Starting a business in Manitoba? Here are a couple of things to consider.
Starting a business isn’t very hard, even though it can be a bit confusing when you get into the legal aspects, but it can be done. I have been there a couple of times, so I thought I would offer some advice on the matter.
Incorporating, proprietorship, partnership
First, are you going to incorporate, or start a sole proprietorship or partnership in your business?
If you incorporate you will incur higher fees, however your income won’t be tied into your personal income taxes. As a sole proprietorship or partnership, your income is counted as a personal income. If you’re looking at incorporating, consult with an accountant and a lawyer first and understand your initial and ongoing fees. Expect to pay between $1500 and $2000 to get started.
Ongoing filing fees will vary, and your accountant should have a pretty good idea of what they will be. You will still have business name registration costs, however your lawyer will take care of this for you and likely bill it out as part of your initial costs. If you don’t incorporate at the start, and plan on doing so later on, I strongly recommend starting the corporation first, as your accountant will have a lot of work to do in order to get your books cleaned up and ready to go.
Naming your business
To start a sole proprietorship or partnership you’ll need to start with the MB Companies Office.
You will first need to conduct a search to see if the company name you want is taken or available. Keep in mind that they require that your name reflects what you do in some way, and cannot be too similar to another business registered in the province. If you’re starting a flower shop for example, you’ll need to say something like Florist, or Flowers, or something that alludes to your offering. The name registry is located here and is free to search. More information on the filing can be obtained and will cost you $5.
Next, you’ll need to reserve your business name. You can do this online by setting up an account. You can start the process here and the reservation will cost you $45. Once it’s confirmed that your name reservation is successful you will have to register the business name. The information is on the same page, and this will cost $60 and can also be done online. If you’re setting up a partnership, you will need to determine who owns how much of the business. Keep in mind there is a renewal fee of $60 for an additional 3 years.
Once you have all of your documentation from the MB Companies Office, you can go and open a bank account. The bank will require this information to open your account as well as your share structure.
Tax numbers. This is fun. You can find some information here. Essentially, your tax numbers are your business number with a couple of additions. The website should be able to answer your questions about this. Still confused? I was. An accountant or professional bookkeeper can help clarify this for you.
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One thing to keep in mind, as you’re starting a business is a website is one of the first places people look for information. Can you get a domain that people will be looking for? You may need to be a little clever and look for variations of your business name that will make sense. These days, there are more and more Top-Level Domains (TLD’s) (think .com, or .ca) that might be beneficial for you. Going back to the flower example, .flowers is a TLD that you can use.
So if your business is called, let’s say Manitoba Direct Flowers (maybe you sell flowers online for delivery), your domain could be manitobadirect.flowers. Also, as many browsers now look for encryption as a standard, and will label a website as Not Secure if it doesn’t have encryption, I strongly recommend getting an SSL certificate on your website right away. This tells your audience that transaction on your website, as well as any information you leave them is secure. You website hosting provider should be able to provide one for a small annual fee. We charge $20, so make sure that you’re not paying through the nose for one.
A lot of people start businesses without a business plan. It’s understandable as a full scale business plan can be an intimidating task. A contact of mine was a professor in the MBA programs at a couple of Universities and recommends using the Lean Canvas tool to build a one page business plan. Building a plan before you get into the daily tasks associated with your business helps you first identify your goals, how you will conduct business, and the way you will achieve the goals you set. It’s really simple to use Lean Canvas and I highly recommend it. Additionally, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have your costs, sell prices, and profit margins figured out as well.
Those are a few tips to get you going. I hope this helps you get started on your entrepreneurial journey!
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