<![CDATA[ Complete Business Solutions - Blog]]>Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:00:18 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Do I need a Bookkeeping Consultant?]]>Wed, 08 Jan 2014 15:56:06 GMThttp://completebusinessconsulting.ca/blog/do-i-need-a-bookkeeping-consultantToday’s businesses have to keep up with the quick market trends to maintain their business position.  Developing your services, meeting deadlines, maintaining skills are simply some of the areas you need to change and grow in your business. What certain businesses oversee is keeping up their files and bookkeeping.  We have to accept that bookkeeping is baffling and can take most of your worthy time. It is because of this, marketing professionals say it is excellent to get your bookkeeping assistance via outsourcing.

The systematic classifications, recording and reporting of financial transactions for small or big or medium organizations is known as bookkeeping. Bookkeeping services are an important accounting requirement for every business organization. Your daily business efforts may reflect negatively if they are not analyzed systematically.

Bookkeeping services can either be carried out by the help of various accounting software packages that are readily available in the market or be done manually. Bookkeeping services can either be performed internally or be outsourced to external bookkeeping service providers, who are not only effective in their jobs, but will provide exceptional accounting service.

Some small businesses are more worried about allowing a third party to perform their bookkeeping services, though these concerns are unfounded. Making use of accounting experts for your bookkeeping services will make all the difference to your business. These experts not only give accounting guidance online, but also offsite. Their specialized advice and guidance not only saves time but also produces better results.

The bookkeeping service professionals work on a specified time frame, either in a monthly or weekly disposition. They can be engaged at a pre-determined workflow rate. The offsite bookkeeping experts are furnished with necessary information in paper form or in computerized manner, where they then work according to the provided information, hence saving the company both the time and money.

There has been great advancement of computer technology, especially on professional accounting software front. The accounting software packages available in the software market are more advantageous over custom-made spreadsheets.  You can choose you’re accounting software from the regular accounting software package or have it designed according to your individual’s specific accounting requirements, but at an added cost. The standardized accounting software is more convenient in usage and can be upgraded to suit your business special requirements, and at a cheap price.

Lastly, whether outsourced or done internally, bookkeeping services are an integral part of a successful organization and attention must be emphasized when hiring accounting consultants. There are numerous bookkeeping firms and choosing the right one is tough undertaking for any business owner. Before deciding on any bookkeeping services provider, do the necessary background checks. Refer to their previous performances and clients references. The chosen consultant should be well conversant in all bookkeeping tasks needed by your organization. Their work results should be free from errors and delivered promptly]]>
<![CDATA[My Gift List this year]]>Mon, 02 Dec 2013 19:27:23 GMThttp://completebusinessconsulting.ca/blog/my-gift-list-this-yearThis year with all the tragedy and upheaval this world has seen, what better way to remember the true meaning of Christmas, but to give to those in need.

Two of my favourite groups to support, are the Canadian First Nations, and our Military Veterans.  If you are wondering what is on my gift list for Santa, please help give support to the First Nations Children and our Military Veterans, who have given us so much.
First Nations Canada
Over the years, the Native Canadian Centre has provided services of a social, recreational, cultural and spiritual nature. With more that 40,000 people of Native ancestry living and working in the GTA, the Centre continues to be as a focal point for programs and services. They share their facilities with many other non-profit and charitable organizations, and continue to act as a gather in place for other Native agencies.

Working towards a more self-sufficient Native community on Toronto their goals is to not only maintain programs and services, but to provide the necessary growth opportunities as they more forward. To meet the financial demands, they have expanded their fund raising opportunities.

The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto envisions a healthy urban Aboriginal community by living, learning and celebrating the Aboriginal culture. They do this by honoring the Aboriginal knowledge and traditions, integrating the spirit of youth and elders, and fostering the development of healthy families.

Anyone can get involved, please follow this link to find out about all the wonderful opportunities available. http://www.ncct.on.ca/get-involved.php

Military Veterans
It's well documented that many soldiers who return from war suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and face difficult challenges in transitioning into a post-combat life.

There are non-profit organizations in Canada that focus on supporting surviving veterans in various ways.

Mental Heath And PTSD

PTSD can disrupt a person's life and ability to cope, often manifesting in symptoms that include flashbacks and nightmares, anger and aggression, depression and detachment. PTSD and mental health are increasingly the focus of support efforts for war vets, with organizations such as the PTSD Association -- whose honourary chair is the Honourable Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire -- working to raise awareness and help those suffering to overcome the disorder. MilitaryMinds.ca was founded by Corporal Chris Dupee, and raises awareness about PTSD and funds to help veterans through sales of its apparel and fundraising events.

