Here is an overview of the steps you will need to take:
Decide on the form your business will take
There are four different types of businesses in Canada:
- Sole proprietorships - Simplest form of business, which offers relatively low start-up costs and few regulations, but where you are personally responsible and all debts and obligations.
- Partnerships - Each partner shares the profits and obligations; requires a partners/shareholders agreement.
- Corporations - A legal entity, entailing more regulations, higher startup costs, and higher taxes, but where shareholders have limited responsibility for the debts and obligations of the company.
- Co-operatives - A corporation controlled by its members.
Choose a business name
- This may prove more difficult than you'd expect: your name must be accurate, catchy and, most importantly, available. Finding the right name can almost be a science - our creative team specialize in this.
- Your business name may already be taken, so try to think of a few names. When you register your company (see below), normally a search is done; finding a unique name may be extremely difficult or as simple as adding your initials or rearranging the words slightly. As part of our services, we will conduct the name searches for you.
- If you will be operating under your own name (for example, as a consultant) and using your personal bank account, you do not need to register your company or choose a name, but if you earn more than $30,000 a year, you will need to apply for a GST number.
Look into hiring business professionals
Although you can do much of the work yourself, at some point you may want to use the expert advice and experience of an accountant to help with your business plan, tax and fiscal issues, and a lawyer for incorporation or shareholders' agreements. Over the years, our list of professionals that we trust has grown and we would be more than happy to help you find the right person for the job. In addition, we provide links to find individuals on your own:
- To find a lawyer, you can try your region's Law Society.
- Azarbehi Consulting can help you, for a fee, with the entire business planning process.
- See this article on choosing business professionals, which also explains the different types of accountants.
Register your business
- The registration process varies slightly in each province. Our consultants and advisors are knowledgable of the processes for each municiplaity, province, and federal government
- If you are incorporating, you must decide whether to incorporate provincially (if you plan to do most of your business within your province) or federally (good for protecting your company name Canada-wide).
- You may be able to incorporate federally online; here is an overview of the process.
- Your Business Number (BN) will help you file your taxes, among other things. We can help you apply forone, and depending on your province, register for provincial programs at the same time.
Set up shop
- If you are renting space, you will have to sign a commercial lease. (Do not forget to secure financing before signing a lease. Find out more about financing in our financing section).
- Depending on your industry, business incubator possibilities may exist, where you can find office space and access to experienced business professionals, investors, and other specialists all under one roof, such as at Azarbehi Consulting
- If you need to buy equipment, try Canada Business's lease or buy calculator to compare the costs.
- You will need insurance to protect your investments. Most banks will suggest an insurance broker, but it can pay to shop around yourself.