Starting your own small business
The following are the 13 basic steps most new small businesses need to take before they can begin operating in British Columbia.
It takes time, commitment, a good idea, the right personality, and business skills to start and run a small business successfully.
Listed below are websites that can help you to evaluate and test your idea for a new small business as well as valuable information about finding or generating new business opportunities.
Most small businesses are operated as either a:
Listed below are websites that discuss the pros and cons of each business type:
Corporations Canada also provides extensive information on corporations, including the benefits of federal incorporation if you want to expand your business to other provinces.
If you are not sure which business structure will be best for your business, talk to a lawyer and an accountant to find out what each type requires, both legally and financially.
A business plan is a written document that details what your business will do, how it will operate, and establishes your business goals. Financial institutions may review your business plan and make lending decisions based on the information you provide. It also helps you make sure, even if you do not need outside money, that you really are ready to launch your new business.
Listed below are a few websites to assist with the development of your Business Plan:
For your new small business to succeed, you need to have enough money to cover business start-up costs and daily operating expenses. If you do not have enough money for start-up through family, friends, loans or lines of credit, you may need to consider outside sources of financing. Click here to read more about Small Business financing.
The Federal and Provincial Government have funding resources available to assist small businesses. Please visit the following sites to explore your options:
Below is a list of Financial Institutions that may be able to help you with your financing needs:
Obtaining insurance for your business protects you against liability in case of robbery, fire, flood, and any other type of damage. Find an insurance agent that specializes in insuring small businesses and shop around to find a rate which suits your needs.
If you want to use a business name that is anything other than your personal name, you will need to have your business name approved by, and then registered online with BC Registry Services or OneStop Business Registry.
Business names must have both a distinctive and a descriptive element, like “ABC” (distinctive element) “Manufacturing” (descriptive element). You must add a corporate designation, such as “Ltd.” if you are planning to incorporate your business. It is a good idea to have a first, second and third choice for your business name, just in case the name you want is not available. You can do some preliminary research for potential conflicts by looking through telephone listings, business directories, or you can research the name at BC Registry Services - Research Name Choices.
Once your business name is approved, it will be reserved for 56 calendar days. Within these 56 days, you must register your business with BC Registry Services.
Protecting your business name
The names of sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not protected by law, which means someone else could decide to use the same name. Only incorporated businesses have that protection. If protecting your business name is important to you, you may want to incorporate your business. You will need to apply online using Corporate Online and choose File an Incorporation Application. For information about applying for federal incorporation, visit Corporations Canada.
If your business is a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you can register it quickly and easily online using BC Registry. You will need a Visa, MasterCard or American Express to complete and pay for this transaction online.
Over-the-counter payments to register (using cash, debit card or cheque) are accepted at Service BC Centres. Call 1 800 663-7867 to find the location nearest you.
If you decide you want to incorporate, you must file an Incorporation Application with BC Registry Services and for detailed information on the application process; or to apply online visit Corporate Online, and choose File an Incorporation Application.
You may want to use the Internet to sell or market your goods or services. If you do, you will need to develop a web presence and secure a domain name (a name that will identify your Internet website). You can research whether the domain name you want is available, and buy the rights to that name.
There are many private web design companies to assist in your website development and maintenance. You can find listings by searching website design in the yellowpages.ca or online.
For more information on opening a GST account, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website, or call toll free at 1-800-959-5525.
The provincial sales tax (PST) system, which is a retail service tax that is payable when a taxable good or service is acquired for personal or business use, unless a specific exemption applies. The PST generally applies to the purchase or lease of new and used goods in B.C., such as software, accommodation, legal services, telecommunication services and services to goods such as vehicle maintenance, furniture assembly, and computer repair.
For more information on the return to PST, and to register, visit the Government of Canada website, or call toll free at 1-877-388-4440.
There will be other registrations you need to complete other provincial, federal or local government requirements. For example:
If you need to change your business address through the OneStop Business Address Change Service, or plan to access other government e-services regularly, you will need a business BCeID. A BCeID is an online service that makes it possible for you to use one login ID and password to sign in securely to any BCeID participating provincial government website. You can apply for a business BCeID through the OneStop Business Registry, click on step 3. For a complete list of government e-services that use BCeID, visit the Online Service Directory.
Your business may require a local government business licence to operate. Please check with your local government or First Nation to find out about licence and zoning requirements in your area. You can check the BC BizPaL search to find any local business permits or licences that may be required in your area of BC.
Not made up your mind about import/exports yet? For more information about importing and exporting, go check out the Import/Export Guide available through the Ministry of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development.
This guide introduces you to the places and people who can help you decide whether import/export is right for you, and how you can best set up your business to enter the exciting world of international trade.
There may be other registrations and requirements needed for your business. Listed below are links for you to investigate:
BizPaL is a user-friendly online tool to help you quickly and easily identify the permits and licences needed to conduct your business activities. By answering a series of simple questions, you can generate a printable list of the permits and licences you may require from various levels of government, along with general information on each permit and licence, and contacts and links for more information.
Ensuring your business operates in the most environmentally-sustainable manner is not only good for the environment, but also reduces costs, increases efficiency, and helps your company develop a strong reputation in the community. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions can also create future business opportunities such as providing cleaner energy sources, more efficient products, and other alternative technologies.
Many actions that companies can take to reduce emissions are common to most organizations and are cost-effective – especially if integrated at the start-up phase of business development. Examples include increasing energy efficiency by making smart equipment choices, diversifying energy consumption with renewable energy, and adopting minimal packaging standards. By integrating sustainable practices into your business plan from the beginning, you can ensure your business operates in the most efficient and environmentally-friendly manner possible.
Community Futures Sun Country recognizes and acknowledges with gratitude we are collectively gathered on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territories of the Nlaka'pamux, Secwepemc, St’átl’imx, and Stó:lō Nations where we live, learn, collaborate and work together