You have a kick-ass idea and you intend on using it to run a successful business. But first, you must abide by numerous legal proceedings.   After all, nobody wants to run into trouble with the law. Here, we’ve set up an easy guide to help you operate a business legally.

  1. Focus on a structure for your business

You must focus on a business structure and decide beforehand if you want to operate as a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, society or co-operative etc. It is important to do so because each structure has different important implications for taxation, liability and succession planning.

  • Sole proprietorship- A business operated solely by you under your name or a business name.
  • Partnership- As the name suggests, this type of business is operated with one or more partners.
  • Corporation- A business that operates as a separate legal entity. It is basically an entity separate and distinct from its owners.
  • Society- A business that doesn’t focus on profits and instead uses the funds and profits for the benefit of the society.
  • Co-operative- A business that is owned and democratically controlled by the people who hold stakes in the company. You are at the helm and you provide your expertise to the company’s benefits, which will, ultimately benefit the shareholders.


  1. Getting your business registered

You will need to get your business registered when you operate it under a different name from yours. This is pivotal because banks will require you to provide evidence of business registration when you open a bank account or apply for loans. You must follow an easy two-step process to get your business registered.

  • Submission of a request for your business name

You must first get the business name of your company approved before you start operations. The first step you must undertake is to submit your request to the proper authorities. In this case, you can submit your request to Small Business BC or register it online at B.C. Registry Services. Name approval prevents businesses from misleading people by bearing similar names to other operations.

If you are a sole proprietor running the company under your own name, you need not register your business. Instead, you should apply for a municipal business license and an HST (Harmonized sales tax) account.

  • Registering you business

After receiving notification for the approval of your business, you will be allotted 56 calendar days to complete the incorporation process. In order to register as a partnership or sole proprietorship, you can either submit requests online at the OneStop Business Registry, in person at Small Business BC or send a mail to the B.C. Corporate Registry.

You also have three different options to choose from while registering as a corporation. You can self-incorporate your company online at Corporate Online, self-incorporate through guidance from lawyer-prepared material, or get the company incorporated through a lawyer.

You can either refer to the B.C Corporate Registry website or Corporations Canada website to register as a society. Similarly, you can refer to the B.C Corporate Registry website or the Canadian Co-operative Association (BC Region) website to register as a co-operative.

  1. Obtain your business license

The acquirement of a business license will enable you to operate your business legally either at home or in a commercial space. You can scour over the US Small Business Administration (SBA) website for information on business licenses. The website offers detailed information on business licenses required for specific locations and industries.


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