STARTING A BUSINESS
STEP 1 - Pick a Business Structure
Once you feel ready to take the first step in establishing your business, it’s important to decide on a company structure.
The most common company structures in British Columbia are:
- Sole proprietorship: for operating a business on your own, either under a business name or your own name
- Partnership: for operating a business with one or more partners
- Corporation: for operating a business as a separate legal entity, separate from yourself and your personal assets
- Society: for operating a not-for-profit organization, in which any funds or profits will be used only for the society’s purposes
- Co-operative: for operating a business that is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use and benefit from your services
Be sure to visit Small Business BC as they offer a detailed overview of the advantages and disadvantages of all of these business structures.
STEP 2 - Name Approval Request
The next step in incorporation or registration of firms is the approval of the business name. You must submit a name approval request if you intend to incorporate, register a business, or register an extra provincial company. (A name approval is not required for an incorporated limited company that wants to use its incorporation number as its company name.) This process combines the name search and approval. The approval of any name is at the discretion of the Registrar of Companies
Once approved, you will be assigned a Name Reservation number to be used in the business registration process.
Research Your Choices – check them out for potential conflicts through telephone listings, business directories and other publications.
Name Approval Requests can be processed online here: https://www.bcregistrynames.gov.bc.ca/nro/
The online fee is $31.50 and payable by credit card. There is online information you can access and a video demonstration to help you through the process. Once submitted, you can check the status of your application online.
STEP 3 - Register the Business
The West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce does not register businesses.
Once your business name has been approved, you have exactly 56 calendar days to register your business with the Province of BC. If you do not register your business within 56 days, your name reservation will expire and you’ll have to complete another Name Request.
For Proprietorships & Partnerships
One Stop Business Registration www.onestopbc.ca and select option # 4
Help Desk 1-877-822-6727 Frequently Asked Questions
- the Name Approval Request number found on your approved Name Request results;
- business and partner(s) address information;
- the existing Business Number, if applicable; and
- the start date of business in British Columbia.
Before you begin to file your Incorporation Application, be sure that you have the following information:
- Name Approval Request number found on your approved Name Request results; and
- Company name exactly as it was approved by the Registrar of Companies.
Go to Corporate Online www.corporateonline.gov.bc.ca and select “File an Incorporation Application”
Online filings can be submitted from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, including statutory holidays and 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Help Desk 1-800-663-6102 (toll free)
To incorporate a company without a name using the incorporation number (Eg. 873524 B.C. Ltd.), go to the Corporate Online link select “File an Incorporation Application” and select option (b) on the second page.
STEP 4 - Business License
Processed at West Vancouver Municipal Hall, 750 – 17th Street:
For business license information and current prices call The District of West Vancouver 604-925-7152
District Bylaws including Business License Bylaws
To operate a business in West Vancouver, you need a business license. This also applies to tradesmen—such as builders, plumbers, electricians and landscape gardeners—coming into the community to perform work. New business license applications received from August 1 to December 31 are pro-rated.
Getting a Business License
- Complete a business license application.
- Once you have completed your business license application, fax, mail or hand-deliver it to the following address:
Bylaw & Licensing Services
750 17th Street
West Vancouver BC V7V 3T3
- An account will be opened and an invoice will be mailed to you. You can pay this online.
- In most cases, an inspection will be required.
- commercial locations: a license inspector will contact you to schedule an inspection
- home-based business locations: a license inspector will contact you by phone to review the application and an inspection may be booked
- there is no inspection required for non-resident businesses, such as trades contractors or commercial dog walkers with offices located outside of West Vancouver
- Once you have passed all necessary inspections, your license will be issued.
- a business cannot operate until the business license has been approved
licenses are for the calendar year only
- you will receive a renewal notification in December of each year and you can renew your license online
- trades can apply for necessary permits at the time of application
STEP 5 - Taxes
It’s important to understand the taxes you will have to pay for your new business. You may want to engage a tax specialist for assistance. Make sure that you have an excellent understanding of:
- what you’ll owe and when you’ll owe it;
- how to keep accurate records of your payments and finances;
- how to make and report payments; and
- if you qualify for tax credits or money back.
