• Develop a business plan to determine if you can make money from your idea;
  • Register your business name;
  • Register your website name;
  • Obtain a business license;
  • Ensure appropriate zoning of premises;
  • Determine if a building permit necessary;
  • Obtain the proper provincial and/or federal licenses;
  • Register for GST/PST (GST if annual revenue is over $30,000);
  • Register with WorkSafe BC;
  • Register for remitting employees’ federal and provincial income tax deductions, employment insurance premiums (EI) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions;
  • If you are hiring employees or subcontracting for labour, ensure that you comply with the pertinent labour regulations by contacting the Employment Standards Branch of the Ministry of Labour and Citizens’ Services;
  • Hire an accountant and lawyer where necessary.

develop a business plan

A good first step in starting a business is developing a business plan. A business plan assists in assessing business potential, as well as identifying the risks that may be involved. For assistance in developing a business plan, the following resources may be useful:


Register a business name

The first step in incorporation or formation of a business is the registration of the business name. The approval of any name is at the discretion of BC Registry Services. It is recommended that you submit three business name choices in order of preference. Your first choice may be approved, and if available, will be held for a period of 56 calendar days. This process cannot be completed online at the present time; however, the name approval request form can be printed, filled in and mailed to BC Registry Services. It can also be completed at any of the OneStop Business Registry locations.

OneStop Business Registry

At a OneStop Business Registry location, you can:

  • Register your proprietorship or partnership name with BC Registry Services. (This registration requires pre-approval of your business name). A small fee is required at the time of filing and is payable online using your Visa or MasterCard or may be paid by another method (cash, debit) at other
  • OneStop locations.
  • Register as an employer with WorkSafe BC.
  • Apply for a business number account with Canada Revenue Agency for tax, payroll deductions, corporate income tax, and import/export accounts.
  • Apply for one or more municipal business licenses with participating municipalities.
  • Incorporate your company.


Service BC
460 Selby St
Nanaimo BC V9R 2R7
Ph: (250) 741-3636


Registering a Website Name

You may want to use the internet to sell or market your goods and services. If so, you will need a domain name that will identify your website. You can research or buy a domain name through the OneStop Business Registry in partnership with DomainPeople.

OneStop Business Registry

forms of business organizations

One of the first major decisions you will have to make as you start your new business is what form of legal entity it will take. To a large degree, this decision may be dictated by the way you have organized your operations and whether you intend to work on your own in a sole proprietorship, in conjunction with others in a partnership, or whether you are considering incorporation as a limited company. From a legal point of view, there are several common types of business:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Corporation

The form of business entity you choose can have a significant impact on how you are affected by income tax rules and regulations. A lawyer and/or an accountant can provide advice on which entity is suited to your needs and assist you with things such as partnership agreements or filing for incorporation.

Sole Proprietorship

This is the simplest way to set up a business. In a proprietorship, one person performs all the functions required for the successful operation of the business. The proprietor (owner) secures the capital, establishes and operates the business, assumes all risks, accepts all profits and losses, and pays all taxes. The owner is personally and totally responsible for any debts and contractual obligations. Business loans are usually available if the sole owner is willing to mortgage his or her assets.


A partnership is formed when two or more people combine their resources in a business.

General Partnership

In a general partnership, two or more owners share the management of a business, and each is personally liable for the debts and obligations of the business. This means that each partner is responsible for and must assume the consequences of the actions of the other partner(s).

Limited Partnership

A limited partnership involves limited partners, who combine only capital. They are not involved in managing the business and cannot be liable for more than the amount of capital they have contributed. This is known as limited liability. A limited partnership also involves general partners, who are involved in management. They are fully liable for the debts and obligations of the business, but may be entitled to a greater share of the profits. Both general and limited partnerships come under provincial jurisdiction. All partnerships are required to be registered with BC Registry Services within three months of formation. The name of a new business must be registered if it is not incorporated.

Proprietorships, partnerships, limited partner agreements and trade names must also be registered with BC Registry Services This site is also an excellent source of business start-up information.


A corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owners, who are the shareholders of the company. Each shareholder has limited liability. The directors and officers, however, carry additional liability. A creditor with a claim against the assets of the company would normally have no rights against its shareholders; however, in certain circumstances shareholders may be held liable. This type of business may be incorporated at either the federal or provincial level.


When a company intends to carry on its activities solely in one province, provincial incorporation may be preferable. If a company wants to expand its activities outside of its provincial jurisdiction at a later date, it must register as an extra-provincial corporation in other provinces in which it wishes to carry on business. For more information, contact:

BC Registry Services 2nd Floor, 940 Blanshard St
Victoria BC V8W 3E6
Ph: (250) 356-8626


A company can also choose to incorporate federally which allows a business to operate using its corporate name across Canada. This is important if you anticipate expanding your business to other provinces or territories. For more information on the benefits of federal incorporation, contact Industry Canada:

The Corporations Directorate Industry Canada
2000-300 West Georgia St
Vancouver BC V6B 6E1
Ph: (604) 666-9875