business.

Starting a Business FAQ

This isn't to say that there's anything wrong with starting a part-time business or starting a business when you are still working at a job. People have different energy levels and different capabilities. It's just to say that to give yourself the best shot at starting a business, you have to be able to focus on it.

So it's the wrong time for starting a business if you are already experiencing a lot of turmoil or stress in your life. (Starting a business will be stressful in itself, even if everything goes smoothly.) If you are in the process of getting a divorce, have just lost your job, or are moving, for instance, it's wise to put off starting a business until your life is once again on a more even keel.

The best time for starting a business has nothing to do with how old you are; it's a matter of where you are in your life and whether you're ready and able to face new challenges.

Think you're ready for starting a business but are concerned about whether or not you have the “right” traits and attitudes to be an entrepreneur?

Do I need to write a business plan?

Yes! Once you have an idea for starting a business that you want to pursue, writing a business plan should be one of the first things you do.

People think of writing a business plan as something that's only necessary if you're trying to get a business loan or persuade investors that your business is worth their money, but actually, writing a business plan is necessary no matter how you intend to finance your new business.

The main purpose of writing a business plan when you're starting a business is to test the viability of your business idea. Writing a business plan will tell you if the business you're thinking of starting has a chance of becoming a successful business.

Writing a business plan when you start a business forces you to do the research and get the information that you'll need to turn your idea into a successful venture.

And if writing your business plan shows you that that particular business idea won't work? Abandon it and try another idea.

If you don't write a business plan when you're thinking of starting a business, in the best case scenario, you'll be floundering around squandering time and resources. In the worst case scenario, your new business will fail – because of things you didn't but should have known.

The bottom line is that if you invest some time and energy into writing a business plan, you've got a much better chance of avoiding business failure.

How do I find small business start up money?

For small business start up money, most people starting their own businesses reach into their own pockets first – even if they also intend to get a small business loan from a financial institution. This is because almost all lenders expect the person seeking a business loan to make a personal financial contribution.

What can you do about finding small business start up money if your own pockets are empty? You might turn to the second most popular source of small business start up money - family and/or friends. This kind of small business financing often takes the form of a personal loan.

And the third most popular source of small business start up money is the previously mentioned traditional financial institutions, such as banks, credit unions and caisse populaires. To access this kind of small business financing, you will need to have a solid business plan, a good credit rating and collateral.

Do I need to register a business name?

In most cases, you will need to register your business name.

The only exception to this is if you operate your new business under your own legal name with no additions.

So if I run my business under the name Susan Ward, I don't have to register my business name.

However, this business is going to be a sole proprietorship; I can't add anything to this name, such as "Inc." or "Co." or "& Partners". Nor can I add anything that would give potential customers/clients a clue about what I do. If I decide to call my business something such as "Susan Ward's Consulting Services", I have to register my business name, even though I'm still running it as a sole proprietorship.

And not to pick on anyone's name here, but many people's names are not catchy or particularly easy to spell.

In sum, if you choose to operate your new business as a partnership, corporation or cooperative, you need to register your business name, and most sole proprietorships will want to register their business name, too.

How do I register a business name?

In Canada for instance, once you've chosen a form of business , such as a sole proprietorship, you register your business by going through the process of registering your business with the appropriate provincial authority.

Want to register a business in Ontario? You need to register your business with the Companies Branch of the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services. If you are starting a business in Nova Scotia, you need to register your business with the Nova Scotia Registry Of Joint Stock Companies. If you are starting a business in BC, you need to register your business with the Corporate Registry. In all cases, the first step is to choose and register a business name, a process that often requires a name search. After that, it's a matter of filling out the appropriate forms (and paying the appropriate fees) to register your business.

You will find articles giving detailed instructions on how to register your business in Ontario and other provinces in my Business Registration library . In many cases, you can register your business online or over the telephone.

Note that you do not have a choice as to whether or not to register your business. Business registration is a legal requirement. (Some sole proprietorships are the exception; The only exception to this is if you operate your new business under your own legal name with no additions .

So if I run my business under the name Susan Ward, I don't have to register my business name.

However, this business is going to be a sole proprietorship; I can't add anything to this name, such as "Inc." or "Co." or "& Partners". Nor can I add anything that would give potential customers/clients a clue about what I do. If I decide to call my business something such as "Susan Ward's Consulting Services", I have to register my business name, even though I'm still running it as a sole proprietorship.

And not to pick on anyone's name here, but many people's names are not catchy or particularly easy to spell.

In sum, if you choose to operate your new business as a partnership, corporation or cooperative, you need to register your business name, and most sole proprietorships will want to register their business name, too.

Should I incorporate my business?

Maybe. To decide whether or not to incorporate your business, you have to think about why you want to incorporate it.

Some people want to incorporate their businesses because of the perceived liability protection of corporations - but directors of corporations can be held liable, especially if they've personally guaranteed loans for the corporation.

Others want to incorporate their businesses because of the supposed tax advantages. However, unless you make more than $120,000 a year, incorporating your business for tax reasons doesn't make sense. And you need to bear in mind that incorporation is an additional expense. Not only does it cost more to incorporate your business, but maintaining a corporation costs time and money, too because of the additional paperwork.

However, you may need to incorporate your business because of provincial requirements or to get the clients your business needs.

Certain types of businesses need to be incorporated in some provinces, and some companies will only assign contracts to incorporated companies (because of liability issues).

Should you incorporate your business? Go over the pros and cons of incorporating and think carefully. And remember, you can always incorporate your business later on, changing your sole proprietorship or partnership to an incorporated company.

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