By Sarah J. Burroughs as Guest Blogger
Robert Frost may have underestimated how many roads diverge in a yellow wood. It is not uncommon to change career paths more than once in a lifetime. However, changing from the incredibly colourful world of fashion to the traditionally black and white world of accounting has been really more of a leap. In the fashion industry, there are no formulas for success that last for more than one season. Everything is based solely on trends which are normally generated by the opinions of a few people. Immersed in those precarious and fickle surroundings, I found comfort in doing the bookkeeping for our corporation. Bank reconciliations are like puzzles where all the pieces are accessible and fit perfectly together to generate verifiable fact. Do not worry, I am well aware of how geeky that sounds – and is.film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 2002 trailer
Finding My Path
My own accountant used to chuckle. He found our company was a very rare client where an owner did the bookkeeping and that it was all sorted in time for the year-end hand over. He often said, if I was ever looking to change careers, he had many clients who would be interested in my services. In early 2008, my business partner and I decided it was time to move on and sold the business. Since I had always enjoyed bookkeeping, I thought I would study it at a post-secondary level. The bookkeeping courses led me to business accounting studies. Although my latest round of formal education prepared me more for a decision-making finance role in any setting, I remain drawn to bookkeeping. True to my former accountant’s word, there were many companies who needed someone to take all their day to day business and translate it into journal entries from which financial statements could be generated. I now have a healthy roster of diverse local businesses who all share the same general feelings towards accounting/bookkeeping: it is absolutely the last thing they want to do. I do not blame them one bit. As my clients are all entrepreneurs—in my opinion the most necessary part of a successful economy—they are busy doing what they do best and hopefully generating healthy profits at the end of the day. In addition to the fact that all effective business people need to be aware of their financial position in a timely and accurate manner, the truth of the matter is that Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) waits for no one.
Enter Askari Solutions Inc.
In March of this year I received an email from Alicia Puritt saying she was referred to me by a trustworthy source. Off I went, on a very snowy March day, to introduce myself to Askari Solutions Inc. I immediately felt so comfortable with the few members of the Askari team I met – including the canine member, Baloo. I have to admit, I still know very little about information asset management. I have never even been on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. However, I do recognize an elegant business model when I see one and I recognize a company which keeps things efficiently transparent and compliant. Alicia explained the company’s incredible growth and how the necessity for someone to step into the bookkeeping role had become a priority. She had been meticulous with keeping every invoice, timesheet, receipt, and statement. Askari Solutions Inc. was already registered as a Canadian controlled private corporation who just needed someone to input all their transactions and financial information into one system which could produce financial statements for the partners and of course CRA. It makes such a difference when you really enjoy what you do. I am truly blessed as my clients believe in their companies. Askari Solutions is no exception. They value the people with whom they work and choose the ethical highroad time and time again. I find their enthusiasm infectious and look forward to our bookkeeping meetings to hear about their latest triumphs. When I heard of their recent engagement in Switzerland I tabled the idea of having a bookkeeping presence onsite. Unfortunately, I could not even prove to myself that this would be of any benefit to the project – so here in Ottawa I stay watching The Sound of Music. For those who may be thinking of starting or have just started their own business, perhaps these practices and procedures I have learned along the way may be of some help.
Business registration through CRA
On The Canada Business Network site, you will find a helpful description outlining the different advantages and disadvantages of the three main business entities (sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation). Choose the business entity that is the best fit for your model and register it accordingly. This can usually be started, if not completed, from the same link.
Taxes, remittances and fees
You should peruse and familiarize yourself with the types of taxes and fees your business entity will be required to remit (both federally and provincially) on the CRA site here. Especially study the due dates for each as CRA has never been known for favorable interest rates.
Save your receipts
Even if you are tossing receipts in a shoe box with the name of the project or related event scribbled on the back, save your receipts. After they’ve been sorted and scanned, keep them. It is always best to have a hard copy backup in case of an audit.
I realize this sounds obvious but invoice promptly. Again, entrepreneurs tend to get caught up in the next project and sometimes leave invoicing so late there needs to be new communication with the end client. It does not come across as professional and will hurt your cash flow. Frost may have been my introduction to a path less chosen, but I believe no matter how trodden the path, it must truly make the difference.
Getting your own bookkeeper
If you have found that path and are looking for a bookkeeper you may start by contacting your local community college for a list of eligible candidates. If you already have an accountant, they may offer bookkeeping services or be able to make a recommendation. If you are in the Ottawa area, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.