For many people who dream of moving abroad, part of the appeal is starting a new life from scratch – having a new home, new friends, new leisure activities and pastimes to enjoy and having new career challenges to embrace. If this sounds like you, have you ever thought about starting your own business abroad?
If you’re thinking of emigrating and living in Canada, starting a business is actually quite straightforward there. We have a ten step guide to starting a business in Canada that will give you the basics to get started so that you can have a new life and a new career challenge – and you can sack the boss for good!
1) The Idea, the Concept and the Name
There are probably many skills that you and perhaps your spouse or proposed business partner excel at. When trying to come up with a business idea you should focus on these talents as there is no point venturing into the unknown when your future financial success depends on it! You can look around in business magazines for franchises if you lack inspiration, or perhaps you could even consider buying a business that is already a going concern.
Come up with an idea of what you want to do, think about the concept of the business and what it will achieve, and then come up with a name that will help you market your business as well.
2) A Business Plan
The next step is creating a business plan. This will help you to firm up in your own mind how you see your business developing over the short to medium term. A business plan will also be very useful if you want to approach a bank for funding or local agencies for a grant perhaps. You can get help with your business plan by looking online.
3) Choose a Business Type
You have four main ways that you can trade in Canada, for example you can go for a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation or a cooperative. If you’re starting a small family type business its highly likely that one of the first two options will suit you best, but in reality there are advantages and disadvantages to all and you may want to take advice.
There are many agencies in Canada who can help you – for example, the Small Business Centre offers a range of advisory services, or you could approach your nearest Chamber of Commerce for some guidance.
4) Registration & Licensing
It’s highly likely that you will have to officially register your business name in Canada but it’s not definite that you will have to have a licence to operate, you will need to contact your local council offices to find out – they often have an online presence, but if not, pop down to the local offices and make your enquiries.
5) Get Financial Assistance
If you’re living in Canada having just emigrated from overseas, chances are you will already have laid out a small personal fortune on relocation and you may therefore be reluctant to invest all your remaining personal equity in your new business venture. If this is the case you can seek investment for your business idea.
You may want to go down the road of taking out a loan – many banks offer favourable rates for winning your overall business - or you may be able to source a sponsor or investor, (speak to the Chamber of Commerce as a starting point for ideas perhaps). Whichever approach you take, have your business plan well written and well presented and be prepared to push hard to get what you want.
6) Register for Taxes - GST/HST/PST
There are all sorts of taxes in Canada that you will need to understand and be familiar with when you go into business. For example you have GST, which is Goods and Service Tax. Most businesses have to register for this, but then you have PST which is Provincial Sales Tax and the rules about registering for this differ from province to province. You will be able to get leaflets and information about all the taxes you are liable for or have to collect on top of the fees you charge for the goods or services you supply from your local revenue office.
7) Think About Employing
Even if you’re a one-man band today, in the future there may well come a time when you need to employ to keep your business running smoothly or to begin expanding operations. For example – you may find you are working so hard you fall behind with admin, invoicing and accounting, in which case an office assistant would perhaps be the first person you employ. You may then require a secretary, a receptionist, an assistant…find out before you begin employing about your rights and obligations as an employer. You will also have to register with the Worker’s Compensation Board if you’re going to employ, and they can help you understand all you need to understand if you just contact them and ask for some advice and assistance.
8) Get Insured
Find out about the insurances you and your business may need in order to protect you in the event of a claim being brought against you. This is especially important if you are operating as a sole proprietor as it could be the case that if a claim were brought against you as a professional, that it could affect your family home for example.
There are many levels of business insurance you can get – find out, and get yourself covered. Do this from day one and be secure in the knowledge that you, your family and your business in Canada are all safe.
9) Get Business Flow Processes in Place
No matter what sort of business you are going to be running – from a florist shop that only you are employed in to a factory in which you employ many people – there will need to be discipline and structure to your every day operations. Get business flow processes in place so that you set time aside for each and every task and never feel that things are getting out of hand or running away with you. Do this from the outset and you will have a smooth running and successful business that you will enjoy and that will have made moving to Canada worthwhile for you.
10) Sort Your Accounting Out From Day 1
This ties in well with point 9…if you get your record keeping and accounting in order from the outset, this will make it very easy for you to get a tax return done at the end of each financial year. It will also make it very easy for you to make sure invoices have been paid and to prove to creditors that you have made their payments if they query them. Get these boring but essential details nailed from the word go and you will find running a business in Canada is not only straightforward but wholly enjoyable and rewarding.