First Steps to Starting a Business

In terms of the business start basics, a good informational resource is the Canada Business website, as well as their business centres across Canada. Not only is there a wealth of information on the site, they also have local seminars on a wide range of business topics, as well as research staff members who can help you. Your provincial government website should also have a section for business start-ups and small businesses, with information and programs that are specific to your area. There may also be financial support programs available.

Given that general business start-up information is quite readily available, as indicated above, here are some areas to consider when making the shift from being an employee/contractor to becoming a business owner:

  • Business planning – Do you have a business plan that outlines the market opportunity for your business, your competitive advantage, strategy to reach customers, and operational resources to complete the work? Understanding the environment in which your business would operate is important so that you can develop a strategy to be successful within that environment.
  • Financial Results and Requirements – Have you determined the amount of money that you will require to operate your business? Since customers often do not immediately appear, it is important to identify all of your costs so that you can determine the financial resources that you will require to support your business, as well as to identify whether or not you require financing assistance. It’s also a good idea to develop a budget for the first year to get a good idea of how much business you need to generate in order to meet your personal financial needs.
  • Pricing Model – Have you determined your pricing model, in terms of how you will price your services and where you will source raw materials and supplies? It is important to determine this in advance so that you have a good understanding of the availability and full cost of materials, as well as a pricing model that covers both variable and fixed expenses. Being profitable is something that is well worth taking the time to fully understand, as it can be difficult to raise prices that have been set too low.
  • Advisory Resources and Expertise – Do you have advisors/service providers who can provide you with the necessary assistance to make your business a success? In particular, a good bookkeeper/accountant and tax advisor can help you to understand the financial and tax implications of being in business. Monthly financial statements that are prepared on a timely basis can help you to track your progress and take corrective action, sooner rather than later.

If you are able, look for a small business group in your area so that you can meet other small business owners, exchange ideas, and perhaps support the businesses within the group. It’s also a great way to generate business opportunities and tell others about your new venture.

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