The period before a business launch is exciting and exhausting. Like a child eager to open a present, you'll be over-the-moon with giddy anticipation of the entrepreneurial delights ahead. You'll also be dog-tired from all of the work required to prepare your business to do business.
First understand that your new business will be far from perfect (although you might like to think so). Your job is to get the business up and running as best you can in the time allowed and with the resources available. Your priority must be to generate income.
I've seen too many new entrepreneurs burn through years and cash fretting to "get it right". Learn from software developers: Most big companies ship imperfect software, fully expecting to fix the bugs later by issuing patches or updates. In fact, these companies count on the product feedback received from customers to help them to identify the glitches that need fixing.
Read: Keep it Simple, for advice on how to get out of your own way and start building the business of your dreams
Get your business going and pledge to work the kinks out as you go. Focus on the bare bones stuff that will allow you open your retail doors, launch your e-commerce site or introduce your service.
Register your business
Decide how your business will operate by choosing a business structure and take the steps to register it with the government. Consult with an accountant and lawyer to choose the best structure for your particular business.
- Most Canadian businesses begin as sole proprietorships. It's affordable and easy to set up (you can register a proprietorship online in most provinces for less than $100) and offers you full control. But you'll face unlimited legal liability should anything go wrong because there's no separation between you and the business;
- A partnership structure is like two Sole Proprietors registered under one business name. Working with a partner creates a synergy that should propel your business as each person injects experience, energy, resources and money. However, unlimited legal liability and higher taxation levels remain;
- Setting up a basic provincial corporation can cost as little as $400 if you do it yourself, or $1,500 to $2,000 with the assistance of a lawyer (which I recommend, because they can customize a Shareholders' Agreement and ensure the name you prefer is safe is use). A corporation pays less tax, can raise capital by issuing shares, and can eventually be sold to a buyer. While it limits your personal liability, there is increased paperwork burden.
Don't forget to register with Canada Revenue Agency to set up your business accounts for corporate income tax, GST/HST and payroll. And, secure any required operating permits or licenses. BizPal, a resource involving federal, provincial, municipal and territorial governments, helps you cut through a lot of red tape when applying for the permits and licences you need.