Business start-up checklist 

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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 cooperative.

  • 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 money for your business.

  • Benchmarking

    How does your business measure up to others that are similar to yours? 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

    Use our service to find federal, provincial/territorial and municipal permits and licences that you may need to start 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)

    Get information on GST and HST including registering a GST/HST account, tax calculation tables, online filing using NETFILE, and upcoming events and seminars.

Provincial and territorial business registration

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

  • Access Nova Scotia
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    Find out how to register your business, obtain permits and licences, and get information on other programs and services.

  • Registry of Joint Stock Companies
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    Register your business or research existing corporations and partnerships.

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.

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.

  • 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 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 successful one.

  • 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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