Business start-up checklist
When you're setting up your business, you need to ensure that all of your bases are covered. Consider the following steps as you navigate through the business start-up phase.
On this page:
Planning your business
Creating a solid business plan is vital to your success - you need to know where you expect to go long before you get there. Before you start writing your plan, you'll want to make a number of key business decisions.
- Market research and statistics
Learn more about market research, how to conduct it and where to find free information and statistics to support your market research project.
- Corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship?
Find out which type of business structure is right for your business: incorporation, a partnership, a sole proprietorship or a co-operative.
- Naming your business
Choose the right name for your business. Your business name should be unique and easy to remember, and should describe the products and services you provide.
- Choosing and setting up a location
Trying to decide where to locate your business and how to arrange it once you get there? Consider your options.
- Marketing and sales
How well you market your business and interact with your customers can vastly influence your success.
- Regulated business activities
Learn what regulations apply to key business activities like importing, exporting, marketing, managing employees, and transporting goods.
- Regulated industries
Find out how certain industry sectors are regulated and what some of the key business obligations are in those sectors.
Organizing your finances
Your business success will depend on how well you plan for, and manage, your finances. If you will be seeking financial help, either from a start-up loan or from a government grant, it is imperative that you have a well-developed business plan.
- Writing your business plan
Know what elements are considered essential in any business plan and the key points that should be included in each section of your plan.
- Grants and financing
Find out how to access funding for your business.
How does your business measure up to others in your industry? Benchmarking allows you to evaluate your performance and ensure that your business is operating at an optimum level.
- Managing your finances
You can use these resources to help you understand financial concepts and learn about tasks like budgeting, financial analysis and bookkeeping.
Registering your business
Be proactive - take care of all your registration and licensing requirements with your municipal, provincial and federal governments early on in the process. Once you complete these steps, you will have the necessities such as a Business Number, registered business name and a GST/HST account.
Canada Revenue Agency's Business Registration Online is the one-stop-shop for all of your federal business registration requirements. If you operate in the province of Quebec, you will need to register using Revenu Québec's Businesses Portal.
- Permits and licences
Find the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal permits and licences that you may need to start or manage your business.
- Business registration online
Register for a business number, GST/HST, corporation income tax, payroll and import/export accounts in one convenient online location.
- Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax GST/HST
Learn how to register for your GST/HST business account, and how to charge, calculate, report and pay the taxes.
Provincial and territorial business registration
Most provincial and territorial governments require that you register your business with them.
- Legal registries (Nunavut)
In order to do business in Nunavut, you must register with the territory, even if you live in or have a business established in another part of Canada.
Provincial tax information
Get information on provincial tax benefits and find out how to collect sales tax from your local and out-of-province customers.
- Overview of charging and collecting sales tax
As a Canadian business owner, it's important to know how and when to charge sales taxes for the goods and services you sell and supply to your customers.
Hiring and managing employees
Key to the day-to-day functioning of your business is your employees. You will want to determine the number of staff you require and their necessary qualifications. Then you will need to recruit the best and brightest and create a working environment that they want to be a part of.
- Hiring employees
Know your obligations and opportunities when it comes to hiring employees.
Discover how to recruit, hire and effectively manage your employees.
Workplace health and safety
You have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of all of your employees while they are working. This requires that you comply with certain regulations and standards for the safety of your workplace.
- Employer and Employee Duties — Occupational Health and Safety (Federally Regulated Employers)
Read about the obligations that you and your employees have under the Canada Labour Code and the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.
- Tools and Toolkits for Employers on Occupational Health and Safety
No matter what jurisdiction your organization is regulated in, these tools can help you comply with workplace health and safety requirements.
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System — Employer Requirements
Ensure safe handling of hazardous materials in your workplace. Learn how to use, store handle, label and dispose of these materials.
Whether you are just starting out or an experienced entrepreneur who's been in business for years, you can never be too informed when it comes to your business.
- Contact the Canada Business Network
The Canada Business Network has centres across the country that offer guidance, information and resources to help make your journey in business a success.
- Business support organizations
Seeking the advice of peers, professional business counsellors and coaches can help you transition from new business owner to experienced entrepreneur.
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