Thinking about starting your own business, but not sure where to start?

Start here with the BACD START-UP CHECKLIST

Attend our FREE Business Fundamental Workshops

BACD offers weekly business training workshops. These workshops are free to attend and are run weekly by our business advisors. We cover business planning, marketing and sales and financials and operations over three workshops. For the start-up checklist, you can come to the Start Up Session where we will explain the steps you need to take to formalize your business and get ready to launch. This 1 ½ hour session covers the essential steps to starting a small business, including registering a business name, licenses & permits, HST, business banking, insurance and hiring employees. Register for a workshop

Validate your Business Idea

  • Conduct Primary & Secondary Market Research to see if your business is viable. Are there customers looking for your services? How much will they pay? And are there enough customers looking for that service to keep you in business for a long time?

Competitor Analysis

  • Take a look at your competitors, see what they are offering in their business, what is their pricing structure? What are they saying about their services and products? What does their logo and messaging sound like? What software and processes are they using in their business? And what type of marketing are they using? Take notes and decide what you want to do in your business that might be different or better and find our competitive advantage.

Business Structure

  • Take a look at the different business structure types and decide which is the right one for your business: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, Non-Profit or Cooperative or Social Enterprise.  A decision is based on what you are going to do in your business, where you are going to conduct business, where is the business located, projected revenue and the future plans for your business. Decide what you want to do in your business first and then choose the right business structure that makes the most amount of sense.

Permits and Licenses

  • Decide what you want to do in your business, where and how you want to do it and find out which permits and licenses you need to run your business based on those decisions. Look at the industry sector and what is required to legally work in that industry field. Contact your local municipality and find out if you need to meet zoning bylaws to conduct that business in your proposed location. Be safe and protect yourself from being shut down or fined.

Business Name Search and Registration

Having a business name elevates you in the market place and gives you a strong brand presence. Conduct a NUANS name research to make sure no one else is using that business name and then register the name. Once you know you can have the name, you can register as a sole proprietor or 50/50 partnership with Service Ontario. For corporations (Federal/Provincial), Not-for-profit or cooperative, seek legal advice to set this up. Look at Canada/choosing a business name for more info

Domain Name and Social Media Handles

  • When registering the business name consider searching and capturing your domain (website url) name and social media handles. Search them up and see if you can get the exact same name as your business name to create consistency within your branding. Lastly, set up Google My Business free online listing and start building your digital assets.

  HST and CRA Tax Registration

  • Decide if you are going to charge HST. Some services do not require HST to be charged on them. You do not need to charge HST if your gross income is less than $30,000 in 1 year or 4 continuous financial quarters.  Contact the CRA for more information.

Set up a Business Bank Account 

  • Set up a business bank account so you can get paid in the business name. Having a business bank account allows you to keep your business finances separate from your personal banking. This makes it easier for you to do your bookkeeping and the CRA can see what business expenses you are submitting in your tax return. In addition, you can write off 100% of your bank fees. Having a business bank account also gives you the advantage of building up your business’ credit rating giving you more opportunities for financing in the future. Most banks and credit unions offer business bank accounts.

Set up Online Accounting Software 

  • Get your books in line to start. You can do this by using an online accounting software which is low cost, easy to use and can be used via an App on your phone. Attach your business bank account directly to your business accounting software making bookkeeping much easier. It will allow you to create reports and view your financials over a period of time.

Business Insurance 

  • Insurance is there for the “what ifs” and it is highly recommended for all businesses – big or small. Find out which insurance policies are related to your business activity. It also helps you get hired – as it protects the customer too. Get a quote from a commercial insurance broker – it might not be as expensive as you think. Check out a list of local services providers in our Expert Network:

Hiring Employees 

  • Know your obligations under the Employment Standards Act (such as payroll, WSIB, EI, CPP, vacation days and sick pay etc.). Consider what you need to do for employees and contractors.

Online Resources on our website

  • We have many business resources, checklists, templates and tools for you to learn from as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey.

And if you have more questions, book a FREE advisory meeting with one of our advisors – we are here to help. Email:

This blog was created in collaboration with students from Durham College, specifically the Advertising Media Management (graduate certificate) program.  #BACDDigital