Getting Out and About in Victoria

This past week, I attended the monthly lunch of the Westshore Women’s Business Network (WWBN).  For about two hours, eighty women meet to network, break bread and hear some awesome speakers.  This month, Lisa Edwards of Ideography gave us a great process for putting together amazing presentations, and Frederique Philip of Sooke Harbour House  described how the award winning hotel and restaurant became what it is now from its humble beginnings of a B&B.

One of the things I most enjoy is meeting my table mates.  This month Mandy Kray of Walk Abouts Historical Tours was sitting next to me.  As indicated in a previous post, my husband and I vacationed in Victoria for many years before making it our home.  Chatting with Mandy reminded me how much I miss being a tourist in Victoria.  From the lights in the inner harbour, to the visiting the float homes in Fisherman’s Wharf, coffee and dessert at Ogden Point and staying at Dashwood Manor on Dallas Road.  Because we are surrounded by the wonder of the mountains and ocean each day, do we become complacent or are we so busy with operating our businesses, dealing with our responsibilities at home, that we don’t take the time to appreciate we live in Canada’s prettiest City (in my opinion!).

As the holiday season approaches, I would like to encourage each of you to take time and enjoy something that Victoria has to offer:

We can be the best ambassadors of our City when we are excited about where we live.  Promoting our City is the best way to encourage growth and build our businesses!

I am Colleen from Security House Accounting Services. Give us your books – Take back your life!

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Make a List

For a lot of years, I have been known as the “Queen of Lists”.  There is something that is extremely satisfying about checking off an item on a list when it is complete.  Lists play an important part of my day. I find they de-clutter my mind and identify the priority items.

As small business owners, we are constantly juggling competing priorities.  These priorities can be overwhelming and it is easy to procrastinate and ignore the commitments and responsibilities.  I find if these items are written down and then checked off when complete, it makes what was overwhelming now manageable.

So here are a few tips to get started on your own “to do list”:

  • Start with a clean paper, word document or page in a book
  • Note everything that is on your mind however small it may be – the point is to document everything so it is not cluttering your mind
  • Break down the large tasks to smaller processes
  • Go through the list and identify the items that are important to the operation of your business
  • Within those important items, hi-lite those tasks that are urgent or have a due date
  • Start with the urgent items and address the tasks that can be completed quickly, always remembering to check off the completed items

Ideally a “to do list” should be made at the end of the day (or week). That way you are ready to attack that list the moment you start your day (or new week).

There are many e-solutions for the “to do list”.  Microsoft Outlook has a ‘tasks manager’, and there is also ‘Remember the Milk’ or ‘Todoist’.

I am Colleen from Security House Accounting Services. Give us your books – take back your life!

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Track Your Mileage

During the course of a year, many of us will use our own vehicle for business purposes. But what exactly makes up the total expense we can claim on our taxes?

You can claim the full amount of:

  • Parking fees, and
  • Supplementary business insurance on your vehicle

And you can claim the business use of:

  • Licence and registration fees,
  • Fuel and oil costs,
  • Insurance,
  • Maintenance costs,
  • Interest on money borrowed to buy a vehicle, and
  • Leasing costs

Now this is where it is very important to track your mileage.  Since only the amounts of business use can be claimed for the second list, you need to know how many kilometers of your total number of kilometers in the year are for business use.

Luckily, there are easy ways of tracking this!

For those who are tech savvy, there are apps you can download to your mobile device that will use GPS and track the distance you travel. Milebug is an app that I use on my iPhone.

There are also log books you can keep in your vehicle to record your business mileage.

I am Colleen from Security House Accounting Services. Give us your books – take back your life!

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How Organized is Your ‘Shoebox’?

A couple months ago, I did a presentation on records management for small business. More specifically, I talked about how some business owners have become experts at ‘shoebox’ bookkeeping, and how those owners can manage their records in a better way.

The CRA has guidelines around what supporting documents you need to keep, so having a good records management system can definitely save time and reduce stress at year-end or in the event you are audited. I have attached the CRA’s guide on keeping records here.

Some other benefits of keeping records are:

  • Helps identify sources of income
  • Reminds you of expenses you can deduct and tax credits you can claim
  • Makes it easier for you to determine your taxes owing
  • Provides you with information on the past and present financial positions of your business or other organization
  • Helps you make good business decisions
  • Assists you in getting loans from banks and other lenders

One very simple step you can take to move away from using a ‘shoebox’ for your records is to purchase an expanding file folder labeled with months. That way, whenever you have receipts or invoices come in, just stick them in the file folder under the appropriate month. It’s as easy as that!

