The Must-Have Starting a Business in Ontario Checklist for New Entrepreneurs

Embarking on the journey of starting a business in Ontario is a thrilling endeavor that holds the promise of turning your dreams into reality. As you set your sights on this bustling Canadian province, equipped with innovation and potential, we’re here to guide you through the labyrinth of steps and decisions with our comprehensive checklist.

We’ll outline key steps related to choosing a business structure, registering your business name, obtaining licenses and permits, filing taxes, opening a business bank account, and more. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to dive into the essential components that make up the ultimate “Starting a Business in Ontario Checklist.” Your success story begins here!

Key Takeaways

  • Conduct thorough market research and create a detailed business plan before starting your business in Ontario.
  • Register your business with the government and secure financing to ensure that you’re legally compliant and have the necessary funds to get started.
  • Set up your physical or virtual location, hire and manage employees, and market your business to ensure its success.

1. Understanding Business Basics in Ontario

There are certain business basics that you need to understand before you can get started. In this section, we will cover the most important business basics that you need to know.

Business Structures

The first thing you need to decide when starting a business in Ontario is what type of business structure you want to use. There are several options available, including sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and cooperative. Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to do your research and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Business Laws and Regulations

Once you have decided on a business structure, you need to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations that apply to your business in Ontario. This includes registering your business, obtaining necessary licenses and permits, and complying with tax laws. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations can result in fines, legal action, and even the closure of your business.

To ensure that you are complying with all applicable laws and regulations, it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer or accountant who specializes in business law. They can help you navigate the complex legal landscape and ensure that your business is set up for success.

2. Creating a Business Plan

When starting a business in Ontario, creating a business plan is an essential step. A business plan outlines your business idea, short and long-term business goals, and what resources are available to start and operate your business. It is a roadmap that guides you towards success. In this section, we will discuss how to create a business plan, including market research and financial forecasting.

Market Research

Market research is the first step in creating a business plan. It helps you understand the industry and market you will be operating in. You need to identify your target audience, competitors, and market trends. This information will help you make informed decisions about your business.

To conduct market research, you can use online resources, attend trade shows, and talk to potential customers. You can also contact your local Small Business Enterprise Centre or a Regional Innovation Centre for assistance.

Financial Forecasting

Financial forecasting is an important part of your business plan. It helps you estimate the costs and revenue of your business. You need to create a cash flow statement, income statement, and balance sheet. These financial statements will help you determine how much money you need to start and operate your business.

3. Registering Your Business in Ontario

Registering your business is an important step of staring a business. This section will guide you through the process of registering your business in Ontario.

Business Name Registration

The first step in registering your business in Ontario is registering your business name. You can choose to register your business name as a sole proprietorship, partnership, co-operative, or corporation. If you choose to register your business name as a sole proprietorship in your own name, you do not need to register it. However, if you choose to register your business name under a different name or as any other business type, you must register it.

To register your business name, you can use the Ontario Business Registry. The registration process is simple and can be done online. You will need to provide your business name, business type, and other relevant information. Once you register your business name, you will receive a Master Business License (MBL) which will allow you to legally operate your business in Ontario. Here’s a detailed guide on registering a business in Ontario.

Business Number Registration

The second step in registering your business in Ontario is registering for a Business Number (BN). A BN is a nine-digit number that identifies your business to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for tax purposes.

To register for a BN, you can use the Business Registration Online service provided by the CRA. You will need to provide your business name, business type, and other relevant information. Once you register for a BN, you will receive a BN and can start filing your taxes with the CRA.

4. Securing Financing

Starting a business requires a significant amount of capital. There are several ways to secure financing for your business, including self-financing, government grants and loans, and private investors.


One of the most common ways to finance a business is through self-financing. This involves using your own savings, personal credit cards, or borrowing against your home equity. While this method can be risky, it allows you to maintain complete control over your business. Read more: Guide to Self-Financing Your Business


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    Government Grants and Loans

    The Canadian government offers a variety of grants and loans to help small businesses get started. The Canada Small Business Financing Program is a government-backed loan program that helps small businesses secure financing. The program provides loans of up to $1 million to small businesses with annual revenues of less than $10 million. The loans can be used to purchase equipment, real estate, or working capital. You can find grants for your business using this Grant Directory.

    Private Investors

    Private investors, also known as angel investors, are individuals who invest in businesses in exchange for equity. These investors can provide significant funding and expertise to help your business grow. However, they typically require a significant amount of equity in your business and may want to be involved in the decision-making process.

    5. Setting Up Your Physical or Virtual Location

    As a business owner you are going to have to set up your physical or virtual location. This section will help you understand the steps you need to take to set up your location.

