Business 101 with Sage: 5 things you didn’t know about running a business.

By Nancy Harris
Vice President / General Manager
Sage Simply Accounting


Leading Sage Canada has given me the opportunity to see how things work for thousands of businesses across Canada. We found that entrepreneurs say that starting your own business can be an amazing experience: you’re in control of your own destiny, taking the time you need to build an experience you’ll love. But as many business owners will attest, one of the most difficult things is dealing with the challenges that you might not have expected.

It’s not really that surprising. Let’s say you’re an electrician, or a graphic designer, or a restauranteur.  You’re great at wiring, or creating, or building the perfect hospitality experience. Dealing with taxes, payroll, inventory, or compliance might not be your favourite thing, and they’re definitely not the things you enjoy doing. Being aware of the challenges that are coming your way is the first step in overcoming them, so here are the top 5 things that you probably don’t know that you don’t know.

#5: Not all of the factors that can eat your business are in your control. Be Prepared!

Even armed with a perfect plan, we’ve found find that there are elements that come sailing out of left field, ready to shake things up. It could be the weather, a shortage of parts, a client going out of business, or even a personal injury. Being prepared means diversifying your client base, having a back-up for parts and supplies, and having enough cash on hand to deal with things going sideways.


#4: Debit and Credit systems are your lifeline, but they’re not fun.

Processing payments means more than cash, putting some of your business in the hands of others. You probably already know that a percentage of each sale is reclaimed as a fee for using each service, along with the overhead of equipment rentals (or outright purchase). The thing you don’t know? Those reports at the end of the month can be a killer, so make time to process them. Each provider uses a unique format for presenting data, so if you’re doing things by hand, you’ll need to process them manually. It’s going to take time, be ready for that.


#3: Stay on top of taxes now or pay for it later.

Taxes may be the least fun part of running your business, and it gets worse if you’re not managing them regularly. Taking shortcuts like Quick Method for GST/HST, but you’ll end up paying more quarterly and tax time at year end becomes a logistic nightmare. By staying on top of what you own regularly, you’ll spend a little more time more frequently, but it will add hours to your life at the end of the year, and years to your life overall.


#2 Even professionals make mistakes.

If you opt not to take control of your businesses finances yourself, be aware that it’s still something you need to supervise. Even accounting professionals can make errors, especially in the sprint to the finish line during tax season. Allot some time each month to review your figures and highlight any issues that you think may be a concern. The money you save is your own!


#1 Just do it.

Even though starting a business can be scary, and there are plenty of things that you don’t know that you don’t know, it’s still one of the most exciting, interesting, and rewarding things that you can do!

Have you started a business of your own? Comment below and tell us about the challenges you faced, and how you overcame them!

 Nancy Harris is vice president and general manager for the Sage Simply Accounting business.
Follow Nancy on Twitter or join Sage on Facebook.

By Adam

July 19, 2012