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Setting Up Your Business in Canada

Roger Pierce is the voice of Scotiabank's Get Growing for business website. Author, speaker and columnist, Roger has become one of Canada's top small business experts by sharing what he's learned from building 12 companies.

Once you've written your business plan, secured start-up money, sourced suppliers and feel ready to serve customers, it's time to open required business accounts and make the standard arrangements necessary to conduct business in this country.

Complete the following activities to set up your new business in Canada.

Business registration

You'll have to decide on a form of business structure for your new business. Your choices are Sole Proprietorship, Partnership or Corporation. Each carries distinct advantages, disadvantages and costs. A commercial lawyer or an accountant can advise you on the best choice for you and your business.

Depending on your business structure, your business must be registered with different levels of government for different reasons.

For help with any of these matters, visit your Regional Business Service Centre for assistance.

Permits & licenses

Trying to figure out what types of permission you need to open your business can be challenging.

Thankfully, Canada's provinces, territories and municipalities have collaborated to create one source where you may find the permits and licences required to start and grow your business. Simply go to Bizpal.ca.

Government accounts

Canadian businesses must follow certain rules set out by federal, provincial and municipal governments and other agencies. For example, if you plan to hire employees you'll need to open a payroll account with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Bank account

If you are operating a business with a name other than your own, you'll need to open a business bank account so you can make deposits and issue payments. Promote credibility by ordering cheques featuring your business name, and consider establishing commercial credit history by obtaining a business credit card. Choose a financial institution that will provide you with the best mix of products, services, pricing and support.

For help opening your business accounts, contact a Scotiabank Small Business advisor near you.

Are you setting up your business in Canada? What challenges have you encountered? Please share your experiences in our comments section below.

By Roger Pierce