The Canada Business Network is a great resource that can help you explore the various forms of tax that you may encounter in your business.
Register for GST and additional taxes.
If you’re going to be selling goods or providing a service in Canada and your annual, world-wide GST taxable sales are more than $30,000, you’ll need to register for a Goods and Services Tax (GST) Account with the Canada Revenue Agency.
If you operate a hotel, motel or other lodging in certain areas of BC, you might have to charge a municipal and regional district tax (MRDT) on the purchase price of accommodation. This means you may need to register with the Ministry of Finance. Check out the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) Guide to make sure you set yourself up correctly.
Finally – Join your Chamber!
Join the West Vancouver Chamber so that you can take advantage of the various services, resources and benefits that we offer our members. This includes special member-to-member discounts, a complementary subscription to Business in Vancouver, promotional opportunities, exclusive discounts on Esso gas, Lenovo products, and UPD delivery, and invitations to various events.
Join online here: https://westvanchamber.com/membership/
Or visit our office at:
2235 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, BC V7V 1K5
OTHER BUSINESS RESOURCES
GOVERNMENT OF BC, MINISTRY OF FINANCE – CORPORATE REGISTRY FORMS
From this page you can download and print, to your own printer, most of the common statutory forms filed with the Corporate Registry. Find out more about
- Incorporated Companies
- Sole Proprietorship and Partnerships (General, Limited and Limited Liability)
- Extra provincial Companies
- C. School District
- Business Companies
- Financial Institutions and Credit Unions
TO CHANGE A GENERAL PARTERNSHIP OR SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP BUSINESS NAME
The first step is to complete a Name Reservation Form for the new name.
Once the name has been approved the next step is to complete a Dissolution or Change of General Partnership/Sole Proprietorship form (see link above).
The cost to change the name is the same as registering a new business; however, the business retains its original registration number and registration date, which can be important.
WEST VANCOUVER MEMORIAL LIBRARY – BUSINESS:
We have free wireless internet and many business-related resources, both print and online. Our business related databases and websites are grouped together on our BUSINESS “Info by Topic” page: https://www.westvanlibrary.ca/index.php?page=59topic_id=23
MAKING A BUSINESS PLAN:
A business plan is incredibly useful as it will help you stay accountable to yourself and focused on your goals. A good business plan is a roadmap to launching and growing a successful business. It’s also a valuable communication tool to help you clearly define what it is that you hope to accomplish with your business.
Consider including the following information in your plan:
- Executive Summary
- Business Overview (Vision, Business Description, Objectives, Target Audience, etc.)
- Industry Overview (Competitive Differentiators, Economic/Environmental/Cultural Trends, etc.)
- Products and Services
- Sales, Marketing and Communications Plan
- Operational Plan
- Human Resources Plan
- Financial Plan
- Action Plan (1-3 year plan of tactics and timelines)
- Projected Growth / Risk Assessment
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) can help you get started – check out their downloadable templates and other helpful tips.
Cut down on the potential risks to your business by getting the right kind of liability insurance. General liability insurance really is a must for every business. Liability insurance can be purchased in many forms:
- WorksafeBC: By law, most businesses require WorksafeBC insurance coverage. WorksafeBC also provides inspection, prevention, information, training, compensation, and rehabilitation activities to businesses in the province.
- General Liability Insurance: protects your business from liability stemming from negligence that may cause injury to your customer or employee.
- Product Liability Insurance: for businesses selling manufactured or assembled goods.
- Professional Liability Insurance: for professionals such as doctors, lawyers, architects, computer consultants, and realtors.
- Employee Insurance: provides employee benefits such as medical, dental, and disability benefits.
- Business Interruption Insurance: protects against loss of revenue if your business is forced to close down.
- Business Disability Insurance: protects against loss of revenue if the business owner is unable to run the business.
- “Buy-Sell” Life/Disability Insurance: for partnerships; in the event one of the partners becomes disabled or dies, this insurance provides the surviving partner with money to purchase the disabled or deceased partner’s share of the business.
The West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce is pleased to provide links to other sites. These links will automatically open in a new browser window. Some sites have been selected for commonality of subject matter while others have been picked because they contain material we believe our viewers will find useful.
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