Articles

Published October 2003

Starting a New Business Checklist

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  1. Plan for success. A business plan will help you think through a number of important aspects of your new business. When you create your plan you will identify customers and the market potential, outline how you will promote your new business, identify startup costs, and create financial projections for your first few years in business. Need more help – check out our workshop Writing an Effective Business Plan.

  2. Select the form of business that is right for you.

  3. Register your business (the process and requirements vary from province to province – see our information sheet for the province that applies to you - see Step 5).

  4. Do you need a business license? Check with your municipality to find out. You can look up the proper phone number in the blue section of your phonebook.

  5. Do you meet zoning and bylaw requirements? You'll need to check your local bylaws to find out. For example, some municipalities have restrictions on the operation of a home-based business, and specific requirements may apply. If you will be leasing premises it is also important to check that your intended use of the premises conforms to zoning requirements.

  6. Register for provincial taxes, permit, if they apply. Depending on the type of business you are in, you may need to collect provincial sales tax and apply for a vendor permit or other permits. Service businesses are normally only required to collect the GST, but there are some unusual exceptions. Check our Useful Provincial Tax Links tool for links to key provincial resources that will help you understand what you provincial permits and taxes rates apply.

  7. GST, PST, HST basics. There are two main taxes that businesses collect: the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Retail or Provincial Sales Tax (PST). Several provinces combine these two taxes into a single tax known as the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Check our Useful Provincial Tax Links tool for informative links for the province where you do business.

    A Business Number will be assigned to you when you set-up one of the four following accounts with Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA):

    • Goods and Services Tax (GST)
    • Corporate Income Tax
    • Payroll Deductions
    • Import Export

    Also, you may not be required to charge the GST immediately, but there can be advantages to registering immediately. For example, if you purchase $5,000 in goods to start your company, you won't be able to claim back the GST spent on these purchases unless you are registered to collect the GST.

  8. Research and purchase business insurance. Running a business carries some risks. There are many types of insurance that offer protection. In addition to insuring your property and business assets you may also want to investigate Liability and Loss of Business insurance, which offer specialized protection. Talk to several commercial insurance agents to find out what is available to meet the needs of your business. You may want to shop around, as rates and plans can vary.

  9. Understand HR issues and responsibilities. Will you be hiring staff? If so, you'll need to understand your obligations. There are three things to investigate:

    • Payroll obligations. You will need to remit taxes to the CCRA
    • Labour laws. As an employer you must comply with the labour laws and human rights standards for the province or territory where you operate. You can find further information on this topic in our HR Guide for Canadian Employers.
    • Workers' Compensation Board (WCB). Many businesses, but not all, are required to register. Check our Useful Provincial Tax Links tool for links to your province's WCB.

  10. Keep necessary records. When you run a business you are required to keep permanent books and records for a specified period – usually six years from the end of the last taxation year. You must keep records of all income, earnings, and outlays of money. These records will include receipts, invoices, vouchers, and cancelled cheques indicating outlays of money. Importers are required to keep extra information related to the goods they import.

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