Difference between revisions of "Starting a Small Business (No. 265)"

From Clicklaw Wikibooks
 
(16 intermediate revisions by 4 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
{{Dial-A-Law Blurb}}
+
{{REVIEWEDPLS | reviewer = [http://severidelawgroup.com/oliver-b-hamilton/ Oliver Hamilton], Severide Law Group|date= July 2018}} {{Dial-A-Law TOC|expanded = business}}
 +
There’s a lot to be said for starting your own business. You can be your own boss, and shape something of value. Learn the options and considerations in '''starting a business'''.
  
{{Dial-A-Law TOC|expanded = commercial}}
+
==Options to start a business==
There’s a lot to be said for starting your own small business. You can be your own boss, and if it goes well you'll have the satisfaction of having created something of value. But statistics show that small businesses have a high failure rate too. Often it's because of inadequate or unrealistic business planning. This script discusses some of the legal aspects to starting a business that you should consider.
 
  
==Generally speaking, there are three ways to start a business==
+
===Option 1. Buy an existing business===
*You could buy an existing business.
+
One way to start a business is to buy an existing business. You can buy either the '''shares''' of a business or the '''assets'''. Buying the assets is usually less risky. Both options have pros and cons.  
*You could acquire a franchise.
 
*You could start a business yourself from scratch.
 
  
==Buying an existing business has many obvious advantages==
+
====Advantages====
These include loyal customers, trained employees, reliable suppliers, and fully equipped premises. Sometimes the seller will even stay on for a while until you learn your way around. But you’ll pay for this convenience—buying an existing business usually involves the greatest initial capital outlay. And you need to take care that you really are getting what you're paying for and won’t be stuck with any hidden liabilities. You might even want to prevent the seller from turning around and setting up shop in direct competition with you. These are all things that should be included in a written purchase agreement.
+
The advantages of buying a business include loyal customers (an existing brand and goodwill), trained employees, reliable suppliers, and fully equipped premises. Sometimes the seller will stay on for a while until you learn the business.
  
If you're considering buying an existing business, consult your lawyer early before making an offer to ensure your investment is protected. Note that there’s a distinction between buying the shares of the business as opposed to the assets. Buying the assets usually means taking on less risk. Your lawyer can explain this to you.
+
====Disadvantages====
 +
But you pay for these benefits. Buying a business usually costs more than the alternatives. Be careful you get what you have been promised and are paying for, without any hidden liabilities. Investigate the business and its assets to ensure there are no liens or third-party claims on the business or its assets. Ensure the assets are in good working order. Start early because this due-diligence process takes time to complete and you need to verify these things before you finalize the deal.
  
==Acquiring a franchise is a common way to start a business==
+
====Make a written agreement====
A franchise is a system for distributing and marketing a product or service, such as the right to sell a certain brand of fast-food hamburgers or a dollar store. Sometimes financing and training are supplied, so a franchise can be a good turnkey operation. Usually you're obliged to buy goods or services from the “franchisor” (the person or company who grants you the franchise) on an on-going basis, as well as pay for your initial investment, and there are nearly always restrictions on how you run the franchise. Sometimes these are so strict that you're the boss in name only. And there's a danger that you may end up paying substantial royalties or supply premiums. Also, franchisors often require a deposit to apply. Don’t give the deposit until you’re sure you qualify for the franchise.
+
All these things should be covered in a written purchase agreement. If you're thinking of buying a business, it’s best to consult a lawyer to protect yourself — and to do so before making an offer. Then you can still negotiate the deal you want, based on all you have learned about the business.
 +
 +
{| class="wikitable"
 +
|align="left"|'''Tip'''
 +
You might want the seller to sign an agreement promising not to compete with you, recruit your key employees, or use confidential information about your business.
 +
|}
 +
 +
===Option 2. Buy a franchise===
 +
A '''franchise''' is a common way to start a business. It’s a system for distributing and marketing a product or service, such as the right to sell a certain brand of fast-food hamburgers or a dollar store.  
  
