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Small Business Blog

Our blog is focused on providing small businesses with articles that inform in an entertaining way. The aim is to provide insights into how our firm helps small businesses manage their tax, accounting, and business issues. In addition, we will be highlighting key issues that small businesses should be aware of … If you would like help improving your business please give us a call. Happy reading!

The blog posts made available by Stasuik are for educational purposes only and not to provide specific tax, accounting, business management or professional advice of any kind. By using this blog site and/or blog posts you understand that no accountant-client relationship is created between you and Stasuik. The blog posts should not be used as a substitute for competent professional advice from a licensed professional in your jurisdiction.

Episode 5: A Charity Dinner Romance

Post author: Christopher Stasuik, CPA, CA, MAcc

Shamus was attending his favorite charity’s gala dinner. He always enjoyed the event and had been attending for years. As Shamus’ life had improved, and his father’s guiding principle that ‘Charity begins at home’ was satisfied, he carefully researched which charities he wanted to support. Tonight’s event was being held at one of the city’s boutique hotels that excelled at serving up great food and fantastic wines. The hotel had tastefully decorated the hall in a 1920s theme; complete with gambling tables, flappers, and a magnificent champagne fountain.

Shamus and his guest were to be seated with Elizabeth and her guest. Was it coincidence? Or was it Shamus’ seating change request? Elizabeth sat next to Shamus, separated only by a table corner. She looked radiant, her black dress highlighted her long legs and accentuated her slim figure; Elizabeth had made sure Shamus would notice her this evening.

When Elizabeth spoke, her eyes twinkled with excitement, and Shamus was mesmerized by her charms. During their dinner conversation, Shamus subtlety moved his napkin off the table and gently placed his hand on Elizabeth’s knee. He was unsure what her reaction would be. From above the table, in their mirrored reflection, no one else was aware of what was happening. Just before Shamus removed his hand, Elizabeth responded by smiling at him and gently squeezing his hand.

Wild thoughts raced through his mind. What was happening to him? Just before desert was served, Elizabeth excused herself from the table. After about 15 minutes or so, Shamus also went for a walk … As luck would have it, when he walked out into the hotel lobby, Elizabeth was just returning to the event. She smiled at him, and again he felt himself being caught up in the moment.

As Shamus walked toward her, she paused in mid-stride and then slowly backed herself up against the wall. She looked excited, her eyes sparkled. Shamus gallantly asked, ‘May I kiss you?’ to which Elizabeth nodded in agreement. He kissed her passionately, and she returned it with enthusiasm. After seemingly endless moments they stepped away from each other and returned to the event, pretending that nothing had happened.

Back at the table, when the police station explosion arose in their discussion, Shamus related ‘The Emergency‘ story. Apparently, the police investigation had determined the bomb was actually intended for another Droch warehouse and not for him. The most accepted motive at this time was that some fanatical protesters had targeted Droch Enterprises due to its exploitive business practices. Shamus asked ‘Is every business endeavor worth the risk if it requires sacrificing your principles?’ Elizabeth asked nervously ‘I hope you’re not still investigating Droch’ … to which only silence followed.

As the event wound-up, Shamus and Elizabeth said goodbye. You could tell they did not want to part ways. They thought no one had noticed their romantic kiss, yet with both of them being business leaders they naturally drew attention from everyone.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Episode 4: The Emergency

Post author: Christopher Stasuik, CPA, CA, MAcc

Shamus stared out of his office window. The sun had risen and rays of light sparkled off the windows. It was a cheerfully, wonderful, sunny day… except for the pillar of smoke rising from the police station. The flashing emergency lights reflected strangely off rising ash. He could imagine the wailing sirens and wondered if Pato, his assistant, was okay.

Pato had stopped by the office shortly after Shamus had discovered the ominous, ticking package. Well, according to their emergency protocols, Pato called the police station immediately to report the strange package. The night constable told Pato not to worry and to bring it down to the station. And, knowing Pato, he did just that.

Just then, Shamus’ cell phone started quacking, it was Pato. Pato, in a slightly panicked state, explained to Shamus that he presented the package to the police constable, who accepted it readily. When the constable opened the package, he noticed a crystallized bomb device inside … which he dropped in his excitement … and nothing blew-up.

After a flurry of activity, the army was called in to handle the situation. Apparently, only they were brave enough to handle these dangerous, crystallized bombs. The young army officer carefully packed explosives around the bomb and covered the heap with blast curtains. His superior reviewed the preparations and instructions were given to add more charges, in order to teach the department a much needed lesson. The explosion was SPECTACULAR!

