How to Get Your Business off the Ground

Being your own boss is where it’s at — but how do you get there? It all starts with a great idea, but after the initial lightbulb moment, the path can be less clear. To help you find your way, here’s a guide to the basic steps to make your entrepreneurial dream a reality.

Decide on a structure.

You’ve got your great idea, now you need to decide whether your business will operate as a corporation, a partnership, a sole proprietorship or a cooperative. Each of these options specifies a different structure for distributing ownership and responsibility within your company, and comes with its own advantages and limitations. Read up on the differences to learn which option makes sense for your business. In most cases, it should be fairly clear which option suits your current business, but you should consult your attorney to learn the best case for your unique situation.

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Make a plan.

Writing a business plan gives you a chance to anticipate and plot out every aspect of your business. This way you can address potential problems early, before you expose yourself to any financial risk. A business plan isn’t legally required, but if you’re applying for loans or grants, you definitely need one. There are lots of resources online to help you write a great business plan, including detailed templates.

Get funding.

Whether it’s an out-of-pocket investment, a loan from a bank, a government grant or a crowdfunding campaign, your new business needs an initial infusion of cash to get things going. Before you go tossing your own money around, read up on your options. If there’s a proven demand for the product or service you’re offering, you may be in a good position to negotiate an investment from an outside party.

Count the numbers.

Once your business is up and running, you need to keep track of numbers like your sales, profits, expenses and inventory. Square Analytics makes it easy to track your sales and transfers with detailed reporting. And you can sync all that data in your Square account with accounting software like Intuit QuickBooks or Xero, which means more time focused on your business and less time with spreadsheets. Consult a professional to find out what makes the most sense for your business.

Make it official.

Your business is a legal entity as much as it is an expression of your personal passion and determination. Your friendly neighbourhood government will want to know what you’re up to, and there’s no better way to make your new business official than to register with the CRA. You can find more information about requirements and complete your registration online.

Get your permits in order.

Depending on the type of business you’re running and which province you’re based in, you might need certain kinds of permits, licenses or insurance. To find out which of these requirements may apply to your business, as well as any fees associated with them, check out Canada’s Business Network’s comprehensive listing.

Register for GST/HST.

Nothing makes you legit like paying taxes. As a provider of goods and/or services in Canada, you’ll need to register for a GST/HST business account, charge your clients taxes on every transaction, then remit those taxes to the government each year. To register for your account and learn more about how to manage your payments, the CRA has a handy online service.

Once you’ve covered these basic requirements, it is safe to say that you’re ready for business. You are now a business owner and manager. You might also be the secretary, IT guy, head of HR and custodian. Check out some of our other articles for tips on things like naming your business, using social media to promote your business, or finding suppliers.