If you're considering a franchise, check out its reputation in the business community as best you can, and have your lawyer examine the agreement before you sign. Depending on the franchise, many terms may be negotiable, so you may not have to accept what the franchisor first offers you.
+
====How franchises work====
 +
Sometimes financing and training are supplied, so a franchise can be a good turnkey operation. Usually you must buy goods or services from the “'''franchisor'''” (the person or company who grants you the franchise) on an ongoing basis, as well as pay for your initial investment. And there are almost always restrictions on how you run the franchise. Sometimes these are so strict you're the boss in name only. And there's a danger you may end up paying substantial royalties or supply premiums. Also, franchisors often require a deposit to apply. Don’t give the deposit until you’re sure you qualify for the franchise.
  
==What about starting your business from scratch?==
+
====Do your due diligence====
There are pros and cons to starting your business from scratch. On the plus side, it’s usually less expensive than, say, buying a franchise or existing business. The cons, on the other hand, include having no support from a vendor or franchisor, starting with no customers, and losing money while starting up as you attract customers from a zero base.
+
If you're thinking of a franchise, check its reputation in the business community. Have a lawyer examine the agreement before you sign. Depending on the franchise, some terms of the agreement may be negotiable, so you may be able to do better than what the franchisor first offers you. On the other hand, many terms of franchise agreements are not negotiable (unlike agreements to buy a business). So be sure the franchise business model will work for you before you are legally bound.
  
If you start from scratch, you'll have to decide what form of business to use:
+
===Option 3. Start a new business===
*Will it be alone in a sole proprietorship?
+
There are pros and cons to starting a new business. It’s usually less expensive than buying a franchise or buying an existing business. But on the other hand, you don’t get any support from a seller or franchisor. So you start with no customers, and you may lose money while starting up.
*Will you work with others in a partnership?
 
*Will you incorporate a company?
 
  
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these, and your particular circumstances will determine which is best for you.
+
If you start from scratch, you must decide what form of business to use:
 +
* a sole proprietorship
 +
* a partnership
 +
* an incorporated company
  
==A sole proprietorship is the simplest form a business can take==
+
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these. What’s best for you will depend on your circumstances.
There are several advantages to starting a business as a sole proprietorship:
+
 
 +
==Options to structure a business==
 +
 
 +
===Option 1. Sole proprietorship===
 +
A '''sole proprietorship''' is the simplest form of business. It has several advantages:
 
*It’s the least expensive form of business to set up.
 
*It’s the least expensive form of business to set up.
 
*You don't have to share the profits with anyone.
 
*You don't have to share the profits with anyone.
*Decision-making is quick and management is relatively easy there's no one to consult but yourself.
+
*Decision-making is quick, and management is relatively easy there's no one to consult but yourself.
*You can do business under a business name even if you’re a sole proprietorship. For example, as John Smith, you can do business under the name of “The Sandwich King.(But make sure you’ve registered the name before using it.)
+
*You can do business under a business name even if you’re a sole proprietorship. For example, as John Smith, you can do business under the name of “The Sandwich King”. (But make sure you’ve registered the name before using it.)
  
 
But there are disadvantages too:
 
But there are disadvantages too:
*If you should die, the sole proprietorship comes to an end.
+
*If you die, the sole proprietorship comes to an end.
*You have unlimited personal liability for the debts of the business, so if the business fails, you may risk losing your personal assets, such as your house or car.
+
*You have unlimited personal liability for the debts of the business. If the business fails, you may risk losing your personal assets, such as your house and car.
 +
 
 +
If the business makes money, it will be taxed as your personal income — you don't get the benefit of the lower, small-business tax rate. On the other hand, as many businesses don’t make money in the first few years, you’ll have tax deductions you can use personally. A good rule of thumb is to save a percentage equal to your potential taxes so you don’t have a large tax bill at the end of the year.
 +
 
 +
If you start with a sole proprietorship and things go well, you can always incorporate a company later and transfer the business to the company. Then you get the benefits of carrying on a business through a company instead of personally. This is called a “'''roll-over'''” in tax language.
 +
 
 +
===Option 2. Partnership===
 +
A '''partnership''' combines the talents and resources of two or more people to suit the needs of a business. A partnership agreement setting out each partner's rights and responsibilities is very important, and you should take the time to develop one before you start the partnership.
 +
 
