How to Start A Small Business in Alberta
1) Planning and Researching
a. Is it the right thing for you?
i. Successful business owners have certain qualities. Do you have suitable strengths, and what motivates you?
ii. Is owning a business the right thing for you? https://alis.alberta.ca/look-for-work/self-employment/entrepreneurship-is-it-for-you/
iii. Difference between “Self-Employment” and “Entrepreneurship”:
An entrepreneur is nearly always self-employed, but not all self-employed people are entrepreneurs.
– Self-Employment = you make your own work
– Entrepreneurship = build and grow a business and employ others to work for you
Read more about their difference and learn whether “Self-Employment” is the right thing for you: https://alis.alberta.ca/look-for-work/self-employment/self-employment-is-it-for-me/
b. Research and develop your business idea:
i. You already have a business idea! How to turn it into a successful business? https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/start-buy-business/start-business/pages/small-business-ideas-starting-own-business.aspx?it=starting/before-starting-your-business/developing-your-ideas/
ii. Get the information and do research:
– Alberta economic statistics and publications (explore Alberta’s latest economic statistics and reports): https://investalberta.ca/news/
– Latest trends for small and medium-sized enterprises: https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/entrepreneur-toolkit/publications/pages/default.aspx
– Learn about Alberta’s key industries: https://investalberta.ca/industries/
iii. Watch this video about intellectual property and market research: https://youtu.be/UfXwmgPxYcQ
c. What Legal Structure best suits your business?
i. “Legal Structure” is how you organize your business. There are three main types of structures:
– Sole proprietorship: simplest structure; you are the only owner;
– Partnership: two or more people/companies do business together as partners
– Corporation: your personal responsibilities are completely separate from your business’ responsibilities
ii. For more details and their pros and cons, please read these articles:
d. Turn your idea into a business plan
i. Set goals for your business plan: https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/business-strategy-planning/manage-business/pages/7-tips-setting-goals.aspx
ii. What is a business plan: https://articles.bplans.com/what-is-a-business-plan/
iii. Why do you need a business plan: https://businesslink.ca/business-idea/creating-a-business-plan/
iv: What to include in your business plan? https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/start-buy-business/start-business/pages/how-write-business-plan.aspx?it=business-planning/writing-your-business-plan/
v. Business Model Canvas – a 20 minutes Business Plan
– What is the “Business Model Canvas” and how it works: https://www.alexandercowan.com/business-model-canvas-templates/
– Download the Business Model Canvas template: https://www.strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas
vi. Write a full-length business plan:
Here are some online tools and templates to guide you in business plan writing:
– Gallery of Free Sample Business Plans: https://www.bplans.com/
– Business Planning Workbook: https://businesslink.ca/assets/uploads/2019/03/Business-Planning-Workbook-web.pdf
2) Set Up Your Business
a. Choose a business name
i. What is a good Business Name? https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/start/choosing-a-business-name-1.html
ii. Find out if anybody else is using the same name you want to use by searching the Internet, national, provincial and territorial databases:
– Nuans – Corporate name and trademark search (except for names in Quebec): https://www.nuans.com/eic/site/075.nsf/eng/home
– Canadian Trademarks Database: http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-cipo/trdmrks/srch/home?lang=eng
– You are recommended but not required to get a Business Name report from authorized NUANS members: https://www.nuans.com/auth/app/scr/corp/nuans/public/resources/search.html?lang=eng
– Special notes: Your Business Name can be your own legal name if you choose Sole Proprietorship as your business structure.
b. Register your business with the Alberta Government
i. Download and fill out the form: https://www.alberta.ca/register-business-name.aspx
ii. File the registration with an authorized Corporate Registry Service Provider in Alberta in person. To find a service provider near you, go to: http://servicealberta.ca/Find-a-business-basic-registrations.cfm
c. Get a Federal Business Number from CRA and a Business Bank Account
i. Use Business Registration Online to get a business number, one or more most common CRA program accounts. https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/businesses/topics/registering-your-business/register.html
(You can also choose to do this procedure by mail, fax or phone)
ii. Shop around and find the small business account that suits you.
