Getting Your Business Ready for Tax Season

Early preparation for the end of the fiscal year for your business can reduce stress at tax time. Whether you have an internal accounting department that handles your paperwork, or you hire someone out of the office to file your taxes for you, there are a few ways to prepare for getting those returns filed accurately, timely and to help you achieve the biggest refund possible. For most individuals and businesses, the tax deadline is April 30 in Canada. If you are self-employed you have until June 15th to file without penalty, but any taxes owed are due by April 30. Consider the following tips on how to prepare to file.

Organize and Gather Your Financial Records

Update all books to reflect any end of the year transactions to prepare your tax records for your accountant. For a double-entry accounting system, make sure books are balanced so that the sum of all credits is equal to the sum of all debits. If you use a program like QuickBooks, this is completed automatically. Obtain your final bank account statements for the year and make sure your books match the bank records.

Cut down on accounting fees by gathering common business records. These documents include:

  • Income statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Cash flow statements
  • Payroll information
  • Expenses
  • A copy of the previous years’ tax return

Locate All Receipts

Maintain copies of receipts throughout the year as proof of any deductions. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recommends you keep tax records for a minimum of six years in case of a business audit. To eliminate stacks of papers tucked all over the office and in filing cabinets, consider going paperless and uploading all receipts to cloud storage. Apps like Bench, Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote support scanning and storing. Organize all receipts by type. Also, separate personal spending from business spending.

Understanding Tax Forms

When filing taxes on your own, find out in advance what tax forms are required. For a sole proprietorship or partnership, the CRA requires a T1 personal income tax form. For a partnership, the T1 income tax return package is needed, which includes form T2125, which is the statement of business or professional activities. The CRA has a complete list of forms and publications online for both personal and business use.

Start early to ensure important documents and data are in order to help produce a favorable outcome during the tax season.

How Healthy Sleep Helps Job Performance

World Sleep Day is an annual event that focuses on the importance of healthy sleep patterns and calls attention to sleep issues. Not only can good sleep patterns affect your personal life, but they can also impact your job performance and productivity.

This global event addresses the management and prevention of sleep disorders, and it’s held the Friday before the spring vernal equinox. Consider these benefits of getting a good night’s sleep.

Improved Concentration

Sleep is vital for all aspects of brain functioning. This includes concentration, productivity and performance. Sleep has a positive effect on the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for cognitive thinking, decision-making and social behaviours. By getting enough sleep, you are naturally more alert and focused, so you get more done throughout the day, and you are better prepared for innovative thinking and less likely to have sudden mood swings.

Reduced Risk of Disease

Sleep quality and how long you sleep have a direct impact on your health. Individuals who slept seven to eight hours a night are at a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. One study from Harvard University suggests sleep deprivation can cause obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and can lower your immune system function to put you at a greater risk for the flu and colds.

Expanded Memory Function

There is growing support to suggest that sleep helps improve your memory. Whether you are trying to learn a new skill at work or memorizing your to-do list for the next day, sleep strengthens your memory so that performance is restored the following day.

Make Fewer Mistakes

Our bodies produce a chemical known as adenosine that helps make us drowsy so we can sleep. This chemical is flushed from the brain as we sleep, so we wake up feeling alert. When we fail to get enough sleep, the adenosine is still in our bodies, which can cause grogginess that impacts our performance at work. Proper amounts of sleep can reduce the number of errors made, which is especially important when working on an important project or when numbers are involved.

Getting the right amount of sleep each night affects your overall well-being, including your job performance. Be sure to focus on good sleep habits to help you get the most out of each workday.

Work Happiness: 4 Steps to Loving Your Job

According to a recent international view of happiness at work, the Canadian labour force is the most satisfied workers. In fact, approximately a quarter of Canadian workers said they love their jobs so much they would do it for free. While everyone experiences stress and challenges at times, it’s possible to create happiness at work to help make your job more enjoyable.

Choose Happiness and Breathe

Focus on the positive things at work instead of the negative. Smile more and concentrate on being happy. When you feel stress settling in, take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Generally, when you are stressed and angry you breathe faster. Instead, use Sudarshan Kriya (SKY) breathing techniques to increase your feelings of happiness.