How to help: Donate to either the PTSD Association or purchase a hoodie or other products from MilitaryMinds.ca

Family And Community Support

Families who have lost loved ones from military action have to cope with the devastating loss and find ways to rebuild their lives. For some survivors, the trauma they've endured is too much, and the shock of reintegration too intense, and they become homeless. The Canadian Hero Fund provides educational funding to children or a spouse who have lost their parent or partner. The foundation helps provide tuition, residence and textbooks to the recipient.

Leave The Streets Behind is a project of the Royal Canadian Legion's Ontario branch, which aims to help get homeless veterans off the street. Homeless veterans assistance fund has been established, and has helped provide vets with funds for first and last month's rent for housing, furniture and food.

How to help: Donate $11 to the 11for11.ca Canadian Hero Fund campaign, or donate to the Legion's Joe Sweeney Fund.
<![CDATA[Christmas Budget]]>Mon, 02 Dec 2013 19:23:20 GMThttp://completebusinessconsulting.ca/blog/christmas-budgetWith the worldwide economy still in a slump, now is a more important time than ever to conserve your savings.  

'tis the season for savings. Most people spend hundreds of dollars or more on holiday gifts every year. Add in the cost of clothes, food, alcohol and other holiday necessities, and you have a major financial expense on your hands every year.

Unfortunately, many people end up dreading the Christmas season simply because it often means incredible amounts of debt and financial stress. And in a world where financial and economic stresses are being shoved in our faces every day, we hardly need to add to the burden. Christmas isn't about the materialistic bits and bobbles found in department stores — it's about family and spending time with one another.

A healthy way to start formulating your Christmas budget is by making a gift list.  Also, begin to think about where you will be during Christmas and what travel arrangements are necessary. Finally, look into a few activities to make this holiday a memorable one or simply to help you pass the time quickly and painlessly while you are with your in-laws. Don’t wait until the last minute and risk losing out on some spectacular deals. Make your Christmas budget list and check it twice.

Creating a Christmas Spending Budget

You can reduce your spending for Christmas by using personal finance software along with these tips for budgeting for the holidays every year.

In case you're reading this when it's too late in the year to use a budget to save for the cost of festivities, I've included money saving ideas and advice to make the holidays more financially manageable right now.

1.     Start Tracking Christmas Spending

The first step to starting a Christmas budget is to open your personal finance budget and create a spending category called 'Christmas', 'Holidays', or any other term that's meaningful.  For those of you that are tech savvy, there are a number of personal finance software programs to make this task of budgeting easier and more organized.  

If you really go all out for Christmas or other holidays with elaborate celebrations, consider using subcategories to budget individually for food, decorating, teacher gifts and anything else you typically purchase. It's easier to determine specific areas you can cut back on if you need to when you use subcategories, which helps with spending less next year.

When you make holiday purchases, record them. 

2. Analyze Spending

Now that the budget is set up, it goes without saying that you need to stick to the plan. But, the next step to effectively budgeting for Christmas happens after the holiday is over. 

After you've entered all Christmas expenses, create a budget report or a category report that shows planned vs. actual spending.

The report should be set up with only the Christmas or holiday spending categories so you can focus on those expenses. Don't be discouraged if you need to make some adjustments for next year, this is common.

3. Budgeting for Christmas

Now that you're aware of what the Christmas holidays cost you this year, set up next year's holiday budget. 

Whether you blew your budget or have some cash left over, you need to make some adjustments to the budget for next year. If you overspent, consider whether your budgeted amounts are realistic, or take a look at ways to save money on the holiday next year in Step 4 and come up with a plan to avoid over spending. If you came out under budget, congratulations! Depending on how much less you spent compared to the budget, either adjust your planned numbers down a notch or just leave them as they are in anticipation of higher prices next year. 

You can account for rising prices next year by multiplying this year's spending by 1-1.5%.

To prepare financially for next year's holiday costs, deposit a monthly amount into a savings account that is designated for the holiday so you have the funds available next year.


According to a poll, people are scaling back their holiday spending in droves. If you would like to cut down on spending in attempts to avoid the stress of holiday debt, here’s Christmas gift giving ideas that won’t break the bank.  Perhaps you can start a new family gift-exchanging tradition, allowing you and your entire family to save more each and every year.

Draw Names

Many families, especially extended families who are spread out in different cities, adopt the name-drawing tradition for gifts.

Just Give Gifts to the Kids

Another strategy for large extended families is to have each relative only buy gifts for family members under 18. This greatly cuts down costs and ensures that those who might appreciate the gifts most -- kids -- are the ones who get them. It then becomes a sort of rite of passage when the kids grow older and switch to the gift-giving role.

