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Starting a Business

Curious about starting a business? SBBC is here to support you at every step of the journey. We’re an independent non-profit that provides affordable, universal access to expert advice, education and unbiased business resources.

Our goal is to help you succeed, whether we offer the service you need or we help connect you to another resource. And, as your business matures, we’ll be by your side – helping you expand, scale your operations, and prepare for your next big goal.

We created this page to provide easy access to practical resources and support you’ll find useful during the startup phase. If you’ve got questions, no matter how big or small, contact our team, and we’ll be happy to help.

Business Checklists

There’s no instruction manual for starting a business, but our free business checklists are a great place to start. View all of our business checklists, or check out our most popular startup options below.

Starting Checklist

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Start-up Guide

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Business Plan Checklist

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Business Plan Template

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Business Structure

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Evaluate Your Idea

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Business Planning

To give your business the best chance of success, you’re going to need a business plan. This document acts as your roadmap for the journey ahead. It will help you spot potential weaknesses and opportunities, while helping you to make informed decisions before you commit yourself legally or financially.

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Province of BC - Business Structures Wizard Tool

One of your most important early decisions when starting a new business is your choice of business structure. Use the Province of BC’s handy tool to compare your options and determine the best fit for your needs.

Get Started
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Attend Our Start Smart Webinar

Our Start Smart Package is a full-day instructional seminar that touches on every basic element of starting a business. Your one-stop shop for planning a successful business.

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Business Plan Consulting and Review

Receive the coaching you need to create a successful business plan with SBBC’s Business Plan Consulting and Review Service. This service is currently available for 50% off thanks to our partners, Fortis BC.

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Business Education Videos

SBBC offers expert-led practical business education videos to support your entrepreneurial journey, from cash flow planning to writing your first business plan.

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Got Questions About the Start-up Process?

Contact our Business Advisors for one-on-one support and guidance

Registering Your Business

By now, you’ve got your business plan in place, and it’s time to take the next step and register your business. This process is relatively straightforward, with a few simple steps to take depending on the structure of your business. Below, we’ve prepared a handy guide to walk you through the process.

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A Guide to BC's Business Registration Process

Learn how to navigate BC’s Business Registry and get your business registered with the province. Discover how the process works for each common business structure.

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Business Registration Questions Answered

Need help getting started? We can answer all your questions from choosing the right business structure to finalizing your business name. Learn how SBBC expert business advisors can help make the business registration process easy.

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Market Research

Our expert market research analyst can help inform you about your customers and help you set up an effective business strategy right from the start

Find Your Community

We understand every entrepreneur is different and every entrepreneurial journey is unique. No matter where you start, SBBC is here to support you along the way with resources and inspiration. As an independent non-profit, we aim to reach all corners of the BC small business community, meet people where they are and connect them with the resources they need.

We’re committed to building resources and relationships that better serve underrepresented entrepreneurs. We’re excited to share the supports currently in place for business owners who identify as disabled/having a disability, Black, Indigenous, women, and LGBTQIA2S+.

Accessibility Resources

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Black-Owned Businesses

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Indigenous-Owned

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Women-Owned

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LGBTQIA2S+ Owned

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Hear from Successful Start-up Founders

The three of us decided on the business one day and started drawing out plans and it just snowballed from there.

Vivian McCormick is one of three co-founders of Willet, a home essentials brand focusing on linen bedding. Learn how Vivian got started building her e-commerce business with two friends.

Vivian McCormick

Three smiling co-founders pose for a photo.

It’s so important to surround yourself with like-minded people who challenge you and who want the best for you – uplifters, I’ve surrounded myself with so many champions.

Learn the mindset shifts and community support that helped Blume go from side hustle to the aisles of the biggest grocery store chain in the country.

Karen Danudjaja

Karen Danudjaja

People treat clothing like it's disposable. I didn't want to be part of the problem anymore. I wanted to be part of the solution.

Learn how a passion for pets and sustainability led Clavia Castilhos to found her own sustainable clothing company for pets.

