Tomorrow I give birth to a giant cyber baby – Canada’s First Personal Finance School. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done. (pees pants a bit).
Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Right now, on the eve of the launch, I can still be optimistic. The programs aren’t online yet and I can still believe that anything is possible and that this school will help more people than I’ve been able to reach before.
Once launched, I have to face reality. It’s possible that I was right. It’s also terrifyingly possible that I was wrong. Any entrepreneurs/budding entrepreneurs out there probably know all about this launch-fear.
But, if you don’t believe that what you’re doing is going to make waves or change your life in a HUGE way, why would you stay in Friday nights while all your friends are together, weekend after weekend? (#fomo) Why would you set alarms for 6am on Sunday mornings while everyone else is asleep? How could you end up crying, alone, at the office until 11pm a week before launch-day and only realize that you’re NOT OK when the wonderful maintenance staff offers you a Werthers Original, and tells you “it’s time to go home”.
When you push this hard, you have to naively believe… you have to be so stupidly optimistic or else, you’ll just give up.
I’ve cried almost every day over the past 6 months. Sometimes, from joy. Most times, sheer frustration and exhaustion.
So, I just want to sit and revel in this moment.
Everything is done. It’s all out of my control. There is literally nothing for me to do but take a deep breath in and wait to see if the world believes in this school as much as I do.
This is a rare, magical moment in life. It’s like being in free-fall. It’s silent, but loud. It’s peaceful, but manic. It’s terrifying, but exhilarating.
I know I’ve packed the parachute the best I can. I’ve done all the work. I’ve made the leap and now there’s nothing left to do as I fall but trust, and wait for the parachute to open at the right time.
I think this is why I became an entrepreneur. I’m addicted to the free-fall. This, to me, is living. I feel truly alive because of the entire spectrum of emotions that comes with building, planning, obsessing, and believing in something you’ve created from nothing. I am fully self-expressed and so f*cking appreciative for that.
I’m usually pretty light-hearted in my writing/videos, but I wanted to give this moment the earnestness it deserves. This is a big one for me and I wanted to write this post from a place of gratitude and to be a letter to my future self.
Dear Future Self,
You are about to launch the biggest project you’ve ever taken on. Good on ya.
If things don’t pan out the way that you planned, that’s okay – you are not a giant failure.
No matter what happens, you have so much to be proud of. Be proud of what you’ve created, it’s amazing. Be proud that you are not afraid to work your ass off for something you believe in. You have put your WHOLE SELF into something that you will put out there for anyone in the world to judge. Being vulnerable like this is a really scary thing, you are brave. Lastly, celebrate the fact that you are facing your fear of failure like a boss. Please don’t stop being stupidly optimistic…. Ever. It’s your special skill in life. Remember, that no matter what happens, it’s the journey that defines you in the end and this journey has been truly epic.
Thank you for being one of my fierce supporters. I couldn’t have done any of this without you. Stay tuned with me tomorrow as I continue to free-fall and we’ll find out if the chute opens.
Shannon Lee Simmons
Almost-Official Founder of The New School of Finance
READ THIS IF: You are selling goods to people in the EU and you are afraid that those goods are considered “Electronically Supplied Services”.DISCLAIMER: EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. THIS IS NOT ADVICE. PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR TAX PROFESSIONAL. MORE INFO IS COMING EVERY DAY. STAY TUNED. WATCH WEBINAR: HERE
QUESTION 1: What is EU VAT?
It’s a sales tax – like HST/GST/PST in the EU. Each Member State (country ) in the EU has a different rate that they charge. Like Canada, where each province can either be a HST/GST/PST combo at a certain rate, each Member State sets it’s own rate. This rate is charged ON TOP of the price of goods/services sold, just like HST/GST/PST.
New law as of January 2015 – DOES THIS AFFECT YOU?
From 1 January 2015, EU VAT will be charged in the country where products are bought (where your customer lives) as opposed to the country where they are sold (where you live). The legislation applies to electronically supplied services.
QUESTION 2: Are you selling electronically supplied services?
DEFINITION: “‘Electronically supplied services’ shall include services which are delivered over the Internet or an electronic network and the nature of which renders their supply essentially automated and involving minimal human intervention, and impossible to ensure in the absence of information technology.”
TRANSLATION: Where there is automated delivery following the sale, it’s a e-service.
- Basically, it all depends on whether the seller is manually involved or not at some level of delivery and confirmation after sale
- POTENTIAL WORKAROUND: If you MANUALLY email and MANUALLY ATTACH CONTENT then it may not be considered an e-service. HMRC stated this in an online discussion on Nov 27, 2014. YOU MUST HAVE A PERSON MANUALLY ATTACH AND EMAIL CONTENT TO CUSTOMERS IN EU (This could change)
- NOTE: E-books, courses and downloads that automatically send to customer and email them automatically ARE CONSIDERED ELECTRONICALLY SUPPLIED SERVICES. CDs, floppy disks, potentially USBs are NOT… this may be a work around – ship your content in another way than auto-download.