Shortly, after the blast, the police chief arrived in tears. The chief had devoted his entire life to building a wonderful station. It was all gone. The destruction caused by a breach of emergency protocols would be felt by the community for a long time. Pato, being Pato, stated the obvious: “It seems like following emergency procedures properly is important.”

Well, it was time to leave the office. Shamus put on his jacket and as he smoothed it out, he found a perfumed business card tucked into one of the pockets. It was Elizabeth’s business card. He marveled at her maneuver as he remembered their brief pub encounter. He decided to arrange another meeting.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Episode 3: Start-up Reflections

Post author: Christopher Stasuik, CPA, CA, MAcc

Wow, this sudden rainstorm called for a change of plans. As Shamus got into the cab, a wild gust of wind slammed the door shut. Fortunately, the cab was clean and the cabbie looked pleased to have a passenger. Shamus gave his office’s address to the cabbie; as less fortunate people dashed for shelter, the cab bolted from its starting position into the race. The pounding rain and the rhythmic swish of the wipers quickly lulled Shamus into quiet reflection.

Shamus began to wonder how he managed to attract all of the people that now worked with him. The biggest challenging, so far, seemed to be finding the right kind of people during the business’ creation. At the beginning, money was scarce and issuing stock was not really an option. Apparently, stock worth nothing was not in demand and giving out stock only meant giving away the company. So what was it that attracted people at the beginning? Without lots of money or valuable shares, the key selling features ended up being potential, trust, and personal satisfaction.

In start-up recruiting, Shamus first had to prove that his idea could improve things, and that the opportunity to do so existed. Only when people accepted that growth potential existed would they agree to the risk of working for a start-up company. However, it was important to understand that continuously building trust was extremely important and was done, in part, by setting reasonable tasks and milestones. People liked seeing that they were being treated fairly and that their efforts mattered.

But what else drew people to him and his vision? Some of his favorite comments were … “You have a proven track record making money and have learned new skills in maintaining what you make.” “I’m curious to see what you do this time around.” “There’s also the opportunity for me to do things I prefer to do, even maybe do things that I love to do.” “I enjoy the satisfaction of helping others while achieving financial stability.” It was comments like these that lent credibility to the fact that people were actively searching for personal satisfaction.

Shamus was eased out of his deep thoughts by the cabbie’s question, “Did you hear about the explosion at one of the Droch warehouses?” “What explosion?” Shamus inquired. “Well, I was there!” said the cabbie, “I was waiting for fares down by the docks when a massive shock wave rocked my cab like a leaf in the wind. Luckily, no damage was done to my cab – you see, I just paid it off. Anyhow, when a police detective arrived on the scene, he questioned me about if I saw anyone suspicious lurking around the warehouse.”

The cab arrived at its destination, the fare was settled, and Shamus strode towards the skyscraper. It was late; the office building was locked up tight for the evening. Shamus said hello to the security guards, showed them his pass card, and signed in. The elevator ride up was uneventful. Shamus flashed his pass card once at each of the two security doors protecting his workplace. As he approached his office, Shamus noticed that his desk light was on … This was strange, as Rebecca, his executive assistant, always made sure that his office was properly locked down. Shamus froze halfway through the doorway; his heart started beating erratically when he saw a gleaming, black leather briefcase framed in a cone of light on his desk! Worse, an ominous ticking sound was reverberating throughout the office…

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Episode 2: Even Leprechauns Need a Good Business Advisor

Post author: Christopher Stasuik, CPA, CA, MAcc

Shamus walked into O’Leary’s, a bright and cheery pub. He spotted his business advisor, Daemarth, in their corner meeting booth. They both liked this pub; it was run by a small business owner and the staff was always friendly and engaging. Daemarth smiled and waved him forward. As Shamus approached the booth, his advisor greeted him warmly and pointed to the two pints of stout that their waitress, Jennifer, had placed on coasters for them.

After some friendly banter between themselves, they began their meeting. As suggested by Daemarth, they followed an agreed-upon agenda. Shamus now believed in the power of their business meetings. He actually enjoyed them. They met once a month unless something urgent arose to discuss the various issues that his business encountered. Shamus appreciated having a trusted confidante that helped guide his growing business. In addition, he found that he could actually remember the important issues that arose, in detail, instead of trying to recall forgotten events that happened months ago. Solving issues in a timely fashion was a good thing.

