A Checklist for Hiring Your First Employee

Check ListHiring your first employee can be an exciting step in growing your small business. An additional worker can add capacity to the product or service you sell, take away administrative tasks from you, or help with sales and growth.

Unfortunately, the learning curve is a bit steep when you go from no employees to one employee. The good news is that it gets easier as you add more workers after getting through the initial stage of setting up your human resources and payroll systems.

Here is a quick list of things to get in order before your employee’s first day:

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

Payroll Account – The CRA requires that all employers withhold taxes, and collect and pay Employment Insurance (EI) premiums and Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) contributions. Getting the payroll number is free-of-charge. If you already have a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) account, you can add a payroll account to your business number by calling 1-800-959-5525.

Tax Deduction (TD1) Forms – As part of your process for hiring a new employee, you will ask them to complete two separate TD1 forms; the TD1-Federal and the TD1-Ontario . The purpose of these forms is to collect tax information from the employee that will be used in calculating their deductions and tax withholdings.

Monthly Payments (Remittances) – After opening a payroll account, you will be expected to file a monthly remittance with CRA. The easiest way to do this is to talk to your bank about allowing government remittances as part of your online banking. There are also paper and alternate online options to process these transactions.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)

The Ontario WSIB provides insurance that protect your workers in the event they are injured or become sick on the job. Protecting workers under the WSIB is required by law. You can apply for coverage on the organization’s website www.wsib.on.ca.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

 Ontario’s accessibly legislation provides direction on ensuring your hiring practices are inclusive and accessible. The legislation also spells out specific training requirements for your employees to inform them about accessibility standards for customer service in your operation. The Government of Ontario has helpful information on its website (www.ontario.ca/page/accessibility-rules-businesses-and-non-profits and offers in-person training. 

Tools and Systems

Reporting employee wages and calculating withholdings (taxes for provincial and federal governments) and deductions requires accurate record keeping. Many software tools will help with this tracking, and some will even include localized information for Ontario businesses. QuickBooks Online with Payroll is an example of a software tool used by many businesses. The biggest advantage to using payroll software is that it will track the payments and withholdings to date and adjust deductions automatically when a maximum is reached, or when a worker is entering a new income tax rate.

Are you ready to grow your business with new staff? The consultants at the Halton Region Small Business Centre are here to help. We offer one-on-one consultations for free. Book your appointment by calling 905-825-6000, ext.7900.

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Operating a Home-Based Business

Smiling businesswoman working from home

If you are thinking of opening a new business have you considered the option of it being a home-based business?  There are a lot of benefits to running a home-based business.  It not only allows you the flexibility to be able to set your own pace but it also helps you to cut down on start-up and overhead costs.

Forbes online wrote an article about home-based businesses.  In the article it listed the number one reason as “more time for work and less time commuting.”   The fact that you do not have to drive to work gives you more valuable time to work in and on your business.   The moment you get out of bed you can start work.   You don’t even have to take off your fluffy slippers.

There are a few more reasons why people start home-based business.   Besides the money savings people see it as a lifestyle change.  In the last few years there has been an increase in stay-at-home moms/dads who want to be there for their kids and possess skills that are still needed in the market place.  Running a home-based business gives them the freedom and flexibility to be available for their kids. Continue reading

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Summer Company Students are Taking Care of Business

The Halton Small Business Centre (SBEC) is once again coordinating the Summer Company Program in Halton Region for the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.

This program assists high school and post-secondary students who are looking to develop entrepreneurial skills while operating their own summer businesses in Halton.  Rather than going the traditional summer job route, these entrepreneurial students are paving the way toward a future of independence and opportunity.

Twelve students developed and submitted business plans outlining their startup costs and cash flow projections.  The province has provided $1,500in startup funding and at the end of the summer, these student entrepreneurs will be eligible to receive a $1,500award based on business performance.