TAKE ACTION: Are you able to manually email and attach content for any customers in the EU? If so, you may not have to worry about this because you’re not considered to be selling electronically supplied services. How manual/human interaction can you get?
QUESTION 3: Who Are You Selling To?
For non-EU businesses selling to the EU
If your customer is a business in the EU, they should be registered for their own VAT number and as a business, they are responsible for collecting and remitting VAT. You don’t have to.
Take Action: Go through your EU clients, who are businesses (B2B) and who are consumers (B2C). Write down which Member State (which country) they live in and how much money you made from each Member State (country) so you know where the important ones are.
You sell to Business: (B2B) If you sell to businesses, you will need to collect their VAT number and confirm that they are responsible for paying VAT on their own revenue and expenses. THIS IS IMPERATIVE. Without their VAT number, you cannot escape the EU VAT. This may be something you require on your site. Maybe customers from the EU need to enter in their VAT number and agree to a waiver or something to accept responsibility. Please wait for more details on this.
You sell to Consumers: (B2C) They don’t have a VAT number and you ARE selling Electronically Supplied Services. This affects you.
QUESTION 4: What do you need to do?
- You can register for MOSS (apparently you have 10 days if you sell to someone in EU after Jan 1 until you register. First quarter filing is March 2015). This is a “Mini-one-stop-shop” in the EU. Instead of registering in each 28 Member States in the EU, you can do it in one place.
- Choose which countries you want to continue selling to and know the laws there (invoicing rules, VAT rates etc.)
- YOU GOTTA KNOW YOUR STUFF
- You are required to monitor WHICH country your client is from
- You are required to monitor WHAT RATE to charge depending on what country they reside in (each country has it’s OWN rates)
- You are required to know what INVOICING RULES for EACH COUNTRY. Invoicing is MANDATORY. E-Invoices are allowed, E-invoices may be sent using two methods (e-signatures and EDI) as long as each invoice fulfills two main conditions:
- the customer must accept receipt of invoices by electronic means (e-signatures and EDI)
- guarantees need to be provided for:
o the authenticity of the invoice’s origin; and
o the integrity of the invoice’s contents.
4. You are required to get TWO (non-conflicting) PIECES of evidence (it’s been suggested to ask for THREE) of where that customer normally resides. (There is a movement to get micro businesses exempt from this since most of the payment systems cannot provide that information – stay tuned)
5. Filing for MOSS is quarterly (20 days after quarter end) online and payment made (this hasn’t been fully flushed out for non EU businesses)
6. Keep the evidence for 10 years
7. Make Your Web-store VAT friendly.
i. Get the billing info
ii. Get the IP address
iii. Show different currency
iv. Show different VAT rates applied
v. Allow for electronic invoicing and e-signature
SOME OPTIONS: No matter what, find a way to TRACK WHERE YOUR CUSTOMER IS. When dealing with EU customers, keep it manual (manual email, manual attachment, manual manual, manual). Maybe try to change your services so they don’t fall under an Electronically Supplied Service. SEE WEBINAR ABOVE. Have your administrative team on board for the additional work. You need to put some sort of notice on your sales page for customers from the EU. If they are from the EU, they email you directly, they DO NOT fill out your regular online shop/marketplace inputs form where they would receive an automatic email or download. (STAY TUNED FOR ANY CHANGES)
If you choose to register for MOSS and go forward, you may want to select only a few number of countries where most of your clients are to sell in. Know the rules inside and out for each of these places, register for MOSS, follow the rules and find an online market place that will help you collect your TWO NON-CONFLICTING PIECES OF RESIDENCE DATA. More on this to come. It is onerous.
Question 5: Is there hope?
Yes. The last person in the supply chain to the customer is responsible for the VAT. If you sell on an online shop/marketplace, things could change.
You are responsible for paying and remitting the EU VAT if the online store/marketplace is ‘acting as an agent’ only – AKA, you are selling directly to the customer. This is likely to be true if, for example, you’re the one processing card payments for your sales like PAYPAL. PAYPAL WON’T HELP YOU HERE
The online store/marketplace needs to do the following in order to be considered the FINAL stop, selling directly to the customer and responsible for EU VAT.
- Authorizing payment
- Authorizing delivery
- Setting terms and condition of sale
AKA, the online store is ‘acting in their own name’. You sell your services to the online store and then they sell to the customer.
You should check with the company you’re working with. CONFIRM THEIR ROLE.
