Thursday, July 23, 2009

G.S.T., WSIB premiums, Source Deductions, Audits & Inspections: The Joys Of Business, advice to other farms and businesses...

I'm in the office all day today....time to break and do a blog!!
You would tend to think that busting butt in the field then grading the harvest, then traveling to Toronto to sell would be work enough, but not for our organic farm. We are a business and paperwork is part of it. There is a great sense of pride when the government calls you back after a lengthy audit and tell you: "We see no reason to make any changes to your returns. Have a great day." I experienced this a few weeks ago. Through our bank, our accountants & my computer records, the auditor spent all day going through deposits and records. I spent the day cooking a cleaning, made the best of it. Keep it straight, keep it clean - audits are a breeze. Rounding the second quarter of 2009 now, G.S.T. is due by month's end as well as Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premiums. Every transaction via the bank and on credit cards is run through "QuickbooksPro" (an awesome accounting program I highly recommend) and all usually goes smoothly. I purchased an inexpensive flash drive, my entire QB file heads to the accountant this way at year's end for review. Due the 15th of each month are payroll deductions. Also a breeze as all payroll is run through QB and calculating deductions is now a click of a button. We do pay a monthly fee to have QB updated online esp. to keep payroll up-to-date. Then the Health Board is a constant every year. You cannot run a separate home for offshore employees without an inspection and you certainly cannot sell any type of food without an inspected kitchen. We deal with a lot of government agencies. Then comes Organic Production Records. This is not a chore, rather a necessity for future success of the farm. I can sit back on a rainy July day like today and look back 3-4 years and see what we had planted, where it was planted, how much was harvested and sold. By attending to these comparisons and studying our 'profit/loss' Ben and I can see what is working and what is not and how many changes need to be made. Also, when our annual inspection comes along it makes life a lot easier to have everything ready! I must say that office work is truly the pits compared to working with our produce and selling at market. At the end of a long day doing the books I feel lazy, my body lagging from lack of actual movement. This reminds me of an investment banker that came to stay with us a for a week. He just wanted to get out of the 'office' and see what it was like to work outside! He had his hands buried in the cool soil pulling up the years first potatoes and remarked: "Boy, it would be pretty hard to be depressed out here in the fresh air". Business is hard, not something for everyone. It seems that there are soo many small businesses that try and fail by creating a generic website and pasting a picture of a professional office space they don't own and listing a home address. It's very sad in a way and you should represent yourself honestly with your own photos with any successful website and always add customer/client testimonials. I've also come across some business websites that are even referring to 'staff' in the third person, then talk about 'I' right after?? Grammer bad and shady for a professional website to say the least....however IF you have a product or service that is competitive and viable in the marketplace it just might work - like these Greenhouse Heirlooms! Our field heirlooms can't even compare to these beauties! I can't get enough of these to market and they sell in minutes. They have no shelf life, have to be picked, sold and eatten day before or day of market, therefore big chain stores won't be able to offer my types of varieties...hmmm, potential, potential.... Marketing these magnificent gems and other organic produce is certainly worth the office work! We spent a small fortune creating our website ( a few years ago. A local company with local guys just starting out, it was worth every penny, as I wanted to help their business too. It truly makes it your own to create from scratch like this! If you don't have the cash to spare, you can always try out This is a free website maker. BUT keep it simple stupid rule should apply - if you want to truly look professional, these free makers may make you come off looking 'Mikey Mouse' if you have bad grammer and are trying too hard. Start with a blog, have fun & be yourself!! Starting a farm or other business? Get familar with the government agencies and a good accounting software program, a good accountant, prepare a space to call 'office' and keep GOOD RECORDS!!! Good Luck!!!