The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

6 things you should know before starting your own business

Your inner entrepreneur has woken up and you now want to start your own business. But is your project mature enough? Assess your level of readiness with recommendations from the Acclr experts at the Info entrepreneurs resource centre.

1/ Your product or service

This is the starting point. You have an idea for a product or service, which generally occurs after observing a problem (for instance, how hard it is for a store to communicate with clients) and you want to provide a solution. The first step is to ask yourself about the added value of your offer compared to what already exists on the market. To do so, you need to thoroughly understand your sector of activity and as a result, you should start thinking about building your business model.

2/ Your clientele

Who would want to buy your product or service? To answer this question, you need to determine the type of client you want to target. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to locate them and identify the best place to set up your office or shop to reach these people effectively. This research will also allow you to find out why your clients would do business with you instead of with your competitors.

Find out more with the following resources:

Know your customers’ needs

Developing your ideas

3/ Your business plan

A business plan is essential for taking your ideas and capital and turning them into a profitable business. It’s a precious tool that will provide you with a clear vision of your future perspectives: evaluating your financial resources, the strengths and weaknesses of your project, potential opportunities and threats (such as a competitive environment, a poor evaluation of expected income or need of working capital, etc.). This is also the document that you will present to lenders and investors in order to get funding.

A business plan can vary from one project to the next, but here are the elements it must always include:

  • Activity strategy
  • Marketing strategy
  • Operational plan
  • Financial forecasts
  • Market analysis

 To find statistics, lists of companies that could be potential clients, as well as information on your competitors, consult our business information specialists.

 Info-Guide – Write your business plan

4/ Your company’s structure

How can you choose the best structure for your company? Your decision will naturally be influenced by a few key elements, such as if you want to start a company on your own or with partners, the fees required  to create and operate the company (for instance, a partnership is generally more costly), the risks (financial or related to your sector of activity), responsibility in case of bankruptcy (in a business with a sole owner, you are personally responsible for profits and debts), the complexity of accounting, taxation rate, protecting the company name, etc.

Business structure: which one is right for you?

5/ Basic registrations

Enterprise numbers – You will have to register your company with the federal and provincial governments to obtain an enterprise number. In Quebec: the NEQ (Numéro d’Entreprise du Québec). In Canada: the BN (Business Number). Why do you need to do this? 

  • The NEQ makes communication between various governmental departments and companies quicker and easier. It makes it simple for companies to register for various governmental programs and services.
  • The NB will be your unique account number that will allow you to interact with the government for GST/HST purposes, imports, exports, and other activities.

Registering your business

GST/HST – You must also seek a GST (Goods and Services Tax) registration number before the 30th day following the first time you provide a taxable product or service in Canada, other than as a small supplier. You will collect this tax when you are registered or obligated to register. You will simultaneously be registered for HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) purposes.

Video series: GST/HST Information for a New Small Business

Permits, licences, and regulations – From the start, you will have to identify the regulations and requirements related to your sector of activity, including which permits or licences you will need. Contact our experts to find out more.

6/ Resources to help you start

There are many economic development organizations whose mission is to provide support through advice, training, and funding. It might be hard to find them, but they are incredibly helpful for the growth of your business.

Organizations directories

It’s also important to surround yourself with experts to make sound decisions and call upon professionals with knowledge in accounting, law, taxation…

Centre de ressources juridiques pour affaires

Starting your own business requires a lot of planning. The research you do will let you know if your project can turn into a profitable company. When it comes to business, the following motto sums it up nicely: there is no point to running, one need only start at the right time.

And now, are you read to take the leap?

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