Place a $15 Limit

Another strategy people employ is putting a spending limit on each gift. While you and your family can choose whatever number you want, keeping the dollar amount low can sometimes spark people to become more creative with the money that they do spend, taking advantage of sales or putting a lot of thought into the best way to make the most of the allotted budget. While this may cut down on the number of expensive gifts exchanged, it also takes a lot of the pressure off of the situation. There’s no more feeling like you need to spend a lot to show people how much you love them, worrying about spending more or less than they spent on you, or looking "cheap" if you shop the sales.

Homemade Gifts

Gifts that you make need not be comprised of pipe cleaner, tissue paper, or painted macaroni. Most of us have some sort of creative side, and you’d be surprised by what you can create if you put that creative side to work. Some of my favorite gifts to make and receive have been family photo albums, quilts, custom-made place mats, crocheted blankets, custom-made CDs, hand-painted pottery, and cookies. Some gifts do take considerable time to create (especially en masse), but those who enjoy creating often find it a worthy trade-off.

Coupon Books

Creating a book-o'-favors for your loved ones, including good deeds especially for them, can be an incredibly thoughtful money saver. Coupons offering free babysitting to busy parents, airport trips to the frequent traveler, or a hand-delivered homemade meal to just about anyone can be a welcome and thoughtful gesture. (The possibilities are wide open when you create a coupon book for a spouse or child!) The key to making this one successful is to be sure to follow up and push people to actually use the coupons, or include a specific date on which they should be used, if possible.

Yummy Gifts

While cookies, brownies and bars tend to be gone within days, few faces fail to light up when presented with tasty treats. If the sugary stuff would be an unwelcome diet saboteur, you can always assemble a healthy fruit basket, wine and cheese basket, or come up with your own cheap-and-tasty basket idea.

Festive Meals and Outings

While it can be fun to rack up points on your credit card, you can save a chunk of your pay cheque by eating at home instead of going out to a restaurant. Make it a family event where everyone pitches in and is involved in the process. Maybe even break out some of your grandparents' recipes to see if they pass the test of time. If you do decide to dine out on the town, that’s completely fine, but just remember that you probably can’t afford to make every night a special occasion.  

As great as it is to see family and hang out together at the house, sometimes you need to take a breath of fresh air. For this reason, it pays dividends to browse the local newspaper or visit websites, to look into free events in your hometown. More often than not, you will be able to obtain free admission to museums, concerts and even movies during the holiday season.

Forget about the size or cost of your gifts, and instead focus on what makes this holiday season so enjoyable: the people around you. You'll enjoy yourself more, your bank account will thank you for it — and you'll be sure to have an enjoyable and affordable holiday season that will turn your "bah humbug" into a "ho, ho, ho" before you know it. 

<![CDATA[Shocking Canadian Pay Scales]]>Mon, 25 Nov 2013 20:20:54 GMThttp://completebusinessconsulting.ca/blog/shocking-canadian-pay-scalesThere is a large discrepancy in the salaries in Canada.  How much would you pay for the safety and security of loved ones?  What do you think is a fair price for the health and wellbeing of your friends and family?  Is there a price tag you would put on the security and development of your children.  Well Canada standards have put a price on all of the above.  The results might shock you:

Average Starting Ranges in Canada posted on payscale.ca

Family Physician                                 58,000 – 102,000

Canadian Air Force Pilot                    52,500 – 75,000

Human Resource Manager               50,000 – 67,000

Registered Nurse                                46,000 – 62,000

Software Developer                            45,000 – 60,000

Paramedic                                            43,000 – 57,000

Yoga Instructor                                    40,000 – 54,000

Elementary Teacher                           39,000 – 49,000

Police Officer                                       35,000 – 50,000

Administrative Assistant                    35,000 – 37,000

Enlisted Canadian Armed Forces   2601/month (31,212 annually) which for those who don’t like math 15.00/hr.

Warehouse or assembly worker      25,000 – 29,000

Grocery Clerk                                       21,500 – 25,000

Army Cadet                                          17,300 (8.32/hr.) that is 1.93/hr. less than minimum wage.
Am I the only one who thinks it is funny that we will pay more for our Yoga instruction than we will for our country’s safety and the development and wellness of our children?

