As you grow and expand your business, you’ll likely need to understand and comply with additional regulations that you might have not encountered during start-up. Here you’ll find information on the most common ways businesses evolve and what resources are available to help you plan your growth.
When it’s Time to Hire Help
If your business is hiring employees for the first time, consult the many fact sheets and guides for new employers available on the B.C. Employment Standards Branch website.
New Products, New Services—New Regulations
If you’re planning to add to your product line, or expand your service offering, be sure to review your permits and licences. You might need to upgrade existing permits or licences, or obtain new ones altogether.
Your business could even be subject to zoning restrictions. Visit BizPal and Small Business BC’s Industry Matrix to see what regulations apply to the new products and services you’re selling. And check with your municipality directly to make sure you’re in compliance with their regulations and bylaws.
Beyond the Sole Proprietorship or Partnership
Many businesses decide to change legal structures once they start to grow. A very common change is to move from a sole proprietorship to a corporation by incorporating.
It’s a good idea to consult a lawyer when changing business structures. In most cases, the original business must be dissolved, and the assets sold to the new business that has the desired structure. Depending on the business, this process can be complex and a lawyer can save time and money in the long run.
“Doing Business As”: Register a Name for Marketing Flexibility
As a corporation, if you want to use a trade name under which you can market your products and services, you can register a DBA or “Doing Business As”. A DBA is registered as a sole proprietorship with one owner being the corporation.
Branching Out: Opening an Office Outside of BC
If you wish to open another branch or office outside of BC, you’ll likely need to complete an extra-provincial business registration in that jurisdiction, or incorporate federally (and even if you incorporate federally, you still have to register in each province that you wish to do business in).
Any entity foreign to B.C. wishing to open offices or branches in British Columbia is required to complete the extra-provincial registration process as outlined at B.C. Corporate Online. Special rules apply to Alberta companies due to the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement.
Doing Business Beyond Our Borders
International trade is one way that many companies choose to grow their businesses. Although multiple levels of government regulate the import and export of goods, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) provides the best starting point for information and resources. CBSA has two guides that cover the regulatory aspects of trade:
For more information and assistance on importing and exporting, you can also visit TRADESTART, a Western Economic Diversification Canada and Small Business BC collaborative trade advisory service that assists small and medium enterprises prepare to enter international markets.
To import or export products, you will need to get an import/export account attached to your business number from Canada Revenue Agency.
Going Online: Websites and Ecommerce
Although you don’t need any special permits or licences to launch a website, there is legislation governing specific aspects of website operations.
For example, if you’re collecting data from your visitors, your site might be subject to Canadian and international privacy laws (in Canada, collecting personal data online falls under PIPEDA, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act).
If you’re sending emails for a marketing campaign, you will need to be aware of anti-spam legislation. And although Canada doesn’t have specific laws around marketing online to children, in the U.S., the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)governs how data can or cannot be collected from children.
If you wish to collect data online, send regular emails, or market to children, a lawyer specializing in privacy law can help guide your efforts.
Taxes and Your Online Business
Many of the tax and export regulations that a “bricks and mortar” business must adhere to apply to the ecommerce world as well. A general rule of thumb for taxation purposes is that your storefront is the computer that your client is purchasing your goods and services from. You’re therefore expected to register, collect, and remit taxes accordingly. This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to register to collect tax in every jurisdiction in the world.
Most sales taxes have a threshold at which your business needs to start collecting and remitting taxes.
Franchising: Duplicating Your Success
You can take your successful business idea and create a franchise model that can be sold to others. There are certain national regulations that apply to franchises that you should be aware of, including special tax rules. However, unlike some other provinces in Canada, British Columbia does not have specific franchise legislation.
The Canadian Franchise Association is a great resource for you if you’re interested in franchising your business.