How To Start A Business From Scratch In Ontario
There are 1.17 million businesses in Canada. Around 80,000 new businesses are started each year.
If you’re one of those brave souls, starting your own business from scratch might sound like a dream. However, if you know what you’re doing, it can be a very real and rewarding possibility.
To help you get started, read this guide. We’re sharing our best tips on how to create a company from nothing.
Determine What Type of Business You Want to Own
You can’t start a company when you aren’t really sure what it is you want to do. Businesses are successful when the owners and their team know exactly who they are and what their niche is.
If you’re serious about owning a business, then now is the perfect time to start branding your business. Determine whether you want to sell products or services.
You can do both, but for now, start small. Get really good at doing one thing and then you can branch out.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to do, figure out which type of business you want to form. If you’re planning on keeping your business small, a sole proprietorship could be a good choice.
However, if your dreams are big, consider forming a corporation. You can always change as you grow. However, before you make your decision, make sure you understand the pros and cons of the business structure you choose.
Create a Business Plan
Every company should create a business plan. Preferably, before they start the business.
Writing down your plans for your business is an excellent way for you to map out exactly what your next steps are. Starting a new company takes a lot of work. There are many steps, but they are achievable if you follow a plan.
Start by getting an big picture idea of what you want your business to look and feel like. Imagine your business one year from now. Write down what you want it to look like. Figure out how many employees you feel you’ll need.
Don’t forget to budget in any software or hardware you may need to invest in. Include renting a workspace, if you’re not planning on working from home.
Create a marketing plan to help you find and keep new customers. Determine how much money it will cost to own and operate the business for at least one year. Don’t forget to pay yourself.
While it’s important to have a full picture of the goals you want to achieve, don’t allow yourself to get too focused on the details. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Your business plan should merely be your guide.
File the Correct Paperwork
Before you can start operating under a business the proper paperwork needs to be filed, unless you are operating under your exact legal name. The name you choose needs to be unique from all other businesses. Check to make sure no one else already has claimed ownership of it before you file any paperwork.
Next, you’ll need to register your business. Once registered, you may also need to obtain a Business Number, GST/HST Account, or other tax related accounts with the Canada Revenue Agency.
If you plan on incorporating your business, there are specific requirements you’ll have to meet before you can start your company. Also, if you plan to start a business that has specific regulations, you’ll have to meet those requirements first.
While you might hear stories of “overnight successes,” none of them ever happened overnight. Plan on it taking at least 3-6 months before you start to see a profit.
For some businesses, it might take even longer. Many people keep their jobs while they are starting their own business. That way, there’s a guaranteed paycheque to help them while they’re starting out.
You can also ask someone if they will give or loan you the money to start your business. It could be a friend, family member, or you might consider taking a loan elsewhere.
Don’t forget about the other startup costs you’ll need funding for. Software, hardware, vendors, and marketing all cost money. Just don’t get in too far over your head. If you take out a loan, make sure you can easily pay it back, even if things don’t work out.
Hire Employees or Independent Contractors
Every business is different. Some require full or part-time employees in order to run smoothly. Other companies can be just as effective using independent contractors.
One way to keep costs down is to outsource the work that you aren’t good at to someone else. You may not be a marketing genius, but you can definitely find someone to help with your marketing efforts.
It might even make sense for you to hire a marketing company to devise and implement a working marketing strategy for your business. Meanwhile, you focus on making the best products you possibly can.
You can also consider hiring interns if the work you need doesn’t require an expert. You can hire an intern for school credit or at a lower wage than an expert in exchange for experience. Just keep in mind, you get what you pay for.
Build an Online Presence for Your Business
While not all of the 80,000 new businesses that recently sprang up in Canada are in direct competition with you, you should still create an online presence for your business for promotion purposes.
Build a Website
That includes getting a website. Do not get a free website. You won’t be able to get a URL with your businesses name on it. It also looks cheaper and less professional than when you buy your own domain (ex: www.yourbusinessname.com).
Make it easy for people to get in touch with you. Even if you are selling a digital product or service, people like knowing they can reach out to you if they need to.
Use photography. People don’t want to just read text without pictures. It doesn’t matter whether your company is service or product oriented, people want to see for themselves what they can expect.
Use videos as well. Videos can help you inform your customers even further. Learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO can help your site rank higher in search engines.
Using links, keywords, and having your business listed on all the search engines will go a long way in helping people find you online. Depending on your budget, you may also want to consider including Pay Per Click (PPC) in your marketing budget.
Get on Social Media
You don’t have to create a profile on every social media site. But you should select a few sites where you feel your company will fit in best.
Facebook has over 18 million users in Canada. LinkedIn is great for those in B2B industries. The best part of social media is how easy it is to use their sites to help you find potential customers.
You can search by interests, age, gender, geographical location, and even income levels. Social media sites also offer very reasonable rates if you want to advertise.
Always Do Your Research
One thing you’ll learn to do as the owner of a business is research. If you’re a true entrepreneur, then you’ll want to continue learning how to improve your product or service.
You’ll want to learn how to grow your brand, and how to increase sales while reducing overhead.
There are always new things to learn when it comes to building a business. You never stop learning.
The more you know, the easier it is to make good decisions that positively affect the outcome of your business.
Get to Know Everyone
As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In business, this is especially true.
If you know the right people, you’re more likely to be recommended and hired. That means it’s time for you to get out there and start meeting people.
If you own a business where people come to you, such as a restaurant, get out and spread the word. See if there are places where you can share samples.
Join networking groups. There are different types of groups for everyone. Some meet at night, others during the day. Join MeetUp and find people who share the same interests as you.
Sponsor events. Find people who are in non-competitive businesses, but are complementary to your business and form alliances and partnerships.
Get on social media and join groups. Visit there often and make yourself known. Offer advice when it’s appropriate.
Even volunteering is a great way for you to get out and meet other people. The more people get to know you, like you, and trust you, the more likely they are to recommend your company to their friends and family.
Referrals and recommendations are a great way for you to get and keep business. This should be a primary focus and all it really takes is a little bit of time and effort for you to meet other people and let them get to know you.
Create Effective Systems
If you don’t consider yourself to be very organized, now is the time to get organized. Once you are running a business, organization will be extremely important to your success.
Start identifying and creating systems. Automate anything you possibly can, especially your marketing strategies.
The less often you have to waste time doing the same thing over and over, the more time you can focus on business. You’ll also make fewer mistakes.
Not everyone who starts a business is going to find success right away. Sometimes, there are lessons to be learned the hard way.
But don’t give up. Not trying is the only real way to fail. Every time things don’t go as planned, learn the lesson and then keep moving forward. Every truly successful person has many more failures they can share with you than success stories.
Expect that there will be changes along the way. Sometimes they will be great changes, other times, they will feel more difficult. Remember that change is good and nothing lasts forever.
Surround yourself with positive people and remember to take time out for yourself. While owning a business is a dream come true, taking care of yourself should be a top priority.
Have Trusted Sources
Make sure you have sources you can trust for good information. Never allow fear to make your decisions for you. That means keeping yourself armed with the right information.
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