    Leasing Commercial Space

    If you are planning to lease commercial space, you need to consider the following:

    • Location: Consider the location of the commercial space. Is it easily accessible to your customers? Is it in a high traffic area?
    • Lease agreement: Read the lease agreement carefully. Understand the terms and conditions of the lease, including rent, utilities, and maintenance fees.
    • Zoning: Make sure the commercial space is zoned for your type of business. Check with the local government to ensure that you are compliant with zoning regulations.

    Setting Up an E-commerce Store

    If you are planning to set up an e-commerce store, you need to consider the following:

    • Domain name: Choose a domain name that is easy to remember and relevant to your business.
    • Website design: Create a website that is user-friendly and visually appealing. Consider hiring a professional web designer if you don’t have the skills to create a website yourself.
    • Payment gateway: Choose a payment gateway that is secure and reliable. Consider using PayPal, Stripe, or Square.
    • Shipping: Decide on a shipping method and set up a shipping policy. Consider offering free shipping to attract more customers.

    Setting up your physical or virtual location is an important step in starting a business in Ontario. Make sure you do your research and choose the right location for your business.

    6. Hiring and Managing Employees

    When starting a business in Ontario, one of the most important aspects to consider is hiring and managing employees. This section will cover some key points to keep in mind when it comes to understanding employment laws, recruiting, and training.

    Understanding Employment Laws

    As an employer, it is important to be aware of the various employment laws that exist in Ontario. These laws cover a wide range of topics, including minimum wage, overtime pay, vacation time, and termination of employment. Familiarizing yourself with these laws can help ensure that you are not inadvertently violating any regulations and can also help you avoid legal issues down the line.

    Some resources to help you get started include the Employment Standards Act, which outlines the minimum standards for employees in Ontario, and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, which provides information on workplace insurance and health and safety.

    Recruitment and Training

    When it comes to recruiting and training employees, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Firstly, it is important to have a clear job description that outlines the responsibilities and requirements of the position. This can help attract the right candidates and can also help ensure that you are selecting the most qualified person for the job.

    Once you have identified potential candidates, it is important to conduct thorough interviews and reference checks to ensure that they are a good fit for your business. This can help reduce turnover and can also help you identify any potential issues early on.

    Finally, when it comes to training employees, it is important to have a clear plan in place that outlines the skills and knowledge that they will need to succeed in their role. This can include both on-the-job training as well as formal training programs. By investing in your employees’ development, you can help ensure that they are equipped to help your business grow and succeed.

    7. Marketing Your Business

    Marketing is an essential component of any business plan. It’s how you create awareness and interest in your products or services. Here are some tips on how to effectively market your business in Ontario.

    Identifying Your Target Audience

    Before you can market your business, you need to know who your target audience is. Who are the people that are most likely to buy your product or service? What are their needs, wants, and pain points? Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can tailor your marketing efforts to meet their specific needs.

    To identify your target audience, you can use market research tools like surveys, focus groups, and customer interviews. You can also analyze data from your website, social media, and sales to get a better understanding of your customers.

    Developing a Marketing Strategy

    Once you know your target audience, you can start developing a marketing strategy. A marketing strategy is a plan of action that outlines how you will promote your business to your target audience.

    Your marketing strategy should include:

    • Brand identity: Your brand identity is how you want your business to be perceived by your target audience. This includes your logo, colors, tagline, and messaging.
    • Marketing channels: There are many different marketing channels you can use to reach your target audience, including social media, email marketing, content marketing, and advertising.
    • Marketing tactics: Your marketing tactics are the specific actions you will take to promote your business. This includes creating content, running ads, hosting events, and more.
    • Metrics: To measure the success of your marketing efforts, you need to track metrics like website traffic, social media engagement, and sales.

    By developing a marketing strategy that is tailored to your target audience, you can effectively promote your business and attract new customers in Ontario.

    8. Frequently Asked Questions

    To start a business in Ontario, you must register your business name, obtain any necessary licenses and permits, and register for any applicable taxes. You may also need to obtain insurance, depending on the type of business you are starting. For more information on the requirements to open a business in Ontario, visit the website.

    The four basics to a start-up business are a business plan, financing, market research, and legal structure.

    Small businesses in Canada must file an income tax return every year. The type of return you file will depend on the legal structure of your business. Sole proprietors and partnerships file a T1 return, while corporations file a T2 return. For more information on how to file taxes for small business in Canada, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.

    The cost of starting a business in Ontario varies depending on the type of business you are starting. Some common costs include registration fees, legal fees, accounting fees, and marketing expenses. It is important to create a budget and plan for these expenses before starting your business.

    9. Resources for Starting a Business in Ontario

    Government Resources

    Industry Resources

    Other Resources

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