1. You have a brilliant idea! But will it become a successful 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 for 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:

2. Pick a Business Structure that suits your needs.

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.

3. Write a Business Plan.

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.

4. Secure some financing.

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 is 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.

5. Understand the taxes that you’ll have to pay.

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.

6. Pick a unique name for 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 is payable by credit card. There is online information you can access and a video demonstration to help you through the process.

If you do not wish to use your credit card over the Internet or need assistance with your application, please drop by our office and we’ll take care of submitting the form to you (additional fee charged for processing in print form).

Once submitted, you can check the status of your application online.

7. Register your business.

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.

Please visit or contact our office for assistance.

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.
8. Buy a website domain and set yourself up on social media.

It’s time to get digital! If you haven’t already registered a website domain or social media account, 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 such as:

Visit social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to set up your new company accounts.

9. Get yourself a bank account.

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.

10. Register for GST and additional taxes.

If you’re going to be selling goods or providing a service in Canada and your annual, worldwide 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.

11. Apply for a business licence.

Whether you’re planning on operating in the City of North Vancouver or the District of North Vancouver, you’ll need to make sure that you apply for a business licence. If you operate your business from home, you are also required to obtain a business licence.

12. Make sure you know what other permits you’ll need.

To, determine what other types of permitting you might need to obtain, visit BizPal, an online tool that can help to identify any permits you might need in order to conduct business in North Vancouver.

13. Get insurance.

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.
14. Find a location

Looking for land or space to purchase or lease for your business in North Vancouver? Go to Find a Site for more information.

15. And finally, join your Chamber!

Join the North Vancouver Chamber so that you can take advantage of the various services and resources that we offer our members including economic development support, special member deals, promotional opportunities, and interactive and just-plain-fun networking events and workshops.