starting a business

step by step
September 5, 2021


1. Make sure you have a good idea

  • A business plan helps test the feasibility of your idea, define the next steps, to attract investors.
  • Make sure your business plan answers the three key questions: Why this? Why now? Why you?

3. Choose a business name

  • It is against the law to use a name that is already being used by an existing business, or a name that is a trademark. You can check if the name is taken in Canada by running a NUANS report. You can find more information on the Nuans report in the incorporation section.

4. Register your business nameYou may not need to register your business name if:

  • You’re planning on creating a sole proprietorship that will use your own name to run your business with the provincial authorities. Note: If you plan on creating a sole proprietorship with a different name, and any other business type usually needs to be registered.
  • You’re planning to operate your sole proprietorships or a partnership solely in Labrador and Newfoundland.
  • For more information on incorporating a not-for-profits head here.
  • If applies, get a business license
  • Some businesses require permits or licenses before you can start to trade.
  • Here’s a step-by-step checker called BizPaL. By entering your business type and location you can see what licenses or permits may be necessary, as well as information on how to apply and pay for them

7. Register for the Goods and Service Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST)

  • You’ll need to register your business with the local and federal government, depending on where in Canada you’re based and what type of business you do.
  • In most cases, a GST/HST account number is part of a business number (BN). If your business will collect GST or HST you will need to get a Business Number (BN) and a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) program account from the federal government, and if you’re in Quebec you’ll also need a Quebec Enterprise Number (NEQ),
  • For more information on GST/HST head here.

8. Keep your records

  • Keeping your spending records will save you money during tax filing, and make it easier for you to manage your accounting. Quickbooks is a helpful tool to manage records, you can learn more about it here.

9. Be ready to hire

  • As soon as you start thinking about hiring someone to help with your business, you’ll need to register with the provincial Workers Compensation Board (WCB) in your province and learn about worker's compensation insurance. For a list of Provincial Workers Compensation Board (WCB) go here.

10. Get insurance Notes: No need to follow the steps here in order because sometimes you want to test the market before you complete some of those steps. For example, you want to get into the clothing business.

  1. Start small — find a freelance manufacturer, or if you make garments yourself make a couple of samples.
  2. Start a page for your products or use your own social media to promote them. Take photos of your samples, or set up a photo shoot.
  3. Post photos to get feedback or pre-order quantity.
  4. Don’t register your business if you’re unsure of your product.
  5. Begin your business ideas with as little as possible and as soon as possible. Everything you need is available to you - just ask.

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Written By Dana M