 +
====Disadvantages====
 +
But there are disadvantages to a partnership. As a partner, you’ll be personally responsible for all the debts of the partnership and, generally, you'll be bound by the acts of your partners, even if you don't agree with them.
 +
 
 +
The biggest disadvantage of a partnership is '''joint liability'''. Any partner can be held wholly liable for the actions of another partner who acted within the scope of the partnership and incurred liability.
 +
 
 +
====A way to limit your liability====
 +
A '''limited liability partnership''' (LLP) can limit your liability for another partner’s actions. You should discuss it with a lawyer. Our information on [[Forming a Partnership (No. 266)|forming a partnership (no. 266)]] has more on this.
 +
 
 +
For tax purposes, each partner treats their share of the partnership's profits as personal income.
 +
 
 +
===Option 3. Incorporated company===
 +
A '''company''' is a separate legal entity from its owners. A company is liable for its own debts, owns its own property, and can sue or be sued. Its owners, called '''shareholders''', enjoy '''limited liability'''. This means their personal assets are generally not at risk and they are not personally liable for the company’s debts. They risk losing only their initial investment to buy shares and any shareholder loans they made to the company.
 +
 
 +
====Disadvantages====
 +
But sometimes this isn't as good as it sounds. Lenders often insist that shareholders of small companies personally guarantee the company's debts, so the lender is sure of getting repaid even if the company can't pay. And in some cases, a shareholder may be personally liable for a company's debts. Shareholders are not required to provide any work or services for the company unless there’s a contract requiring them to. You should have a '''shareholder’s agreement''' to deal with these topics. A lawyer can help with that.
 +
 
 +
====If you decide to incorporate====
 +
If you incorporate, you must use the words “incorporation,” “limited” or “corporation” (or Inc., Ltd., or Corp.) after the company name.
 +
 
 +
You can incorporate federally or provincially. If you’re going to do most of your business in BC, you should incorporate in BC, as it’s much easier in the long run. Companies that incorporate federally must register extra-provincially in each province they do business in.
 +
 
 +
A company files its own separate tax return and pays its own tax. Shareholders pay tax on what they receive in dividends, bonuses or salary from the company. Depending on your personal income level, you might be able to save tax by incorporating.
 +
 
 +
In addition to filing tax returns, each year a company must file either provincial or federal corporate returns with the corporate registry in the jurisdictions where it operates.
  
With respect to income taxes, if the business makes money, it will be taxed as your personal income—you don't get the benefit of the small business tax rate. On the other hand, as many businesses don’t make money in the first few years, you’ll have tax deductions you can use. A good rule of thumb is to save a percentage equal to your potential taxes so that you don’t have a large tax bill at the end of the year.
+
For more information on incorporating a company, see our information on [[Incorporating a Company (No. 267)|incorporating a company (no. 267)]].
  
==What about a partnership?==
+
==Next steps==
A partnership has the advantage of combining the talent and resources of two or more people in a way that can be tailored to suit the needs of your business. A partnership agreement setting out each partner's rights and responsibilities is very important, and you should take the time to develop one before you start the partnership.
 
  
But there are drawbacks to a partnership. As a partner, you’ll be personally responsible for all the debts of the partnership and, generally speaking, you'll be bound by the acts of your partners, even if you don't agree with them.
+
===Consents from third parties===
 +
If you are buying the assets or shares of a business, the purchase may require third-party consent and approval. For example, if the business operates from leased premises, the landlord will need to agree to the sale and transfer (assignment) of the existing lease to a new lease with the new owner. The buyer and seller of the business should not assume the landlord will automatically agree.
  
For tax purposes, each partner will treat his or her share of the partnership's profits as personal income.
+
===Business licence and name approval===
 +
Whatever form of new business you choose, you’ll need to get a '''business licence''' and '''name approval'''.  
  
There is a type of partnership, called a “limited liability partnership,” that limits the liability you may have for your partner’s actions—talk to your lawyer about this.
+
You get a business licence from your town or city hall. The cost will vary depending on the type of business and whether it's operated from commercial or residential premises.  
  