Enjoy Your Breaks

While you might be tempted to work through lunch on busy days, give yourself a mental break and take regular breaks throughout the day. Grab a snack, take a walk around the office or find a cozy corner and read. The important thing is to give yourself time to step away from your responsibilities. Also, eating habits have a key influence on your mood. Feed your happiness by choosing healthy snacks like trail mix, fresh veggies, unsweetened applesauce and fruit to help you sustain your energy and stay alert for longer.

Decorate Your Space

Surround yourself with things that make you happy and provide workplace serenity. Whether you bring in a few family photos or your favorite flowers, create an environment that makes you feel relaxed and at ease. Just a few simple personal items can make your work area feel more comfortable and inviting.

Make Friends

The majority of your waking hours are at work. Seeing a friendly face when you walk through the office can help pass the time and make you enjoy your work more. It can also help improve your communication skills and make you can more about getting your job done. To make new friends, try introducing yourself to those you don’t know. Eat lunch away from your desk in the breakroom or in a common area. Bring in food for the group or suggest lunch out.

By nature, work can be stressful and challenging, but it’s possible to focus on happiness to learn to love your job. By following a few tips and tricks you can create a pleasing atmosphere at work where you are happy and feel like you fit in.

4 Ways to Cope With Daylight Savings Time

Daylight savings time began in Canada over 100 years ago. Its purpose was to save coal and energy for factories. Things have changed over the years, but the country still follows this age-old tradition of pushing the clocks ahead and turning them back. To help deal with losing an hour of sleep in the spring, here are a few things you can do.

Focus on Your Sleep

Plan for the time change by catching up on your sleep the weekend before. Go to bed at your usual time instead of staying up the extra hour, and get up at your normal time. You may lose an hour of productivity, but your sleep will be on track, which should make you feel more alert the following day. To do this, avoid caffeine several hours before bed and avoid sunlight and other bright lights late in the evening. You can also start a week before the time change and slowly shift your bedtime for 15 minutes each night. This gives your body time to adjust naturally when the clocks turn back.

Take a Walk

Take advantage of the extra hours of sunshine by going for a walk first thing in the morning. Not only can walking add years to your life, but it also helps wake you up if you are still groggy from adjusting to the time change.

Enjoy a Nap

Use your lunchtime at work to catch up on your sleep with a nap. Try to keep your nap to 30 minutes or less, which is just enough time to let you recharge without affecting your sleep at night. By sleeping on your break time, you also get the added benefits of quicker reaction times, boosted memory and increased productivity.

Try Earlier Mealtimes

When the clock moves ahead an hour, you may find you are hungry earlier or later in the day. Give your food ample time to digest before heading to bed. Digestion can interfere with sleep and make it harder to get up in the morning and stay alert during early morning meetings.

Make the adjustment to daylight savings time smoother by planning ahead and making small changes throughout the day. After a few weeks, your schedule should be back on track and you can once again focus on the task at hand.

Best Practices for Cold and Flu Prevention in the Workplace

Cold and flu prevention in the workplace reduces the spread of illness between customers, clients, and employees, and can lessen the number of sick days. By following a few simple tips and tricks, you can protect yourself and others and help stop the spread of illness during the cold and flu season.

Wash Hands Frequently

Germs can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, so it’s important to wash your hands after touching common surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, and company phones. Run warm water in the sink and wet your hands. Apply a small amount of soap and wring hands together to form a lather. Wash the hands thoroughly by rubbing them together for at least 30 seconds and then rinse with warm water. Use a clean disposable towel to turn off the faucet and dry your hands. If you don’t have time to wash your hands often, clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Disinfect Common Surfaces

Don’t rely on hand-washing alone. Clean common surfaces with disinfectant cleaning wipes, or use a disinfectant spray to wipe down counters and other surfaces at least once a day. Supply employees with wipes for their work area, and encourage them to wipe down keyboards, phones, and other shared items often. A simple solution for disinfecting bathrooms and breakrooms to kill the flu virus is by mixing together a half a cup of bleach to a gallon of water. Apply enough of the solution so that the surface stays wet for at least five minutes. Rinse clean and allow it to air dry.

Flu Vaccine

One of the single most effective ways to prevent the spread of flu is by obtaining a flu vaccine. As an employer, you can hold an on-site flu shot clinic to allow employees to conveniently get a shot during business hours. Schedule the clinic as early in the flu season as possible because it can take up to two weeks for the protection of the vaccine to become effective.

