An important step in setting up your business is making sure it’s properly registered – you might have to do this at different government levels.
Before You Register
Along with figuring out which business structure makes the most sense for you, you also need to pick a name for your business! You can choose to register the business under your own name, a business name, or both. If you use your own name, you’d bill your clients or customers in your own name. If you have a registered business name, then you’d use that. If you have a registered business name, you’ll need to have a separate bank account to process any cheques payable to the business.
Naming Your Business
Remember, your business name is a very important part of your brand, so if you aren’t using your own name, your business name should describe what you offer and match your overall business branding. Go back to your vision and positioning statements in My Journey and think about your target customer; will your business name reflect the values of your business? Will it appeal to your specific customers?
Some other things to think about:
- Will the name stand out?
- Is the name easy to figure out and to remember?
- Will you be able to get the website address (URL) you want for your business?
- Are you legally allowed to use the name?
Legally, you can’t have the same or a very similar name to an existing trademark or corporate name (more on trademarks later). You’ll need to do some careful research to make sure the name isn’t in use already. You also can’t use things like LTD, LLP, or INC after the name unless that’s legally your business structure.
Give yourself time to think carefully about your business name and come up with some different options or variations on the name in case your first choice is already taken.
Getting a Business Number (BN)
When you register your business, you’ll get a business number (BN). Your BN is a single account number to deal with the government in terms of taxes and GST/HST, import/export activities, payroll if you have employees, etc. Your BN identifies your business to municipal, provincial, and federal governments. You can usually register your business online (search for business registration in your area).
Permits and Licences
Depending on your business type, industry, location, and activities, you might have to have a specific permit or licence to operate. It’s best to do some research on this to make sure you follow the correct process and have all the proper paperwork in place, before you start your business!