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Being in business is an adventure

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 08:38 -- Sahar Nasr

Starting a new business is an adventure. It usually starts with a dream and, hopefully, ends with a reality. With me, I started thinking about my new business many years back. I love doing many things that could be a career for many people. Which one should I choose? The answer to this question took me three years to figure. Teaching is a great way of shaping children’s future and improving their lives. What it takes to put this idea to a reality is totally different experience than what I expected.

A new business start-up is very much like having a baby. Once you start down this road you never know what to expect. You read about it, plan for it, try to walk the right steps from the start then all of a sudden mishaps bombard you one after the other. One of the interesting discoveries I have encountered over the last few months is that as a new business owner you need to pay upfront for the services you purchase (even if this is an annual fee). You may say but you can get a loan; banks are there to help. Well, this is what I thought first, until I came to realize how much charges they rack upon you.

As a small business owner you will come to realize that promoting your business is not an easy job. You spend a great deal of effort and money to advertise with as many media outlets as possible. You take your friends’ advice to advertise with such and such media only to realize that the return on your investment is not what you expected. Sales staff from all quarters of earth encourages you to advertise with them. I have been approached by anyone and everyone who has had a print, a screen or an online outlet. From the golf score-booklet to the Google enterprise all are after your money, which you spend a good deal of time trying to make. It is your responsibility to take time and experiment, see which type of advertisement works for you and which doesn’t. Sales analysis is important to figure your way out in the marketing realm. Staying on the radar screen of your potential customers is important; however, your budget limits should be taken into consideration. In my type of business, I figured out that a word of mouth is extremely effective. As someone said to me, “but you can’t buy that”, I agree. But I can earn it through good experience with clients.

Federal and provincial governments are supposed to support small businesses. At least this is what I thought. When I was looking for a place to rent I remember the real estate agent telling me that all commercial businesses recoup the HST paid on their rent. Well, not for me. CRA has decided that my type of business is HST exempt; as such it doesn’t qualify for HST rebate! In short, the government will only give you the rebate as an incentive to be a tax man. This is ridiculous!  When I argued with a CRA auditor regarding this rule his advice was to take it up with my MP. According to CRA, only members of parliament are able to change these rules.

CRA has an online service centre like most of the government offices now to reduce labour expenses. To do it yourself, is both rewarding and frustrating. I love being able to process my own ITC, T-4 slips and file my taxes online as well. The minute you go wrong, CRA agents will be hunting you like a fly on a hot summer day. Once I made a mistake filing one of the forms, it took me four months to clear my record. I have been in business for only nine months and I have been audited twice.

You look at these mishaps and wonder; what’s keeping me in business? .... Well; I love what I do, and believe that I’m making a difference. One day I’m sure I’ll get it right. Let’s hope this day comes sooner than my retirement.

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