Business or Hobby?

business or hobbyWhether someone has a business or a hobby is very important from a tax standpoint. Tax authorities all around the world require taxes to be paid on the profits of a business, whereas money from a hobby does not get taxed.

The effects of this need to be considered from both sides.

For example, in the network marketing industry many people get started on the basis that they are going to get tax deductions for all their expenses including automotive, accommodation and travel as well as the products they purchase for their personal use. However, in many cases this just won’t happen because it is very obvious that they are not running a ‘business’.

On the other side of the coin, some people classify themselves as a hobby so they do not need to pay the tax on the money they are generating from their activities.

An accountant will tell you that whether someone has a business or a hobby is a question of fact. But how does someone who is not an accountant or trained in taxation matters know?

There was an interesting case in Australia that is useful for helping understand this no matter where you are situated.

It was reported in an article titled “ATO warns part-time entrepreneurs not to confuse a business with a hobby after the case of the 1,200 turtles

Here is an excerpt of the article:

‘Although tax law does not provide a detailed definition of a business, the following business indicators have been used by various courts and tribunals to determine whether a business exists for tax purposes:

  • Does your activity have a significant commercial purpose or character?
  • Do you have more than just an intention to engage in business?
  • Do you have a purpose of profit as well as a prospect of profit?
  • Is there repetition and regularity to your activity?
  • Is your activity of the same kind and carried on in a similar manner to businesses in your industry?
  • Is your activity planned, organised and carried on in a business-like manner?
  • Does your activity have characteristics of size, scale and permanency?
  • Would it be true to say your activity is really better described as a business, rather than a hobby, recreation or sporting activity?’

If you are conducting activities that may be considered a business, make sure you seek some professional advice to avoid the potential wrath of the tax authorities. That is the last thing you would want.

Promote Your Small Business Using Press Releases

small business press releasesLarge companies frequently make use of press releases successfully, and so there is no question that smaller local companies can benefit as well as one of their sales and marketing tools.

Why Use Press Releases

1. Press Releases Are Budget-Friendly

It is possible to create your own press releases. The only actual financial outlay is in getting your press release into the right hands. This might be through an agency or a web service such as PR Web or BusinessWire, which can be very cost effective in contrast to paid advertising campaigns.

2. Press Releases Build Your Credibility

If you consistently produce and publish useful and current press releases, they can rapidly maximize your brand in your target market and allow you to attain the trust of your prospective clients. This in turn can give them confidence with your company and increase the likelihood they will buy from you.

3. Press Releases Are More Effective

When someone sees an article about a business, it is a lot more believable and therefore a lot more effective than paid advertising. We have already talked about ‘credibility’ but this is greatly enhanced when others are talking about you rather than you talking about yourself.

3. Press Releases Are Helpful For Any Business

Despite what type of business you happen to be in or how big your business is, you can easily benefit from press release campaigns. You can use traditional methods to catch the recognition of the conventional press, and you can also send your press releases to online distribution websites to improve your presence on the internet. This can then provide links back to your website to improve your search engine rankings.

Developing a Press Release for Your Business

To help you understand how to create a press release, here are several things you can do to design a straightforward yet effective press release:

Step 1: Capture Attention

Your press release should not be a bland piece of writing. It needs to capture the journalist’s attention. Create a powerful headline using adjectives that add emotion and capture the reader’s attention. Then an objective of each sentence is to get the person to keep reading.

Step 2: Add Value

Present extras with your press release simply by including images, video clips, links to solutions, along with any other worthwhile resources. This presents news presenters everything they need to adequately announce the news you are offering to them.

A comprehensive bundle of materials helps make your release so much more appealing to a press reporter seeking something good to cover.

These kinds of sources need to be web-ready and in the appropriate formats that make it possible for people to download the material.

Step 3: Incorporate a Captivating ‘Hook’

An eye-catching hook is important to the effectiveness of a great press release.

Before creating your press release, devote some time to examining competitors’ press releases and articles and determine which are the most popular and effective.

If possible, try to discover specifically what sort of hook draws in the market and keeps them coming back for even more. Right after you have them hooked, you’ll have the capacity to transform readers into buyers by providing them with other useful material.

Step 4: Refrain from Using Industry Terminologies

When you are developing your press releases, you want to ensure to limit technical terminology. Even if your business jargon may be appropriate for certain communities, it might confuse the bulk of your followers, which then provokes them to lose interest.

To attract new visitors who might not be as experienced in your sector’s jargon, create your press release with a wider target audience in mind. Make it simple and do not hesitate to supply informative sources to clarify industry-related phrases if necessary.


Use these tips to start creating some press releases that effectively promote your business.

Why Business Networking Is A Good Idea

netowrking with entrepreneursWhether you have a new small business or have been operating for years, connecting with other businesses and company owners is a crucial ingredient of success.

Some business experts call it strategic networking while others call it social networking. In any case, networking and connecting with other company owners is a sure method to grow your business in any market.

Connecting with other businesses and company owners is a smart decision for a number of reasons.

