Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Business Travel

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to business travel.

Should You Buy or Lease a Car?

This post first appeared on the CPA4IT Business Resources section on June 22, 2018

Is it better to buy a car under your name personally, or through a corporation? And is it better to lease – or borrow money to acquire a vehicle?

These are the two most common questions we hear all the time when it comes to buying a car.

Questions to Consider

Should You Buy or Lease a Car?

First, let’s address the question about whether it’s best to lease or buy. While most people believe this to be an accounting question, there are other factors that have a greater impact on your decision. For example:

  • Do you want a brand new car or would you be a happy with a car that is a few years old?
  • What are the current finance and lease rates?
  • How many kilometres will you drive?
  • Are you the type of person that will drive the same car for 12 years – or do you want a new car every few years?

These are the questions that ultimately affect your decision.

Tax Deduction

There are 2 methods for calculating the automobile expense: 1) mileage – and 2) actual expenses. In most situations the mileage nets a higher deduction. If you use the mileage rate, the deduction is the exact same whether you lease or buy. However, if you have an expensive lease – or simply don’t drive much – then using actual expenses may result in a greater deduction. So let’s evaluate the differences in deductions when using the actual method.

With leases you can deduct the total amount of the lease – up to a maximum of $800 a month (assuming you are Toronto-based as an example). With a purchase, you can deduct a percentage of the purchase price of the vehicle each year due to the vehicle’s depreciation in value. The maximum amount that can be depreciated for a passenger vehicle is $30,000. The vehicle can be depreciated at a rate of 15% in the first year, and 30% of the remaining balance for each subsequent year. While there is a difference between these two methods the bottom line savings is marginal.

If you’re going to buy or lease a car, we usually recommend that you do so under your own name and have your corporation reimburse you for its use of the vehicle. On the other hand, if the car is under a company name – and you use the car personally – you must reimburse the company for your personal use percentage of expenses, or take a taxable benefit into your personal income. You’ll also need to calculate a gain or loss when you sell the vehicle: this means more paperwork for your accountant and higher accounting fees for you. One of the great benefits of a corporation is limited liability. However, if your assets are owned by the corporation, you’ve limited the liability to all of your assets – which defeats the purpose.

When you’re making major life decisions such as purchasing or leasing a vehicle, we highly recommend you speak with your accountant to ensure you’re making the best decision. If you have any questions about automobile expenses – or are considering the lease or purchase of a new car – please feel free to contact us directly so we can discuss your particular situation, and assist you in making the right decision – for you.

Business Etiquette Around the World (Infographic)

Sometimes independent contractors need to travel to work with clients from around the world. It could mean you are travelling to other countries, delegates are travelling to your country, or more commonly, meetings over the phone or video.

Regardless of where or how you meet people with different cultural backgrounds, you can save yourself awkward misunderstandings or conflicts by first reviewing this infographic from CT Business Travel. It explores different customs from different countries when it comes to introductions, meetings and even dining etiquette. Are there any tips you would add based on your own experiences? Share them in the comments below.

Business Etiquette Around the World #infographic
You can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Pack Your Medium Travel Bag for Short Business Trip

A common travel tip from road warriors is to avoid checked luggage as much as possible. It adds extra time to both ends of your trip, has risks of getting lost and, for most airlines today, additional expenses.  The solution is to have just a medium-sized travel bag that you can always carry-on. If you’re travelling for an extended period of time that could mean having to pack a lot of stuff, and that needs to be done strategically.

About a year and a half ago, we shared this video that showed you how to pack for nearly a month in a carry-on.  Recently, we found this video from Men’s Journey. It provides packing tips for those travelling for less than a month, but also who want to use a smaller bag.

10 Travel Tips For the Tech-Savvy Entrepreneur

This post by John Boitnott original appeared on Inc.com on August 14, 2015.

10 Travel Trips For the Tech-Savvy EntrepreneurLike every entrepreneur, you probably struggle to hit that off button on all the activity in your life. I’ve found traveling to be an effective way of putting a pause on the workday. Flying 500 miles per hour 30,000 feet above the world has a way of isolating you, especially if you’re on one of those airlines that doesn’t have affordable Wifi.

On my most recent trip to New York City I woke up at 4am, made sure I was packed properly, took a Lyft to SFO, and piled into my 7am Virgin America flight. It was exhausting. Although I’m a fan of that company, getting work done, although totally possible, is generally not a very positive experience on any flight and isn’t something people usually want to do in a cramped seat. No matter how good Virgin’s actual service is, there’s really nothing you can do about the sky-high pricing of their inflight Wifi and the lack of space you have in front of you for your laptop.

