Starting a Small Business in Vancouver
The prospect of starting your own business is a life changing step full of emotions. Many small businesses fail within the first five years and that is why it is important that you take all the necessary steps to protect your business and get it off the ground
1. Conduct market research
The first step should always include researching the market for the product or service you wish to offer. There are several questions you should seek to answer during this research stage. Start by determining if there is market/demand for the product/service you are planning to offer. You should also consider who your customers will be and if there are any competitors and who they are.
The Small Business BC website is a great resource available to prospective entrepreneurs. The website provides a checklist and a ‘how to’ guide that can be used to evaluate and test your business concept.
2. Understand and choose a business structure
After establishing that there is a market for your business idea, it is important to understand the different business structures and choose which one would be best for your small business. Information regarding a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation is available online, as well as on the Small Business BC website. It is also recommended that you speak with a small business lawyer when choosing a business structure as they can provide key information that may not be available online.
3. Develop a business plan
The next step is to develop a business plan. A well thought out business plan can play a key role in securing funding. Even more important is that the business plan will provide you with a blueprint for starting your business. You should be able to use the business plan to identify weaknesses and opportunities and ultimately make well informed decisions before you fully commit to starting up your own small business.
Another part of your business plan can include where your business will be located. You should consider whether your business will require an office, if you will operate from a storefront, or if you will work from home. You can also put together potential locations tailored to your customer base.
4. Plan and secure financing
A part of your business plan should include a strategy for securing financing. You should determine who you are going to target as a lender, and this can include a loan from the bank. You should aim to have at the minimum, enough funding to cover start-up costs and the daily operating expenses for at least 3 months.
Additional financial resources are available to individuals who have or are trying to start up a small business.
- The Canada Small Business Financing Program makes it easier for small businesses to get loans.
- Futurpreneur Canada provides loans up to $45,000 and mentorship for individuals aged 18-39 so that they can launch and sustain a business.
- Women’s Enterprise Centre provides loans of up to $150,000 for women in B.C. who own a business or are thinking of starting/buying one.
5.Name your business
Sometimes this may prove to be the most difficult part of starting your own business. You want to choose a name that truly represents the products/services you are offering and at the same time you want something that is marketable. To ensure that you do not use a name that is already being used, you can search the BC Registry Services for existing names. Once you have come up with a name, you must submit it for approval. Once approved, the name must then be registered within 56 days.
6. Register business and obtain business license
It is a good idea to work with a small business lawyer at this point if you haven’t been already. A small business lawyer can help ensure that all of your paperwork is completed and accurate. He/she can also help you with the registration and licensing process.
7. Review and understand business regulations
It is extremely important that you go through all of the regulations surrounding small businesses in B.C. and understand exactly what they mean for you and your business. A small business lawyer can lay out all of these regulations and help you understand them. This includes regulations surrounding import-export, marketing, hiring/managing employees, and registering for PST/GST, WorkSafe BC, and the CRA.
If you are thinking of starting a small business in Vancouver and have any questions you can leave a comment below or call and book a consultation.