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The Ins and Outs of Starting a Small Business in Ontario

So, you want to be your own boss? 

Congratulations! Starting a small business is a big achievement. But before you quit your day job and open up shop, there are a few things you need to know about starting a small business in Ontario. 

From incorporating your company to obtaining the proper licenses and permits, there’s a lot to do before you can officially start doing business. 

But don’t worry—we’re here to help. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about starting a small business in Ontario. 

Incorporating Your Company 

The first step in starting a small business in Ontario is incorporating your company. This will give your business legal status and help protect your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. You can choose to incorporate federally or provincially; each has its own benefits and drawbacks. 

If you opt to incorporate federally, your company will be eligible to do business anywhere in Canada. You’ll also be able to use a enhanced corporate structure, which gives you more flexibility when it comes to raising capital. On the downside, federal incorporation is more expensive and time-consuming than provincial incorporation. 

Provincial incorporation, on the other hand, is less expensive and can be done relatively quickly. And while you’ll be restricted to doing business within Ontario, this may not be an issue if you’re just starting out and haven’t yet expanded beyond the province. 

Obtaining the Proper Licenses and Permits 

Once you’ve incorporated your company, you’ll need to obtain the proper licenses and permits before you can start doing business. The type of license or permit you’ll need depends on the nature of your business. For example, if you’re planning on opening a restaurant, you’ll need a food handler’s certificate in addition to a liquor license (if you plan on serving alcohol). 

You can apply for most licenses and permits online through the ServiceOntario website. 

However, some businesses will require additional approvals from government agencies; for example, if you’re planning on operating a daycare center, you’ll need to obtain a license from the Ministry of Education. 

Registering for Taxes 

All businesses in Canada are required to pay taxes; failure to do so can result in hefty fines or even jail time. Before you start doing business, you’ll need to register for GST/HST and income tax with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). You can register online or by mail; depending on the size of your business, you may have to make monthly or quarterly tax payments throughout the year.  

Getting Funding To help Your Small Business

There are a number of government grants and programs available to startups in Ontario. 

The government of Ontario offers a variety of programs and services to help businesses get started, including the Ontario Business Grant, which provides up to $5,000 in funding for eligible startups. The government also offers the StartUP! Program, which provides mentorship and resources for startups. Startups can also apply for government funding through the Small Business Enterprise Centre, which offers a range of government grants and loans. 

To learn more about government funding options in Ontario, be sure to use the Funding Database so you can review hundreds of government grants, government loans and tax options that your small business ion Ontario may be eligible for.

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