For more information on partnerships, refer to Script [[Forming a Partnership (Script 266)|266]] on “Forming a Partnership”.
+
You can get the [https://www.bcregistrynames.gov.bc.ca/nro/ name approval] from the provincial government.  
  
==A company is a popular way to start a business from scratch==
+
Many banks won’t give you financing until you have a business licence and name approval.
It is a separate legal entity from its owners. A company is liable for its own debts, owns its own property and can sue or be sued. Its owners, called shareholders, enjoy limited liability. This means that their personal assets are generally not at risk and they are not personally liable for the company’s debts. The loss that they’re exposed to is their initial investment.
 
  
But sometimes this isn't as good as it sounds. Lenders often insist that the shareholders of small companies personally guarantee the company's debts, so that the lender is sure of getting repaid even if the company can't pay. Also there are some circumstances in which a shareholder may be held personally liable for the company's obligations.
+
===Licences and registrations===
 +
Some businesses cannot be carried on at all unless you’re legally qualified to do so. For example, you can't start up a real estate agency unless you’re licensed. So make sure you have any special licenses or registrations required for your particular business.
  
Other points to note:
+
===Employee accounts===
*You must use the words “incorporation,” “limited” or “corporation” (or Inc., Ltd., or Corp.) with the company name.
+
If you plan to have workers, you’ll have to set up a [https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/businesses/topics/payroll/payroll-overview/employer-responsibilities-payroll-steps/opening-a-payroll-program-account.html payroll program account] with the federal government. You use this account to withhold your workers’ income tax deductions, Canada Pension Plan contributions, and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums to pay to the government.  
*You can incorporate federally or provincially. (If you’re going to do most or all of your business in BC, you should register in BC, as it’s much easier in the long run.)
 
*You should have a shareholder’s agreement. Have your lawyer assist you with preparing one.
 
  
As for tax, a company files its own return and pays its own tax. Shareholders pay tax on what they receive in dividends, bonuses or salary from the company. Depending on your personal income level, you might be able to save tax dollars by incorporating.
+
You’ll need to [https://www.worksafebc.com/en/insurance/need-coverage/employers-responsibilities register with WorkSafeBC] so your workers are covered in the event of a workplace accident or illness.
  
For more information on incorporating a company, refer to Script [[Forming a Private Company (Script 267)|267]] on “Forming a Private Company”.
+
You may also have to set up accounts for Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Provincial Sales Tax payments.  
  
==You’ll need a business licence and name approval==
+
===Zoning and bylaws===
Whatever form of business you choose a sole proprietorship, partnership or company—you’ll need a business license and name approval. You get a business licence from your town or city hall, and the cost will vary depending on the type of business and whether it's operated from commercial or residential premises. You can get the name approval from the provincial government. Many banks won’t give you financing until you have a business licence and name approval.
+
Do you know where your business will be located? Some types of business can't be operated in certain areas because of zoning bylaws. If you're planning to run your business from home, check the bylaws at your town or city hall. If you live in a condominium, look at the strata corporation bylaws. As for commercial premises, just because someone is willing to sell or rent space to you doesn't mean the property meets all zoning requirements for the business you have in mind. Check this out yourself at your town or city hall before you sign a lease.
  
==Other government regulations and requirements may apply too==
+
===Building permits===
*'''Licences and registrations''':  Some businesses cannot be carried on at all unless you’re legally qualified to do so. For example, you can't start up a real estate agency unless you’re licensed. So make sure you have any special licenses or registrations that are required for your particular business.
+
If you're going to renovate the premises, you'll need a building permit. If you're renting commercial space, you'll probably have to pay at least a share of all municipal taxes on the premises, including a business tax, over and above your rent. Review any lease agreement before signing it.
*'''Employee rules''':  If you have employees, you’ll have to set up accounts with the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (or CCRA) for withholding taxes, Canada Pension Plan (or CPP) deductions, and Employment Insurance (or EI) premiums. You may also have to establish accounts for the Good and Services Tax and Provincial Sales Tax remittances and Workers Compensation Board contributions.
 
