How to Start a Small Business in BC, Canada in 15 Simple Steps
This step by step how to guide will assist you in completing your goal of creating a small business here in BC Canada. The reasoning and order for the steps is from my own experience creating and registering AG Global Designs in Abbotsford, BC Canada. I have also included a free downloadable BC Business start up checklist below that you can use to keep track of what needs to be done next. It includes everything from extremely valuable BC business links to my favorite books to read for start up businesses.
1. Determine Your Startup Business's Overall Mission
When at the outset creating AG Global Designs, we knew we wanted to establish a digital agency. However, we had no clear direction on how we would get underway. What strengthened us was setting up a clear vision, mission statement, and values that offered us guidance, assistance in decision-making, and set standards.
Your Vision and/or Business Plan
For instance, our global mission for AG Global Designs is:
“To successfully establish start-ups and businesses by providing affordable high-quality web & design solutions that are objective focused.”
We now knew our target demographic, our service, and how we would provide value to you. In addition to this our values of transparency, listening, quality, and affordability set guidelines for us when setting up the company. We could constantly reflect on each decision we took and make sure it reflected what we wanted the business to become and how others would perceive it.
Similarly, you need to figure out what differentiates you from other companies. What can your business deliver that other companies do not?
2. Choose Your Business Operating Type
If your new I recommend going with a sole proprietorship or a general partnership as they are significantly less complicated and less expensive versus starting a corporation. However, it can completely depend on your situation and if you are unsure perhaps talk to a tax accountant or lawyer.
Businesses are typically operated as a:
If a business begins earning over $100,000 it might be economical to investigate creating a corporation for the tax benefits it generates. Although you should talk with a CPA (Certified Professional Accountant) for the best results.
Other great guides to learn more about the best operating type for you:
- The Government of Canada “How to incorporate a business.”
- The BC Registries and Online Services under “Businesses, Incorporated Companies and Cooperatives.”
BC Startup Business
With Linked Resources That Make It Easy.
3. Submit Your Name Request
When creating a business name, it is important to make sure it is available on all your desired social media, domains, and trademarks. You can search for trademarks on the Government of Canada “Canadian Trademarks Database.” I will discuss an effective method to find out if your name is unavailable on social media sites and multiple domains later in this guide.
To register a name, go directly to BC Registry’s “Name Request.” And follow their comprehensive guide on “How to Build Your Name.” Do this sooner than later as the wait time to get approved can be lengthy.
4. Register with OneStop Business Registry
This next step is for the individuals that did not incorporate and decided to begin as a sole proprietorship or general partnership.
When proceeding to the registration process, proceed to https://onestop.gov.bc.ca/ and their application will assist in helping you determine exactly what you need to start. However, you will need an approved NR number (Name Request) from BC Registry.
5. Register for (GST) Goods and Services Tax
The Government of Canada website “when to register for and start charging the GST/HST.” Requires you to register for the GST/HST if you exceed the $30,000 threshold in a single calendar quarter. However, if you do not exceed the $30,000 threshold over four consecutive calendar quarters you are still considered a minor supplier. It is important to follow the acts and regulations imposed on you as a sole proprietor, partnership, or a corporation. To register do so through the OneStop Business Registry.
6. Determine If The (PST) Provincial Sales Tax Applies to You
The provincial sales tax (PST) is a retail sales tax that typically applies to purchase or lease of new or used goods in B.C. Goods bought, sent, or delivered into B.C. And furthermore, the purchases of software, services to goods (Ex, computer repair), and legal services.
The Government of British Colombia – “Provincial Sales Tax (PST).” Provides an overview of resources to learn more. But you can find more relevant information on the “provincial sales tax publications” which will assist you in finding industry specific details.
AG Global Designs could be classified under Bulletin PST 123 – Graphic Designers. Which states that “graphic designers are generally not subject to PST if the designs are provided in an intangible format.” However, if we were to sell something tangible such as, a digital file on a medium, like a USB drive then PST may apply.
Things can get complicated if you begin to offer other types of services. Perhaps you decide to purchase a website from AG Global Designs, and we created some form of audio or video content for you and charged you. We would now have to follow Bulletin PST 107 – Telecommunication Services and would likely charge an additional 7% specifically on the price of the audio or video content produced on the website for PST.
