I’ve never done anything for free, not willingly anyway. There were 2 times in my career when I didn’t get paid – $1,200 and $339. Yes, it stung, that’s why I still remember. And I’ve only received maybe a couple of requests to do something for free. To do it for less – quite often, but for free… meh, no. Still, they say it’s a common occurrence if you’re in a business that others don’t see as a business (probably because it looks like you have fun all the time, usually something creative).

If you’re considering doing your work for free, this infographic might help you decide whether you should.




Click to enlarge. Start in the middle.

© Jessica Hische

There’s a new question on the tax forms this year:

How many Internet webpages or websites does your corporation earn income from?

Wasn’t very clear to me.

I list hosting and domain registration as separate expenses every year, but I have no direct revenue from the sale of “widgets” on the website (this blog excluded). I called Revenue Canada to clarify what they meant: do they want to see the websites I operate or just the ones I use to directly sell stuff? The answer was “List 0 (zero) website if you don’t sell anything off of them”.

Frankly, Revenue Canada is pretty nosy so I couldn’t believe it. I’ve sometimes called twice, three times with the same question, and each agent would have a different answer for me. The more elaborate answer was found at the Revenue Canada website. This is from their corporate return form but I assume it’s the same for partnerships/sole proprietorships:

You may earn income from your webpages or websites if:

  • you sell goods and/or services on your own pages or websites. You may have a shopping cart and process payment transactions yourself or through a third-party service;
  • your site doesn’t support transactions but your customers call, complete, and submit a form, or email you to make a purchase, order, booking, and others;
  • you sell goods and/or services on auction, marketplace, or similar websites operated by others; or
  • you earn income from advertising, income programs, or traffic your site generates. For example:
    • static advertisements you place on your site for other businesses
    • affiliate programs
    • advertising programs such as Google AdSense or Microsoft adCentre
    • other types of traffic programs.
  • Also file this schedule if you don’t have a website but you have created a profile or other page describing your business on blogs, auction, market place, or any other portal or directory websites from which you earn income.

Verdict: If you have an online profile for your business with a way to contact you, then yes, you must list the website(s).

Then there’s the next question:

What is the percentage of the corporation’s gross revenue generated from the Internet in comparison to the corporation’s total gross revenue?

This one you have to evaluate for yourself. Do you get most of your business via the website, referrals or some other way?

toonLoanBigWith the fiscal turmoil of the last few years, many small businesses succumbed to the economy’s wrath and now face some credit challenges. If you rely on banks for business loans, bad credit can easily lead you to bankruptcy. But thanks to the flexibility of bad credit unsecured loans small business owners have some options to save their business and to make a success of their brand and services. Or at least stay afloat until the business can be off-loaded when the economy improves.

How does it work?
A business line of credit is very different from how a traditional loan works. It has no fixed payment terms (really! see the next paragraph) and the interest rates are adjustable. Furthermore, it can only be used for your business and must be paid back. For example, if you own an auto mechanic shop and suddenly a vital piece of equipment broke down. The cost of replacing it is too much for you to simply go out and buy. By taking out a business loan you can invest in the machine and keep your business running while turning a profit. Your business can use these credit lines at any time up to a certain amount that is agreed upon by you and your lender.

Advantages and the downside
Business lines of credit are far more flexible than any loan type you can get through a traditional bank. If you can qualify for a secured line of credit loan it’s probably your best option, because unsecured credit loans have much higher interest rates due to the fact the borrower isn’t putting up any collateral. However, the interest rate is adjustable. Your loan rate is based on how quickly you can pay it back.

Saving small businesses when big banks don’t
Smaller lenders have a long history of saving small businesses when larger banks refuse to help. In a ‘USA Today’ article about how small businesses turn to alternative lenders in their time of need, there’s a story about a small business owner who sought a 50K loan from a big bank to buy toy inventory for his comic book shop right before the holiday season. He was turned down! (In the spirit of Christmas, ha) Instead, he sought help from an alternative lender who granted him the loan. This allowed the entrepreneur to not only expand his inventory, but thanks to the business loan, he was able to increase his annual revenue by 50 percent to $500,000 that year.

It is for reasons such as this that alternative lenders help stimulate the economy by helping small businesses succeed when big banks (the ones responsible for the bad economy) refuse to help small business owners who show projected profits.

Borrow responsibly
When contacting your lender be sure to speak with a professional and help them determine a good loan amount if you don’t already have a firm number you need to stay afloat. Borrowing responsibly is the key to keeping your business running strong.