How to Identify and Overcome Stress Triggers

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a consultant, or a C-suite executive, you are bound to have days where the stress feels too difficult to overcome. Stress can hamper your mood, reduce productivity, lead to illness, and negatively affect those around us. The key to handling your stress is to understand it on a deeper level. Generally speaking, there are two types of stress triggers: external triggers and internal triggers.

External Stress Triggers

These are things that are completely out of your control that cause you stress. There is no limit to what can cause stress and much of it leaves us powerless and helpless. Things like environmental disasters, accidents, random illness, or even death; all of these things are uncontrollable and can be the cause of great stress.

Unfortunately, there is no prevention for external stress triggers. The only thing you can do is arm yourself defensively against them. By living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy body you will be able to handle more stress than you might think. If you have a healthy body and mind you will be able to obtain a positive perspective when things may appear to be grim. A certain level of “roll off your shoulders” attitude is required if you want to live as stress-free as possible. Many things in life are out of your control and it is your choice how you deal with them. Empower yourself by responding to stress triggers in a healthy, constructive way, rather than reacting to stress negatively.

Internal Stress Triggers

These stress triggers are much more difficult to overcome than external triggers. Internal stress triggers are thoughts and feelings we invoke upon ourselves that cause us to feel inadequate, anxious, or overwhelmed. This can be taking on too much at work or at home, or letting our fears overtake our daily routines. Whatever your internal stress triggers are it is important to address them before they take over your life.

Dealing with internal stress triggers involves taking a good look at the expectations you put on your own shoulders and evaluating their attainability. It’s difficult to tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t do something when you have spent your entire life building yourself up for greatness. Humble yourself and ask for help when needed. It is also important to set aside some time for you to relax in a day. Pick up a relaxing hobby such as yoga or meditation to allow your body and mind time to destress and rejuvenate.

Stress can be a life-altering thing. Don’t let it take over everything you have worked so hard to achieve.

Life Insurance & Business Succession

Having a life insurance policy in place is one of the best ways to ensure your family’s financial well-being after you pass. However, it may not be only family members that require financial support in your absence. If you are a small business owner, you should strongly consider taking a policy out on yourself that will act as part of your succession plan. Below are two examples of how having a life insurance policy specifically designated to the succession of your business can be used to benefit those you leave behind.

Estate Taxes

Much thought is put into estate planning on a personal level, but if you are a small business owner, it’s important to predict the business estate taxes to be paid upon your death. Discussions with a financial advisor will help you through this process as there are many factors involved in determining how much of the business will be taxable when the business owner dies. If the business was financially successful, there could be a large tax bill requiring payment as part of the estate settlement. This is when a specifically designated life insurance policy can really save your successor. Designate in your Will what each insurance policy you hold is to be applied against to ensure no confusion if you happen to meet an untimely death.

Replacement of Talent

In a small business situation, the business owner often plays a vital role in the day-to-day operations of the company. If the owner was there at the inception of the business and has spent years mastering the business, it will not be an easy feat to replace that person if they should die unexpectedly. People can pass away without notice, and if the survival of their company depends on their specific job being done, then existing staff may need to seek outside help. Having a life insurance policy on the business owner who carries the business is a useful tool for hiring a replacement. Likely someone with the expertise to successfully run a company will come at a higher salary, and having the financial means accessible to fund that salary could mean the difference between the company sinking or the company continuing to thrive.

Life insurance policies are important to have to ensure your family is cared for after your death. However it’s imperative that you also remember to protect your company against financial ruin after your death. Be certain to have enough life insurance in place to cover any expenses associated with your passing. We would be happy to provide you with further information about securing your legacy.

How to Maximize the Value of Your Business When You’re Ready to Sell

Whether it is time to sell now or if you are planning to sell in the future, there is always work to be done to prepare a business for sale. Here are five steps to take to increase the value of your business and entice the right buyer.

Improve Balance Sheets

Get tough on clients who have outstanding accounts and ensure that your business has as much money in the bank as possible. A successful business runs on a steady flow of money and without that, your business may not be desirable to an outside buyer. Be careful not to take money out of the business as you prepare to sell.

