many, though, make the mistake of sinking all their available cash into that purchase and further committing both their salaries to make the monthly mortgage payment. If you can’t afford the mortgage on one salary, think twice! If one job should disappear, you could face serious problems.

At the other end of the spectrum are those heading into their retirement years. Is your investment portfolio secure? Will you be able to rely on it? If you assume that the portfolio will generate a double-digit annual return, you may be surprised. Markets have proven to be rather volatile. It would be wiser to assume a much lower rate of return. Also, when you calculate withdrawals from your initial portfolio, experts advise withdrawing no more than an inflation-adjusted 4% each year. This amount will allow you to remain in a fairly stable condition, however the market moves.

Remember that investments mean risks and a safety margin is your best insurance policy.

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December 9, 2009

Canada Goes Self-Employed

The truth is out. The latest trend in the business world is self-employment.
The recent recession has manifested itself in many ways across the nation. For many Canadians who found themselves unemployed as a result of cutbacks, downsizing, etc., the choice was despair or repair. The former meant waiting until something new comes along. The latter meant channeling one’s talent and energy into a new venture as one’s own boss. Statistics Canada revealed some fascinating employment figures. In April of this year,some 36,000 new full time jobs were created across the country. Nearly all these jobs were from self-employed Canadians. Overall, this translates into one in six Canadians being self employed.
Of course, becoming self employed is easier said than done. The process requires a large measure of self determination to make your idea work. In addition, self discipline is required in no small measure.
It may seem like a great convenience to get up in the morning and already be at work, if you’re working from home. The danger is as great as the convenience. Experts have offered various tips to help you along.
It is imperative to make a distinct separation between work and home lives. Temptation to get distracted with household issues is very easy. Making your business succeed requires utmost full time concentration. If you wouldn’t run out for milk and the cleaning at your old job, don’t do it now.
Remember that you used to go to work at an office? Set up a distinct office at home and go there in the morning. Keep regular hours at your office. Get dressed for work in the morning.
These are but a few steps in maintaining a work ethic that will enable you to focus on the task at hand; launching a successful new job with an extremely determined boss – you!

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December 1, 2009

Credit Card Code of Conduct

If you own a retail business, you will understand exactly what the issue at hand is all about. How much of your hard-earned money goes to the credit card companies through fees and charges that seem to keep rising?
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently announced the implementation of a voluntary code of conduct for the credit card industry. The new Code of Conduct has come in response to increasing complaints by small businesses about the excessive fees that they are being forced to pay.
The voluntary Code of Conduct, which may be revised over the next couple of months according to Mr. Flaherty, lists measures to give merchants freedom of choice in regards to which payment vehicle to use. The Code requires posting of online information regarding the interchange fees charged to retailers. It will also require the credit card companies to give retailers 90 days notice of any fee changes.
Responding to the announcement of this new Code, retailers view this as a positive development but would also like Ottawa to create an oversight body to ensure adherence. Creation of a parliamentary committee was one possible suggestion.
Mr. Flaherty pointed out that this Code of Conduct is voluntary and he hopes that the credit card companies will respond positively by voluntarily adopting the measures set out for the industry. The alternative, according to the Finance Minister, is to regulate the industry through legislation. But, as the credit card industry has objected vehemently to regulatory legislation, it is hoped that they will adopt the voluntary measures.
As other voluntary codes of conduct have been adopted by other industries, retailers hope that the credit card giants will similarly adopt these new guidelines.

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October 11, 2009

Looking for Startup Money?

Money makes the world go ’round. It also gets your startup business up and running. Many a new business venture has failed due to a lack of cash to get the operation off the ground and get through the initial difficult months until the business starts generating revenue. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees as to where you will find the necessary capital. Many entrepreneurs tend to follow a similar path in seeking funds.
The most popular place to look is your own pocketbook. Often, people will mortgage their homes or sell property and possessions. Certainly, there is risk involved but business involves risk and personal commitment to the venture is crucial. Of course, “personal” funds may also extend to family and close friends. Most likely, they will be far more supportive than commercial lenders and their terms are likely to be far more favourable.
Next in line is your neighbourhood bank. Assuming that you have a creditworthy relationship, this may be the ideal place to secure a startup loan. Also, a line of credit is most important for your business. You may not need these funds initially but they may come in handy down the line.
Do your research well. There are numerous loans and grants available for new small businesses from government agencies and business associations. Your local banker or your accountant may be able to help direct you to sources of funds. Similarly, professional organizations may have helpful information.
Investors may be the right answer for you. Although many investors prefer to become involved with established businesses, the right idea at the right time may attract investment funds to you. Your business plan should be designed with investors in mind. Be prepared to change the business plan as necessary in order to interest a potential investor.
Finally, don’t limit yourself to one source of funds. It may be possible for you to finance your startup form several sources. Decide what is best for your needs and don’t be afraid to seek advice from professional advisors. 
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July 17, 2009

Ontario or Canadian Incorporation – Where to incorporate?

Filed under: business registration,incorporate ontario incorporation — corpcentre @ 5:18 pm

We often get this question – I am based in Ontario and want to incorporate my business but don’t know if I should incorporate a Federal or Ontario corporation – where should I incorporate?

Deciding where to incorporate involves many factors including evaluating corporate and tax laws. A competent lawyer/accountant should be consulted to evaluate your specific circumstances. However, for most small corporations the following factors make Federal (Canada) corporations more attractive – read below. You can also check out this video about incorporations for more information.

Federal corporations have lower government incorporation fees than Ontario corporations ($200 versus $360). Also, although Federal corporations must register extra-provincially with the Ontario government, there is no government fee for this registration.

Federal corporations have the most stringent criteria in granting the right to use a corporate name. Ontario corporations (like most other provinces) offer very little protection of use, and will grant almost any name provided it is not identical. Moreover, if there is any protection, it is limited to that province, unlike federal corporations which afford Canada wide protection.

Federal corporations require that 25% of its directors be resident Canadians, while Ontario corporations require 51% be resident Canadians. This may be advantageous if you have foreigners involved in your business.

Delays for both are approximately the same where Certificates of Incorporation can generally be obtained within 2 working days or less.

However, Federal corporations must file annual reports at a cost of $20 per year whereas Ontario corporations’ annual reports are free.

You can check out our pre-incorporation checklist for Ontario incorporations. For a more detailed answer check out this link about where to incorporate in Canada.

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