Start a Business

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Start a Business

You can envision your brand, your happy customers and the dream of running your own business, now you:

· Need to learn the legal and tax implications of operating a business
· Need to know which permits you may need
· Need to research and understand your market and its trends
· Need to learn about cash flow and how to manage it

Starting a new business can be overwhelming, especially for first-timers. The Kingston Economic Development team is here to help guide you every step of the way with business programs, bootcamps, workshops and incentives to help you start your business.

Are You Ready to Start a Business?

Thinking about starting a business? Being a successful entrepreneur requires a lot of planning, innovation and risk-taking. It involves hard work and dedication but if you’re up to the challenge, there are many potential benefits!

Still not sure if entrepreneurship is right for you? Visit a local Employment Service agency and request a detailed Career Assessment such as TypeFocus to help gain a better understanding of your strengths, skills and interests.

Starting a business can be expensive and time consuming, so doing a little research upfront can save you time, money and increase your likelihood of success!

Starting a business may require significant time and financial commitment. Before getting started, it is essential to evaluate the feasibility of your product or service. In other words, you will need to do your homework. Most importantly you must understand the market you aim to compete in and what is required to be successful in that field. When evaluating the feasibility of a new business plan it is important to ask the following questions:

· Is there demand?
· Who is your target demographic?
· How much are customers willing to pay for it?
· Why should customers choose you?

Business plans help new businesses by showcasing products and services and identifying potential customers and competitors. The plan generally includes a SWOT analysis which clearly identifies potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and can confirm its commercial viability. A well-written business plan is an important document when approaching lenders and investors for financial support because it:

· Acts as an action plan
· Identifies opportunities and challenges
· Minimizes risk by identifying and calculating it

Having an up-to-date business plan is critical for keeping growing businesses on track. A well-written plan should identify and compare financial forecasts with actual results, make strategic plans and communicate goals and strategies to staff and external stakeholders.

Your business name should reflect the type of product or service you offer while being easy to pronounce and remember. It should also be unique to avoid confusion with competitors which could lead to legal issues down the road.

You can use the Enhanced Business Name Search through Service Ontario to determine if a business name has already been registered in Ontario. You can also search the Ontario Business Registry which contains basic information on businesses and not-for-profit corporations. This can help to conduct preliminary searches, but once you have shortlisted your favorite names, consider consulting a legal professional to ensure that the name you have selected is not in use by someone else.

How to Research Your Market Before Starting?

Ultimately, the value of a business boils down to supply and demand. It is critical to determine if your product or service is unique and needed before you begin. Attempting to enter an already saturated market, or offering an unneeded product could be a terrible mistake. Determining the level of demand is a vital first step.

Who is your target demographic?

Understanding who your customers are will impact every aspect of your business. Is your product or service for youth or seniors, men or women? Are they students or employed full-time? What is their average income? Can they afford to pay for the product or service you are offering? Failing to identify your target demographic risks offering a product or service that is too generalized and nobody wants.

Starting Your Business Basics

Determining the right business structure for your venture is important. The structure can affect your financing, taxes, liability and several other important aspects of your business. As an entrepreneur, you will need to decide if a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation is the best structure for your business.

Sole Proprietorship – In a sole proprietorship, the owner is 100% liable (legally responsible) for the business, including all debts and actions. The business income tax is filed with the owner’s personal income.

Partnership – In a partnership, each partner is wholly liable for the business. Debts and profits are shared among the partners. It is strongly recommended that a Partnership Agreement be drawn-up by a lawyer.

Corporation – A corporation is a distinct legal entity where owners have legal liability up to the limit of their investment. Debts and profits are shared among shareholders. Incorporating can be complicated so legal and accounting assistance is recommended.

Once you have chosen your business name and verified it does not conflict with existing businesses or trademarks, you will need to register it. You can register your business name and obtain a Master Business Licence (MBL) online or by mail:

Service Ontario
P.O. Box 1028 Station B
Toronto, ON M5T 3H3

For more information regarding business name registrations, please call toll-free 1-800-565-1921 or TTY toll-free 1-800-268-7095. Your Master Business Licence (MBL) will show your registration and expiry dates as well as your Business Identification Number (BIN). Your MBL can be used as one of the proofs of business name registration at financial institutions.

Not all businesses are required to apply for an HST number. It’s important to understand the pros and cons before going ahead with the registration.

Do you need to register for an HST number?
You should register for an HST number if (1) you provide taxable supplies in Canada AND (2) your total revenues from taxable supplies (before expenses) are over $30,000.

Pro: Having an HST number makes it more difficult for customers to identify you as a small business (eg. A business with a revenue below $30,000/year).

Con: You will be required to calculate, collect and remit HST payments on a regular basis.

Register for a GST/HST Account!

If you are a current business owner or plan to open a new business, it’s important to know and understand the applicable regulations. Depending on the type and location of your business, you may be required to obtain permits or licences. There are several tools available to help ensure you acquire the appropriate documents to operate your business in the City of Kingston.

Learn more!

Kingston offers distinct advantages for businesses through its unique combination of strategic geographic location, state-of-the-art infrastructure, diverse workforce, and concentration of research and development proficiencies.  Kingston Economic Development will work with your company to support your team through the site selection planning and permitting process, talent acquisition, and hiring process, and other business and expansion needs. Our team is dedicated to providing your business with a concierge-like service to ensure a seamless transition to Kingston.  

Learn more about site selection!

Recruiting and on-boarding new employees takes time and finding the right candidates isn’t always easy. Fortunately, there are local resources available to assist with the recruiting process, and some even offer subsidized training programs to help!

Learn more about talent in Kingston!

BizPaL is an online service that helps business owners identify what is required by the federal, provincial and municipal government to start, operate and grow a business. The service was developed to help access information about business permits, licences and other information, business owners may require, quickly and easily.

Learn more


The Small Business Centres Ontario offers various and free on-demand small business basics webinars in English and French.

Access the business webinars!

The interactive Business Plan Writer has been designed to simplify business planning. This tool is dynamic, allowing entrepreneurs to customize their plans while providing tips and tricks and plenty of examples to guide them as they write.

Start writing!

Worker Health and Safety Awareness Training in Four Steps is a training program developed by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. It is focused on the health and safety rights and responsibilities of workers, supervisors and employers and is a general introduction to workplace health and safety.

Learn more!

Supervisor Basic Occupational Health and Safety Awareness in Five Steps is a training program developed by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. It focuses on a general understanding of rights and responsibilities and a basic introduction to workplace health and safety.

Learn more!

Contact Norman Musengimana

Business Development Manager,
Start-Ups & Entrepreneurship
613-544-2725 x 7222
Cell: 613-217-0932