How to Start a Business
On-the-side in Canada
Below is everything you need to know about setting up a side business in Canada.
It's actually a lot easier than what most Canadians think and once you've watched the videos (or read the text version below the videos), be sure to check out my free video guide on how to build your business website step-by-step (where we will actually build a website for a real-life business).
What You'll Learn in This Guide:
What You Need to Know About Registering Your Business in Canada:
Once you know what you'd like to do for your blog, business, or service, you can actually easily create a website using my free step-by-step video guide.
Whether your blog or business is for an international audience, or specifically for Canadians, I'll show you everything you need to know to get your website up and running in no time.
What You'll Learn in This Guide
(below is the text version of the above video guide)
Hey it's Kornel from the Build Wealth Canada Show and welcome to the full step-by-step video guide on how to set up your business on-the-side here in Canada, as well as how to easily build your website for your new business.
Now why did I build this guide? Well, after receiving lots of emails on the Build Wealth Canada Show, I noticed that a lot of the listeners would like to start a business on-the-side here in Canada, but aren't sure where to begin.
There's lots of general information out there, a lot of it is for the US, and I haven't really been able to find a good step-by-step video guide on what you need to know about starting a business in Canada, and how to actual build your website step-by-step without spending a ton of time, money, and without having to learn any code.
Also I currently run several businesses and websites (a software company, a digital products company, and BuildWealthCanada.ca), so I often get asked how I built them by others who want to earn some additional money-on-the-side with something that they are passionate about (and perhaps be their own boss one day).
Now the inspiration for this guide actually game when my brother Konrad told me that he wants to start his own tree service company. Like most of us, he didn't know where to begin in terms of registering the business, setting up taxes, etc. And of course, he needed a website for his business which he didn't know how to build.
He asked for my help, I agreed to do all this for him and thought it would be a good idea to also record how I do it so that you can follow along, and have an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to start a side business, and have your very own website!
Now just like him, you're probably not ready to take the giant leap by quitting your job and becoming a full time entrepreneur, and that is completely fine.
What you can do though is have a business on-the-side so that you can start earning-money-on-the side doing something that you are passionate about. Imagine being paid to do something that you love like a hobby that you are already doing anyway. This is what we're aiming for here in this guide.
In fact this is something that I actually did with a rock climbing training website that I built. Basically I got really into rock climbing but wanted to learn some of the tips, tricks, and techniques that the professional rock climbers used to get to that next level in my climbing.
So, I built a site called RockClimbTips.com and asked a team of rock climbing experts to show me these techniques that the pros use. I recorded the lessons they taught me and built rock climbing training videos from them that have now taught tens of thousands of rock climbers (Along with over 1 million YouTube views!).
I also turned some of the videos into an online course which I sell online on the website as a digital product.
The course became successful and started paying for all my fun things in life like going out to eat, tech toys, travelling, and it even helped pay off our mortgage earlier so that we were able to be mortgage free by 29.
And, this is all something that I did part-time, while working at a full-time day job so this is definitely something that you can do as well, and in this guide I'll show you everything you need to know to get set up and started.
Then in the future, if your grow your business large enough so that you can actually quite your day job, then awesome. Congratulations! But it's not like you have to do that in order to be successful.
Now this guide isn't just about how to start an online business. It will work for any type of business that you want to start. In fact the website that I will be building in front of you is actually for a service based business, and you can use these same skills for any type of business that you want to start. For example maybe you want to be:
- a self published author with your own website that sells and promotes your books
- a freelancer
- a service provider
- someone that sells a digital or non-digital product (whether it's your own products or someone else's).
- A teacher showing others how to do something you know how to do
Alright, that's it. Let's get started and don't forget to share this course with anyone you know that might be interested in starting their own business on-the-side here in Canada.
What You Need to Know about Registering Your Business in Canada
(this is the text version of the above video guide)
Surprisingly, the first step that you can take is to actually get your website up.
Now you might be thinking "Huh?", don't I have to sign some forms first and go through some crazy business registration process with the government?
The answer: Nope.
