Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: business

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

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.

The Secrets to Building a Successful IT Contracting Business

The Secret to Building a Successful IT Contracting BusinessIT Contractors have a cyclical challenge of finding new gigs and competing to win business. While the tasks never get easier, they can certainly seem simpler when you have the routine down to an art. When you already know what to do, where to go, and how to separate yourself from the others, it allows you to get faster wins, better serve your clients and, ultimately, charge higher rates!

To start, you need to know where to find IT contract opportunities. Indeed, your favourite recruiters and go-to job boards are sure to have some for you, but there are often additional gigs out there waiting to be found, you’re just not hearing about them. Simple Programmer published an article a few months back explaining how you can find freelance jobs that are not advertised by including these four simple concepts:

  • Talk to People: Hang out with the kind of people you want to work with at meetups, industry events, conferences, etc. Look for people in a similar role and company you’d like to work at and who are using the technologies you want to use. From there, avoid selling yourself but talk to them and build conversations.
  • Put Yourself Out There: Make sure people know what you are up to and what you are interested in. This means sharing relevant content on social media or a blog, and simply talking to like-minded professionals about what you do. The more you put yourself out there and start conversations, the more luck you have!
  • Build a Reputation: The author of the article puts it best — “Once you have the chance to work with a client and help them achieve the results they want (or better), this will lead them to tell other people about you. The other people will want those results too, and they’ll come to you when their business needs you.
  • Skip the Competition: When you hang out with your target customers and position yourself as a solution, you’ll no longer be one of 100 people who bid on a gig. You’ll be the professional they already know and trust!

The final two points are crucial to building your IT contracting business finding tech gigs with less effort, but also the most challenging to accomplish. Building that solid reputation will get you more business and allow you to bill at a premium, but you will not do it tomorrow. The good news is, Dice has some suggestions to get you there:

  • Use SOWs to Measure and Track Your Performance: If your client doesn’t already have one, work with them to create a statement of work with specific deliverables, timelines and schedules. Regularly review it and demonstrate how you’re meeting or exceeding expectations.
  • Connect Your Role to the Bigger Picture: Understand the strategic value of a project and work to make suggestions that add value. Reducing costs, decreasing errors and producing more code are all examples of how you can go above and beyond.
  • Document Your Achievements and Attributes: Keeping a regular journal of your accomplishments, conducting end-of-assignment interviews, and getting testimonials is a solid way to get your next contract. These referrals and reviews can be included in your resume, personal website or social networks and will do wonders in your job search.

Building an independent contracting business is hard enough, and getting to a point where you minimize the amount of time you spend searching for jobs is even harder. However, when you put in the work and continue to maintain those efforts, you’ll understand why so many senior IT professionals would never look back from their contracting lifestyle.

2018 in Review: Business and the Workplace

Independent contracting is no regular type of employment. On top of ongoing skills development and job searching, you have to worry about the rest of your business – accounting, taxes, marketing, networking, navigating relationships with recruiters, building your reputation… the list goes on!

If you’re drinking your coffee today and stressing over some of these areas (actually, even if that doesn’t sound like you at all right now), have a look through the list of posts below. Today, we compiled the top posts of 2018 that are related to running a business, navigating the workplace, and keeping an overall professional image.

Enjoy!

Working with Staffing Agencies

Life as a Contractor

Workplace Tips

It’s Time to Reflect on 2018 so You Can Set SMART Goals for 2019

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

As another year winds down and we look forward to enjoying some ‘downtime’ over the holidays, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the past year, and think about what you would like to achieve in the upcoming year. From a career perspective, it’s important to set goals to ensure that you keep moving forward. Perhaps you have a long-term goal you are working towards but are struggling to identify how to get there. It’s extremely important to set smaller annual goals that will assist you in moving towards that larger goal.

As a consultant/contractor, it might help to reflect on the past year to help you determine what goals would be important for you. Was there an opportunity that you missed out on because you didn’t have the required certification or designation? Will achieving that in 2019 help you to land that contract that will help your career to move forward?

Perhaps you had a gap between contracts in 2018 while you tried to find your next opportunity. Setting a goal to increase your network, to connect with a mentor who is currently fulfilling the role you strive for, or to break into a new industry are all goals that can help you work towards that long-term career goal. You can also speak with a recruiter to ask for their input on what might make you more marketable. Recruiters see multiple opportunities every day and have a wealth of knowledge and insight that they are likely happy to share.

When setting goals, it’s important to ensure that they are ‘SMART’:

  • Is your goal Specific,
  • Is your goal Measurable
  • Is your goal Attainable
  • Is it Relevant (to your long term career goals)
  • And is it Time-based?

Be sure to set clear goals, to write them down, and to set timelines to hold yourself accountable.