Regardless, at some point you will most likely have to hunker down and get work done, not only while flying, but once you land too. Here are some travel tips to help you stay on track no matter where you are in the world.

  1. Float on a Cloud

Even the best organizers are sure to forget a file or document. Make the best of today’s cloud-based technology to keep your documents, presentations, photographs and videos within reach. DropBox, Google Drive, and iDrive are just three of the many cloud storage service providers you can use to travel light but still keep all of your information available.

  1. Stay in Touch

Although there may be time differences, flights without Wi-Fi, or other periods of time where you cannot be in contact, you can use online applications to stay in touch. This goes beyond email and instant messaging. Use Skype, Google Hangout, Viber or any other voice/video communication service to reach your team as well as provide access for them to check-in, ask questions, or conduct quick meetings.

  1. Plan in Advance

Plan out aspects of your trip as well as the work you’ll need to do in advance as much as you can. This will make for a smoother travel experience. For the flight, use a product like Seat Guru to help you get a better seat with more legroom, if those are available. You might also want to choose business class on really long trips to help you take advantage of the extra room. Do advance check-in to save the hassle later. You can also schedule a car service or an Uber driver in advance for when you arrive. You can get repetitive work tasks handled in advance while traveling by using a variety of services. PandaDoc helps you keep track of documents as well as sign clients, Hootsuite can help you take care of social media posts, and WordPress lets you schedule blogs.

  1. Keep Fit

You don’t want to be lax on your fitness just because you are traveling. Instead, bring your FitBit with you and continue to track steps and stairs. Even if your hotel doesn’t have a fitness center or swimming pool (although you are booking all wrong if you haven’t selected one that has these features) you can quickly locate online resources that provide guides for exercises that can be done from a hotel room.

  1. Delegate

Don’t be afraid to delegate more of your basic responsibilities to others while you are away. Traveling is not the time to micro-manage or morph into a control freak. You can set these tasks up online through a work management platform like Wrike that provides a list and timeline for each member of the team, including the additional work you are entrusting to them while you are on the road. Famous Silicon Valley unicorn Slack is all the rage right now for keeping everyone on the same page work-wise. It will most assuredly enable you to delegate more easily and often in real time.

  1. Block Time

Determine when you can block out work time while traveling, especially if it is a trip for pleasure and involves others that want your attention. This is up to your personal preference, but you may prefer to work early in the morning while others are sleeping. This way you can wrap up conference calls or projects that keep your staff on target, so you can then migrate to the fun, diversion part of the trip. Of course, you might be a night owl and want to work then. Being flexible and staying organized around how you use time is highly important when traveling.

  1. Put Technology to Work

There are so many tech gadgets and apps now available to make traveling anywhere in the world easier and more convenient. Consider a satellite phone if you are going to one of the farthest corners of the globe, such as Roadpost’s Iridium. If you are afraid of losing power, use a MOTA charge card, which fits in your wallet and provides three hours of talk time or 150 hours of standby time.

No one wants to lose luggage and now you can keep an eye on it with the Trakdot Luggage Tracker. If you are traveling somewhere that does not have English as a common language and you haven’t caught up on your language studies, you can download Google Translate to your smartphone so that you know what someone else is saying or what the sign reads. If you are driving on your trip, it helps to have navigation assistance that keeps your eyes on the road, so you can use a product like Navion from WayRay, which offers the first holographic car navigation that puts it right up on your windshield. These are only a few of the countless tech gadgets that can help you get around and enjoy the trip to the fullest.

  1. Hydrate

While it may seem obvious, many travelers don’t realize how much this helps them overcome jet lag, regain mental alertness, and raise productivity on the go. Drink plenty of water and avoid coffee and alcohol as these both dry you out. You can use an online water consumption calculator to determine how much water you need to stay hydrated while traveling to ensure you keep healthy.

  1. Create Task Lists

While time changes and various modes of transport may take you away from the usual routine you have at home, make daily lists to complete during each day you are traveling. These can be built in advance and accessed through your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Some task apps to consider include TodoistAny.do, andWunderlist.

  1. Employ Travel Tricks

Using some of the tricks that seasoned travelers employ can save you both time and money. For example, many travelers do reverse booking by getting a one-way ticket and then booking a round-trip ticket for the return. This provides that extra portion to use for another trip to the same location. You can also buy a connection ticket that includes your destination and you simply get off there rather than connecting. Don’t waste time checking bags because that takes more time on both ends of the trip that you can use for something more productive. If you are traveling out of the country and want to skip the long security and customs lines, sign up for Nexus, Global Entry, and/or TSA Precheck to slash this time.