Lower Expenses

Take a hard look at your operating costs and see if there is room to make any cuts. Look for areas where you can cut expenses without hurting the productivity of your business. Perhaps you are paying high premiums for a software that is underutilized, or you have been using a supplier who charges quite a bit more than the competition and should consider making a switch in order to cut your costs. There are always ways you can lower your expenses without lowering your product or service quality, you just need to proactive and receptive to the changes.

Seek the Advice of a Professional

You are the master of your own business, but you may not be the master at maximizing your business’ potential. The financial advisors at The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. can help you review your financials and show you where you can make improvements. It is best to have a professional on your side to ensure you receive top dollar for your business come sale time.

Continue to Invest in Your Company

Just because you are seeking a buyer for your company doesn’t mean that you can walk away from it and let it deteriorate, especially if you are seeking top dollar. If your company requires new equipment, provide it. If maintenance is required in order for things to run smoothly, provide it. Do not let your desire to sell hurt the growth and stability of the company.

Build Up Your Brand

There are few industries without competition. Make your company stand out from the rest and be an example in your field for what success really is. Make your company look desirable to potential buyers through marketing and brand development. A buyer will be more interested in buying a well-known company with an established reputation as opposed to one with no presence at all. Even if your plans to sell are off in the future, keep in mind that planning can start early and getting your brand to be recognized as an industry-leading company is a fantastic way to begin.

For more advice about maximizing the value of your business as you prepare to sell, consult with your financial advisor at The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd.

Planning the Right Exit Strategy

We invest so much time and effort into our small businesses that it’s difficult to perceive an end to the whole process. Ultimately, however, there will be an end to your involvement in your small business whether it be for retirement, sale of the business, your own death, or simply the shutting down of the business. It is a good idea to have an exit strategy planned out ahead of time to protect the interests of you and your family.

Be Prepared

It is important to have a succession plan in place for your company, just like you plan your estate and write your Last Will and Testament to instruct how your personal assets will be handled after your death. Since there are many factors to consider with the change of ownership of a company, you will need to have a legal team available to assist with the legalities.

Communicate with the Future Owners

There is always the option of transferring your company to a family member or a long-term management partner. This option can provide you peace of mind knowing that your legacy will be cared for and nurtured after you depart the company. It is important to discuss your intentions with the future owners and make them aware for their own life plans. Part of your succession plan will be to ensure you have the right people to run your business when you step aside.

Selling the Company

Selling your company to an outside buyer and walking away completely is certainly a viable option for your exit strategy. It is important to have the company properly valuated and to set realistic expectations for the value of your company. Oftentimes a company’s value can surprise the owner either positively or negatively. Although selling the company to someone who has not been involved in the process with you may be difficult, it will also be a fair sale free from emotional attachment, which could mean more money for you.

Be Proactive

If you have the luxury of planning your exit strategy, it’s important to do so as far as two years in advance. Barring any unforeseen accidents, this should be a task for which it is straightforward to plan ahead. The longer you give yourself to plan your exit strategy, the more certainty you can feel in your decisions. If retirement or a business sale is on the horizon for you, be sure to start thinking of your exit strategy so you can plan to do what is best for the company you have worked so hard to build up.

The more organized you are the easier it will be to execute your exit strategy and enter the next chapter of your life, whatever that may be. If you need assistance with planning an exit strategy, your financial advisor from The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. can help guide you.

Planning for Retirement as a Small Business Owner

When you own your own business you might live under the mantra that your business is your retirement plan. This can sometimes work out to be true, but it’s not always a guarantee. You do not want to enter your retirement years without a solid financial plan already in place. It’s not enough to rely on CPP to cover all of your living expenses and maintain the quality of life to which you have grown accustomed. Here are some financial plans that might be helpful to have in place long before retirement is on the horizon.

Equity in the Business

It is possible that your succession plan is for you to retain shares in a class where you can claim dividends to supplement your retirement income. If your company is large enough to do this and still thrive then that is certainly a viable option; however, many small businesses would not be able to sustain this type of dividend. It’s important to talk with your financial advisor well in advance of your retirement years to plan if this is the right move for you.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan

Investing in an RRSP is the most secure way to ensure you have money available to you when you need it in your retirement. By making sizable and regular contributions to an RRSP portfolio, you can ensure that your retirement fund has grown to a sufficient size by the time regular withdrawals need to occur. With different investment options available you have the potential to grow your retirement fund over the course of many years.