It can all seem overwhelming at first but remember that starting a business is two steps forward, one step back. Nevertheless, if I had it my way, I would abolish the PST into the depths of hell for all the extra, unnecessary stress it causes business owners.
7. Do Your Research and Other Legal Requirements
The more layers you add to your business the more red tape you will be required to complete to gain bureaucratic approval. This is the cost of doing business in BC, Canada.
If you are planning on hiring employees in BC, you will need to register with WorkSafeBC and thus pay insurance premiums with them. This covers you in the event of injury or disease. Furthermore, if your self-employed you can also apply for voluntary personal protection.
Also, because you pay your employees a salary you will need to register with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). BC OneStop’s registration process will also assist you in setting this up if you require it.
This is just the start if you also require licensing such as, a liquor license for your restaurant. Or if you import and export goods you will be required to register with the Border Services Agency (CBSA). However, OneStop Business Registry makes it convenient to register.
Make sure you know the applicable permits, licenses, and registrations that apply to your industry. A great website to find the applicable permits and licenses you need for your business is BizPal. It will filter permits based on your location, industry, and business activities.
8. Open a Small Business Bank Account
You might believe that you should just run business transactions through your personal account. However, as your business grows you will need to have a dedicated bank account explicitly for your business.
Reasons why you need a business bank account include:
- It makes accounting a breeze and thus makes tax returns simple.
- Keeps your business separate from your personal life.
- It is more professional.
We personally use an eBusiness Plan with BMO specifically because what they provide works well with what we do. We pay a monthly fee of $0/monthly and get unlimited electronic transactions with no minimum balance required. However, we cannot deposit cash or items without fees incurred. Starting with a smaller plan also allows us to upgrade into better options as we develop and require greater needs. Thus, creating less of a financial burden on us in the starting phases.
Research into what other banks offer and figure out what works best for your business. I would not recommend the eBusiness Plan unless your transactions are completely online. But BMO’s other plans might be exactly what you are looking for.
9. You Need to Claim Your Name On all The Main Online Platforms
After you have figured out your company name you are going to want to make sure it is available on domains and social media. An efficient way to check is NameCheckR. Just type in your desired company’s name and verify that it is available in your desired domain and social media sites.
Things can be taken swiftly so if you come up with a particular name make sure you pounce on what you want today or you risk losing that account name to someone else. Moreover, it is important to add some information, a profile pic, or some branding to your social sites as a lot of terms & conditions of social media sites do not allow squatting and some sites will terminate inactive accounts.
10. You Need a Brand That Reaches Your Target Audience
With the population of BC being over five million there is likely going to be some competition in the industry you plan on entering. Therefore, to get a leg up, you need to build a strong brand and be able to reach your target audience.
A strong brand makes you stand out from the crowd.
- Differentiation from the competition.
- Product and/or service recognition.
- Creates consistency and awareness.
- Establish customer loyalty.
- Increase the potential of leads, sales, and partnerships.
Having professional targeted content can help people discover your products and services. People typically search for their problems instead of solutions directly.
So how do you build a brand?
The two main components of your brand are the persona and the visual.
The persona includes:
- Business Name
- Mission Statement & Values
- Targeted Audience
- Overall Personality
The visual includes:
- Brand Colors
- Heading Sizes
- Social Media Banners
- Flyers & Marketing Materials
- Product Packaging
Applying branding across your website, packaging, social media, and entire business will establish your business as legitimate and professional.
Transparency is one of several core values at AG Global Designs, and we want you to know we are self-advocating through this blog post. However, we got into our industry because we feel that businesses require great branding. And the effects of having poor branding can run deep in your business. Damaging your image, sale potentials, and relationships. Getting a great brand will help save you money, time, and establishing lifelong, repeat customers. We want to create mutually beneficial relationships with our clients that allow us both to flourish.
If you had a well-designed brand with stunning visuals how do you think that would change your business? Our Branding Packages.
11. You Need a Visually Appealing, User-Friendly Website That Integrates Your Branding.
Much of the human population is online, and the number of people joining the internet in the future will be in the billions as it becomes easier to get internet anywhere in the world. Thus, it should be of utmost priority to become established online.