Primarily, it is usually a free method to market and promote your business and services. Secondly, networking with other entrepreneurs can help you to optimize your resources. Strategic networking also helps you market yourself and your business and attract possible company partners.

Everyone knows that word of mouth marketing is usually the best. It is complimentary, fast, and trusted. Normally word of mouth advertising comes from happy consumers wanting to share their great experience. But it is also worthwhile to ‘sell’ yourself to others. When you network with others about your business, they will have the opportunity to meet you and learn more about your products and services. Even when the individual you are communicating with has no interest in your services, he or she may at least know somebody who does. Networking allows you to get the word out about your business totally free.

When you network with other business owners you are also opening up the possibility of making the best use of or enhancing your resources. As you network and discuss your business services, you may discover yourself talking to a business owner that has complimentary products or services. Furthermore, networking allows business owners to meet other company owners who are in the same field, without being direct rivals. In this way, networking gives opportunity for companies in the same industry with complimentary products or services to potentially engage in new strategic partnerships.

Strategic networking among company owners is one of the most efficient ways to develop an effective business. While it is a good strategic tactic in the early start-up years, successful business owners often continue to network even after their business grows as networking through the various phases of business opens the possibility of new relationships, new ideas, new customers, new resources, and new partners.

Networking can be done on an informal basis, by attending events run by business associations, or in an ongoing formal arrangement where various organizations provide mentoring and networking opportunities. The bottom line is that networking is beneficial and should be part of your marketing arsenal.

Here is a great video to help you with your networking.


The best accounting method for small business

single entry accounting is easier for small businessThere are two types of bookkeeping or accounting methods.

The ‘double entry’ method of accounting was invented in the 15th century. A man named Benedikt Kotruljević first wrote about double-entry accounting in ‘Book on the Art of Trade’ in 1458 and then Luca Pacioli who was Franciscan monk in Milan wrote the ‘Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita’ in 1494.

This is where ‘double entry’ bookkeeping is understood to have started.

Even university accounting students take some time to grasp the concepts so it is no wonder that small business owners struggle with this discipline of business.

The primary rule of double-entry accounting is that total debits and total credits must be equal. There are 5 classifications of transactions being assets, liabilities, equity, revenue and expenses and while it makes sense to someone trained in accounting, it can be confusing for people who are not.

Over the centuries and right up until the modern day, the common process for small business owners to keep their books has been to have a ledger that tracks money coming in and going out of the business, along with records of accounts receivable and accounts payable.

This is called a single entry bookkeeping system and is much easier for people who are untrained in accounting.

According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service: “A single-entry system is based on the income statement (profit or loss statement). It can be a simple and practical system if you are starting a small business. The system records the flow of income and expenses through the use of: 1. A daily summary of cash receipts, and 2. Monthly summaries of cash receipts and disbursements.” (IRS Publication 583: Starting a Business and Keeping Records, 2007)

Computers and software advances have brought the tools to do double-entry accounting to the mass market. And they are so inexpensive, at least when you look at the shelf price, that many small business owners get lulled into using them.

But having an electric drill doesn’t turn an accountant into an electrician. The same could be said that having a scalpel doesn’t turn you into a brain surgeon.

There is the old story about the person who complained about the surgeon’s bill because the bill was $5000 and the operation was only one hour. The surgeon’s reply was that $200 was for the time and $4800 for knowing where to cut.

Similarly, having a double entry accounting software product doesn’t turn someone who knows little about accounting into an accountant.

Accountants will testify that many small business owners who use the double entry accounting systems on the market today make a mess of their records and often cause their accountants extra work fixing it up.

This can be very costly for the small business owner because an accountant’s time is not inexpensive. So in the majority of cases a small business is much better off using a single entry method of bookkeeping, making sure their records balance to their bank accounts and providing their accountants and tax advisers with records that minimize the time they need to spend on completing the financial statements.

A single-entry program that has stood the test of time was developed by an Australian accountant for his clients and is now sold throughout the world. If you are a small business owner then it is worth taking a look, so here are the links for your country:

Easy accounting software for US small business
Easy accounting software for Canadian small business
Easy accounting software for UK small business
Easy accounting software for Australian small business

Here is a video that explains single-entry accounting:



Protect Your Business with Good Record Keeping – Part 2

Good small business recordkeeping is vital
Image courtesy of

Maintaining good record keeping can greatly enhance your business practices. Continuing on from my previous article, here are some more ways to protect your business through accounts maintenance.

Business records are very important in identifying potential risks to the business.

With these records, the business owner can establish the products that most customers prefer and the ones will the least preference. Thus, the investor will reduce those least preferred products, limiting the risk of losses.

Good records can help verify all expenses and income for tax audit purposes.

Without accounting records, the auditor will only rely on estimations that could lead to major errors. The auditor may also be forced to use industry standards. These possible errors in the report can hit the business, leading to losses. The owner may be forced to pay more taxes than they would have paid if there were good records.

The business owner can also use the records as a reminder for their deductible expenses and credits.

The records will show the debts that the business owner should pay. By doing this, the operator will not have to rely on personal memory. The reports will also show all the people who should pay certain amounts to the business.