Real Estate

Since small business owners can’t depend on a pension plan it might be wise to invest in real estate. This can be done by purchasing income property or simply by ensuring your own mortgage is paid in full. Having your own property be mortgage free by the time you want to retire leaves you with the option to sell and make a nice deposit into your retirement fund. Real estate has been known to be a dependable source of income over the years.

As a small business owner you have to juggle many different things on a daily basis. You may not be close to your retirement years but it is imperative that you invest in yourself and in your future in order to retire in a way that is comfortable for you. It’s never too early to start. Speak with your financial advisor from The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. to make the best choice for your future.

Small Business Insurance and Why You Need It

Growth and increasing revenue are two positives of a successful small business. As both increase, it’s important to look at your big picture. As the business develops and your responsibilities grow, it becomes important to protect your assets. Protection can be obtained through insurance policies. Here are a few areas where you should consider having insurance coverage.

Insurance on Your Biggest Asset: You

If your small business relies heavily on you and would not be able to survive should you be unable to work due to death or critical accident, there should be a personal life insurance policy and a disability insurance policy set in place to cover you, should disaster strike. This will ensure your beneficiaries are financially taken care of if you are no longer able to earn an income from your small business.

Insurance on Your Tangible Property

As your company grows, so will its assets. Every computer, printer, vehicle, and even the building out of which you operate all account as part of your company and should be insured against accidents and misfortune. One small fire is enough to destroy many of the assets held by your company and without insurance it can be detrimental to recover.

Liability Insurance

Depending on the type of business you have, there may be a certain amount of liability involved in doing the work you do. If there is any chance that you could cause harm to your clients either physically or business-wise it is imperative that you obtain liability insurance. A single lawsuit can be enough to sink even the most stable of businesses. It’s best to have full coverage in case the need arises.

Health Insurance

Being a company that offers health insurance to its staff is a big draw for employees. Employees need to know that their personal insurance needs can be met, so having a health insurance plan is a great way to show your staff that their needs matter.

Although paying into insurance can seem unappealing when there are other ways to invest those funds and help the business prosper, it really is essential to ensuring the longevity of your company. There are no guarantees in life and having a stable insurance plan in place for every necessary avenue is the best way to guarantee your company can survive anything the world throws at it. For more information on the types of insurance your company might need, feel free to connect with us at The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd.

The Federal Budget and Your Small Business

The recent federal election brought Canada a new Liberal government, and with that came the promise to invest in the Canadian economy. What does this mean for small business owners in Canada? The new budget has brought upon some changes that are favourable to small businesses as well as some guarantees that life will not be made more difficult for small businesses from a tax perspective. It means that things have not necessarily changed for the better or for the worse. Here’s a small breakdown of what Canadian small business owners can expect going forward.

No Changes to Capital Gains Inclusions and Stock Options

Prior to the release of the federal budget there was concern that the capital gains inclusion rate would increase from its rate of 50% and that there would be changes to stop option benefit rules. The good news is that the release of the federal budget shows no changes to either the stock option rules or the capital gains inclusion rate.

Corporate Tax Rates

The bane of all small businesses is the amount of taxes owed to the government every quarter. The federal budget shows no changes to the tax rates on small corporations which is a relief because the proposed deficit needs to be answered for somewhere and small business owners are glad it’s not at their expense.

Small Business Deduction

Various loopholes have now been closed with respect to the previously allotted small business deductions. The small business deduction is available to businesses who earn less than $500,000.00 annually; the tax rate is 15% and can provide tax savings of up to $55,000.

Transferring Life Insurance

It used to be that you were able to transfer life insurance policy to a corporation and thereby obtain tax-free corporate money. The new federal budget has done away with this loophole and no longer allows it to occur. There may also be an inquiry to examine policies that did this prior to the release of the 2016 federal budget.

Life can go on normally for small business owners in Canada with the implementation of the 2016 federal budget. Many of the changes made were not harmful or costly to small business owners and are simply just procedural updates. The Liberal Government is being true to their word on the notion of building up the Canadian economy and providing support for small businesses.