Canadian spending on entertainment surges to $22.8 billion a year. This is more than Canadians spend on RRSP contributions ($16.3 billion).  More than half of that $22.8 billion is spent on a category described as "home entertainment equipment and services," including cable and satellite TV subscriptions, music, stereo systems, video rental, and DVD and VHS players. Canadians spent $11.8 billion, or 52 per cent of the total, in this category. The next largest was reading material — books, magazines and newspapers — at $4.6 billion, or 20 per cent. Nine per cent, or 2.1 billion, went to photography. Surprisingly, perhaps, movie ticket sales, at $1.3 billion, was significantly less than the amount spent on art works and events, equal to photography at $2.1 billion. Canadians also spent $980 million on live performance events, compared with $530 million on live sporting events.

Maybe it is time to start looking at what we truly value and pay accordingly.  While I enjoy a good concert, movie, and sporting event as much as the next guy, I don’t think the price tag on it should be higher than what we pay our young men and women to risk their lives overseas.  

Next time you get annoyed with the nurse who is doing her upmost to keep you comfortable and ease you back to health, think, she/he is most likely paid less than you.  The police officer who will put themself in front of a bullet to save your life will make less than the person who deals with your vacation pay.  The extremely tolerate men and women, who educate, and nurture our children (creating our country’s future) will make less than the person who designed your favourite video game.

What is your life worth?
<![CDATA[Accounting on a Cloud]]>Fri, 15 Nov 2013 18:22:02 GMThttp://completebusinessconsulting.ca/blog/accounting-on-a-cloudWelcome to the beautiful world of online accounting! Exciting isn’t it? Well, not exactly, at least for most of you out there... accounting has always been seen as boring, frustrating, and—let's face it—painful. A necessary evil that all businesses have to deal with.

But the tide is turning, feathers are being ruffled, and times are changing.  The small traditional accounting firm will no doubt die a slow painful death in the years to come. Personal meetings will be replaced by more convenient and more accessible web conferencing, mountains of paper replaced by virtual data, fancy suits replaced by jeans and sneakers—the list goes on. These are just some of the ways that the accounting industry is changing.

Online accounting is relatively new in Canada. Our neighbours in the US have already caught on, but Canada has been relatively slow to adopt.  Online accounting basically means to offer accounting services in a completely virtual environment. Today, forward thinking accountants are making use of these new technologies to help make accounting less painful for business owners like you.

Imagine ditching your shoebox full of receipts and replacing it with an iPhone app that snaps pictures of your receipts.  What about having an accounting system connect automatically to your bank so that it pulls in your company’s transactions on a daily basis?  Or how about being able to view a snapshot of how your company is performing on a daily basis, not months after year-end? We live in the information age; we should know how our business is performing each and every minute of the day if we want.

The software has existed for years now. It is the human aspect of accounting that has been behind the times. Modern day accountants understand that the industry is undergoing radical changes. They understand the benefits of this technology and leverage it to businesses of today’s generation.

Modern day business owners are busy, always connected and always on the move. Most feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, at least the ones that I speak to. More importantly, they certainly don’t have the time to muddle around with mountains of paper, messy Excel spreadsheets or driving through traffic to see their accountant. Luckily, the days of that are over with online accounting.

With technology moving so fast, today’s accountants should be able to identify these new online technologies and recommend them based on the situation and business they are dealing with and this is really what is setting apart modern day accountants with traditional ones. Consulting on not only tax but also software is a key differentiator. Online accountants are adapting to the way business is being handled in today’s Internet era.

New accounting technology is not just there to look shiny and nice. Its purpose is to make accounting easier, less time consuming and allow you to use better, more up to date information for decision making purposes. The advancement of technology in our society is what moves us forward.

Taking your accounting online is a huge step forward for the industry. It’s a game changer. But is it for you?

Do you care about having your financial information 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Do you need (or even like) to visit your accountant in person? Are you completely computer illiterate? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I would say online accounting is not for you.

But if you are a modern day business owner who is looking for ways to shave hours off of your busy schedule, if you want a more convenient accounting option and if you want to be in better control of your business thanks to new tools being available, then I would take a good, long, hard look at the virtual accounting options available today.

It’s time to move forward with the times and say goodbye to the traditional accounting firm.

<![CDATA[Lest we Forget]]>Fri, 08 Nov 2013 16:30:25 GMThttp://completebusinessconsulting.ca/blog/lest-we-forget
The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, launched 30 Days, 30 Reasons on October 13th 2013a social media campaign leading up to Remembrance Day on November 11, 2013. As part of the annual Remembrance Campaign, Veterans Affairs Canada will use social media to engage Canadians in remembering the sacrifices and achievements of Canada's Veterans.

"By getting Canadians involved over the coming weeks, we're building awareness in remembrance activities, helping to promote Canadian history and preserving the memories of those who served Canada so proudly in uniform," said Minister Fantino. "Beginning today, until November 11, Canadians will have an opportunity every day to recognize the importance of remembering Veterans who served Canada in times of war, military conflict and peace."