*'''Zoning and bylaws''':  Do you know where you’ll be located? Some types of business can't be operated in certain areas because of zoning by-laws. If you're planning to run your business from home, be sure to check the by-laws at your local city hall, and if you live in a condominium, look at the strata corporation by-laws as well. As for commercial premises, just because someone is willing to sell or rent space to you doesn't mean that the property meets all zoning requirements for the business you have in mind. Check this out yourself at your town or city hall
 
*'''Building permits''':  If you're going to renovate the premises, you'll need a building permit. If you're renting commercial space you'll probably have to pay at least a share of all municipal assessments on the premises, including a business tax over and above your rent. Make sure you get your lawyer to review your lease agreements before signing them.
 
*'''Other regulations''':  Depending on the business you're in, your product or service may be subject to certain regulations. Some products have labeling requirements and door-to-door sales are subject to regulation, just to give two examples.
 
  
==Where can you get help or find more information?==
+
===Other regulations===
*Small Business BC has excellent information on starting a business and free guides. Call 604.775.5525 in Vancouver or 1.800.667.2272 elsewhere in the province, or visit [http://www.smallbusinessbc.ca www.smallbusinessbc.ca].
+
Depending on the business, regulations may apply to your product or service. For example, some products have labeling requirements, and door-to-door sales are regulated.
*The federal Industry Canada site [http://www.ic.gc.ca www.ic.gc.ca] has information and free guides on starting a business, incorporating a federal company, patents, taxes, and so on.
+
*Visit the provincial OneStop Business Registry website at [http://www.bcbusinessregistry.ca www.bcbusinessregistry.ca], which allows you to apply for various business licences and registrations at one time. It also refers you to “kiosks” where you can get a real person to help you. The OneStop Help Desk number is 250.370.0332 in Victoria or 1.877.822.6727 elsewhere in the province.
+
==Get help==
*For more information on incorporating a BC company, visit the Corporate Registry’s website at [http://www.bcregistryservices.gov.bc.ca/bcreg/corppg/ www.bcregistryservices.gov.bc.ca/bcreg/corppg/].
 
*Your lawyer, accountant or bank manager can advise you on certain matters. Many school boards and colleges offer seminars on starting a business. Your public library has a wealth of information including trade directories and information on sources of government assistance.
 
*Finally, don't be afraid to talk to other people who have started their own business.
 
  
 +
===With more information===
 +
[http://www.smallbusinessbc.ca/ Small Business BC] has information and guides on starting a business. Call 604-775-5525 in Vancouver or 1-800-667-2272 elsewhere in the province.
  
[updated July 2014]
+
[http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/icgc.nsf/eng/home Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada] has information and guides on starting a business and incorporating a federal company.
  
 +
For more information on incorporating a BC company, check the BC [http://www.bcregistryservices.gov.bc.ca/bcreg/corppg/index.page Corporate Registry website].
  
----
+
Many school boards and colleges offer seminars on starting a business. Your public library has a wealth of information including trade directories and information on sources of government assistance. Talk to other people who have started their own business. A lawyer, accountant or bank manager can advise you on certain matters.
----
 
  
 +
===Registering your new business===
 +
The provincial [http://www.bcbusinessregistry.ca/ OneStop Business Registry website] lets you apply for various business licences and registrations at one time. It also refers you to “kiosks” where you can get a real person to help. The OneStop Help Desk number is 250-370-0332 in Victoria or 1-877-822-6727 elsewhere in BC.
  
 +
{{Dial-A-Law_Navbox|type=work}}
 
{{Dial-A-Law Copyright}}
 
{{Dial-A-Law Copyright}}

Latest revision as of 09:51, 25 March 2019

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Oliver Hamilton, Severide Law Group in July 2018.

There’s a lot to be said for starting your own business. You can be your own boss, and shape something of value. Learn the options and considerations in starting a business.

Options to start a business

Option 1. Buy an existing business

One way to start a business is to buy an existing business. You can buy either the shares of a business or the assets. Buying the assets is usually less risky. Both options have pros and cons.

Advantages

The advantages of buying a business include loyal customers (an existing brand and goodwill), trained employees, reliable suppliers, and fully equipped premises. Sometimes the seller will stay on for a while until you learn the business.