Amazon and Apple currently pay the VAT for their sellers and Google Marketplace is said to be changing their terms from the first of January 2015.
Also – hopefully micro biz is exempt from the onerous two pieces of evidence and can just go by what the customer puts as their billing address.
This is a quick note regarding the new rules from the EU VAT.
This directly affects those who sell digital products (like e-books, e-courses, etc) to customers in the EU as of January 1, 2015.
There’s a lot of panic out there, but everyone just remain calm until we have all the facts. I’m working on figuring out best practices, who needs to register, where to register and how to reduce administration for you, the entrepreneur, so you can keep selling internationally. I’m looking into the One-Stop Shop EU VAT implications and the online tools that may be able to help you out.
If you’re interested in keeping abreast of the situation, I’ll likely be hosting a spreecast/webinar on it shortly to get the word out fast/effectively.
Sign up below and I’ll keep you posted.
So you want to start a business? The days of sticking with the same job for 30 years and getting a cushy pension are ending. Freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses are the future.
The first thing you may want to do is figure out what steps you need to do to make it official, and that’s determined by your ownership structure, which is jargon for are you a sole proprietor? Partnership or a corporation.
I quoted one of my first customers in my new business a few weeks ago. (More to come on that story)
Sounds exciting right? Well it felt terrible.
You see, I’m actually charging money for the first time. This is new territory – I used to be paid on a salary, and then I was paid in meatballs. I’ve never had to contemplate my individual worth and then sell it to someone. What’s an hour of my time really worth?
As soon as I hit the send button on the quote I started refreshing my inbox to make sure the client okayed the price. I felt like I was 16 again, waiting for my high school crush to msg me on ICQ.
Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. You have no new mail.
When I didn’t hear back in a few hours, I went into panic mode. Did I charge too much? Did I come across as rude? Greedy? What if I’m not worth that much? Ahhhhhh!
I paced the hall, biting my nails.
Clearly, they were judging me. It’s not possible that they have a life or a business to run and would respond to my quote later. Oh no, I went to worst case scenario. I pictured the two clients laughing and saying “who does this 26 year old hack think she is? Charging money…. she’s only worth meatballs.”
Refresh. Pace. Refresh. Bite Nails. EXHAUSTING
So, after 24 hours of tortured silence, I gave in. I emailed the clients, lowered my price, changed payment terms and in the end it made my time worth less than minimum wage per hour of work.
I totally cracked under the pressure. I didn’t want to be seen as greedy, how un-ladylike
And then it hit me. I’M BEING SUCH A GIRL RIGHT NOW!!!!
I’m doing the exact thing I warn business women about all the time – not valuing their own time and shying away from negotiation.
This is something I see all the time, women afraid of playing hardball. Now, I’m one of those women. All these people did was ignore me for 24 hours and I crumbled. This is no way to run a business.
Here’s the kicker.
They got back to me after two days (torture) and said there was no need to lower the price. In fact, they were happy to pay the original price because it was really reasonable and they were excited for my services.
Relief and embarrassment flooded over me. All of that anxiety for nothing.
I’m lucky this time because I doubt another person would refuse a lower price.
I’m still the cheapest on the block in order to make my services accessible to everyone, but it’s not free anymore and I’m having a hard time charging money.
I wasn’t like this before. I used to be able to ask for raises and sell the crap out of myself. I was a confident business woman, who could play hardball with the best of them. But, out here on my own, it’s totally up to me to make it happen, and I feel grasping and unworthy.
Like Oliver Twist, please sir, may I have some more.
I think a lot of people feel this way, especially if they are young and trying to forge their career path and it’s a shame because I’m sure a lot of us aren’t being rewarded for what we actually do.
I don’t think that nervousness in the pit of my stomach will go away soon, but I think I finally figured out how to deal.
I quoted another client this week. I reminded myself that clients are just people. They are not some all-knowing-all seeing god of my monetary universe. Just people who are resourceful and smart and if they can’t pay the price, they will say so. Then, the ball is in my court to come down in price or try knocking on another door.
It’s really that simple.
I’m happy to report that so far, every quote has turned into a new client, which means my prices are fair and reasonable. YAY!! I’m feeling good about 2012.
So please learn from my craziness. Whether you’re an entrepreneur charging a client or an employee asking for a raise, you have to ASK and hold your ground.
If you are an entrepreneur, remember that the client came to you in the first place, so you clearly have something they want. Value the service or good you are providing.
As an employee, when you head into your review, remember that the people on the other side of the desk are just people, and they are EXPECTING you to ask for a raise, that’s what reviews are all about. So, you may as well do it.
The worst thing that can happen is that they say no. At least you will know where you stand.
We all have value and have a right to be recognized for it, so get out there and play hard ball.