Entrepreneurs: Don’t get sued

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When it comes to small business rules, regs and legalities in Canada, it can be confusing to know where to even begin to stay compliant. Thankfully, we’ve helped thousands of Canadian entrepreneurs stay on top of all the paperwork required to run a small business.

Permits and Licenses

As a business owner, it’s important to make sure from day one that you have all of the required licenses in place before opening your doors. Without them, you could be facing some pretty hefty fines. A license signifies that you are permitted to operate in your area, while a permit is a document that shows proof of compliance with certain laws. The permits and licenses that are required for your company will not only vary by industry, but also by city and province. You may require a municipal and provincial license to operate your business. Most businesses need a license of some sort to operate. License fees are required, so be sure to budget for this, especially for signs and company vehicles.

Industry Canada runs an online service called BizPal which helps you find the licenses required for your operation within particular areas of Canada. You may also be required to contact local authorities like Development and Building Approvals, Health Services, Fire Department, Gaming and Liquor Commission, Police Services, and Motor Vehicle Industry.

Business Number (BN)

A business number (BN) is something you’ll need for GST/HST, payroll, corporate income tax, import/export or other (registered charity, excise tax, excise duty, insurance premium tax, or air travellers security charge) business accounts with the Canada Revenue Agency. When registering your business, you will be assigned a business number. This business number will have 15 digits, consisting of two parts: the registration number and the account identifier. Your account identifier may be either RT (GST/HST), RP (Payroll Deductions), RC (Corporate Income Tax), or RM (Import/Export) and will be followed by a 4-digit account reference number. You’ll need your business number when making payments or enquiries related to your account. While the whole thing might sound complicated now, registering for your business number is easy — it can be done by phone, internet, fax or mail.

Rules and Regulations

Some of the most important regulations you’ll need to follow will be the local bylaws that may affect your business operations. Examples include smoking bylaws and alarm system bylaws. Bylaws may be updated and renewed often, so keep up to date on this information. For details about the regulations of your area, contact your provincial, town or rural municipal office.

Other regulations that must be followed include land use, zoning and building regulations. Be sure that your company complies with zoning and building regulations before committing to any land use or renting. Zoning is actually often a prerequisite to licence applications. Watch for any additional taxes you may have to pay for your business, including a business tax for companies operating in their own facilities. The Government of Canada provides some excellent guides to starting specific types of businesses, including many of the required rules and regulations, on their website.

Product or Service Liability

Product or service liability refers to the extent to which your company is obligated to make compensation to your customers for loss related to personal injury, property damage or other harm caused by the product or service that you offer. Things that you could be liable for include negligent packaging or product design; failure of the product to be safely used for the purpose it was intended for; environmental damage; failure to adequately warn against misuse; or inadequate product or service testing. Service companies can experience liability due to failure to fulfill requirements or inadequate performance. Be sure to speak with a lawyer to develop strategies to protect yourself from potential lawsuits. Insurance policies often include a general liability policy that can help protect your company.

More about government compliance

For more info on things you’ll need to keep things above board, check out our online small business training, and these blog posts:

Types of business insurance

Intellectual property protection for small businesses

What you can do about small business fraud

Small business legal issues: Tips from entrepreneurs

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What’s the most important entrepreneurship skill?


Our small business training was created after surveying 200 uber-successful Canadian entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs were asked what business skills they believed made the difference between success and failure for them.

Today, we’re sharing some of the most vital skills entrepreneurs need to know, and which ones GoForth entrepreneurs were surprised they didn’t know.


This is the importance of developing a small business brand, including brand experience, identity, image, pillars, equity and delivery. Brand pillars are the most important values and characteristics of your small business that you want to communicate in your branding. The brand experience is strategically developed to provoke thoughts, interact with, and persuade people to take action. Make sure your client’s brand experience is consistently positive!

Read more about brand experience.

How to build a financial plan

Most entrepreneurs don’t spend enough time understanding the numbers in their business — but the lead entrepreneur really should know the numbers inside and out. If you’re easily stumped by simple questions about profit, costs, or break-even, then others will lose confidence in your ability as an entrepreneur. Investigating financial feasibility before you start your business and while your business is running will help you tweak your business model canvas, which will raise your confidence that you’ll run a profitable company.

Customer experience

Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a client has with your business, either during one transaction or over the lifetime of your relationship. Research shows that customers do business with companies they like, so the more positive experiences a customer has with your business, the more they’ll continue to do business with you. To define your customer experience, it’s important that you know what your customers want and need.

Read more about CX.

How to manage a small business

Successful leaders are teachers, learners and visionaries. Your employees will look up to you for motivation, guidance and also as a model for their own performance. In order to lead effectively, you should consider your business and its staff to be like a team. Everything that’s done should focus on strengthening and improving your team. According to Bond Street Newsletter, these five skills are the essential toolkit for effective leadership in a small business: 1) Empathy; 2) Decisiveness; 3) Collaboration; 4) Planning; and 5) Support.

Government compliance

Staying on top of government compliance can greatly improve a business’ odds of success. There are income tax requirements, GST/HST requirements, rules for working with self-employed contractors, and documents and policies required if you become an employer. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Government compliance can lead to benefits for you as an entrepreneur. For example, there are many tax deductions that self-employed entrepreneurs can make, as well as employees and commissioned sales employees.

The importance of creativity in business

Creativity is the ability to view the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated things and to find solutions. This conceptual combination is seen often in the history of some of today’s most unique product innovations. For example, in 1941 George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, returned home from a trip with his dog, and noticed burrs sticking to the dog’s fur. Like a good engineer, Mestral examined the burrs under a microscope. There, he noted their hundreds of “hooks” that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing, animal fur, or hair. And with that, the idea for Velcro was created!

What about you? Are there small business skills you wished you knew before starting your entrepreneurship journey? To learn these, plus dozens of other vital small business skills, check out our online small business training!


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Home-based business permits and expenses

Depending on your setup, working out of a home office can feel miles away from any other office job you’ve had. You get the freedom to set your own hours, run out for a couple of hours to pick up some groceries, and your commute time is absurdly low. However, if you run a home-based business, you may also feel like you’re on your own when it comes to proper small business government compliance. What expenses can you claim with your home-based business? What permits do you need to run a business out of your home? Ack!

Fear not! At GoForth Institute, we’re entrepreneurs like you, and we’re all experts in our field. We’ve got an ever-growing database of small business articles and expert Q&A from home business owners who are confused about governmental rules and regulations too. Check out the following quick and informative reads about home-based business government compliance.

Do you have a question about governmental rules and regulations about your home-based business? Leave us a comment, or ask a GoForth expert and help entrepreneurs just like you!

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