During the note taking wrap-up phase of the meeting, Daemarth noticed that Shamus was lost in thought. So the advisor asked what Shamus was thinking about. Jogged back to reality, Shamus murmured “Well, ah, hmm…,” and then blurted out, “What do you make of the news running around about Droch?” Daemarth, cautiously, checked for eavesdroppers, then looked intently at Shamus and said, “It sure has the community scared, and our firm is getting lots of calls on how to protect gold from vanishing.” A slightly shaken Shamus simply said, “I just don’t understand how his gold vanished. I don’t want it to happen to my fortune.” Unfortunately, Daemarth had to leave for his next appointment, but they agreed to discuss Droch at their next meeting.

When it came time to settle the tab, Shamus quickly intercepted the cheque before Daemarth could object. So, Daemarth politely thanked Shamus and gently reminded him to save the receipt for the bookkeeper. Shamus laughed pleasantly, and said, “Keep reminding me, I have almost mastered the receipt-gathering concept.” “Remember,” said Daemarth, “watch your nickels and the dollars will keep care of themselves!’” Shamus never really understood this saying, but following this advice was really helping his business. It seems as though everyone in the company was conscious of the value of money, and he recalled a sales representative challenging the development teams request for a progress party by saying, “How can we have a party when we have not met our sales targets?” The rest of the staff voted ‘no party until it could be properly afforded.’ The whole company sure enjoyed the party when it occurred.

Just as Daemarth opened the pub door to leave, Elizabeth, a vibrant and up-and-coming business personality, stepped through the door. She stopped and said something to Daemarth, then introduced him to her friends. Shamus wondered how many people his advisor knew; he was constantly bumping into people he knew everywhere they went. Daemarth, grinned, pointed out Shamus to Elizabeth and then left.

Elizabeth, crossed over to where Shamus was sitting and unexpectedly hugged him, whispered softly, “Nice to see you again” … finished with a cryptic, “we should talk” … then quickly left to rejoin her friends. Her perfume lingered. Well, Shamus was pleasantly surprised.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


The Adventures of Shamus and His Business

Post author: Christopher Stasuik, CPA, CA, MAcc

Episode 1: Finally Enjoying the Good Times

It was a joyous day! After a long but pleasant hike through the mountains, Shamus, the leprechaun, made his way to his private four leaf clover field. He ambled down the pathway to his cottage retreat, tucked away in a grove of trees, with the warm sunshine on his back. His comfortable chair and piping hot coffee were waiting for him as expected. Shamus sank into the plush leather chair; with the fireplace crackling in the background, he began to relax and contemplate his success.

Thinking back, he remembered how his business began and questioned how he made it this far. Shamus wondered if his success was based upon sound strategic planning or pure luck. Only time would tell. He and his advisors had decided to focus the company on generating solid revenues. It was tempting to go big quick. The fame of having a large following appealed to his ego, yet he dreaded being dependant on others for financing. Shamus had heard terrible stories of founders being pushed out of their companies by the financiers and he did not want that event to happen to him.

So he persevered through missed deadlines, extremely long hours, false starts, extended product development, and broken relationships. But these bootstrapping issues were now a thing of the past. Along the way, Shamus had discovered some great people that shared his vision and enthusiasm to help others. It was these people that he hired to help guide the business to success.

Victory! Shamus was excited by the recent flood of new customers and he now had his very own ‘pot of gold.’ Images of how his wealth would enable him to enjoy the finer things flashed across his mind. The sweet smell of success was adrift in the mountain air.

Yet, even while contemplating his success, his mind wandered off to the shocking news of a famous entrepreneur. Droch was one of those very wealthy leprechauns, a community leader, and an entrepreneurial role model. The news was that a large portion Droch’s pot of gold had vanished! In amazement, Shamus wondered who or what could have managed to steal Droch’s gold? And, more importantly, if they could steal from Droch … how in the world could he protect his fortune?

Somehow, Shamus had dosed off in his cozy chair. He awoke in a fright after dreaming that his precious pot of gold had somehow vanished, just like Droch’s fortune. Shaking off the final remnants of sleep, he decided to solve the mystery of the vanishing gold. Well, after a pint or two with his business advisor at the pub.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Bookkeeping Secrets – 5 Ways to Save Money

Post author: Christopher Stasuik, CPA, CA, MAcc

Christopher Stasuik, EzineArticles Basic Author

Here are five great ways to help control your bookkeeping costs and prevent unexpected “extra” charges at tax time. The secrets as presented build upon each other, and when combined result in an efficient and effective bookkeeping system.