Disadvantages

But you pay for these benefits. Buying a business usually costs more than the alternatives. Be careful you get what you have been promised and are paying for, without any hidden liabilities. Investigate the business and its assets to ensure there are no liens or third-party claims on the business or its assets. Ensure the assets are in good working order. Start early because this due-diligence process takes time to complete and you need to verify these things before you finalize the deal.

Make a written agreement

All these things should be covered in a written purchase agreement. If you're thinking of buying a business, it’s best to consult a lawyer to protect yourself — and to do so before making an offer. Then you can still negotiate the deal you want, based on all you have learned about the business.

Tip

You might want the seller to sign an agreement promising not to compete with you, recruit your key employees, or use confidential information about your business.

Option 2. Buy a franchise

A franchise is a common way to start a business. It’s a system for distributing and marketing a product or service, such as the right to sell a certain brand of fast-food hamburgers or a dollar store.

How franchises work

Sometimes financing and training are supplied, so a franchise can be a good turnkey operation. Usually you must buy goods or services from the “franchisor” (the person or company who grants you the franchise) on an ongoing basis, as well as pay for your initial investment. And there are almost always restrictions on how you run the franchise. Sometimes these are so strict you're the boss in name only. And there's a danger you may end up paying substantial royalties or supply premiums. Also, franchisors often require a deposit to apply. Don’t give the deposit until you’re sure you qualify for the franchise.

Do your due diligence

If you're thinking of a franchise, check its reputation in the business community. Have a lawyer examine the agreement before you sign. Depending on the franchise, some terms of the agreement may be negotiable, so you may be able to do better than what the franchisor first offers you. On the other hand, many terms of franchise agreements are not negotiable (unlike agreements to buy a business). So be sure the franchise business model will work for you before you are legally bound.

Option 3. Start a new business

There are pros and cons to starting a new business. It’s usually less expensive than buying a franchise or buying an existing business. But on the other hand, you don’t get any support from a seller or franchisor. So you start with no customers, and you may lose money while starting up.

If you start from scratch, you must decide what form of business to use:

  • a sole proprietorship
  • a partnership
  • an incorporated company

There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these. What’s best for you will depend on your circumstances.

Options to structure a business

Option 1. Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business. It has several advantages:

  • It’s the least expensive form of business to set up.
  • You don't have to share the profits with anyone.
  • Decision-making is quick, and management is relatively easy — there's no one to consult but yourself.
  • You can do business under a business name even if you’re a sole proprietorship. For example, as John Smith, you can do business under the name of “The Sandwich King”. (But make sure you’ve registered the name before using it.)

But there are disadvantages too:

  • If you die, the sole proprietorship comes to an end.
  • You have unlimited personal liability for the debts of the business. If the business fails, you may risk losing your personal assets, such as your house and car.

If the business makes money, it will be taxed as your personal income — you don't get the benefit of the lower, small-business tax rate. On the other hand, as many businesses don’t make money in the first few years, you’ll have tax deductions you can use personally. A good rule of thumb is to save a percentage equal to your potential taxes so you don’t have a large tax bill at the end of the year.

If you start with a sole proprietorship and things go well, you can always incorporate a company later and transfer the business to the company. Then you get the benefits of carrying on a business through a company instead of personally. This is called a “roll-over” in tax language.

Option 2. Partnership

A partnership combines the talents and resources of two or more people to suit the needs of a business. A partnership agreement setting out each partner's rights and responsibilities is very important, and you should take the time to develop one before you start the partnership.

Disadvantages

But there are disadvantages to a partnership. As a partner, you’ll be personally responsible for all the debts of the partnership and, generally, you'll be bound by the acts of your partners, even if you don't agree with them.

The biggest disadvantage of a partnership is joint liability. Any partner can be held wholly liable for the actions of another partner who acted within the scope of the partnership and incurred liability.

A way to limit your liability

A limited liability partnership (LLP) can limit your liability for another partner’s actions. You should discuss it with a lawyer. Our information on forming a partnership (no. 266) has more on this.

For tax purposes, each partner treats their share of the partnership's profits as personal income.

