Have you seen some of the funny Covid-19/quarantine related memes flying around on the internet? You know the ones:
🦠 “What day of the week is it?”
🦠 “How bad will my hair be when it’s all over?
🦠 “What about my BUSINESS!”
Oh wait. That last one’s not funny at all, is it?
No question these have been a trying few months. And there’s bound to be a trying few more up ahead of us. Worry number one? Your safety and that of your loved ones. But worry number TWO is vitally important as well.
What this pandemic (and the government stimulus packages that have been created) have shown us is there’s a bit of a gap between where you think you are on your business journey. And where the government thinks you are/should be.
If you are:
- A small business owner who operates as sole proprietor/s and has a small staff and low payroll.
- A small business owner who doesn’t pay themselves, or perhaps opts for dividends in lieu of salary.
- A small business owner who maybe hasn’t quite gotten around to getting incorporated yet.
According to Stats Canada, more than 1.1 million small businesses, employ about 8.3 million people and contribute roughly 40 per cent of Canada’s entire economic output. That’s a huge chunk of the economy that will be hit hard if these companies can’t rebound after this crisis.
Treat your Small Business Like the Big Deal It Is!
I was inspired to write about this because of something a client wrote recently, about her own small business.
She described the hoops she jumped through when she was getting started, and, quite frankly, as a new immigrant and a woman of colour – those hoops were MANY. But sometimes adversity ends up being your best friend in the long run.
Here’s are some of the practical steps she took – and why:
At the end of her first year, she immediately registered for a GST/HST number so people wouldn’t question her fees, based on their assumptions of how much she made and how quickly she could grow.
Fast forward a couple of years and BOOM – she made her first 6-figure year. And immediately incorporated the company. Why was that important? Because in this gig-economy, everyone called themselves a ‘freelancer’. By being incorporated, her doors opened up to a much higher level of client. It provided a certain level of cache.
Then she turned her focus to setting up proper payroll, and that included paying HERSELF a salary over 50K. Why? Because NOW, the company (a virtual company no less) was debt worthy. And lenders took her more seriously.
Seeing the connection now to Covid-19 and government loans?
As she said, “Today I am grateful. Because this means that the enterprise I built, little Lego bits at time, now adds up to something that the ‘establishment’ recognizes.”
Cross Every T and Dot Every I
What this stunningly unprecedented time has shown us all is, yes, “crap” can hit the fan – sometimes seemingly from nowhere and through no fault of your own.
It’s also illustrated that people in positions of power – especially those who control the purse strings – are more apt to take you seriously when you take yourself more seriously.
Here’s my advice: treat your small business like the big deal it is!
- Invest in clear, detailed, legally binding contracts- nothing says serious quite like a well-thought out contract.
- There’s no time MORE IMPORTANT than now to protect your valuable brand. Scammers come out in times of crisis. Invest in protecting your brand and your intellectual property through trademark registration, asserting copyright, clear terms and conditions when providing content and being vigilant about nipping any IP theft in the bud.
- Invest in making your business a separate legal entity by incorporating- I’ve spoken about the legal and tax benefits at length but there’s no question there’s a level of respectability that comes with being incorporated.
I’ve been signing petitions left and right in support of the government shifting gears on these stipulations, to make it easier for smaller solopreneurs to access this much needed cash.
And, to our government’s credit – they’re putting together programs in days and weeks that normally take years to put together. There’s a lot of confusion. Things are shifting on the fly.
And they’re still tweaking and changing programs in a sort of “needs-must” fashion as more time passes and the situation evolves. So, keep your eyes peeled for new information.
And please reach out to me if I can help in any way. There’s a handy questionnaire you can fill out, and we can schedule a small business audit to figure out what you need to do to take your business more seriously.