Encourage Employees to Stay Home

Create a work atmosphere where employees aren’t afraid to stay home when they are sick. Staying home also helps an individual recover quickly and minimizes disruptions at work. Also, an individual who is sick is less productive.

Prevention is often the best way to help prevent the spread of colds and the flu. Create an environment that encourages prevention to keep employees healthy throughout the season.

5 Ways To Show Appreciation For Your Employees

Showing appreciation to employees is one of the best ways to build a stronger workforce, increase productivity and encourage the free-flow of ideas. Employee Appreciation Day falls on the first Friday in March throughout Canada and the United States, which is the perfect time to thank employees for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. Consider the following ways to motivate and show support.

Offer Public Recognition

Employee recognition is always a good way to show appreciation for a job well done but consider making the sentiment public. Post your gratitude on social media, sent out a company text or type of a newsletter and call an individual out by name. Make sure you are specific in your praise, so they know exactly what they are being rewarded for. Aside from public appreciation, keep your eyes out for those who go above and beyond their duties. Stop by their desk to say thanks, or bring in little surprises like cookies and cupcakes.

Pay for Lunch

Bring your office employees together and splurge on breakfast or lunch. Not only will employees feel appreciated, but it will also help strengthen interpersonal relationships when they gather for meals. Bring in doughnuts, have a pizza party or call a caterer to bring in sandwiches and chips.

Create a Company Platform

Create a platform to give employees a chance to call out other employees who have offered help. Peer awards often mean more to an individual than company recognition. Let employees vote on an employee of the month, week or even year and then offer an award. Wooboard is one type of application that helps you create a culture of peer appreciation.

Offer Flexible Scheduling

Employees, especially millennials, enjoy working in a company that lets them balance work and personal life. One way to show appreciation and trust is by offering flexible scheduling. As long as the work is completed on time, let employees come in early and get off early or stay later. If possible, you can also let employees work from home.

Give Year-End Bonuses

Employees are the backbone of any company. Most profits can be attributed to excellent employees. At the end of the year, show thanks by giving attendance bonuses, top sales or even provide a percentage of an employee’s salary as a year-end bonus.

Keep motivation high and reduce turnover by saying thanks often. Both actions and words go a long way with employee satisfaction.

9 Ways to Think Like an Explorer

Each year, Yukoners celebrate Heritage Day on the third Friday in February. It’s been a holiday for government workers in the Yukon since 1976. In 2015, Nova Scotia became the seventh province to legislate a paid holiday in February. Nova Scotia uses the day to celebrate important places, events and individuals in its history and picks a new person of interest every year.

In honour of Canada’s great adventurers, this article looks at how you can incorporate the spirit of an explorer in your operations.

Unleash Your Inner Explorer

Being an explorer in business terms is synonymous with embracing an entrepreneurial spirit in everything you do. It embodies a can-do attitude that empowers business owners and managers to create something new for the benefit of everyone in the enterprise. Here are some tips that can help you unleash your inner explorer:

  • Use the left and right hemispheres of your brain to analyze and react quickly to new opportunities.
  • Break habits and routines by thinking beyond boundaries and limitations to see the full potential of a project or investment.
  • Avoid making assumptions that lead to negative thoughts, which sap your energy and erode your confidence.

Ambiguity can lead to indecisiveness, but narrow definitions stifle the imagination. Cultivate ambiguity by reading or participating in activities outside your comfort zone. This can give you a fresh perspective when it comes to business decisions.

Learn from Customers Forging New Paths with Your Products

Sometimes, you can find explorers among your own customers. These forward-thinkers can help you realize new usage patterns that can lead to growth or cost savings. They may have some suggestions for product and service enhancements that fulfill their needs and add revenue to your bottom line. You can find adventurous customers among those who:

  • Use your product in a unique way
  • Derive value from your product that contributes to their gross margin
  • Care about a product characteristic that implies a possible niche for your product
  • Need much less or much more service and attention than average
  • Use your product in a new product for resale
  • Use your product in a location your sales channel doesn’t serve

Partner with these customers and explore opportunities to expand your market even further. You may be able to realize economies of scale that save both companies money. Most of all, dare to be daring if it’s something that can help your business grow.