Clavia Castilhos

Clavia Castilhos

Industry Specific Resources

Many industries in British Columbia have specific regulations and unique factors that will influence your startup. We’ve rounded up information on some of the most popular growth industries in our province.

Industry Regulations

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Food and Bev

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Tourism

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Cannabis

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Food Trucks

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Starting a Business - Frequently Asked Questions


SBBC’s Business Advisors can help you untangle the knot. You can call us at 604-775-5525, or email us at [email protected].

 


SBBC’s Talk to an Expert service connects entrepreneurs with specialized business advisors in areas like small business law and more. Learn more and book your one-on-one consultation today.


Visit our dedicated Start-up Financing and Grants page and discover the options available to your business for early stage funding. WeBC have also created a helpful guide to Grants Available to BC Businesses.


The simple answer to this question is “it depends.”

What business structure you choose will depend on many factors and there are no simple rules for selecting which will be right for your business. Some questions to consider include:

  • How many people are involved with the business?
  • Are there outside investors?
  • Do you have any personal assets you wish to keep separate from the business?
  • Do you want to limit your liability?
  • How much profit is the business expected to generate?
  • How much do you wish as a salary?
  • Will you be re-investing profits in the business, or do you want to take all profits as personal salary?
  • What is your budget for registration?
  • Are you prepared to pay the additional accounting fees required by corporations?

You have to investigate the different options and decide what makes the most sense for your business. An accountant and a lawyer can help you make an informed decision.

See also:


Most municipalities in British Columbia require you to obtain a business licence, which gives you permission to operate your business on your premises (whether in your home or in a commercial space) within that municipality.

In some instances, you may be required to obtain a licence in municipalities where you do not maintain premises but do carry on business.

Contact your local city hall – as well as the city hall in each community where you’re doing business – to see which permits (including mobile business licences) might be required for your type of business.

Please note that additional federal, provincial, and/or municipal regulations may apply to your particular business. Consult the appropriate authority or visit www.bizpal.ca for more information.


Yes, but there are legal and tax requirements for non-Canadians starting a business in BC.

Non-residents are permitted to own a corporation in BC, but you must have a physical address for your business in BC – a post office box is not enough. You’ll also have to follow all of the usual legal requirements for starting a business.

Extra-provincial(aka “branch office” or “foreign office”) registration information can be found on the BC Government website.

As an entrepreneur generating revenue in Canada, you will have to submit a tax return on any Canadian revenues generated. To do this you will need to set up an account with Canada Revenue Agency when registering your Corporation in BC.

Always check with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in Vancouver to confirm what kind of permit you will need to enter the country. If you plan to work on your business in Canada, you will also have to contact CIC to obtain “working status.” If you’re a student and want to start a business while studying, you will have to apply to CIC for a special modified study permit to work on your business.

Please note that a working permit doesn’t enable you to become a Canadian Citizen. If you want to be a Canadian Citizen, you will have to apply to CIC for citizenship status.

See also:


A BCeID account provides secure access to online government services like the BC Business Registry.

  • A client can obtain a Business BCeID online if they are able to provide their business details and prove the identity of their business.
  • To provide their business details, they can:
  • Use their BC Registry account (whether they created it using a Basic BCeID or their BC Services Card app)
  • Use their CRA business number
  • (They can also manually enter their business details, but that necessitates them going to a Service BC location and prove their identity)
  • By choosing to use their BC Registry account, they will be prompted to enter:
  • Their BC Registry account number (this is the secret passcode to verify online so that they immediately are approved for a Business BCeID)
  • Their business’ registration number
  • If they created the BC Registry account using a BCeID (Basic), they will have the option to convert it to a Business BCeID or opt to register for a net-new [Business] BCeID that they can then use for WorkSafe and other services.
  • If they created the account using a BC Services Card app, they will be issued a net-new Business BCeID.

We respectfully acknowledge our place of work is within the ancestral, traditional and unceded territories of the Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaʔɬ/sel̓ílwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and that we serve the Peoples of the many Nations throughout British Columbia.