This year, the challenge is to "Show You Remember."

Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, Canadians can show they remember by posting photos, videos, and messages using the hashtags #ShowYouRemember and #ShowYourThanks.

"Encouraging remembrance is an important responsibility that our Government takes very seriously," said Minister Fantino. "Along with ongoing efforts to provide services and support to Veterans and their families, we also work to commemorate the sacrifices and achievements of those whose legacy is the peace and security we continue to enjoy today. I invite all Canadians to join together in honouring those who served Canada."

Through the use of advertising and social media, the Government of Canada encourages Canadians to remember and show their thanks to Canada's Veterans.

Some 1.1 million Canadians served in uniform during conflict, proving their valour time and again against the enemies of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.  Canada's Veterans made incredible efforts—storming the beaches of France, braving the difficult terrain of Italy and withstanding punishing conditions on land, sea and air. I look forward to having Canadians join together with people around the world in remembering their sacrifices. 

The First World War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945) are among the most important chapters in world history. Both of these 20th century global conflicts touched the lives of countless families and communities across Canada. Sadly, more than 110,000 Canadians lost their lives during the two World Wars. November 11th provide all Canadians with opportunities to celebrate their proud heritage and, more importantly, to honour those who served and continue to serve our country to uphold the values of peace, freedom and democracy.

For more information on Canada's role, visit veterans.gc.ca.

Veterans Affairs Canada's support and services offer the right care at the right time to achieve the best results for Veterans and their families. Find out more at veterans.gc.ca

<![CDATA[Canadians are losing their cool with bad customer service]]>Wed, 30 Oct 2013 14:17:09 GMThttp://completebusinessconsulting.ca/blog/canadians-are-losing-their-cool-with-bad-customer-serviceNearly a third of Canadian consumers (32 %) believe that businesses pay less attention to providing good customer service, according to the results of a random survey of 1,003 adult Canadian consumers, conducted for American Express.  61% of respondents said that in the past year they intended to buy a product or service but decided not to, based on poor customer service.  34% said they lost their temper with a customer service representative in the past year. 21% said they stormed out of a store in the past year; 39% said they hung up the phone and 66% said they insisted on speaking with a supervisor.

The survey found that 63% of consumers will tell others about a poor service experience, but only 54% will talk about a good experience.

On average, Canadian consumers tell 13 people about their good experiences, and 21 people about their bad experience.

So what are we doing wrong?  Growing up a Canadian, the one thing I always heard from travelers or from places I have travelled was how friendly and polite Canadian’s are.  Now this is not to say all Canadian’s have forgotten their manors.  I live in the GTA where it seems to be worse.  Just outside of Toronto, people remember to say please and thank you, and places like Tim Horton’s will go out of their way to service their customers in an efficient and friendly manor.

One of the first things we need to remember is that no matter how much you push for sales, you will not succeed if the customer is not happy.  So spend the two seconds it will take say “Have a nice day” Listen to what your customer is asking for and do your best to provide.  Smiles are free (at McDonalds anyway). 

I go to the Tim Horton’s at the Esso station at Hwy 10 and Bovaird in Brampton, Ontario most mornings.  This is a little out of my way for the trip into work.  Why do I go there when there is a Tim Horton’s on my way?  I go there for the service.  Every morning I am greeted with a smile.  They always get my order correct, and pleasantly ask if I would like anything else.  As I get to the window, there is my wonderful hot steaming coffee ready to wake me and start my day.  Holding my coffee, is an alert and friendly woman who always wishes me a good day.  Now I know there are mornings when the last thing she wants to do is to stand at a sometimes cold and wet drive through window, where she will service hundreds of grumpy non-morning people on their way to work.  And yet, consistently, there she is with a smile and my coffee.  For that reason alone I will go out of my way to get my coffee from that Tim Horton’s.  Now you may be thinking I am being picky or maybe my order is difficult.  I drink a large black coffee.   That’s it.  No fuss, nothing special or fancy.  Any yet, that little order seems to confuse most Tim Horton’s window people.  I have had coffee shoved through my window, spilling on my lap.  I am often ask what I would like in my black coffee, most times the cup is not filled to the top, and almost without fail I have to wait, (for what I don’t know).  Don’t get me started if I am ordering a sandwich with that.  Never do I get a thank you, or any word of pleasantry.  This is just my rant about Tim Horton’s in Brampton, there are so many stores and services that I have to use daily where I leave feeling disappointed and angry at the manor in which I have been treated.  

