How to Start a Business in Canada

Launching a business can be exciting and rewarding, but it can also be challenging – especially when launching in a competitive market. Canada’s dynamic market offers many opportunities, but unexpected changes in the economy and the fluctuating dollar can also create obstacles.

If you plan to start a business in Canada, you’ll need to follow certain steps to get your company off of the ground. Having a solid plan will help steer you in the direction of success while ensuring you’re prepared for tough times.

1. Create a Solid Business Plan

Developing your idea and creating a solid business plan will set you up for success. The Canada Business Network offers tips on how to write a business plan properly, and they also discuss the importance of having a plan.

They recommend having the following sections in your plan:

  • Executive summary
  • Business strategy
  • Marketing strategy
  • Operational plan
  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis)
  • Human resources plan
  • Social responsibility strategy
  • E-business strategy
  • Financial forecasts and other information
  • Business exit strategy

When creating your business plan, you should also determine what type of entity you want to form. In Canada, there are four types of business structures to choose from:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Corporation
  • Partnership
  • Co-operative

You might also consider choosing a location for your business at this time.

2. Choose a Memorable Name

One of the most important steps in launching a business is choosing a name. Your name will be your brand and will play a role in how your business is perceived. The name should be memorable and easy to pronounce.

Before committing to a name, you’ll need to make sure that it isn’t taken. You can search the Internet and Canada’s name databases: Business Registry (Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario) and Canadian corporate names database (Nuans – except Quebec).

3. Register Your Business

The next step is to register your business in Canada. You can do this right online. You’ll need to have your business name and the type of business structure you wish to form.

When registering, you’ll be given a business number (BN). For Quebec, you can obtain a Quebec Enterprise number (NEQ).

Most provinces will also require that you register your business with them.

4. Insure Your Business

Whether you’re launching your business in Nova Scotia or Ontario, insurance is essential to protect your venture.

There are several business insurance options to choose from, including:

  • Business property
  • Commercial General Liability
  • Small Business Insurance for home-based businesses
  • Equipment breakdown coverage
  • Life insurance
  • Critical illness insurance
  • Disability
  • Partnership or buy-sell insurance

Securing the right type of insurance will provide you with maximum protection in case the worst happens.

5. Secure Financing

Financing a start-up can be a challenge. You’ll need good credit, and you’ll need to prove your worth. A solid business plan will help prove your worthiness.

Before applying for any financing, make sure that you have properly assessed your needs. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of under-financing because they have not fully evaluated their needs. Consider equipment and hiring when calculating your financial needs.

Adam Torkildson