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Bobcats, Bosses and Breakups - Kelly Barber

Updated: Apr 20

Welcome to Tax Talk Podcast and episode #6 of the Bobcats, Bosses and Breakups series.

Before I provide some background for this series of episodes, let me introduce my guest.

Kelly Barber is a certified professional bookkeeper and the owner of B^2 Bookkeeping Services. She has been providing full cycle bookkeeping to small and medium sized businesses since 2015.

I’ve had the privilege of working with Kelly for a couple of years now on a number of client files and I always appreciate her attention to detail, her timely work and dedication to her clients!

Kelly, thank you very much for joining me on today’s episode!

What is Bobcats, Bosses and Breakups?

Breakup, spring 2007. I was 22 years old, with lots of potential but no real direction.

I had just finished another winter season of work in Alberta’s oil and gas industry and was looking for something to keep me busy until the snow returned, and the lease roads froze again.

Luckily, I found a job working as a labourer in a flat work concrete business (mostly prep, place and finish of basements, driveways and garage pads).

It couldn’t have been much more than a few weeks after I started working in this industry and I found myself branching off and starting a flat work concrete company with a business partner.

The business operated for two years and ended in a bitter breakup.

If you’re thinking about starting a business, come along on a journey with me as I look back at these two years of my life and the hard lessons I learned.

We’ll explore three general topics:

- Bobcats: business operation issues

- Bosses: business management issues

- Breakups: business legal and financial issues

Keep an eye out for blog posts and new podcast episodes where I sit down with business professionals to discuss solutions in these unique areas of business.

Who knows, you might be able to avoid some of the same mistakes that I made.

Should I Complete the Bookkeeping for My Business?

Having grown up in a family that operated a small business, I had previous exposure to small business bookkeeping. Not long into starting the concrete business, I decided to take on this role (in addition to the many other roles I had at the time).

I would work 12+ hours a day, 6 days per week and then used Sunday to catch up on bookkeeping and other administration tasks. I did this for the entire two years that I was with the company.

At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing. Most notably, I thought I was saving money for the company. While I did an admirable job completing these admin tasks, in hindsight, it was a very poor decision. I was in the business of making money from the provision of concrete services. I should have focused my time on this and when Sunday came around, I should have recharged my batteries.

The result? I was burnout all the time. Mistakes across the board were more likely as I was trying to do too much.

Lesson learned? Hire a bookkeeper early on. Find someone that can grow with your business to take on GST and payroll filing requirements. Be organized and communicate regularly with this individual. Rely on them to provide you with important financial information that you can then use to make solid business decisions in conjunction with discussions with other professionals.

Topic #1 – benefits of hiring a bookkeeper.

- Quality reporting.

- Timely recordkeeping.

- Cost of bookkeeper vs. doing yourself.

What do I Need to Know When Hiring Employees?

While I was taking care of the bookkeeping for the company, I simply did not have the time (or the knowledge) to process payroll for our employees. Once again, planning on this front wasn’t great and we were caught scrambling when the spring 2008 concrete season started.

The accounting office we had used to complete our prior year tax returns did not have the ability to take on our payroll request, so we were forced to move to a different firm. It was a stressful time but once we got settled at the new firm, they did a great job of handing our payroll needs.

The result? We simply called or emailed the applicable payroll info in, and they would reply with net payroll cheque amounts for our employees, along with source deduction amounts each month.

Lesson learned? Don’t forget to ask for help and do so before you take on too much yourself. There are many accounting offices, bookkeepers or even dedicated payroll companies who can help with your payroll needs. They will process payroll with accuracy and allow you to focus on building your business, not calculating payroll deductions.

Topic #2 – what do I need to know when hiring employees?

- TD1 forms and others?

- Remittance periods.

- Payroll process with a bookkeeper.

What Should I Keep in Mind with a Seasonal Business?

After year one of concrete operations wrapped up, we had a few prospects for winter work. This included basement concrete prep work, snow plowing and certain concrete labour subcontracting opportunities. The prep work paid well but quickly dried up. Snow plowing and subcontracting were irregular at best.

Beyond considerations of lease or loans payments, what other things should a small business owner keep in mind if he/she operates a seasonal business? Like most business questions, the answer can depend on the business industry, the structure and the personal lifestyle of the owner.

Industry: Beyond payments for equipment or vehicles, what other reoccurring payments does your business maintain?

Structure: How many owners are involved? Do you need to retain employees to service minor contracts?

Personal Lifestyle: Once someone becomes accustomed to a way a certain way of living, it is difficult to give that up. Will the owners be working for a 3rd party during the off-season? If not, is there sufficient cash available to maintain owner remuneration throughout the year?

The result? I contemplated returning to the oilfield for a couple of months in the winter of 2007-08 but found it difficult finding an employer who didn’t require a long-term commitment. As a result, the winter was a struggle cash flow wise and really put us behind when the spring season finally returned.

Lesson learned? Have a discussion among potential owners before getting into business to determine your overall personal cash flow needs. If the business is not able to fund your lifestyle early on, you need to be willing to take work elsewhere. Lastly, ensure there is an agreement in place that dictates owner-manager remuneration to ensure fairness, avoid conflict and protect cash flow.

Topic #3 – cash flow and seasonal businesses

- Things to keep in mind with a seasonal business (recurring payments).

- How does the structure of the business impact offseason cash flow.

- Personal lifestyle of the owners and its impact.


Kelly, I just want to say thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to hop on the podcast with me.

I know that you provided a great deal of value that our listeners can immediately implement within their current business operation or reflect on before they decide to jump into business for the first time.

If the listeners want to touch base with Kelly, you can find her through the following links:

Kelly Barber

B^2 Bookkeeping Services

403-396-1506 Call to Action

There are a significant number of details that a small business owner needs to be aware of in order to ensure that their business is successful.

Having the right professionals on your team will help you meet your business, wealth, retirement and estate planning objectives.

If you’re in need of these services in order to see your business reach the next level of success, I highly recommended the following guests of the series.

Feel free to reach out to them as I know they would be excited to work together with you and help you preserve your legacy!

Bobcats, Bosses and Breakups Guests:

Chelsea Zimmerman - Team Zimmerman Real Estate (Century 21)

Caleb Henry - Johnston Ming Manning LLP

Chrystal Saxby - ATB Financial

Kelly Barber - B^2 Bookkeeping

Stephen van Santen - Bridgeline Wealth Strategies

Garth Epp - Garth Epp Professional Coach

Lyneta Grenier - BrokerLink Insurance


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