Starting & Running a Business All-in-One For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
Starting and running a small business is an exciting — and often frightening — adventure. Who knows where you may end up? To keep from getting lost on your journey exploring business opportunities, you need help setting up your business — including choosing a name, creating a business plan, gathering equipment, and finding financing.

Naming Your Small Business

An incorporated business has a corporate name. That’s the business’s legal name, and it’s taken at the time of incorporation. It can be a name made up of words, or it can be a “number name.” A business that isn’t incorporated can be carried on under the name of its owner(s) — the sole proprietor or the partners. An incorporated or unincorporated business can also be carried on under a trade name, which is kind of like an alias.

When it comes to naming a business, you can have problems not just with someone who’s already using the name, but also with the government authorities who register names . . . and who’ve made up a slew of rules about acceptable names.

The authorities that incorporate businesses (the federal and the provincial governments) have rules about choosing a word name. Check them out in the Business Corporations Act of your province if you’re incorporating provincially, or the Canada Business Corporations Act if you’re incorporating federally. One of the numerous rules is that the name has to include the word Incorporated, or Inc., or Corporation, or Corp., or Limited, or Ltd. But even if the name you choose meets all the rules, the incorporation authorities won’t allow another business to take a name that is “confusingly similar” to the name of an existing corporation. For example, the name “Smearnoff Vodka” would be considered confusingly similar to “Smirnoff Vodka.”

Before you try to register a corporate word name, you have to search a registry of names to make sure the name you want isn’t already taken or isn’t confusingly similar to another name. In Canada, this involves paying to have a Government of Canada NUANS search done. For federal incorporations only, you can order your own NUANS report from the NUANS “Do it yourself” Real-Time System (RTS) or you can get help from a registered NUANS member. For provincial incorporations, you have no choice but to use a registered NUANS member to conduct the search for you.

There are a lot of businesses, but only so many great business names. Most of the great names you’ve thought of are probably already in use. Many business owners get tired of searching for a name that will be allowed by the authorities and just incorporate with a number name. Every corporation is assigned a number at the time of incorporation. (The incorporator doesn’t get to choose it like a lucky lottery number; it’s just the next available number in sequence, as if you took a ticket at the meat counter or the passport office.) This number, when combined with the name of the incorporating jurisdiction and the word Limited, is the corporation’s number name — such as “123456 Ontario Limited” or “654321 Canada Ltd.”

An incorporated or unincorporated business can carry on business under a trade name. A trade name can be any word or phrase the business owner likes (although an unincorporated business can’t use a word like Inc., or Ltd., or Corporation in its trade name, because only corporations can use those words). However, someone else may own the trade name already and be able to prevent others from using confusingly similar names. In some cases, a trade name has actually been trademarked by another business and the trademark owner can sue to prevent others from using the name.

Business Plan Basics

When you first set out to create a business plan, the task may seem overwhelming. Right off the bat, you need to answer fundamental and sometimes difficult questions about your business and what you see for the future. You have to decide what targets to aim for when you look ahead and set business goals and objectives. To succeed, you have to take the time to know your

  • Industry
  • Customers
  • Competitors
  • Business resources
  • Business’s unique qualities
  • Business’s advantages
  • Basic financial condition
  • Financial forecast and budget

You also need to prepare for changes that you make to this list down the road. That means thinking through other options and alternatives and being on the lookout for new ways to make your business prosper.

Gathering Gear for Your Small Business

Every small business is individual and may need special equipment. Consider the following:

  • If you need to visit customers or make deliveries or transport supplies, you may need a car or van.
  • If you’re a dentist, you’ll need the chair and the drill and the instrument sterilizer and the X-ray machine and so on.
  • If you’re a gardener, you’ll need a lawn mower and a leaf-blower and a hedge-clipper.
  • If you’re manufacturing something, you’ll need a system for creating your product, and depending on what your business is, this could be anything from a set of chisels or a couple of sewing machines to a smelter or a laboratory.
  • If you’re setting up a retail business, you’ll probably need a cash register or other cash-tracking equipment, systems for accepting credit cards or debit cards, inventory-control systems to prevent shoplifting, and display stands, cases, and cupboards. You’ll also need initial inventory (the stock you’re going to sell).

All the possibilities for specific equipment can’t be addressed here. Just don’t forget to take your special equipment into account when you’re making your shopping list for gear. You can use the following table to calculate your costs as they occur and to keep a close eye on your spending.

List Individual Items (such as) Cost of Individual Items
Furniture and furnishings Total cost $
Desk $
Chairs $
Light fixtures, etc. $
Computer hardware and software Total cost $
Website design $
Business stationery (graphic design, materials, and printing) $
Special equipment for your business $
Vehicles $
Machinery $
Cost of initial inventory (for a retail business) $


Locating Sources of Financing for a Small Business

So where are you going to find money for your small business? Generations of businesspeople have wondered the same thing, so you can turn to a standard list of sources of money. The sources include

  • Personal assets
  • Money from family and friends
  • Borrowed money:
    • Mortgage on home or vacation property
    • Commercial loans (capital and operating)
    • Micro-credit loans
  • Credit:
    • Suppliers
    • Customers
  • Sale of accounts receivable
  • Grants and loans from government
  • Investment from external sources:
    • Angel investor
    • Venture capital company

The federal Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada website maintains a financing page that provides information on finding sources of funding and financial assistance. Click the Business Grants and Financing tab to learn about various financing options including government grants and loans.

About This Article

This article can be found in the category: