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Cloud tools for businesses and law firms – Part 3: Are you a data-driven business? What automation and cloud accounting can do for you!

What does it mean to be a data-driven business?

Data-driven decision making is not just another buzz phrase – it is a strategy that every company must adopt to be successful, regardless of its size. To be a data-driven business means to collect data and use it to gain insight about the business processes and to make better financial and strategic decisions. Data is a very broad term, however, it can mean different things depending on your company’s context. Most often it refers to financial data such as sales, expenses, cash flow, profit margins and other financial indicators. Another category is customer related data, such as number of customers, their demographics, satisfaction levels, and much more.

Collecting and analyzing sales, expense and customer data can be used in determining relevant key performance indicators, or KPIs, that are the tell-tales of a business’ health and performance. The key here is “relevant KPIs”. Sometimes business owners fall into a different trap – collecting too much data and not really prioritizing one or two KPIs that really matter. Besides tracking KPIs and business performance, another benefit of being a data-driven business is being able to use financial information to create accurate sales forecasts, cash flow projections and budget. These projections can greatly improve operational efficiency and help avoid unpleasant surprises, such as not being able to make a payroll or be faced with needing to raise capital last minute to keep your company afloat.

Timely and accurate data can be a powerful tool in tracking financial performance, testing out new marketing tactics, creating forecasting models to predict sales and recurring expenses. Engaging in data-driven decision making reduces uncertainty and helps carve a clear strategy for long term success.

How cloud accounting software can be a powerful tool for automation

To reap the benefits of being a data-driven business, the first step is to accumulate accurate and timely data in a central place. Using traditional accounting software, it can be hard to avoid manual and time consuming data entry. Through the use of cloud accounting software, much of this process can be automated. Cloud accounting software, such as Xero, can be an excellent tool for businesses to streamline and automate data flow.  By connecting the software to the company’s bank and credit card accounts, it is able to capture transactions on a daily basis, simplify reconciliations and provide real time view of the company’s cash flow. Additionally, third party add-ons such as Receipt Bank and Hubdoc enable businesses to eliminate paper receipts and invoices and categorize transactions on the go.

Moving accounting to the cloud enables businesses to access their financials from multiple devices and improve collaboration among management and third party service providers. Since multiple users can be granted access, it is easy for the business owners and the accounting professionals to work together. By continuously analyzing the data gathered in the cloud accounting software, an accountant can provide valuable feedback so that the business owners can respond quicker and make better decisions. Cloud accounting software like Xero also provides access to many third party applications to help with documentation, project management, scheduling, debt collection, and other data collection and decision making capabilities. These powerful tools make it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to gain a deeper understanding of the business’ operations and finances, and make decisions that will ensure focused business growth.

Data collection isn’t just about looking into the rear-view mirror

While a big part of data analysis is understanding the effectiveness of current strategies being implemented, it is also a powerful tool to make realistic financial models and projections of the future. Having accurate projections about the business can stave off trouble long before it happens. For example, cash flow projections make it easy to predict whether the business is on a path to meet its financial obligations or when more capital needs to be raised.

Your accountant should first and foremost be your business partner

Collecting the right data about a business and utilizing cloud accounting for automation and collaboration are integral parts of being a data-driven business. The last ingredient in the recipe for success is to enlist the help of a qualified accounting advisor to assist with data analysis and projections. With cloud accounting solutions coming into play, traditional bookkeeping and accounting professionals are also experiencing a change. Business owners can now expect more from their accountant than just ensuring accurate books or preparing annual tax returns and financial statements. Accounting professionals are becoming business partners and advisors that guide business owners in decisions such as what data to collect, what tools to use and ultimately provide detailed analyses and projections on an ongoing basis. Traditionally, only more established companies with deep pockets could justify such level of involvement. Cloud accounting solutions and online collaboration result in time and resource savings on the bookkeeping front, enabling accounting professionals to focus more on consulting and analysis and less time on reconciling and organizing data. This means that businesses can get more value out of their accounting professionals without substantial costs.

About the author:

Andrejus Civilis is a Chartered Professional Accountant, Certified Management Accountant and founded AC Cloud Accounting in 2014.   

About AC Cloud Accounting

AC Cloud takes the pain of bookkeeping away, helps businesses get the most of their data and make better strategic decisions.

AC Cloud makes the transition to the cloud easy with these steps:

  •  Oversee initial setup with cloud accounting software such as Xero or QBO
  • Migrate books to the cloud and take care of day-to-day bookkeeping needs
  • Assist with selection and integration of add-ons as appropriate for the business
  • Analyze data and provide financial insight into the business processes on ongoing basis
  • Provide financial projections and KPIs

To find out more, please visit www.accloud.ca/services or email info@accloud.ca.

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Welcome to the cloud, Toronto

Links from this article:
StartupHere Toronto

Clausehound’s partner organization, StartupHere Toronto, has shared a blog on a Toronto-based DevOps firm and the unique strategy the firm employed to become a leading player in space. The founders of VM Farms share their unique approach to providing DevOps services, how they perceive the Toronto startup community, and their experience growing a tech business in the City. By offering a wider array of services to its customers, maintaining the best talent within the firm, and offering higher quality service than the competition, VM Farms has been able to achieve immense success in the past 8 years providing cloud-based technology solutions to companies both in Toronto and globally.


If you’re interested in learning about VM Farm’s story and what it takes to be a leader in the software development space, read this article by StartupHere Toronto.  

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Is it legal for a company to ask an employee to sign an NDA after the employee has started working?

Today’s job market is tough, so when an employment opportunity presents itself, many jump at the chance and take the job. You might notice that the offer letter you accepted in lieu of a full-fledged employment agreement (which, along with other documents, you were promised would be delivered soon) may include terms which are different from those included in the contract itself. Usually that’s not an issue for employees – you have a job now! You can clarify what the contract terms are, and sign it so you can start getting paid!

 

But suppose you have started work and the employer now requires you to sign an additional contract, like a confidentiality agreement or non-disclosure agreement (NDA). You don’t want to lose your job, so you will likely sign. Will you be bound by this NDA? The answer is both yes and no – it depends on whether there has been fresh consideration for the new contract.

 

Offer, acceptance, and consideration

A contract is legally binding if it is composed of three parts: an offer of a contract from one party to the other; an acceptance by the other party of those terms; and consideration, something of value that each party has and will exchange with one another (e.g., money, services, promises).

 

Fresh Consideration  

When an employee is presented with a new set of terms or a new agreement, it is not considered to be enforceable unless consideration is present. But the courts have held that that consideration cannot be the same as previously offered or given—it has to be more, and this is called “fresh consideration.”

 

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently considered the question, in Holland v. Hostopia Inc. (2015) (ONCA). The court stated that simply keeping the job you are entitled to keep is not fresh consideration that will support the signing of another contract (like an NDA). On the other hand, not being dismissed when you could legally be dismissed will be fresh consideration. Whether the employer can require you to sign the new contract as a condition of keeping your employment may depend on whether you could have been legally ‘let go’ even if you did not sign the new contract.

 

What will count as fresh consideration? Continuing in a job when the employer was entitled to let you go is fresh consideration. Offering a bonus can be fresh consideration (even if the bonus is a modest amount). Some other forms of fresh consideration can include “an increase of vacation pay, notice requirements, life insurance, severance pay, or health and dental benefits.” Note that any one of these things by itself could be sufficient to be considered to be fresh consideration. 

Source

No Consideration

Employers are sometimes tempted to avoid the need for fresh consideration by including the following sort of clause: “The party affirms that the terms stated herein are the only consideration for signing this Agreement and that no other representations, promises, or agreements of any kind have been made by any person or entity to cause them to sign this Agreement.

The party affirms that this consideration is sufficient. The party has accepted the terms of this Agreement because they believe them to be fair and reasonable for no other reason.”

 

If you are an employer who wants to have an existing employee sign another contract, be wary of relying on such clauses… the courts will look at whether you actually gave something new to the employee as fresh consideration in exchange for signing the contract.

 

So, is it legal to ask an employee to sign an NDA after the employee has started working? Yes, and no! When drafting the employment agreement, it is wise to include a clause requiring the employee to execute such further documents and agreements as the employer deems reasonably necessary – and then, when they sign those documents, remember to give some fresh consideration with the agreement.

 

To see standard versions of the various agreements and contracts discussed in this article, visit our Small Business Law Library!

 

This blog was co-written by Alina Butt.

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Futurpreneur’s Women Entrepreneur Series: Living Life to its Fullest with CircoFit

Links from this article:
Futurpreneur Canada

Clausehound’s partner organization, Futurpreneur, offers female entrepreneurs throughout Canada a fantastic opportunity for both membership and mentorship. Futurpreneur profiled one of its up-and-coming entrepreneurs based out of Edmonton, Alberta. Meghan Schech, a former aerial circus performer and medical laboratory assistant, shares her experience as a female in the entrepreneurial grind and the unique obstacles she’s had to overcome. Meghan discusses the strategies she’s employed to successfully launch her business, CircoFit, including taking care of herself, hiring professionals, ‘faking it until you make it’, and creating the best possible experience for her customers.

Visit Futurpreneur’s website to connect with their experts and read the full article here.

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Logojoy provides a roundup of expert tips on designing a logo!

Clausehound’s partner organization, Logojoy, has compiled a list of logo design tips from a number of industry leaders to help improve your company’s branding! This blog article can help you plan and design an effective logo for your business or provide you with the required knowledge to improve your business’ existing logo design!


To read logo design suggestions from branding experts, check out
Logojoy’s blog article.

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Can I Exclude a Loss of Profits in My Limitation of Liability Clause?

Landing a huge contract is exciting – and risky! The stakes are high when a large proportion of your business’ resources are dedicated to an important project – especially if the contract is terminated prematurely by the customer.

As drafters of commercial agreements, we understand how important it is to our clients to limit or exclude their liability as much as possible, whether they are the customer or the service provider. At the same time, we know you need to be paid for your services.

 

 

A recent case, Atos IT Solutions and Services v Sapient Canada Inc, highlighted a number of issues that can arise in a claim for breach of an IT services contract. The defendant, Sapient, subcontracted work to the plaintiff, Siemens, in connection with a $49.5M project to build a single software platform; convert existing data to the platform; and provide support for the new platform for up to three years. The defendant terminated the contract early, and the plaintiff sued for damages, including lost profits.

One of the issues was whether the plaintiff could sue for loss of profits (a whopping $3,575,990) even though ‘loss of profits’ was excluded in the limitation of liability clause. The clause provided that the parties “will be liable to the other with respect to this agreement and any other obligations related thereto only for direct damages…” Neither party was to be liable for “any indirect, special,consequential, punitive or for loss of profits (collectively “Excluded Damages”), even if the other party has been advised of the possibility of such damages…”

 

Source

 

The court held that the excluded damages applied only to indirect loss of profits, for example opportunities lost because of the acceptance of the contract, but did not apply to the direct loss of profits resulting from early termination of the project.

In relation to damages, a key principle of contract law is to place the plaintiff in the same position they would have been in had the contract been performed (i.e. make the plaintiff “whole”). In this case, the contract for up to three years of support services was priced on a fixed fee basis, and was a reliable indication of the amount of loss of direct profits.

Lessons learned from Atos:

1. The significance of  drafting a tight limitation of liability clause that takes into account the reasonable expectations of the parties and common law interpretations of similar clauses cannot be understated. While no claim for indirect loss of profits was made in this case, the court implied that the language of the limitation clause, which is similar to many clauses found in various commercial contracts, can exclude indirect profits.

2. If you want the protection of being able to claim for a loss of direct profits, it is important to specifically include that right in your contract without inadvertently limiting it in the limitation provisions.

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Join MyShop Makerspace on April 25th for an introduction to 3D modelling and printing workshop led by Paul Sohi!

Links from this article:
MyShop Makerspace

Interested in learning how to use one of the newest and coolest technology tools? Clausehound’s partner organization, MyShop Makerspace, is hosting an introduction to 3D printing workshop for all members of the Kitchener community interested in learning the foundations of utilizing 3D printing technologies. This workshop, in conjunction with Fusion 360, will provide attendees with an introduction to 3D modelling and printing, led by Fusion 360 evangelist and product designer, Paul Sohi.

 

If you are an entrepreneur looking for new and innovative ways to create or market products, this is the workshop for you! It takes place on April 25, from 7:00pm – 9:30pm.

 

For more information on attending MyShop Makerspace’s 3D printing event, please see the event page.

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Toronto – A City That Makes Makers!

Links from this article:
StartUp HERE Toronto

Clausehound’s partner organization, StartUp HERE, has written a blog about Toronto’s rich entrepreneurial environment and factors that make the city stand out as a place for ‘makers’ to thrive. This blog illustrates the resources available to startups in Toronto, including makerspaces, academic programs and other entrepreneurs with which to collaborate. This is a great read for members of Clausehound’s entrepreneurial community that are looking for more resources to turn their ideas into viable businesses!

 

To read more about some of the many factors that make Toronto an ideal place to launch a startup, click here!

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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