Potential entrepreneurs may be so enthusiastic that they start up their business by the seat of their pants with an idea that has grown and evolved, or a concept about which they are passionate.
This is wonderful—but often means they haven’t considered the best way to structure and finance the business and other considerations that could make the difference to them having money remaining each month so they can pay their own bills.
Many entrepreneurs aren’t the best financial planners—actually, some of them might cringe at the very thought of putting together a business plan. These plans don’t have to be terribly detailed, but they can still make the difference between success and failure.
Sitting down with an advisor you trust to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) can serve many purposes. It provides you with someone to bounce ideas around with and someone to organize your thoughts, timing and concepts. This person could also help you brainstorm financing ideas that could prevent you from having to put your house up as security.
You now have a plan—so where does the startup money come from? You might have some capital— and that is great. If you do, you might not want to expose too much of your own capital to risk up front; however, the rest of this discussion is still valuable to you—so please read on.
Once you have a business plan, look around at the various government grant options.
We’re in Northern Ontario where, as advisors, we have worked with some very helpful people in government organizations to secure grants for ventures to help get them off the ground. Use every advantage you have that way.
Depending on the type of business venture you have planned, you may be able to get up- ront grants and “once you’ve spent the money” grants.
Government loans may also be an option— including some that don’t accrue any interest for a few years. All of these might help and would certainly minimize the risk to your capital.
Your business plan will also prove crucial when you meet with the bank. They will want to see a coordinated effort and some evidence of your likelihood of success.
The stronger your evidence, the less you may have to provide in personal guarantees.
Structure of the business
Incorporate or not to incorporate—that is the question. Whether it is nobler to risk liability in the first year or two to be able to offset losses with earnings from employment or to avoid personal liability—the quandary exists.
But this quandary won’t last long if things take off—and then the next selection is a year-end. Once incorporated, you can select any year-end in a 53-week period.
Are you generating a profit for tax purposes? If so, should you leave profits in the company to be taxed at the low small business rate and maximize funds available to reinvest and expand the business, or should the business pay you more in salary, bonuses or dividends?
These are timing, cash flow and tax planning questions. What do you need to live? When can the business afford to pay you?
How much other income do you have for pension purposes? How can you minimize your tax burden? All these considerations come into play and you will want to talk them through—they make a big difference in what is available from the business for you and your family to live on.
Operations and accounting
Put the right people in the right positions—if you are a visionary who can see the solution to operational problems and see sales potential in your dreams, you may not be the best person to ensure your HST, income tax, payroll tax and other tax requirements are filed on time. Having said that, someone needs to know when they are due and file them properly. Be sure you have strong, reliable people in these positions, whether they are contracted or employed.
Reap the rewards of your hard work
There are a lot of considerations here— and you really just wanted to sell your product or idea! So sorry—but I’d hate to see you work so hard and not see any concrete results from your exciting business idea.
Good luck in your new venture!