During the summer, the students will attend training sessions with Halton SBEC Consultants along with the assistance of mentors who have donated their time and expertise to help these students meet their goals.

This year the mentors are:

  • Jon Sturtridge from BDO
  • Jayme Moorcroft from RBC
  • Phil Von Massow, owner of Connoisseur Painting Ltd.
  • Maralyn Ellis, owner of Futures Found
  • Lisa Penney, owner of Arts at Work

These mentors make a big contribution to the success of this program and their assistance is greatly appreciated.

Summer Company 2016 Student Businesses:

Relentless Hockey Development

Relentless Hocked Development is an Oakville-based student business that provides high-level training and coaching skills for professional level hockey teams and players.

Hulshof Pet Portraits

Hulshof Pet Portraits is an Oakville-based business that offers individual sketches and paintings of any families pets, including dog and cats and other pets.

Reid Brooks

Reid Brooks is a Burlington based business that manufactures and sells specialized metal stamped creations to be used as art pieces or functional garden accents.

Ben Allmark Photography

Ben Allmark Photography is based in Oakville and provides quality photography services focusing on equestrian and skateboarding events throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

Be the next MVP

Be the next MVP is a promotional business that helps young talented athletes promote themselves by creating professional materials such as websites, videos, strategic exposure and marketing and social media guidance to increase exposure to collegiate athletics.

Prime Tutors

Prime Tutors is a service business based in Oakville that provides specialized tutoring in Halton Region for elementary and high school students in a variety of subjects to excel in standardized testing such as Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Canadian Achievement Test, Ontario Literacy Test and Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) Test.

Ecentric Auto Detailing

Based in Milton, Ecentric Auto Detailing provides professional detailing services with an attention to classic and premium automobiles in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Tyandaga Lawn Care

Based in the Tyandaga area of Burlington, Tyandaga Lawn Care provides grass cutting and weeding services.

Summer Splash Swim Lessons & Lifeguard Services

Based in Acton, Summer Splash will come to your home to teach children how to swim in a fun, yet structured atmosphere.  Lifeguard services are available for poolside events to ensure safety and security.

DJP Productions

DJP Productions, based in Oakville, is a photo and video production company focusing on capturing memories from personal and business events.

Class on Grass

Class on Grass provides lawn cutting and maintenance services in the Burlington area.

Upstream Creative

Upstream Creative is an Oakville based video production business that helps other businesses by producing quality video for promotional purposes.

The future looks bright with young entrepreneurs like these. By investing in their future today, these students are definitely taking care of business! Learn more about our programs for young entrepreneurs at halton.ca/smallbusiness.


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Six Steps to Better Decision Making

Happy business woman looking on questions in bubbles isolated

Are you indecisive?   Do you find it hard to make decisions?  Do you second guess yourself after you have made a decision?  If you are, the good thing is that you are not alone.  There are several factors to take into consideration when you are making a decision.  It does not matter whether you are making a big or small decision, it can still have a huge impact on your business.

There are many factors that can influence a decision.  What you need to understand is that everything and everyone around you has an impact on your decision- making patterns.  Every day, you subconsciously gather thoughts and feelings from what happens around you.  If you want to make better decisions, follow these six steps:

  1. Make sure you have all of the information needed to make the right decision, so do your homework and research. Sometimes we jump to conclusions without looking at all the facts and we make judgement calls which result in a bad decision.
  2. Let others influence your decision. There is nothing wrong with getting opinions, but make sure you feel right about the decision and don’t let others tell you what to do.
  3. Create a realistic budget to calculate costs.
  4. Weigh in on your past bad experiences so that you can avoid a repeat of the same outcome.
  5. Generate a timeline for accountability.
  6. Lastly, separate yourself from the idea so that you can see the complete picture. Do not make any decisions based on emotions.