I was at the Rogers store, again at Hwy 10 and Bovaird in Brampton.   What a shining example of what customer service is meant to be.  EVERY time I need assistance from Rogers, these people will go out of their way to provide me with the best they can.  I tend to need service a lot.  I have two sons, both with phones, iPods, and computers, as well as myself.  I was born before the techy generation, so I often need an experienced person to assist me in my purchases.  The people at Rogers spend as much time as I need, going over all the options for any and all devises.  They go out of their way to help me save money, and even go the extra mile and set up my devises with the applications I require.  I know they have worked through breaks and lunches when the store is busy.  Each and every customer that walks into this store is greeted like a friend.  The staff even knows the names of many of the reoccurring customers like myself.  I will stand in their line without complaint, because I know they are giving the person in front of me the same level of service I will be receiving when it is my turn.  I will not be rushed or treated like a number.  This is how ALL great Canadian stores should be run.  

Maybe our problem is in the training.  We don’t encourage our young people to have manors and respect for others.  We spend so much time in our web-based world that we no longer work at how to treat the real live person.  When training our people for the service industry, service should be the first and foremost lesson taught.  My youngest boy has recently started working in the customer service industry.  I asked him what kind of training he received for customer service.  He was trained on selling, and up selling to the customer.  He was not informed that the customer is the most important asset to the company.  He was not informed that without the customer there would be no sales.  He was taught to grab the all mighty dollar.  

This attitude of, that’s not my job, or that’s not my position, has got to go.  If you work for Wal-Mart, or any other store, your job is to have an active role in promoting your business, and to create an environment shoppers will want to come back to.  If you don’t know where something is, get someone who does.  I never want to hear, “That’s not my department” ever again.  Smile as you go through the store.  Ensure your customers have a pleasant shopping experience.  Happy customers will return, even if it costs more, or is out of the way.  As a customer service representative, you will be ensuring your future employment by being part of the reason customer’s come back.

If you have been hired to work as customer service.  Then that is what you do.  Serve your customer.  Whether that is as a teller at the bank, a floor person at Wal-Mart, or as a person serving coffee at Tim Horton’s.  

As Canadian’s our attitude needs to change, both in and out of the store.  Hold the door for the person coming up behind you.  Smile more.  And as your mother most likely told you, “remember to say please and thank you”.  Put your phone down and look at the world around you.   Social media is great, but lets not forget the personal touch.
<![CDATA[ Budgeting – Gone the way of the dinosaur ]]>Mon, 21 Oct 2013 20:23:23 GMThttp://completebusinessconsulting.ca/blog/-budgeting-gone-the-way-of-the-dinosaurSeveral large and successful companies, including American Express and Unilever, have done away with traditional budgeting, and have adapted a more continuous planning and rolling forecast model.

Traditional budgeting is a broken tool, particularly in a more volatile business environment.  The biggest problem with most traditional budgets is that they are based on a bunch of assumptions.  Assumptions about what the economy is going to do, future competitive actions, future customer responses, governmental changes, currency movement and a whole series of things.  The majority of this is outside the control of the organizations.  When these assumptions turn out to be wrong, the plans based on them pretty much are wrong as well.  As finance professionals, we rigidly want to adhere to those plans and do monthly variance explanations when we are not inside the line.  Had we known the changes that were coming our way we would never have drawn the lines in the first place.  

Budgets tend to focus on targets based on incremental changes from the previous period.  There is little time or incentive to understand and challenge the root causes of costs allowing huge amounts of waste to fester and grow.  The change needs to be to stop looking in the past, and start looking forward at change and what our options are.  That’s where forecasting come in, plotting a course for the future.  A five-year vision that has to be very, very flexible because the environment can change radically, but still creates a compass of how to achieve the goals.

Top 5 problems with Budgets

1.     Budgets are time consuming and expensive.  The average time consumed is between four and five months.  Some organizations have attempted to place a cost of the whole planning and budgeting process.  Ford Motor Company figured out this amounted to $1.2 billion per annum.

2.     Budgets protect rather that reduce costs.  “Use it or lose it” is the manager’s mantra.  Not spending the budget is a cardinal sin in most organizations.   Spend up to the budget to preserve it for the next year.  This attitude actually cost the organization more money.  Although management will not spend more than the budget allows, you can bet they won’t spend a penny less either.

3.     Budgets stifle product and strategy innovation.  Budgets are said to be a barrier to change and innovations.  Budgets can result in short term decisions to keep within the budget rather than the right long term decision which exceeds the budgets.

