Starting Your Business
You’ve had your light bulb moment and want to start a business – now it’s time to take that brilliant idea and follow each of these steps to set up your business. First make sure you gather as much information as you can about your competitors and the needs of your potential customers. It’s also a good idea to research the potential demand of your product or service.
Here are some useful resources to help you better evaluate your idea and ensure that you understand all that is required of you when starting your own business:
- BC Business & Investing – The Province of BC is committed to supporting business and investing and has developed numerous valuable resources for business owners and investors at various stages in their endeavours.
- BC Stats – Offers statistics, facts and profiles on British Columbia’s people, economy and environment.
- Business Development Bank of Canada – Helps create and develop businesses through financing, venture capital and consulting services with a focus on small to medium enterprises.
- Canada Business Network – Promotes entrepreneurship and innovation, and provides assistance through an organized network of service centres across Canada.
- Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business – Facilitates positive and sustainable relations between the business sector and the Aboriginal business communities.
- First Citizens Fund – Provides business loans to Aboriginal entrepreneurs in BC.
- Fraser Valley Regional Library: Delta Locations
- Futurpreneur Canada – Provides mentoring and business planning resources for business owners aged 18-39.
- Industry Canada – Provides industry resources specifically for Canadian businesses.
- Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
- Resource Centre for Small Business
- Service BC – Offers Provincial related regulations, registries, authorities, bids, permits, and licensing necessary for conducting business.
- Small Business Accelerator
- Statistics Canada – Offers statistics, facts and profiles on Canada’s people, economy and environment.
- Trade and Invest BC – Works with international enterprises to help them build strong links to the resources, skills and businesses that make British Columbia an attractive place to work and invest.
- Women’s Enterprise Centre – BC’s leading resource for women entrepreneurs offering skills development, business loans, free business guidance, business resources, mentoring, networking and events.
Once you feel ready to take the first step in establishing your business, it’s important to decide on a company structure. The most common company structures in British Columbia are:
- Sole proprietorship: for operating a business on your own, either under a business name or your own name
- Partnership: for operating a business with one or more partners
- Corporation: for operating a business as a separate legal entity, separate from yourself and your personal assets
- Society: for operating a not-for-profit organization, in which any funds or profits will be used only for the society’s purposes
- Co-operative: for operating a business that is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use and benefit from your services
Be sure to visit Small Business BC as they offer a detailed overview of the advantages and disadvantages of all of these business structures.
Now that you’ve settled on a structure for your business, it’s time to write your business plan. A business plan is incredibly useful as it will help you stay accountable to yourself and focused on your goals. A good business plan is a roadmap to launching and growing a successful business. It’s also a valuable communication tool to help you clearly define what it is that you hope to accomplish with your business.
Consider including the following information in your plan:
- Executive Summary
- Business Overview (Vision, Business Description, Objectives, Target Audience, etc.)
- Industry Overview (Competitive Differentiators, Economic/Environmental/Cultural Trends, etc.)
- Products and Services
- Sales, Marketing and Communications Plan
- Operational Plan
- Human Resources Plan
- Financial Plan
- Action Plan (1-3 year plan of tactics and timelines)
- Projected Growth / Risk Assessment
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) can help you get started – check out their downloadable templates and other helpful tips.
It’s important to secure the finances for your business right away. Raising money for a start-up has traditionally been one of the most difficult parts of getting your idea off the ground. You will need to convince others that you are credible and committed to your new business idea. With your well thought out Business Plan, you will be armed with the information that shows you are serious and committed to a business worth funding.Now you will need to ask yourself how much money you require to get started. How much of your own money do you have? Who else do you know who are willing to invest in your business?
Financing for business can be separated into two main methods:
- Loans, or debt financing, is money you have to pay back – usually with interest. This could come from Government funding or a commercial loan from a financial institution (bank, credit union, etc.)
- Equity financing means an investor makes money available in exchange for an ownership share in the business. Your personal savings, funds from friends and relatives, and business partners are examples of equity investment. In fact, according to Stats Canada, in 2007, 76% of small businesses in BC financed their business with personal savings. But be aware – there are laws in BC that apply to companies raising money from investors, so do your research.
There are also new technologies and financing models providing entrepreneurs with a plethora of financing options. Recognize that new rules and regulations around crowd-funding and other innovative funding models are being developed to protect both the investors and the business owners. These rules are changing rapidly, so be careful to research each option to determine if they really suit your business model.
The Government of Canada Business Network and the Government of British Columbia also offer great financing options for small businesses. The Ministry of Employment, Business & Economic Development also offers programs to help small businesses gain access to finances.
Startup Canada has launched a call for proposals to partner with grassroots, entrepreneur-led co-working spaces, incubators, and maker-spaces across Canada that will create or provide physical spaces for Startup Canada Members to start and grow their businesses.
It’s important to understand the taxes you will have to pay for your new business. You may want to engage a tax specialist for assistance. Make sure that you have an excellent understanding of:
- what you’ll owe and when you’ll owe it;
- how to keep accurate records of your payments and finances;
- how to make and report payments; and
- if you qualify for tax credits or money back.
The Canada Business Network is a great resource that can help you explore the various forms of tax that you may encounter in your business.