I’m Colleen from Security House Accounting Services. Give us your books – take back your life!

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The ‘Must Haves’ for Receipts and Invoices

This week I had the opportunity to get together with a few colleagues for lunch.  When our bills came, we began discussing why there was no business number on the receipt.  So I thought this would be a good opportunity to go over what needs to be on the receipts and invoices.

The CRA’s requirements for invoices depend on the total sale amount.

For sales Under $30, there are 3 pieces of information:
- The name of the business
- The invoice date
- The total amount paid

For sales Between $30 and $149.99, include the above 3 points, plus:
- The total amount of HST/GST charged on the sale
- If the sale has items taxed at different rates, you must show the break-down of the amount of tax at each rate
- The business number of the business issuing the invoice

For sales Over $150, all points above must be included, plus:
- A brief description of the goods or services
- Terms of payment

I have linked a handy chart as a quick reference. And remember, the points above apply to the invoices you give out as well as the invoices you receive. Making sure your invoices have the information included will save a lot of time and money in the event you are one of the lucky few to be audited! If you have questions about your invoices, give me a call!

I am Colleen from Security House Accounting Services. Give us your books – take back your life!

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Small Business Stats

Hi Everyone,

I found an interesting article this week that has several statistics about Canadian small businesses.

The first is that 58% of small businesses start out with less than $5000, and 79% start out with less than $20,000.  But what I thought was very interesting, is that 98% of businesses in Canada are small or medium sized.

This shows that small businesses are absolutely essential for the Canadian economy and the livelihood of most of the workforce.

However, only 85% of small businesses survive the first year, and only 70% the second year. This reinforces the importance of managing your money. Bookkeepers can help small businesses identify where their money is and where it is moving. And knowing this movement of money allows you to make the best decisions for your business.

I’m Colleen from Security House Accounting. Give us your books – take back your life!

Article Link

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Small Business Month in BC

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the launch of ‘Small Business Month’ at a lunch sponsored by CGA BC. The Minister for ‘the State of Small Business’, the Honourable Naomi Yamamoto, explained to the group how the ‘Small Business Roundtable’ is making a difference.

Established in 2005, the Small Business Roundtable’s on going mandate is to serve the best interests of small businesses in BC. It is made up of 19 representatives from across the Province who are recognized leaders within the small business community. The recommendations put forth to government are a result of listening to challenges experienced by the small business owner.

One of the main challenges they are trying to address is the amount of red tape small business owners face when dealing with the government. I believe any improvement on these barriers would be very beneficial.

The latest report from the Roundtable can be found here:


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About Colleen Hoggarth and Security House Accounting Services

Hi, my name is Colleen Hoggarth. I am a Certified Professional Bookkeeper and owner of Security House Accounting Services. Each week, I will post a message in this blog. It can be advice, stories, or reminders about bookkeeping and tax that directly impacts you, business owners and individuals. This week, I am going to start this blog off with a little information about myself and Security House Accounting Services.

I started my career as a staff accountant for CA firms in Eastern Ontario. This is where I met my husband Andy, who was also an accountant. Once we started a family, I changed industries and began working as a Controller and Property Manager for a family-owned real estate investment company. After a few years in this role, I was promoted to General Manager where I stayed for nearly 14 years.

In 2008, Andy and I moved to beautiful Victoria, BC! Since moving here, I worked for a property management company and then a real estate developer. Last year I finally realised my goal to own my own business. Near the end of October I stumbled on an ad for a bookkeeping and tax business for sale. On January 2nd of this year, I took ownership of Security House Accounting Services. I have never been happier!

Security House Accounting Services is located at unit 101 – 830 Shamrock Street, just off of Oak Street near the Uptown Shopping Centre. We offer a wide range of accounting, bookkeeping, and tax services to businesses and individuals. Because no two businesses are the same, even if they offer the same product or service, I will customize the specific accounting, bookkeeping, and tax services that suit your needs and goals. This results in the most cost effective and efficient solution for you and your business.

If you are at all interested in finding out how a bookkeeper can help manage your business’ finances, please phone or email me, and I would be more than happy to get together and go over any questions you have, and what I can provide to you and your business.
I am Colleen from Security House Accounting Services. Give us your books – Take back your life!


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