British Columbia has over 500,000 small businesses. In fact, 54% 10 of all businesses in our province are small businesses. They employ over one million people, accounting for 1 million percent of private sector employment in the province.
If you’re considering starting your own business, there’s a solid and easily accessible range of resources and support you can call on. In our 10-step guide to starting a business, we’ll look at each area of the startup experience, highlighting services and helping support you to achieve your goals.
1. Make sure running a small business is right for you
Our guide to starting a business starts with a fundamental idea. Is running a business right for you? Getting a business off the ground requires the right mix. You need a good idea, time, commitment, the right personality and some basic business skills to make it happen. Small Business BC exists to help you make your dreams come true. Get started with our FREE 30-minute general business advisory service. We’ve also published a robust list of Frequently Asked Questions that answers the most common questions new entrepreneurs ask us.
2. Understand different business structures
Most small businesses in British Columbia operate under one of the following structures:
Not sure which business structure is right for you? Refer to Small Business BC’s Business Structures Fact Sheet, where we discuss the pros and cons of each structure. The BC Registry Service also offers a comprehensive guide to the different structures and how to register them. Later in your working life, federal incorporation offers a proven route to national expansion. Refer to Corporations Canada Guide to Federal Incorporation. Still not sure which structure is best for your particular situation? Small Business BC offers one-on-one consultations with an accountant and lawyer, who can explain how each structure would work for you.
3. Develop a business plan
A business plan is the most important cornerstone of a successful start-up. Not only will this help you secure funding for your startup, but it will also serve as an invaluable roadmap for launching and growing your business. Get started by downloading Small Business BC’s Business Plan Template. When fully fleshed out, our cash flow forecasting model and tool provides the ammunition needed to make informed decisions about your business before committing legally or financially. Need help creating your business plan? Small Business BC also offers business plan review services.
4. Secure funding
Getting your business off the ground can be a capital intensive process. You’ll need enough funding to cover your start-up costs, as well as day-to-day running expenses for at least three months (if not longer). Entrepreneurs often turn to family, friends or their own personal line of credit to negotiate this period. However, there are external funding sources available:
5. Choose the right name
Choosing the right name isn’t just one of the hardest decisions to make, it’s also one of the most important. If you wish to use a business name that is different from your own personal name, it will need to be approved and registered with, British Columbia Registration Services.
Your business name should have something distinctive and descriptive. It must also have a corporate name such as “ltd”. if you are considering incorporating. Small Business BC can help you get the right name for your business. Our business advisors will discuss your potential naming options with you, advising you if any potential names are likely to be accepted by the province. Need help choosing a name? Here are some pointers to get you started.
Once your business name is approved, it will be reserved for 56 calendar days. Within this time, you must register the business with BC Registry Services.
6. Register your business
If your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership, the Province of British Columbia has made it easy to register through the British Columbia Registry. Looking to fit in? You must file an Application for Incorporation with BC Registry Services.
7. Secure your online presence
Once you’ve secured your name, it’s time to secure your online presence. Start by checking out our guide to Growing your business online. Even if you don’t plan to use them immediately, securing social media credentials for your business is also essential. Read how you can grow your business using social media. With the social media landscape changing so often, check out the range of webinars to keep up to date with the latest social media trends. The Canadian Digital Adoption Program is offering a grant of $2,400 to help grow your business’s e-commerce operations.
8. Register for Provincial Sales Tax
Provincial Sales Tax (PST) is a retail sales tax that applies when a taxable good or service is purchased, acquired or imported into British Columbia. You may need to register with the Ministry of Finance to charge and collect PST. To register, visit the Department’s website.
9. Goods and Services Tax Registration
If you sell goods and services in Canada and your annual worldwide GST taxable sales, including those of any associate, exceed $30,000, you may need to register for the Goods and Services Tax (GST ). To register online with the Canada Revenue Agency, visit the British Columbia Registry.
10. Complete other registrations
Depending on your business type, you may need to complete additional registrations.
If you plan to hire employees or have set up your new business as a corporation, you will need to register with WorkSafeBC and pay the WorkSafeBC insurance premiums. This ensures that you and your employees are covered in the event of injury or work-related illness. If you are self-employed, you can also apply for WorkSafeBC Personal Optional Coverage.