4.     Budgets focus on sales targets rather than customer satisfaction.  Managers can become too preoccupied with setting and reviewing budgets and forgetting to focus on the real issues of winning customers.

5.     Budgets lead to unethical behavior.  Managing the results (also known as cooking the books) is a frequent outcome of budgeting.  Many finance managers are well versed in managing the slack” and feeding it into the results when needed.  However, as we have see, this practice can border on outright fraud.

So no more budgets. In its place: a rolling forecast, something more flexible, adjusting as the environment evolves.

Rather than locking into an annual budget, use quarterly financial results to update a 15-month outlook, constantly looking at it in chunks and trying to make sure your numbers are trending where you think they should trend. So you know if you have a whole bunch of expenses coming up, you can adjust your forecast and make other adjustments in the organization to allow for that.

This way the forecast revises itself based on the most recent results. It’s a living, breathing document, and it’s more in tune with what reality is becoming.

In recent years, an increasing number of companies have eschewed or amended traditional budgeting techniques for a more flexible approach. Spending less time on a budget and more on analyzing performance benefits a company in the long run.

<![CDATA[Breast Cancer in Canada, Mamograms, & Risks]]>Mon, 07 Oct 2013 16:50:30 GMThttp://completebusinessconsulting.ca/blog/breast-cancer-in-canada-mamograms-risksHow common is breast cancer in Canada? 

Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women. Each year, more than 22,000 women develop breast cancer in Canada and more than 5,000 women die of the disease. Based on current rates, one in nine women in Canada is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime.

The risk of getting breast cancer goes up as women get older. The risk of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is as follows:
  •   13 out of 1,000 women in their 40s 
  •   23 out of 1,000 women in their 50s
  •   29 out of 1,000 women in their 60s
  •   31 out of 1,000 women in their 70s

Since 1999, the rate of new cases of breast cancer has stabilized, and death rates have steadily declined.

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

"Please note: the reference numbers in the printed Decision Aid contain some errors. The reference numbers below in the text and the PDF have been corrected."

Risk factors are conditions that may increase your chance of developing breast cancer. Some risk factors are major, while others are minor. It is important to understand that most women will have some of these risk factors. 

  •   A major risk is one that puts you at least twice the risk of breast cancer compared to someone without that risk factor. 
  •   A minor risk is one that put you at less than twice the risk.

Most women will have some of these risk factors

Major risk factors for breast cancer

  •   Being aged 50 or older. 
  •   Dense breast tissue as shown by a mammogram. Breast density is often lower as women age and after menopause. 
  •   Having a previous breast tissue sample (biopsy) that showed cells that look abnormal (atypical hyperplasia). 
  •   A mother or sister with breast cancer especially if they learned they had breast cancer before age 50. If more than one immediate family member had breast cancer, or if your family has a history of ovarian cancer. Some families may have mutation of a breast cancer gene (a permanent change in the DNA of either of the genes known as BRCA1 or BRCA2).
  •    Repeated radiation to the chest due to treatment of a disease (such as Hodgkin's). The risk is highest if you were exposed to the radiation between ages 13 to 30. 

Minor risk factors for breast cancer

  •   Not having any children or being more than 30 years old when a first child was born. 
  •   Starting your monthly periods (menstruation) before age 12. 
  •   Late menopause (after age 55). 
  •   Current use of hormone replacement therapy that totals 5 years or more. 
  •   Current use of the birth control pills and for 10 years after you stop taking them. 
  •   Overweight after menopause. 
  •   Having more than one drink of alcohol per day. 

f you are not sure about whether you have some of these risk factors, talk to your health care provider.
Although more research is necessary before conclusions can be made, some scientific studies show other risk factors that may be linked to a higher risk of breast cancer including: 
  •   a diet high in fat, 
  •   smoking, or 
  •   being exposed to second-hand smoke.

To get a better sense of your breast cancer risk, you can ask your health care provider or use the Breast Cancer Risk Calculator available on the Public Health Agency of Canada website. This tool uses seven risk factors to predict the risk of breast cancer.
What protects you against breast cancer? 

Be aware of the risk factors that you can change. These include your weight, diet, and whether you smoke or drink alcohol. Studies show that women can reduce their risk by being physically active. Women who have given birth to more children and women who breastfed have lower breast cancer risk. 

What is breast cancer screening?

