starting a business

step by step


  1. Ensure that you have a good idea.
  2. Write a business plan.
    • Writing a business plan can help you test the feasibility of your idea, define the next steps, and attract investors.
    • Ensure that your business plan answers the three key questions: Why this? Why now? Why you?
  3. Choose a business ownership structure.
  4. Choose and register a business name.
    • It is illegal to use a name that is already being used by an existing business or trademark. To verify if a name is available in Canada, run a NUANS report. Additional information on the NUANS report can be found in the incorporation section.

ID tip: You do not have to register a business name if you meet the following criteria:
  • You plan to create a sole proprietorship that will use your own name to run your business with provincial authorities. In case you plan on creating a sole proprietorship with a different name, or any other business type, it usually needs to be registered.
  • You plan to operate your sole proprietorship or partnership solely in Labrador and Newfoundland.

  1. If this applies, incorporate it.
    • For more information on incorporating a not-for-profit, go here.
    • If applicable, obtain a business license.
    • Some businesses require permits or licenses before you can start trading.
    • Use the step-by-step checker BizPaL to see what licenses or permits may be necessary for your business type and location. The website also provides information on how to apply for and pay for them.
  2. Register with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to qualify for the Goods and Service Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST)
    • Depending on where your business is based and what type of business you do, you'll need to register it with the local and federal government.
    • In most cases, a GST/HST account number is included in a business number (BN). If your business will collect GST or HST, you'll need to obtain a Business Number (BN) and a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) program account from the federal government. If you're in Quebec, you'll also need a Quebec Enterprise Number (NEQ).
    • For more information on GST/HST, please visit this page.
  3. Keep your records
    • Keeping records of your spending will save you money during tax filing and make it easier to manage your accounting. Quickbooks is a helpful tool for managing records; you can learn more about it here.
  4. 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 Boards (WCBs), click here.
  5. Get insurance
    1. Talk to your bank or look into a small business insurance firms like Zensurance.

Note: You do not need to follow these steps in order. Sometimes, you may want to test the market before completing some of these steps. For example, if you want to get into the clothing business.

  1. Start small by finding a freelance manufacturer. If you make garments yourself, create a couple of samples.
  2. Create 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 gauge interest and receive feedback for pre-order quantities.
  4. If you are unsure of your product, do not register your business yet.
  5. Start your business ideas with as little as possible, as soon as possible. Everything you need is available to you - spend more time on the research and development stage, and talk to others who have turned ideas into reality.

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