Top 10 Things to Do on a Business Trip (Video)

Travelling for business isn’t all that glamourous, especially after the day is over and you find yourself bored in a hotel room. According to Vlog Travel, there’s no reason to be bored and you have a lot of options, whether you want to relax or go out for a night on the town. Here are a few ideas to help you fill your time.

10 Tips for Being Super Productive On Your Next Flight

This article was originally posted September 14th, 2015 by Nina Zipkin on Entrepreneur.com

10 Tips for Being Super Productive On Your Next FlightIf you travel a lot for business, you know that even the shortest flights can take up a good chunk of time. There’s the time spent traveling to and from the airport, the time spent going through security, the time spent waiting in the terminal. And don’t even get us started on the time spent waiting for your bag.

These trips are meant to help you advance your company, but if you feel like you’re constantly in limbo, how can you focus long enough to get anything done?

Here are a few tips to ensure you make the most of your time in the air and hit the ground running once you land.

  1. Stay hydrated and brown bag it.

Traveling is tiring no matter how well in advance you plan. Making sure you drink enough water will make you feel more awake and help prevent you from getting sick. If you know you have to get a big project done, pack yourself a meal and some snacks that you know will keep you to keep you going so you won’t have to rely on what the airport or airline has to offer.

  1. Make sure you can work without the Internet.

Airplane Wi-Fi is notoriously spotty, so don’t be caught off guard if your internet cuts out mid-flight. When you’re going through your to-do list, make sure you download all the documents you need ahead of time and set aside work you can do without being connected, like writing emails to send once you land.

  1. Keep your devices charged.

It may seem like a simple task, but in your effort to get from A to B, it’s easy to forget that your laptop-with-everything-on-it needs some juice to stay alive. Remember to put your devices in airplane mode to save battery and travel with your device chargers. You might also want to bring your own power strip; if you’re lucky enough to find a free outlet in a busy airport, you could help a fellow traveler out, too.

  1. Don’t just keep your head down.

Your inclination is to get as much work in as possible, but you never know who you’ll be seated next to you on the plane or who will need to share that outlet with you in the airport. Keep your business cards at the ready because your neighbor could offer you some intriguing advice or become a potential partner, customer or friend.

  1. Get some exercise.

You can’t pay attention to work if you’re sluggish or exhausted. Even if you only can do some laps around the terminal before you board, run up and down a flight of stairs or stretch your legs up and down the aisle of the plane while en route to your destination, do what you can to keep your blood pumping and keep the stress to a minimum.

  1. Get busy work out of the way before you get on the road.

Don’t spend your time in the air doing busy work like filling out forms or rearranging your calendar. On the plane you’re largely away from the quotidian distractions that crop up in your office, so devote your attention to a big project or fleshing out a new idea.

  1. Set goals for yourself.

What do you want to accomplish by the end of the flight? When you make your itinerary and book all your travel, also make a list of the tasks you want to complete before you land and check them off as you go. And do the most important item first.

  1. Block out your time.

Once you have your priorities in order, next to each item, estimate how long you each task will take. Develop a system that works best for you – i.e., working 40 minutes and then taking a 20 minute break. You’ll soon get into a rhythm that will help keep you focused.

  1. Calm your nerves.

Many people are nervous fliers – heights, enclosed spaces, iffy air pressure – they can all take a toll and make the most confident person uneasy. If you have worst-case scenarios running through your head as your taking off, work may be the last thing on your mind. But remember to take a breath, calm your mind and channel that nervous energy into doing a great job.

  1. Take a break.

Whether your flight is three hours or 13, you can’t work nonstop – before long, you’ll start to see your concentration and quality of work suffer. Instead of mindlessly going down an Internet wormhole or flipping through the SkyMall for a third time, do something more creative. Look out the window and listen to favorite playlist for a few minutes, bring a sketchbook or journal with you, work out your brain with a Sudoku game or just meditate.

Tips for Business Travellers

Depending on your expertise, your client, or demand in your hometown, there’s a good chance that as an independent contractor, you have to travel for business.  At the start of July, we provided some tips to maximize your time on the road.  Further to that, we surveyed some executives at Eagle who travel frequently and came up with a few extra tips:

