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.

Table of Contents

    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.
    • Marketing and sales
      How well you market your business and interact with your customers can vastly influence your success.
    • Sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or co-operative?
      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.
    • Regulated business activities
      Learn about regulations that apply to key business activities such as exporting, importing, marketing, and managing employees.
    • 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 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.
    • Managing your finances
      You can use these resources to help you understand financial concepts and learn about tasks like budgeting, financial analysis and bookkeeping.
    • Benchmarking
      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.

    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.

    Provincial and territorial business registration

    Most provincial and territorial governments require you to register your business with them.

    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.
    • Tax and Revenue Administration
      Only Applies to : Alberta
      As a business owner, find out about your responsibilities with regard to Alberta taxes.
    • Taxation Division
      Only Applies to : Manitoba
      Learn about your tax collection and remittance obligations as a Manitoba business owner.
    • Employer Health Tax (Ontario)
      Only Applies to : Ontario
      Find out if you are required to pay the Employer Health Tax in Ontario.
    • Change to link --- Provincial tax obligations (Saskatchewan)
      Only Applies to : Saskatchewan
      Learn about your obligations concerning provincial tax registration, collection, and remittance when doing business in Saskatchewan.
    • Revenu Québec — Business Portal
      Only Applies to : Quebec
      Is your business based in Quebec? If so, learn about your fiscal obligations including taxes and deductions.
    • Taxation in the Yukon
      Only Applies to : Yukon
      Find out about the taxes your business needs to pay and the tax breaks you can get in the Yukon.
    • Register to collect and pay PST – eTaxBC
      Only Applies to : British Columbia
      Register your business to collect PST, obtain your PST number, and then report and pay the tax online.
    • Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)
      Only Applies to : Prince Edward Island
      Get information regarding Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) in Prince Edward Island.
    • Taxation in the NWT
      Only Applies to : Northwest Territories
      Learn about the taxes your business will be responsible for collecting and paying while doing business in the Northwest Territories.
    • Nova Scotia Provincial Tax Commission
      Only Applies to : Nova Scotia
      Find out about your responsibilities in regards to Nova Scotia taxes.
    • Newfoundland and Labrador Taxation
      Only Applies to : Newfoundland and Labrador
      Learn about your taxation obligations in Newfoundland and Labrador and discover what credits, incentives, and benefits you could qualify for.

    Hiring and managing employees

    Your employees are the key to the day-to-day functioning of your business. You will want to determine how many employees you require, and what qualifications they need. 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.
    • 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.

    Additional resources

    Whether you are a new or experienced entrepreneur, you can never be too informed when it comes to your business.

    • Business support organizations
      Seeking the advice of peers, professional business counsellors and coaches can help you transition from new business owner to experienced entrepreneur.
    • 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.
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