Bookkeeping Secret #1: Do Some of Your Own Data Entry

Our countdown begins with the suggestion that you learn how to properly enter in some of the information yourself and avoid having to pay a bookkeeper. Your focus here is to enter in the easy but important information, such as your business’ sales. Typically, it is not useful to enter in all of the information yourself as your time should be too valuable to be spent on bookkeeping duties.

Bookkeeping Secret #2: Get a Good Bookkeeper

Hiring a good bookkeeper is very worthwhile; they can data enter your business’ information faster while you spend your time on other tasks such as making your next sale, or being available for your family. Beware: a bad bookkeeper can really hurt your business and quickly increase your accounting fees at tax time, when your accountant must fix and/or redo all of their work. The bad bookkeeper has effectively stolen from you by not providing value.

Bookkeeping Secret #3: Hire a Professional Accountant

Retain an accountant. Remember both your work and the bookkeepers’ work should be checked by an accountant. Don’t wait until the end of the year – errors just compound and are hard to figure out when you can’t remember what you were trying to do. Having your accountant regularly check the work throughout the year decreases the chance of costly mistakes and gives your accountant the opportunity to suggest ideas that can help your business succeed. For example, an accountant is better able to help you minimize
your taxes and provide advice on how to deal with changes when quality up-to-date financial information is available.

Bookkeeping Secret #4: Keep Proper Records

Properly organized and stored documentation is a key way to save your business, and everyone involved, time, money and stress. Finding lost or misfiled documents during a government audit is the worst time to have to search for files or receipts. Ensure you have your business and financial documents, (invoices, billings, etc…) stored in an easy and efficient manner. When you have to refer back to these filed documents months later you will save yourself costly delays if you know exactly where to look.

Bookkeeping Secret #5: Use the Right Accounting Software

Using tools specifically designed for your business size is vital. Don’t use complicated accounting packages created for use by larger businesses. The right tools for you should be simple to use by everyone involved in the financial process. New online financial systems are especially great options for small businesses given their improved abilities to share information and to provide regular, offsite data back-ups.

Implementing any of these five suggestions can help you avoid those nasty, unexpected bookkeeping charges and keep your business finances running smoothly. Happy bookkeeping all!

For further information, Christopher Stasuik, CPA, CA, MAcc can be contacted via his firm’s website, www.stasuik.com.


What is the Difference between an Accountant and a Bookkeeper?

Post author: Christopher Stasuik, CPA, CA, MAcc

Often clients ask the question “What is the difference between an Accountant and a Bookkeeper?” The easiest way to explain the difference is to describe how our firm uses both Accountants and Bookkeepers.

Accountants

Our professional Accountants design the financial systems that businesses will use to record and monitor their financial results. As part of the design, Accountants plan out how and what kinds of information Bookkeepers and other Accountants will record.

After implementing the financial systems, Accountants manage the processes used to monitor the business activities. This is accomplished by supervising and reviewing entries made to the systems by the Bookkeepers to make sure the entries are being done correctly.

Once satisfied that the business data has been properly entered, the Accountant uses this information to create decision making tools such as financial statements, budgets, and the required business tax returns. It is with these tools that Accountants are able to provide strategic advice to help businesses achieve their objectives. Proactive strategic advice can be one of the best benefits businesses obtain from their Accountant.

In order to properly design the system and to carry out their responsibilities, Accountants should have earned their professional accounting designation, e.g., CPA, CA.

Bookkeepers

Bookkeepers are responsible for data entering the business’ financial transactions into the financial systems under the supervision of an accountant. Our firm has carefully designed various levels of Bookkeeping positions to streamline the data entry and ensure the quality of the data entered.

We use junior Bookkeepers to enter the business’ financial information into a detailed record keeping system (‘the books’). Our juniors are responsible for having a solid understanding of how to properly enter information in a cost effective manner. To ensure the quality of our juniors’ data entry, 100% of their entries are reviewed by their supervisor.

Senior bookkeepers have more experience and are able to handle a wider range of financial information. Our seniors assist the juniors as required and handle more complicated entries like payroll, prepaid expenses, depreciation entries, etc. We assign seniors to more complex bookkeeping tasks, and all of their entries are reviewed by an Accountant to ensure quality.

In reality there is no requirement for bookkeepers to be certified or to have completed formal training. In our firm, all of our Bookkeepers must pass internal knowledge tests based on their level and meet ongoing training requirements.

Conclusion

It is important to understand that the Accountants and Bookkeepers must work together as a team for the financial systems to function properly; both players are important. An Accountant is responsible for all of the business’ financial systems; however, the systems are in turn reliant on the quality of the financial data generated by the Bookkeepers.