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.
- Access Nova Scotia
Find out how to register your business, obtain permits and licences, and get information on other programs and services.
- BC Business Registry
This website will guide you through the steps of registering your sole proprietorship or general partnership business in BC.
- Business registration in the Yukon
In order to register your business in the Yukon, you will need to contact Corporate Affairs.
- Companies Office – Business name registration and provincial incorporation (Manitoba)
Find out how to register your business and what you need to know about provincial incorporation.
- Cooperatives Act in French only
Learn about the Cooperatives Act and regulations that govern non-financial cooperatives.
- Corporate Registry
To conduct business in Alberta, register your cooperative, corporation, extra-provincial company, non-profit company, society, trade name and/or partnership.
- Corporate Registries — Business Corporations — Extra-Territorial Registration (Northwest Territories)
Are you currently operating a corporation outside the Northwest Territories and interested in expanding your company into the Northwest Territories? Find out the requirements to register your business in the Territory.
- Corporate services — Business name registration
Register your business name in Prince Edward Island to prevent other organizations from using the same business name.
- Creating a non-profit corporation or organization
Learn the major steps for establishing a non-profit corporation or organization in Quebec.
- Enterprise register (Quebec)
If you operate a business in Quebec, you must register with the enterprise register and declare your organization's legal form.
- Register my company to do business in P.E.I.
Are you looking to do business in P.E.I., but are incorporated elsewhere? If so, you must register as an extra-provincial corporation.
- Extra-provincial domestic corporations operating in Ontario
If your business was incorporated federally or in another province/territory, you must inform the Ontario government you are doing business in Ontario.
- Registration / Declaration of a limited partnership (New Brunswick)
Find out about the rules, procedures and fees to form a limited partnership or register your extra-provincial limited partnership in NB.
- Business name registration information (Ontario)
Register your business name online, in person or by mail.
- 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.
- Limited partnerships (Ontario)
Find out if a limited partnership is right for your business.
- NEQ — Quebec Enterprise Number
Simplify and speed up your dealings with the various Quebec government departments and organizations by registering with the Registraire des entreprises [Quebec enterprise registrar].
- Forming a co-operative in Saskatchewan
Find out how to register a co-operative in Saskatchewan, including information on fees and required forms.
- Registration of a charitable organization
Find all the information you need to register a charity in Quebec.
- Registering a sole proprietorship or partnership in Saskatchewan
Find out how to register your business name as a sole proprietorship or partnership in Saskatchewan, including the fees, the forms required and the turn-around time.
- Registration of an extra-provincial corporation (New Brunswick)
Find out about the rules, procedures and fees for registering an extra-provincial corporation in New Brunswick.
- Registry of Companies (Newfoundland and Labrador)
In Newfoundland and Labrador, you must register with the Registry of Companies if you decide to incorporate provincially.
- Registry of Joint Stock Companies
Register your business or research existing corporations and partnerships.
- Revenu Québec — Business Portal
Is your company based in Quebec? If so, learn about your fiscal obligations including taxes and deductions.
- Setting up a cooperative in French only
Do you want to create or start a cooperative? If so, learn more about out the laws and regulations related to starting a cooperative.
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
As a business owner, find out about your responsibilities with regard to Alberta taxes.
- Register to collect and pay PST – eTaxBC
Register your business to collect PST, obtain your PST number, and then report and pay the tax online.
- Taxation Division
Learn about your tax collection and remittance obligations as a Manitoba business owner.
- Employer Health Tax (Ontario)
Find out if you are required to pay the Employer Health Tax in Ontario.
- Revenu Québec — Business Portal
Is your company based in Quebec? If so, learn about your fiscal obligations including taxes and deductions.
- Provincial tax obligations
Learn about your provincial tax collection and remittance obligations when doing business in Saskatchewan.
- Taxation in the Yukon
Find out about the taxes your business needs to pay and the tax breaks you can get in the Yukon.
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.
- PRIME Employer Incentive for workplace health and safety
Minimize your workers' compensation claim costs and receive refunds for good occupational health and safety and return-to-work practices.
- Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission
If you are an employer in Newfoundland and Labrador, you must register with this organization to receive no-fault work injury insurance.
- Occupational Health and Safety (Nova Scotia)
Find out about your rights and requirements as an employer under Nova Scotia's Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- Application for WorkSafeNB Coverage
If you have 3 or more people working for you, you need to register for workers' compensation insurance.
- Registration with the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail in French only
You are required to register with the CSST if you have paid employees and your business is located in Quebec.
- Ontario Office of the Employer Adviser
Get free expert advice and representation on workplace safety and insurance issues.
- Modular Training
Find out about on-the-job training requirements for employees in the mining, forestry and construction industries in Ontario.
- Safe Manitoba
Spot the hazard, assess the risk, find a safer way every day. Access a multi-partner website working towards a strong workplace safety and health culture in Manitoba.
- Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba
Access information and help for implementing an injury and disability insurance system to protect your business and your workforce.
- Safety in the workplace — Saskatchewan
As an employer, you have the obligation to ensure the health and safety of your employees. Access resources to help you make your workplace as safe as possible.
- Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board
Find out if you need to register for workers' compensation insurance to protect you and your employees from work-related injuries or death.
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information — WHMIS — Saskatchewan
Reduce the risks from hazardous products in your workplace. Find out how to determine what is a controlled product and the rules and regulations that apply to them.
- Certificate of Recognition — contract requirement
Get your occupational health and safety certification to be able to bid on large government construction contracts.
- Workplace health and safety (Alberta)
If you operate a business, you should be aware of safety laws. You may also be interested in how partnerships in health and safety may help your business.
- Workers' Compensation Board Alberta
Get information on protecting your business and your workers from injury and illness while on the job.
This service helps you comply with the legal requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation to ensure healthy and safe working conditions.
- WorkSafeBC Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and Related Materials
Find out the legal requirements that must be met by all workplaces under the jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC.
- CHOICES workplace safety incentive program
You may qualify for insurance rebates for improving your workplace health and safety and return-to-work outcomes.
- Small Business Primer — A Guide to the Workers' Compensation Board
Access information about Workers' Compensation in British Columbia. Find out about paying premiums, preventing accidents, what to do if there is an accident, and more.
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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