Breast cancer screening is an attempt to find cancer even when there may not be any symptoms. The goal is to find breast cancer early, when it is small and less likely to have spread to other parts of the body. This reduces a woman's chance of dying from the disease. The most common method of breast cancer screening is a mammogram.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a medical test that uses x-rays to take pictures of the internal structure of the breast. The testing is also known as "mammography." Mammograms are done for two reasons: 

Screening: When women participate on a routine basis to have mammograms done to find breast cancer at an early stage. This type of mammogram looks for signs that breast cancer may be developing, even though no symptoms are there.
Diagnostic: This is typically done to check for breast cancer after a lump or any other sign/symptom has been found such as pain, skin thickening, nipple discharge, or a change in breast size or shape. It may also be used as a second test if a screening mammogram finds something that is not normal.

Here's how a screening mammogram works: 
  • You will be seated or standing in front of a machine used only for mammograms.
  • The x-ray technologist will place your breast onto a plastic plate on the machine. As a second plastic plate is lowered onto the breast, pressure will even out the breast tissue. This allows the machine to get as clear a picture as possible. The tolerance to pressure on the breast varies among women.  
  • A special low-dose x-ray is then used to look for breast patterns or lumps that are not normal. These may be too small for you or your health care provider to find by feeling your breast. 
  • The same procedure then occurs with the other breast.
  • High quality mammogram finds some breast cancers when they are very small—2 to 4 years before they would be felt. 

Are mammograms safe?

Mammograms involve exposure to x-rays and x-ray radiation has been found to cause cancer. The amount of radiation you receive during one screening mammogram will be based on: 
  •   the amount of fat in your breast tissue (density); and 
  •   the number of images taken. 

Your total exposure to radiation from screening mammograms will depend on the number of mammograms you have had. X-ray technologists are experts in breast positioning and know how to reduce the amount of radiation you receive. The amount of radiation that you get from a screening mammogram is almost the same as the amount you would receive over 3 months from your usual surroundings (e.g. sun, rocks, soil, buildings, air and food). Studies show that the risk of a new cancer starting due to radiation to the breast from breast screening mammography is extremely low. The benefits of early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer far outweigh the risk of being exposed to the small amount of radiation from a screening mammogram. 

What are the possible benefits and harms of screening mammograms? 
The possible benefits and harms linked to breast screening mammograms are listed in the table below. Consider each statement on its own to determine how important each one is to you.

Possible Benefits
  • Peace of mind
  • You may feel less worried when you know that you do not have cancer on your screening mammogram.
  •   Catching cancer at an early stage and simpler treatment
  • If your mammogram finds something abnormal, you will be carefully monitored and/or treated. In Canada, more than 97% of breast cancers found by organized screening programs are at an early stage. If your cancer is at an early stage, you may have simpler surgery and less need for chemotherapy.
  •   Reduced chance of dying from breast cancer
  • The purpose of breast screening mammograms is to find breast cancer early. This reduces your chance of dying from breast cancer due to early diagnosis and simpler treatment.

Possible Harms
  • Cancer may not be found
  • Your mammogram may show no signs of an abnormality even though breast cancer is present.
  • Extra tests and worry from false alarms
  • Some women will have a false alarm because something abnormal is found on mammogram. But after more tests (such as another mammogram, an ultrasound or perhaps a biopsy), no cancer is found. This may take 4 to 6 weeks, causing worry in women. Sometimes, the worry lasts long after the test results are known.
  • No improvement to your length and/or quality of life and unnecessary diagnosis 

Even though your screening mammogram found breast cancer, your quality of life or the number of years you live may not change. Some breast cancers found by screening would otherwise cause no problems because women would die of something else first. These breast cancers could be slow growing cancers. So, if women with these cancers had not had screening, they might never have known they had cancer and would not have had treatment.

Having a regular screening mammogram 

In Canada, experts agree that the benefits of screening mammograms outweigh the harms for women aged 50 to 69. For younger and older women, the balance of benefits and harms is not so clear. Talk to your health care provider about your breast cancer risk and decide what is right for you. 

Health officials recommend that women aged 50-69 years have breast screening mammograms once every two years. Note that women aged 40-49 years who choose to have a screening mammogram usually have it done once a year. 

The risk of getting breast cancer goes up as you get older

Women who are at higher than average risk of breast cancer (for example, because of a family history of the disease or because they carry a known mutation in either the BRCA1 or the BRCA2 gene) should talk with their health care providers about whether to have mammograms before age 40 and how often to have them.
<![CDATA[ Self  Breast Exam - IMPORTANT!]]>Mon, 07 Oct 2013 16:40:43 GMThttp://completebusinessconsulting.ca/blog/-self-breast-exam-importantSelf  Breast Exam Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.

Here's what you should look for:

  • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
  • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor's attention:

  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
  • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling

Breast Self-Exam — Step 1

Step 2: Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.

Step 3: While you're at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).

Step 4: Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.

Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.

Step 5: Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.