Once you’ve decided on the perfect name for your business, you must complete a name search with the BC Business Registry to ensure that no one else is using the name. Go to Name Requests Online to submit your Name Approval Request electronically to BC Registry Services. The online fee is $31.50 and payable by credit card. There is online information you can access and a video demonstration to help you through the process. Once submitted, you can check the status of your application online.
Once your business name has been approved, you have exactly 56 calendar days to register your business with the Province of BC. If you do not register your business within 56 days, your name reservation will expire and you’ll have to complete another Name Request.
Register a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership To register your Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership online, you will need:
- the Name Approval Request number found on your approved Name Request results;
- business and partner(s) address information;
- the existing Business Number, if applicable; and
- the start date of business in British Columbia.
Register a Corporation: Be sure that you have a signed set of articles and a signed Incorporation Agreement. You must then file an Incorporation Application to incorporate the company in British Columbia. Your application is filed electronically through the Corporate Online system. If you would rather not want to file electronically, you can send your completed Incorporation Application to Dye & Durham Corporation, the BC Registry Services’ preferred service provider. Before you begin to file your Incorporation Application, be sure that you have the following information:
- Name Approval Request number found on your approved Name Request results; and
- company name exactly as it was approved by the Registrar of Companies.
It’s time to get digital! If you haven’t already registered a website domain or social media accounts, you can use the links below or contact our office for assistance. Today, the online space is incredibly important when it comes to selling your product/service, engaging with potential customers/consumers, and earning their loyalty.
You can research and purchase available domain names through online registrars. Visit social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to set up your new company accounts.
Open a bank account for your business at the bank of your choice. Many banks offer flexible business banking options as well as additional financial incentives.
If you’re going to be selling goods or providing a service in Canada and your annual, world-wide GST taxable sales are more than $30,000, you’ll need to register for a Goods and Services Tax (GST) Account with the Canada Revenue Agency.
If you operate a hotel, motel or other lodging in certain areas of BC, you might have to charge a municipal and regional district tax (MRDT) on the purchase price of accommodation. This means you may need to register with the Ministry of Finance. Check out the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) Guide to make sure you set yourself up correctly.
If you're planning on operating in the City of Delta, you’ll need to make sure that you apply for a business licence from Delta. If you're planning to operate on Tsawwassen First Nation Lands, then you'll need to make sure you apply for a business licence from TFN.
- Home-based businesses: If you operate your business from home, you are also required to obtain a business licence.
- Inter-Municipal Business Licenses (IMBL): Some businesses operating in Delta, specifically in construction and trades, may be eligible for an IMBL, or "mobile business licence" that allows them to operate in other municipalities. Delta currently participates in two IMBL programs; Metro West (Delta, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Surrey, and Vancouver) and Fraser Valley (Delta, Surrey, Langley (Township and City), Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Mission, Chilliwack, Hope, and Kent.)
To, determine what other types of permitting you might need to obtain, visit BizPal, an online tool that can help to identity any permits you might need in order to conduct business in North Vancouver.
Cut down on the potential risks to your business by getting the right kind of liability insurance. General liability insurance really is a must for every business. Liability insurance can be purchased in many forms:
- WorksafeBC: By law, most businesses require WorksafeBC insurance coverage. WorksafeBC also provides inspection, prevention, information, training, compensation, and rehabilitation activities to businesses in the province.
- General Liability Insurance: protects your business from liability stemming from negligence that may cause injury to your customer or employee.
- Product Liability Insurance: for businesses selling manufactured or assembled goods.
- Professional Liability Insurance: for professionals such as doctors, lawyers, architects, computer consultants, and realtors.
- Employee Insurance: provides employee benefits such as medical, dental, and disability benefits.
- Business Interruption Insurance: protects against loss of revenue if your business is forced to close down.
- Business Disability Insurance: protects against loss of revenue if the business owner is unable to run the business.
- “Buy-Sell” Life/Disability Insurance: for partnerships; in the event one of the partners becomes disabled or dies, this insurance provides the surviving partner with money to purchase the disabled or deceased partner’s share of the business.
Looking for land or a space to purchase or lease for your business in the Delta area? Use the following resources to search for available sites:
- Spacelist.ca – Search for commercial real estate listings.
- CLSLink.ca – Search British Columbia’s Commercial Real Estate MLS® listings site for available land and businesses.
- Trade and Invest BC Opportunities – Search the BC Provincial Government’s business resource developed for foreign business owners seeking investment opportunities in British Columbia.
The City of Delta may also be able to provide you information on new developments that have space available for businesses in the near future, or provide you with more information about leasing municipally-owned land and/or facilities. The Tsawwassen First Nation Economic Development Corporation may be able to provide you information on new developments on TFN Lands that have space available for businesses in the near future.
Please contact us if you have questions. We are happy to put you in touch with a real estate agent or help in any way that we can.
Join the Delta Chamber of Commerce so that you can take advantage of the various services and resources that we offer our members. As a Chamber member, you are instantly recognized as a credible, engaged member of the business community; committed to improving our economic future and sustaining our quality of life in Delta and the Lower Mainland. You receive member-only pricing, exclusive access to networking, luncheons, member to member learning opportunities, and gain referrals to grow your business from the Chamber team & fellow members as we promote Chamber members first.
Thank you to our friends at the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce for sharing their research & resources with us for this section. Through our network in the BC Chamber of Commerce, local Chambers support one another and we are all stronger for it.