Blueprint for Self Employment

How can you ensure your success?

Over half of the Canadian labour force is either self-employed or working for a small business with less than 50 employees. Every year, thousands of new small businesses are created—and thousands of those go bankrupt within the first year of operation. If you want to join this intrepid army of business owners, how can you ensure your success?

Follow your dream
To be passionate, knowledgeable and dedicated is crucial to business success. Critically assess your interests, skills and knowledge. Develop a business that fascinates you and demands all of your talent.

Whether you want to be a dolphin trainer or take the plunge and start a high tech company, the first step is to do your homework. Research the industry and investigate the competition. Industry Canada ( is a great place to start your research. The more knowledgeable you are, the better your chance for success. The key is to learn everything about the business before diving in.

Choose an organizational structure
Once you’ve decided the potential is there and your business idea is sound, you'll have to decide whether to organize your business as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited or incorporated company, or a co-operative. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will be determined by the number of people involved, the type of your business, tax issues, liability concerns, and the financial requirements of the firm. A lawyer can help you make this decision, and an accountant can spell out the tax implications of each structure.

Name your business
This may not be as easy as it sounds. The name of your company becomes your identity in the market. Try for something short, memorable, and descriptive of your business. It’s also critical to check to make sure your chosen name doesn’t conflict with an existing trademark or someone else’s intellectual property. If a Web presence is important to your new endeavor, check to see if your desired domain name is available.

Blueprint for success
You need a plan to make your business thrive. An architect wouldn't, or shouldn't, design a house without thinking through every detail. You need to do the same for your business. The process of writing a business plan is challenging and time-consuming, but very worthwhile. A typical plan includes an executive summary, a description of the business and its products or services, a marketing strategy, an operations plan, financial data and projections, a management description and analyses of the market, the competition and the risk involved. You can learn more about writing a business plan by visiting the Canada Business website at

Location, location, location
With the advent of the Internet, having the perfect location may not be quite as crucial as it once was, but it still matters—especially if you’re planning a storefront or retail operation. Most local governments can provide a demographics package, local population projections and information about future development plans. Evaluate and compare different sites before making a decision. Once you've settled on a location, you must decide whether to rent or buy the building.

Money, money, money
Raising the money to start a new business is almost always the most difficult part. Equity in the firm is the amount of money that you are able to invest from your own resources. Debt financing in the form of short or long term loans is available from financial institutions. Among other programs, the Government of Canada offers the Small Business Financing Program available through credit unions and banks.

Make it legal
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to get licenses and permits to conduct a business. In some cases, it's as simple as paying a licensing fee. In other instances, you may have to comply with regulatory ordinances that govern public health and safety. The Canada Business website can help you determine what federal, provincial and municipal paperwork is required for your business.

Insure your business
Don't try to save a few bucks by foregoing insurance on your new business venture. Look into a business owner's policy that includes, at the very minimum, property, liability and business interruption coverage.

Work, work, work
Business owners work longer and harder than most employees, especially in the beginning. A newborn business needs the same kind of love, patience and dedication as a newborn baby. You need to be 100% committed to your new business because you’ll be investing a lot of blood, sweat, tears and money into it. Address any doubts or hesitations before you sign any dotted lines.

Lean on the experts
There are plenty of experts out there who can help your business succeed. Accountants who specialize in small business start-ups, lawyers and other industry professionals can all offer invaluable advice at every stage of your business's growth. Are they necessary? That depends. Sometimes trying to cut costs can actually cost you money. For instance, many people try to do their own bookkeeping. But before you make that decision, consider the value of your time. You may find that it’s a smarter business decision to hire someone to handle those details so that you can focus on doing what you do best—running the business. Contact us today >