iii. Learn about small business bank accounts in Canada: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/small-business-banking-the-best-business-bank-accounts-2947916
d. Apply for Licenses and Permits
i. You may need permits and licenses from all three levels of the government: municipal, provincial, federal.
ii. Licenses and Permits required by the Alberta government:
Alberta Queen’s Printer http://www.qp.alberta.ca/Laws_Online.cfm
Industry-specific provincial licensing and registration information:
iii. Federal Regulations that may apply to your business: https://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/
iv. BizPal: get a free customized list of permits and licenses for your business: https://services.bizpal-perle.ca/?b=48
*Note that not all the cities in Alberta are listed in BizPal! It’s better to contact your city government to make sure you have everything covered.
e. How to set up a corporation:
i. Read about the process: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/start/register-with-gov/register-corp.html
ii. Alberta registry offices sell DIY kits that walk you through the process.
iii. Consider getting legal and professional support to help you.
f. Other online information about setting up your business
i. Key Steps to Starting A Small Business in Alberta:
ii. Immigrant Entrepreneur Guidebooks (English Only)
– Business Planning Workbook for Immigrant Entrepreneurs:
basic steps of business planning in Alberta
– Connections: An Immigrant’s Guide to Starting a Business in Alberta:
understand the business culture in Alberta and how your cultural background can help you to succeed.
– Marketing Effectively in Alberta for Immigrant Entrepreneurs:
learn the basics of marketing for your business and how to build an effective marketing and sales strategy.
– Understanding Financing in Alberta for Immigrant Entrepreneurs:
for immigrant entrepreneurs preparing to request financial support for their new or growing business.
iii. Multilingual Small Business Startup Checklists
3) Support Programs for New Business Starters in Alberta
a. Mentorship Programs:
i. Futurpreneur: https://www.futurpreneur.ca/en/
ii. Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) https://www.awebusiness.com/start/
iii. Canadian Business Chicks: Mentorship Program: https://universalwomensnetwork.com/programs/mentorship/
b. Other supports, resources and programs:
i. ATB Financial Good Advice: https://www.atb.com/business/good-advice/start-up-business/
ii. List of key government programs, regional supports, service providers supporting small business owner: https://www.alberta.ca/small-business-resources.aspxt
iii. Set up a Business (Alberta Small Business Resources): https://www.alberta.ca/small-business-resources.aspx
iv. Business Licensing Procedures in Alberta: https://www.alberta.ca/get-business-license-overview.aspx
v. Business support organizations organized by provinces: https://canadabusiness.ca/growing/business-support-organizations/
vi. Regional Innovation Networks: https://albertainnovates.ca/programs/regional-innovation-networks/
vii. Financial glossary for entrepreneurs https://www.bdc.ca/en/i_am/newcomer-entrepreneur/pages/glossary.aspx
viii. Community Futures Alberta (for Alberta’s rural entrepreneurs): http://albertacf.com/frontpage
ix.Conseil de développement économique de l’Alberta (CDEA): https://lecdea.ca/?lang=en
x. The Tecconnect Centre (Lethbridge): https://entrepreneur.chooselethbridge.ca/tecconnect-2
xi. Startup Edmonton: https://www.startupedmonton.com/about-us
xii. Momentum: Small Business Programs (Calgary) https://momentum.org/programs-services/business-development/
xiii. Innovate Calgary (University of Calgary): https://innovatecalgary.com/
4) Financing Options and Support
If you are new to Alberta and wanting to start your own business, you may find it financially challenging. Do not need to feel discouraged! There are a variety of financing options and support available to you:
a. List of programs run by the Alberta Government helping Alberta small businesses with advice, coaching, training, financing, grant funding, etc.: https://www.alberta.ca/small-business-resources.aspx
b. Explore different options of “Financing Your Business”: https://businesslink.ca/starting-a-business/financing-your-business/#financing-IEP
c. List of regional and federal public funding opportunities: https://canadabusiness.ca/programs/#/?page=1&ft=1&ft=2&ft=3&ft=4&ft=5&ft=6
d. ATB Financial Business Loans: https://www.atb.com/business/borrowing/
