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Start a New Business

Anyone can start a business or work for themselves in Northwestern Ontario. People from all backgrounds, ethnicities, ages and with varying levels of experience have opened successful businesses across the region.

Starting your own business or buying an existing business is a big decision and especially in a new country. What you need is a great idea, a desire to do it and a plan to make it happen. This section will provide information about how to set up your own business.

The simple steps to starting your own business are:

  • Create a good business idea
  • Market research and feasibility analysis
  • Write a business plan
  • Choose a memorable name for your business
  • Choose a type of business ownership
  • Register your business name
  • Get business financing
  • Apply for necessary business licenses and meet legal requirements
  • Register for GST/PST
  • Purchase business insurance
  • Implement a sales and marketing strategy

The Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre offers free and confidential small business counselling services to new entrepreneurs and small businesses. Download a copy of their Starting a Business Guide which provides comprehensive information about starting a business in Northwestern Ontario.

Types of Businesses and Legal Requirements

Across Northwestern Ontario you will find many types of businesses operating in diverse sectors. Entrepreneurship is widely encouraged here and you will find entrepreneurs both young and old starting, growing or buying existing businesses in the region. Home based businesses are growing in popularity and particularly among women. Indeed small and medium enterprises have rapidly become an important support to local and regional economies.  New and emerging business opportunities are being found in natural resources, recreation, hospitality, eco-tourism, agriculture and food security.

There are several types of business structures that can be used to operate a business in Canada. When you are starting your new business in Northwestern Ontario, you must decide on one of the following business structures:

  • Sole proprietorship: If you plan to operate the business on your own, either under a business name or your own name. The owner of the business has personal liability of the debts incurred by the business.
  • Partnership: If you plan to operate the business with one or more partners. In most partnerships, each partner has personal liability of the business debts. There are three typical classifications of partnerships: general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships.
  • Corporation: If you plan to operate the business as a separate legal entity, separate from yourself and your personal assets. A corporation is either a limited or unlimited liability entity that has a separate legal personality from its members.
  • Co-operative: If you plan to operate a business that is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use and benefit from your services. A cooperative is a limited liability entity that can organize for-profit or not-for-profit.

A major difference between a corporation and a sole proprietorship or partnership is that in a corporation, no individual person is responsible or liable for debts. Also, if any members of your business leave or are replaced, it will not affect the business as a whole and operations can continue without interruption.

If you decide to incorporate your business in Ontario, it is recommended that you retain the services of a lawyer and a certified chartered accountant (CA).

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