Starting your own business can be really rewarding. You're empowering yourself by doing what you love, contributing to your community, and adding economic stimulation. It can also be overwhelming so we provided this step-by-step guide to help ensure you are properly setup with the tools to succeed.

Start by asking yourself some hard questions

Building and running a business is hard work and time consuming. Before going any further, be sure to ask yourself if you have the skills, experience, and commitment to run a business. Talk to friends, family, possible investors and advisors about your business idea and consider their feedback carefully.

Conduct market research

Gather relevant information about your potential customers, your competition, and your local area. Reviewing the census information is a great start.

Write your business plan

A business plan is a written document which details what your business will do and how it will operated. Financial institutions will want to review your business plan to make lending decisions based on the information you provide.

Fund your business

Once you've developed your business plan, you should have a clear understanding of the amount of money, or capital, you need to start and run your business. There are several options if you need to raise or borrow money.

Pick your business location

Where should you set up shop? That all depends on your business type and needs. You will need to choose between home-based business and commercial location, and assess other important factors such as demographics, safety, traffic, and zoning and building requirements.

Choose a business structure

Determining your business ownership structure is something you must complete before you register your business. A business can be owned by one or more people, partnerships, corporations or a combination of these.

Choose your business name

A new business needs a new name. A business name is an individual decision you will want to consider carefully. Choose one which reflects your brand and captures the spirit of the business. You'll also want to make sure your business name isn't already being used by someone else.

Register your business

To make your business legal, you'll need to register it. Depending on the type of business you may need to register with several different levels of government. Be proactive and take care of all your registration requirements early in the process. Get more in-depth information on registering your business by going to the Government of Canada's website.

Prepare for taxes

Getting on top of your taxes now will help you avoid penalties in the future. If you're going to be in business, you'll want to know which types of business tax apply at the local, provincial and federal levels. It's a good idea to consult a tax professional before you get started. Learn more about federal and provincial taxes.

Apply for licences and permits

Before you commit to a location, sign a lease and open your doors, it's important to determine which permits and licences apply to your business. The licences and permits you need for your business will vary based on your business activities, location, and government rules at the local, provincial, and federal levels.

Please note: Businesses are not required to obtain a licence and permit through the Township of Laurentian Valley except for Mobile Food Vendors. Mobile Food Vendors are required to complete an application for licence prior to operating. 

Complete the application form

Protect your business

Having the right insurance will protect your business. There are a range of types of business insurance designed to protect your business assets, customers, employees, business owners, and earnings. To make sure you have the right insurance, ask an insurer, licensed insurance broker, or business advisor for detailed advice.

Hire employees

If you choose to hire employees, you'll have additional responsibilities and requirements to uphold. As an employer, you must consider labour regulations and payroll taxes at the local, provincial, and federal levels. Find more information about employees, payroll, and taxes.

Set up shop

You're almost ready! Depending on the type and size of your business, you will need to finalize banking, suppliers, marketing, operating processes and equipment, as well as technology to keep track of inventory, accounting and staff. It is always recommended to open a business bank account and use that to operate your business from the beginning. Business credit cards are hard to obtain, but even getting one with a small amount is recommended. Avoid, as much as possible, mixing business with personal for accounting purposes.

Get noticed

Make sure your digital presence is updated and ready to go. This means you'll want to create a Google account so that you can obtain, verify, and update your Google My Business listing. Google is an extremely strong and valuable search engine that all businesses should create. Upload good quality photos to enhance it further. Think about social media and its impact on your business. Should you create an account? Does this align with your business' marketing plan? If so, claim your @ handles and update your profiles so that your community can begin interacting with you.

Open for business

Congratulations! It's time to open for business. With all the groundwork in place, your focus can now shift to managing and growing your business.