e. The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) New Canadian Entrepreneur: Newcomer Entrepreneur Loan grants you up to $50,000 to start your business https://www.bdc.ca/en/i_am/newcomer-entrepreneur/pages/default.aspx
f. Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE): repayable loans of up to $150,000 to female-owned, Alberta-based businesses https://www.awebusiness.com/financing/
g. Momentum Micro Loans for Businesses: up to $10,000 are available to you if you have a completed one of Momentum’s Business Development programs, have a business plan, and acceptable credit history: https://momentum.org/programs-services/business-development/micro-business-loans/
h. Futurpreneur Program (Government of Canada): limited financing to help business owners aged 18-39 https://www.futurpreneur.ca/en/get-started/financing-and-mentoring/
Startup Edmonton: https://www.startupedmonton.com/about-us
i. Alternative Financing for Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Canada (fundthrough): https://www.fundthrough.com/blog/working-capital/financing-immigrant-entrepreneurs-canada/
Authorize – Allow in a formal and public way.
Business idea – Thoughts on what your future business will be like.
Business licenses – Formal documents from the government that authorizes you to run your business legally.
Business plan – A written document about the goals of your business, including a business overview, research, marketing plan and financial plan, etc.
Business registration – The process of submitting your business information to the government for the purpose of taxation, status, hiring employees, etc.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – Part of the federal government of Canada that deals with taxation (collecting taxes, tax laws, etc.).
Comfort zone – A situation where you feel safe, relaxed, not worried or stressed.
Competitor – Another business owner who is offering products or services that are like yours. You and your competitor try to sell to the same target customers.
Ethnic community – A group of people that are similar (race, country, language, history, culture, etc.) and live in the same area.
Federal – Relating to the central government of a country.
Feedback – Someone’s reactions, suggestions or comments to a product or service.
Financial plan – A written document that is an important part of a business plan. Describes how your business will afford to reach its goals by better managing cash flow, income and expenses, etc.
Home-based business – A small business that you run from your own home, e.g. catering, translating, graphic designing, hairstyling, etc.
Legal structure – How you form or organize your future business in a legal way.
Liability – Responsibility under the law.
Marketing plan – A written document that’s an important part of a business plan. Describes how you want to advertise and promote your business among your target customers.
Municipal – Relating to a city or town.
Networking – Talking to or exchanging ideas with other people to learn something new or grow your professional or social contact.
Overview – A general summary.
Potential – Possible or likely to turn into something in the future.
Provincial – Relating to the province of a country.
Registry – An office offering business registration and licensing services on behalf of the government.
Research – Careful study into your business idea, to find out details about what similar businesses already exist, who are your business competitors and target customers, etc.
Roadmap – A plan for reaching a goal.
Selling point – Something special of a product or service for sale, something that’s attractive to your target customers.
Target customers – You promote your business to this group of people who will potentially pay for your products or services.
Taxation – Money paid towards taxes.
Trend – A general direction to which things are changing, e.g. a business idea that many people have because it’s very popular in the market and has so far proven to be successful.
#1. What is a good way to see if your business idea could be successful?
#2. What is the first thing you should do before starting a business?
#3. Which of the following is not true about running a home-based business?
#4. What should not be included as part of a business plan?
#5. A unique selling point is:
Acknowledgements of Actors: Radhika M., Sangita K., Kanako H.E.
Special thanks to ATB Financial, Better Business Bureau, Business Link and Les Moulins La Fayette for assistance in content development and providing filming venues.