Option 3. Incorporated company

A company is a separate legal entity from its owners. A company is liable for its own debts, owns its own property, and can sue or be sued. Its owners, called shareholders, enjoy limited liability. This means their personal assets are generally not at risk and they are not personally liable for the company’s debts. They risk losing only their initial investment to buy shares and any shareholder loans they made to the company.

Disadvantages

But sometimes this isn't as good as it sounds. Lenders often insist that shareholders of small companies personally guarantee the company's debts, so the lender is sure of getting repaid even if the company can't pay. And in some cases, a shareholder may be personally liable for a company's debts. Shareholders are not required to provide any work or services for the company unless there’s a contract requiring them to. You should have a shareholder’s agreement to deal with these topics. A lawyer can help with that.

If you decide to incorporate

If you incorporate, you must use the words “incorporation,” “limited” or “corporation” (or Inc., Ltd., or Corp.) after the company name.

You can incorporate federally or provincially. If you’re going to do most of your business in BC, you should incorporate in BC, as it’s much easier in the long run. Companies that incorporate federally must register extra-provincially in each province they do business in.

A company files its own separate tax return and pays its own tax. Shareholders pay tax on what they receive in dividends, bonuses or salary from the company. Depending on your personal income level, you might be able to save tax by incorporating.

In addition to filing tax returns, each year a company must file either provincial or federal corporate returns with the corporate registry in the jurisdictions where it operates.

For more information on incorporating a company, see our information on incorporating a company (no. 267).

Next steps

Consents from third parties

If you are buying the assets or shares of a business, the purchase may require third-party consent and approval. For example, if the business operates from leased premises, the landlord will need to agree to the sale and transfer (assignment) of the existing lease to a new lease with the new owner. The buyer and seller of the business should not assume the landlord will automatically agree.

Business licence and name approval

Whatever form of new business you choose, you’ll need to get a business licence and name approval.

You get a business licence from your town or city hall. The cost will vary depending on the type of business and whether it's operated from commercial or residential premises.

You can get the name approval from the provincial government.

Many banks won’t give you financing until you have a business licence and name approval.

Licences and registrations

Some businesses cannot be carried on at all unless you’re legally qualified to do so. For example, you can't start up a real estate agency unless you’re licensed. So make sure you have any special licenses or registrations required for your particular business.

Employee accounts

If you plan to have workers, you’ll have to set up a payroll program account with the federal government. You use this account to withhold your workers’ income tax deductions, Canada Pension Plan contributions, and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums to pay to the government.

You’ll need to register with WorkSafeBC so your workers are covered in the event of a workplace accident or illness.

You may also have to set up accounts for Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Provincial Sales Tax payments.

Zoning and bylaws

Do you know where your business will be located? Some types of business can't be operated in certain areas because of zoning bylaws. If you're planning to run your business from home, check the bylaws at your town or city hall. If you live in a condominium, look at the strata corporation bylaws. As for commercial premises, just because someone is willing to sell or rent space to you doesn't mean the property meets all zoning requirements for the business you have in mind. Check this out yourself at your town or city hall before you sign a lease.

Building permits

If you're going to renovate the premises, you'll need a building permit. If you're renting commercial space, you'll probably have to pay at least a share of all municipal taxes on the premises, including a business tax, over and above your rent. Review any lease agreement before signing it.

Other regulations

Depending on the business, regulations may apply to your product or service. For example, some products have labeling requirements, and door-to-door sales are regulated.

Get help

With more information

Small Business BC has information and guides on starting a business. Call 604-775-5525 in Vancouver or 1-800-667-2272 elsewhere in the province.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has information and guides on starting a business and incorporating a federal company.

For more information on incorporating a BC company, check the BC Corporate Registry website.

Many school boards and colleges offer seminars on starting a business. Your public library has a wealth of information including trade directories and information on sources of government assistance. Talk to other people who have started their own business. A lawyer, accountant or bank manager can advise you on certain matters.

Registering your new business

The provincial OneStop Business Registry website lets you apply for various business licences and registrations at one time. It also refers you to “kiosks” where you can get a real person to help. The OneStop Help Desk number is 250-370-0332 in Victoria or 1-877-822-6727 elsewhere in BC.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence Dial-A-Law © People's Law School is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.


Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Site
Tools
Contributors
Print/export