All the best for a safe and happy holiday season, and here’s to a productive and goal oriented 2019!

Is Google an Unfair Monopoly?

Google is one of the world’s leading technology companies, viewed as an inspirational innovator to many but as an unethical threat to others. This past Summer, the European Union fined Google 4.3 billion euros for breaking antitrust laws, stating that it abused its Android market dominance. The situation continues to raise additional questions about whether or not Google is a Monopoly and if the government should do more, similar to the Microsoft situation at the end of the 20th century.

This video from CNBC International does a great job of summing up the situation, including whether or not Google is a monopoly and comparing their circumstances to similar ones in history. Do you think there should be more government intervention over Google?

How Does an Ecommerce Company Dominate Others?

Have you ever wondered how many companies there actually are in the ecommerce world?  Where is the competition in the economy? As you can see from the infographic below, there’s not much left since the giant companies either acquire the smaller ones, or they go out of business.

There are usually thousands of websites offering the same or similar services to each other. This is especially true of the travel niche, for example, with Expedia. So what do these companies do differently than others and why can nobody realistically challenge their market dominance?

Quality Experience

Big ecommerce companies don’t only focus on the high-quality product but also on the buying experience for the consumer. The buying experience includes everything from packaging, marketing, the presentation on the online store, to the post-purchase follow up.

Companies such as Expedia go the extra mile just to be sure their consumers get the right product and have a good experience with their websites. This travel giant, in particular, was also one of the first companies to adopt Bitcoin payments, allowing travelers to book trips in any way conceivable.

The Brand’s Backstory

Everyone loves a good story and this applies to the brand stories too. Customers want to know who they’re buying from. They enjoy when they know how the company started and its business values and goals. This strategy gets the customers at a personal level instead of pushing the product on them.

On the Go and Social

In addition to online shopping at desktop and laptop computers, people have taken it out of the house and on their mobile phones. If we continue using Expedia as an example, they combine the social and mobile aspect of booking trips, hotels and car rentals on its online apps.

The combination of all three factors can make any company powerful. When a company covers all its bases, it makes it hard for someone to enter the game.

How Does an Ecommerce Company Dominate Others?

Contractor Quick Poll: Are you really an independent contractor?

For nearly 10 years now, the CRA has been paying close attention to independent contractors’ employment statuses and performing audits to determine if they should be deemed Personal Services Businesses (PSBs). Independent contractors across Canada quickly learned the importance of taking steps to protect their independent business status, or else suffer the tax consequences. Recently, the Ontario Government passed Bill 148 that, among many things, will also put a spotlight on independent contractors’ business habits.

This makes today a good time to assess how well you’re doing at ensuring that your independent contracting business is in fact considered a business. This month’s contractor quick poll helps with just that as it includes some basic actions you can take to separate yourself from your clients’ employees. As usual, we strongly recommend you seek legal advice to ensure you’re taking all the proper steps.

Inspirational Quotes from 100 Brilliant Minds

We’ve all heard the expression “It takes all kinds of people to run the world” or some variant of it. There is so much truth to it, but unfortunately media frequently focuses on the less intelligent, somewhat shameful minds to showcase to the world. Constantly seeing news reports of people saying dumb things can be deflating to a person, so we were excited when we came across this page on Funding Circle’s website showcasing quotes from 100 of the world’s most brilliant minds. In addition to the website, the infographic below shows all of the top quotes from each of those people.

Inspirational Quotes from 100 Brilliant Minds

Trailblazing Failures of the Dot-Com Bubble

The Dot-Com Bubble was a period which occurred in the late 1990s when making money through the world wide web was just beginning to become popular. During this period, investors were starting to realize that big money could be made online, and began investing enormous amounts of money into sites without giving it a second thought.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but unfortunately there was not a lot of profit made from most of these investments. Today we acknowledge the fact that these investors were not entirely wrong as using the web for online sales or purchases is currently a common practice, and there are large sums of money made. Yet, the market during the 1990s was extremely overestimated, and ultimately lead to the downfall of many companies. In this infographic, WhoIsHostingThis? describes some of the most memorable, horrific, and hilarious early tales of the tech world.

Trailblazing Failures of the Dot-Com Bubble - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog
Source: WhoIsHostingThis.com

Maybe Your Client’s Terrible Decision Wasn’t That Bad

Bad decisions happen all of the time in the business world. Sometimes independent contractors show up at a client site and learn their job is to fix a project due to bad decisions. Other times you may sit through meetings, watching a client make bad decisions despite your advice. And, of course, there are the times when we make bad decisions ourselves.

Next time you’re digging yourself out of a hole due to an unwise choice, or are furious at a client for taking a terrible route, sit back and watch this video from Alltime10s. You’ll appreciate that the situation could be much, much worse given these are the 10 worst business decisions of all time!