  1. Be organized and don’t leave stuff till the last minute.  Pick your seat, book your hotel, etc. well ahead to get best prices, the right schedule and the seat/hotel you want.
  2. If you have not been there before do a little research.  Google map the area, look at hotel amenities, look at a local tourist sites for restaurant options etc.
  3. Consider using discount sites like Hotwire to get best pricing.
  4. AirplaneDon’t stress yourself out by arriving at the airport at the very last minute.  The more experience you have the more clear you become about how long it take to get to the airport, get through security etc.  Be sure to leave yourself time to pick up water, reading material, and snacks once through security.
  5. Don’t rely on the airline for drinks or food. It might work out fine, but be prepared.  Bring your own bottled water and nutritious snack.  You need to stay hydrated, and fed!
  6. Have all of your travel docs together (electronically and/or on paper)
  7. Create a “reading” file with photocopied/printed articles to use time productively (Note: an e-reader may do this even more efficiently)
  8. Create an airplane folder of work items you can “knock off” while captive on a plane.
  9. Exercise where possible. Consider a skipping rope, running stairs, push-ups and sit-ups if there is no gym.
  10. Travel as light as you can and do not check luggage if at all possible.  Some very specific thoughts on travelling light:
  • Get light luggage;
  • Mix and match clothes (ex. one suit with two pairs of pants will go a long way);
  • Learn to fold efficiently, so things don’t crease;
  • Pack as few toiletries as possible and  use hotel “stuff” when available;
  • If travelling to the same place all the time consider, leaving some stuff at the office there, (shirt, tie, pants, toiletries, casual clothes etc.);
  • Take exercise gear and pack stuff inside the shoes (razor, socks, underwear etc.) to save space; and,
  • Think through your stay and don’t take things “just in case”.  Do you really NEED casual clothes? If so, can a pair of jeans and a t-shirt complement your work jacket and shoes?

Business travel can be a real chore but if you do it right then you can minimize the hassles.  We’re sure there are many frequent travelers out there who have their own tips and tricks. Feel free to comment below!

Maximizing Your Time on the Road

Today’s technology-filled world allows us to work in a global economy and connect with people around the world without leaving the comfort of our own office.  That said, there are still situations where business travel is a necessary evil and, as an independent contractor, you want to ensure you’re always taking an entrepreneurial approach to travel.

Here are some tips we’ve compiled from speaking with other independent contractors and business owners:

  1. Quote: The truth is that you always know the right thing to do.  The hard part is doing it!Apply a common sense approach to business travel.  Whether it’s a requirement of a client or your next contract is in another city, travel is often necessary for the independent contractor, but you need to ask yourself “Is it really necessary?”  Each and every trip needs to be evaluated on its need and on maximizing the return on that investment.  Even when your client is reimbursing all travel expenses, it is good business to show you are thinking of their costs, plus there is always your cost of an invaluable asset – time.
  2. Travel takes you away from your regular routine, and therefore, you want to maximize your use of time while still staying on top of your regular commitments.  Here are some of the ways to do that:
    • Maximize your workday in the time zone you’re visiting.  If, for example, you travel from Toronto to Calgary, get as early a flight as possible, allowing you to land and begin your workday as early as possible in the Calgary business day.
    • If we follow the same example, when you leave to go back to Toronto, try to catch as late a flight as possible to ensure you have as much working time as possible with your Calgary client.  It means long days, early trips to the airport and late arrivals home, but your trip is as full of available time as possible.
    • Before leaving home, and before leaving the office to return home, load up on some “readable” To Dos for on the plane.  Try saving up work for a few days and plan to complete it on the plane.
    • Have a plan before you leave!
  1. Be cognizant of the costs of travel and try to minimize them where possible.  As mentioned earlier, even if the client is covering your travel expenses, it shows good faith as a contractor to consider their costs.  Here are some of the ways to do that:
    • Never travel business class for work.
    • Try to book ahead and take advantage of special deals on airfares.  Also shop around between airlines, taking the cheapest flight rather than sticking with one airline to build your points/status.
    • Shop for hotels and take the best deals, never staying in the big name, big price places.  Use memberships (CAA) to get good rates, or use Hotwire and other services to help get a good rate.
    • Don’t eat at fancy restaurants as a general rule, but entertain clients in appropriate manner whenever possible!
  1. Travelling to another location should be all about maximizing your return on investment (both time and money).
    • Try to keep your regular activities to a minimum.
    • Spend time with the management and staff at the client’s site.
    • Take time to network with potential clients, partners or colleagues who live in the city you’re visiting.
    • Take advantage of training opportunities and local networking events where possible (Note:  This definitely requires advanced planning!)

Obviously there are times when things do not fall into place, but as a general rule, you can maximize the effectiveness of your visits and minimize the costs of your visit by using the above guidelines. As a side benefit, you’ll acquire some funny stories to tell about the airport experiences and some of the seedier hotels/motels you may find yourself in.

Do you have any additional tips to maximize your business travel?  What about funny stories from your own traveling experiences?  We’d love to hear them, so please leave a comment.