After the decision is made, you have to remember that whether it is a bad or good decision, you need to deal with the outcome.   You always need to be flexible and positive.  If the decision you made was wrong, there is no time for regret.  You need to stop immediately.  You should never feel obligated to continue with the decision if it surpasses the timeline and budget.  The important thing to remember is that no decision is written in stone.   As a business owner, you need to learn from all of your decisions.   Decisions you make now will impact your future decisions, so make sure you have the right tools.

One of the goals of the Centre is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and provide the right tools to achieve success.  For more information about resources, services, business events and seminars, contact us by dialing 311, 1-866-442-5866, online at www.halton.ca/smallbusiness, by email at smallbusiness@halton.ca or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. You can also follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.


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Celebrating Successes at the Small Business Centre

Celebrating success in business can have a huge impact on an entrepreneur’s personal motivation and their ability to inspire those around them. Business owners, new and experienced, should reflect on the path taken, inventory milestones and acknowledge their big “wins”.

We are genuinely committed at the Small Business Centre to seeing our clients start and grow their companies. We conduct regular follow-up calls to visitors of our centre to see what progress them have made, and most importantly learn if they started a business and if they have been able to create new jobs in our community. We are always happy to share success stories of business that have launched, during our staff meetings. For some of the success stories we have the opportunity to further recognize our clients’ achievements more formally.

Here are some examples of ways we like to celebrate our clients:

Featured Entrepreneur Display Case and Wall of Fame

When you first visit our Small Business Centre you will immediately notice the presence
of our clients in our space. At our entrance you will find a Featured Entrepreneur Display Case. Our clients with products can be invited to display their wares for two months.

We also celebrate successes of past clients by posting pictures on our “wall of fame”, serving as an inspiring reminder to our visitors and staff that businesses do start and grow.

IMG_1025IMG_1024Email Capture

Newsletters and Reports Continue reading

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Online Tools for Business Owners

shows tabletRunning a business can be a stressful endeavor.  The good news is that there are a lot of online cost-effective tools and resources at your fingertips to help manage and enhance your business.  These tools not only can make your life easier, but can help you grow your business.  If you are determined to make your mark in the online world you may want to consider the following tools:

Prezi is a cloud based interactive platform that is used to make presentations.  It allows you to zoom in and out and this creates an interesting visual that is appealing to the eye.

Canva is a design program that helps you to create banners, brochures, business cards, flyers, letterhead, poster and presentations.

Zoho is known as the operating system for business.  You can use it for sales, marketing, email, collaboration, business process, finance, IT and help desk and human resources.

MailChimp is an emailing marketing service that is used to manage subscribers, send emails and it even tracks results. Continue reading

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Business Plan Reviews at the Small Business Centre

Business Plan

The written business plan is an important part of building a new venture. While all businesses can benefit from some type of written plan, entrepreneurs seeking financing through formal funding programs will have their plan scrutinized by readers as bankers and panellists work to make their funding decisions.

At the Halton Region Small Business Centre, we regularly review business plans for entrepreneurs as they prepare to submit their final copies to formal programs.

Here are some key points from three big sections we look at when we are determining if a business plan is ready for presentation:

The Marketing Section:

  • Does the plan show how the business will go from no customers to the first organic (non-family or friend) customer?
  • Are marketing tactics supported with details – specifically does the plan provide timelines, budgets, assignments, and a way measure results? This section is a good spot to make sure you haven’t resorted to generic statements like “we will use social media channels”, or “the business will grow by word-of-mouth”.

Financial Projections:

  • Do the budgeted amounts seem realistic or made up? Early in the business planning process many writers will estimate expenses and include their estimate as a placeholder. These estimates are a great way to help the financial model take shape quickly, but the amounts should be replaced with real values based on research or a quote before the plan in finalized. For example, $100 per month for insurance is usually my telltale sign that the numbers aren’t confirmed.
  • Is profit, or at least positive cash-flow, being projected? After projecting the finances for the business, it is important to ensure the businesses potential meets the needs of the entrepreneur and the funder.

Continue reading

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