A website is important for multiple reasons including:
- It is basically a salesperson that works 24/7, 365 days in the year.
- The more people you reach online the more opportunity for sales.
- A well-made website builds business credibility.
- Websites can outsource a lot of the repetitive work.
- A place to showcase your services and products.
- Display testimonials that provide social proof to new potential clients.
- Customers can contact you directly from a website.
- Have call to actions enticing your audience to work with you.
- Promote lead magnets that amass potential client’s emails.
Some of the most essential features of a good website include:
- Good user experience
- Modern design
- Mobile optimized
- Google maps
- Photo sourcing
- Contact form
- Basic SEO
We are aware of all the drag and drop custom website makers out there. However, there is a lot that goes into well-made websites than the one size fits all templates created by companies like Wix and Squarespace. A lot of the free DIY methods make it impossible to integrate all the benefits and features listed above. And learning how to implement them yourself can be frustrating and time consuming. What about business URLs, site hosting, cybersecurity, and migrating sites?
If you had a high-quality website with all the features listed above and the ability to combine other addons like live chat, motion effects, social media integration, a blog, popups, and pricing tables and it is all maintained, managed, and hosted by professionals, how do you think that would change your business? Request A FREE Quote >
You have nothing to lose. Everything left to gain.
We will talk about your business and how we can help to achieve your goals.
12. You need Marketing Resources that features your branding.
If you are reading this you might be assuming that AG Global Designs is a big, established agency but as I write this it is relatively new and small. Your goal as a business owner is trying to look more established, professional, and memorable than your competition. In the modern era it is almost expected that most companies have business cards, and well-made social media visuals. You could have the best product or service but if your marketing materials do not reflect the same quality your potential customers will perceive a likelihood of inferior value versus a company with powerful visuals.
If you had superior vivid content that promoted your website, your offers, and resulted in more leads. How do you think that would change your business?
13. Outsource Your Weaknesses
I just want to explain a difference between outsourcing and delegation. To outsource you are transferring the management of a business function to a third-party service provider. To delegate is to commit a task to someone.
As business owners we typically take on multiple different functions while growing and scaling. However, as a result it could be costing us more than what we could potentially be gaining in terms of where we provide the most value. For instance, if you spend hours doing something out of your skillset you could potentially be losing a lot of money and time that could be earning you more in your skillset.
As an example,
You decide you will create all your marketing material for your company and decide to go buy Adobe Creative. Because you believe it is significantly cheaper than hiring an agency. However, after purchasing you realize there is a depth of experience required to learn the tools and it takes you days to learn how to do simple tasks within the software. Instead of losing days attempting to learn the software you could be promoting your product or service and as a result have several leads, clients, and be out making money instead of losing that potential for it.
If you outsourced your website, branding, and marketing materials to AG Global Designs and it allowed both of us to focus on what we specialize in how do you think that would change your business?
14. Document Everything
- Non-Disclosure Agreements
Vital data that you would not want your competition to get their hands on should be kept confidential. Require contractors, freelancers, employees, and business partners to sign an NDA to ensure your ideas are safeguarded.
- Employment Agreements
Have new employees sign an employment agreement. This sets the expectations and obligations of the employer. Best to outsource to an attorney for the best results.
- Business Plan
Your business plan can help you obtain grants, loans, investors, and partnerships.
- Financial Documents
Everything from receipts, payroll, bank statements, and balances.
- Standard Operating Procedures
SOPs allow you to delegate and train your team without handholding in the assignment of a task. Allowing you more freedom and flexibility. An SOP is simply a program for humans. It is a set of instructions and commands that are detailed enough to allow anyone that picks up the document to perform that task flawlessly in the first attempt.
There seems to be unlimited requirement for businesses to document everything. Therefore, it is important to stay organized from the beginning.
15. Your Just Getting Started
It can be difficult to stay organized, on track, and maintain work-life balance when you first start your business. You might second guess your decision to enter entrepreneurship. You need to overcome this and develop clear guidelines for yourself and make sure you keep yourself in top mental and physical health during this juggling act. However, the success of your business is ultimately up to you. Creating your vision, systems, values, and documentation now will save you from immense stress later. If you do not have time to do it right now, how will you have time to do it over when your busier? Get it done right the first time with AG Global Designs.