Below are the basics that you need to know to get you started in the quickest time possible here in Canada:
Your Business Name
Your business name can actually be just your own name. For example, my "business name" is "Kornel Szrejber" even though I run multiple companies & websites each with their own name.
When you do it this way, you don't have to register the business with the federal government as a separate entity. So, as far as business registration goes, you're all done!
You didn't even have to do anything!
Bonus: Now one thing that I do suggest you do at some point is register your business name within your province. This can cost a bit of money but it’s a good way to secure yourself if for example a year from now somebody tries to have a business with the exact same name as yours and claims that since they registered that name with their province, that the name belongs to them (even though you've clearly had the business with that name before them).
Now I'm not a lawyer but I can see how this could be an annoying issue to have to deal with. So as a precaution, it's a good idea to register your business name within your province so that you have it reserved. It's also a good way to make sure that your business name isn't already taken.
The steps to do this vary in each province, so at the bottom of this webpage in the appendix, I've included links so that you click on whatever province you're in and register there.
Do I have to Register and Collect HST/GST?
No. You don't.
In your first year you don't have to register and collect HST/GST like you see all the stores do when you go shopping.
The threshold that the Canadian government uses is $30,000 or less. So, if your business brings in less than $30,000 in revenue per year then you don't have to register and collect HST/GST.
If you want to be extra safe, what you can do is once your first year in your side business is coming to an end, you can call the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or speak to your accountant and ask whether now you have to register and start collecting HST.
You can also call them once your business revenue in a year is getting close to that $30,000 in revenue threshold. If you call the CRA then you're getting your information right from the source and know with certainty if you need to register yet.
Don't be intimidated. They are actually really nice to talk to and are very well informed about all the rules. I left their phone number for you as well as resources if you want to read more about the HST/GST rules down in the appendix of this page.
Last but not least, make sure that you have the appropriate type of insurance for your business. Now I'm not a lawyer, but here are my thoughts on the matter: Whether or not you take insurance for your business depends on the type of business you are planning on running.
If you are creating a harmless information product like an eBook on how to make cupcakes, then I personally wouldn’t buy insurance. I don't think someone will win in court if they try to follow my recipe, end up burning their house down because they don't know how to use an oven, and now want to sue me because somehow that is my recipe's fault.
On the flip side, for the actual website that we are building in this guide, Konrad (my brother) definitely took out insurance for his business since his business is cutting down trees (among other things). Obviously the risk here is a lot bigger than with our cupcake example.
For instance, he might cut a tree down and it falls on someone, or falls on the person's house or car causing lots of damage.
You get the idea. In his line of work, he should definitely have insurance.
So, it's completely up to you which route you take. If you ask an insurance person whether you should take insurance, then obviously most of them will say "yes" because they get a commission or bonus from it.
Lawyers on the other hand have a financial incentive to recommend to you that you incorporate your business right away, and perhaps do some other legal protection tactics. Obviously this is going to be pretty expensive.
So what do you do? My opinion is that you use your judgement in deciding how much protection you'll need. If you're cutting trees down for people, or taking people out on trip excursions, then you probably want to be well insured.
If you're making a site teaching people how to learn a language, pass a test of some kind, or make cupcakes, then I personally wouldn't bother getting insurance for that.
So if you do want insurance, request a few quotes, and while you're waiting for replies, let's start building your site!
Appendix: More HST/GST Information and Name Registration Links
More HST/GST Information:
Near the end of the year you can meet with an accountant or speak to someone for free at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to go over whether you need to register HST and begin collecting it in the new year. Their number is 1-800-959-5525.
I like to get my official tax information right from the source so what better way than to call CRA directly and speak to someone that actually works at the place where you'll be doing all your taxes and HST.
You can also call that number for any tax related questions to having your own business in Canada. Their staff are very knowledgeable and I call them all the time when I'm not sure about something tax related and want to make sure that I'm doing everything properly and legally.
Here are some links with more information if you want to learn more about HST and when you have to register: HST Registration Information http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/gst-tps/rgstrng/menu-eng.html
Links to registering your business name (for each province):
Each province has its own way of doing this, but all the links you need for any province are here: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/2729/
If any of these links get changed and stopped worked, just let me know in the comments or email me and I'll get the latest link for you.