Most businesses use electronic record keeping, making it easier for the operator. These systems can capture all the expenses, generate reports and meet tax and other legal requirements. Business owners can consult their financial advisors or accountants to help them in choosing the best business accounting system.

For more bookkeeping basics, follow this link.

Protect Your Business with Good Record Keeping – Part 1

Good bookkeeping
Image courtesy for

Good record keeping can help protect your business, measure your performance and maximize profits. It is critical to keep record of major activities in the business such as purchase invoices, sales receipts, transportation expenses, utility bills, bank statements, payroll records, and any other related business expenses.

Let me begin to outline the main reasons why business owners should keep good records for their small businesses.

Well kept accounting records can shorten the time taken to audit the business.

It is normal for an auditor to ask a business operator to provide business records. These records are used to verify the information filed on income tax returns. If the business owner has invested in good records, then the auditor will only take a few hours to complete the job.

Proper business records give the exact picture of the business operations.

These records show all the expenses that the business operator has incurred and the total sales made. Thus, the operator can use these records to estimate the expenses and income generated by the business in a given period.

Accounting records will also keep the business owner informed about the financial position of the business.

This means that the business operator can easily identify the areas of improvement and expansion. This will also help the owner in securing financing for the business. Business records can also help the operator to make decision that they may need to change the focus of the business.

My next post will continue on the importance of good record keeping and how it can help you business.

For more information on auditing, click here.

What is Accounting and Why Is It Vital

Accounting refers to the recording, measurement and analysis of monetary details of a business and is therefore a function that is critical to any business, not only for regulatory purposes but also to ensure the viability of the business.

There are various sub-sets of accounting. For example:

Tax accounting

Every business is required to report and pay taxes. Tax legislation can be extremely complicated and so this is a specialized area of the profession.

Financial accounting

Financial accounting deals with the preparation of a company’s financial reports. This is essential to provide information for the owners and stockholders, suppliers and the government about the financial performance and viability of a business.

Management accounting

Management accounting is involved with the measurement and analysis of financial data to assist in making management decision. This involves analyzing the reports and management accountants often use ratios to analyze results. For example, comparing accounts receivable with sales gives an indication of how long a business takes to get paid for sales made on credit. The longer this is, the more likely a business will encounter a cash flow crisis.


A good accountant is vital
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Auditing involves checking the processes and procedures to give a degree of confidence that the financial reporting of a business is accurate. An audit will not generally be able to guarantee that the reports are accurate. Rather it examines the processes in an effort to minimize the potential for error and fraud. Larger companies often have an internal auditor (someone who works in the business) as well as an external auditor from an external accounting firm. Smaller companies may only have an external auditor and small businesses may not have an auditing function at all.

The day to day record keeping functions are generally done by a person called a bookkeeper although in small businesses the bookkeeper is often the owner of the business.

Larger businesses tend to have an accountant on staff and use external accountants for auditing and specialist advice whereas small businesses may use the services of a bookkeeper but tend to rely on the assistance of external accountants.

An ‘accountant’ is a higher skill level and involves considerable tertiary education. It is also important to ensure that an accountant is a member of a professional body that regulates the actions of their members and ensures continual professional development.

However, as we said at the beginning, the accounting function is critical to the success of a business and ensuring your business gets this discipline under control is vital.

Here is a video about why accounting is important

Until next time,

The Ken

Welcome to The Ken Small Business Blog

small business success starts herePeople start their own business for all sorts of reasons.

For some it is because they have a great idea that will benefit other people and they can see the possibilities that can come from it.

For others it is because they think they can do a better job than their current employers. Or they get disgruntled thinking that their employer is getting rich from all their work. So they decide to set up their own business and do it themselves.

Then again it may be a natural progression. For example, you may have done an accounting degree and worked for another accounting firm to get experience, but your original goal was to start your own firm.

Some people say they are unemployable. They can’t work for someone else so they go to work for themselves.

Others think it the best way to get rich. You’ll never get rich working for someone else.

And then others just want to have a go at working for themselves while others start their own business simply because they cannot get a job.

Wikipedia ( says ‘In political economics, entrepreneurship is the process of identifying and starting a new business venture, sourcing and organizing the required resources, while taking both the risks and rewards associated with the venture.’

This really classifies anyone who starts a business as an entrepreneur.

However, some people are forced to start their own business. For example, it is not uncommon for a business to only engage contractors instead of employees because of the risks and costs involved in being an employer. So someone who would otherwise have been an employee becomes a business owner. They only work for one company and have regular employment with very little risk. That’s not to say there is no risk. Because if a company does not have any work then the subcontractor could be the first one to miss out and not receive any income either.

A true entrepreneur does take risks and that may be why the failure rates of business are so high. But many people who own a small business take minimal risks and simply want to make ends meet. They are not really interested in growing their business or doing anything to improve.

This is unfortunate because building a successful business is one of the best ways to increase your wealth.

So this blog is dedicated to those small business owners who actually do want to achieve success and use their business to increase their wealth.

We hope you enjoy our content and find it useful for your success.

The Ken