Canada » Manitoba » State/Province Resources » Business Startup Checklist and Pathfinder

Business Startup Checklist and Pathfinder

State/Province Resources

Startup Checklist

One of the most common questions when starting a business is \"Where do I begin?\" The checklist below will help answer that question and serve as a guide for the steps you need to take.

* To find out if your business idea is right for you, ask yourself is this something you\'re good at? Is this something you enjoy doing?
* Are you an entrepreneur? Try an entrepreneurial self-assessment quiz such as \"Am I an Entrepreneur?\" located online at
* Should you start a new business, purchase an existing business or acquire a franchise?
* Prepare a business plan. You can do all your preliminary research in the Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre reference library.
* Choose the form of business organization most appropriate for your needs (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or cooperative) and register the business name.
* Ask for advice from other business owners as well as professionals such as your banker, accountant, or lawyer.
* Contact the City of Winnipeg or your local municipal government office concerning zoning requirements as well as any licenses or permits that are required for your type of business.
* Contact Canada Revenue Agency in order to register for collecting GST/HST, remitting employee deductions (EI, CPP and Income Tax), and import/export taxes (if applicable) and for information on business expenses that you can claim on your tax return.
* Decide if you will offer credit to your clients. If so, set up an appropriate credit policy.
* Open a business account under your company’s name with your bank or credit union.
* Negotiate contracts with suppliers.
* Negotiate lease agreements for premises and/or equipment.
* Set up a bookkeeping system to monitor receivables and accounts payable.
* Develop an inventory control system.
* Establish credit terms with key suppliers (payment terms, credit limits, discounts and finance charges).
* If you need to register a Trade-mark, Copyright, Industrial Design or a Patent, contact the Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre.
* If you are hiring employees, contact the Employment Standards Branch, Manitoba Department of Labour and Immigration, the Workers Compensation Board and Canada Revenue Agency.
* Arrange for business insurance.

Self-Assessment - Am I an Entrepreneur?

Deciding to go into business for yourself is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Are you ready for it?

Rewards There are many - the freedom to be your own boss, the personal satisfaction of a job well done, and the chance to earn an income that is only limited by your determination. Your business can be full-time or part-time.

Pitfalls Going into business takes a level of effort and energy that many people underestimate. It can place incredible demands on your time, your family relationships and your finances. Many new businesses fail within the first three years. It’s rare for any new business to provide any significant financial return to the owner in the early years.

Improve the Odds First, take an honest look at yourself. Are you ambitious, confident, energetic, persistent, creative, a risk-taker, a problem-solver, a planner? Successful small business owners often have many of these traits. Secondly, the ability to manage your time and resources is a key element of business success.

Considerations Do you love what you’re doing? Are you knowledgeable about the business you\'re going into? Do you have training in management, marketing, finance and production? If not, are you willing to take training courses in your weak areas?

Options Can you bring someone else into the business who has the skills you lack? Or have you considered a franchise, where someone else has already established the business model and can provide guidance, support and the recipe for business success? If you’ve decided to go into business with one or more partners, are you confident the relationship is strong enough to weather the storms ahead?

Moral Support Do you have the full support of your family? They are probably the most important assets you will rely on as your plans progress. Your prospects for success can only improve when those close to you share your commitment, if through nothing else but their moral support and encouragement.

Do you have enough money? Going into business is almost always more costly than you think. You may find it a lot harder to raise capital for your business than you’ve experienced in the past for your personal needs. Be thorough and realistic about how much you need right from the start so your business isn’t jeopardized after you’ve invested months of hard work.
What is a business plan? Why do I need one?

Most business experts will say that the most critical aspect of setting up a business is planning. Unfortunately, this step often gets little or no attention, leading to the failure of the business and the loss of your investment or personal assets. This is why planning is so important.

A business plan:

* outlines your business idea and helps to focus your thoughts
* commits your plans to writing so you can refer back to them
* is necessary to obtain financing
* helps you pinpoint your competition
* details your current financial position and estimates future profits and expenditures
* identifies opportunities
* uncovers potential weaknesses
* tests your commitment to the business
* helps you anticipate and adapt to change
* provides a method to evaluate your results

Where can you find more information about a business plan?

If you are looking for business plan templates or outlines, or undertaking preliminary research for suppliers, manufacturers, competitors, industry trends, licensing requirements, sector profiles, advertising rates or market information, the Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre library has a wide range of resources to help you.

If your business plan is 99.9% complete, business counsellors are available by appointment only to review your business plan with you and offer suggestions prior to going to a financial institution for a loan. For an appointment call 984-2272 or 1-800-665-2019.

The marketing plan has two main components: the first is researching your market to determine what consumers want or need, and then develop a product or service based on that information. The second step is to develop an overall marketing strategy to meet your objectives. The Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre library has several publications to help you with this process.
Business Structure

One of the most common questions facing all new business owners is \"What business structure is best for me?\" The four main types recognized in Canada are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and cooperative. Each form has it\'s advantages and disadvantages.

People new to business may think that the structure is not important. However, consider that:

* investors or partners may only be interested in certain structures
* banks and funding organizations may be more willing to lend to certain business structures than others
* the appropriate form for your business depends on many factors, including the type of business, the number of persons involved, whether you want full control or prefer to share responsibilities, capital requirements, tax regulations and liability.

Sole proprietor

This is the simplest and the least expensive form of business organization. There is one owner, and this person is responsible for all aspects of the business. However, as a sole proprietor you are personally liable for business debts and must claim business expenses and revenues on your personal income tax return.


A partnership is an agreement between two or more parties to combine their talents and resources in order to share ownership of a business. While a partnership is often less expensive to form than a corporation, other complexities arise. It is highly recommended that you seek legal advice to draw up a partnership agreement which clearly defines each partner\'s rights and responsibilities. The Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre library has sample partnership agreements you can refer to. Generally, each partner is responsible for all aspects of the business, including any wrongful act or omission caused by the other partner(s) in the course of business. Each partner is also personally and jointly liable for all debts and other obligations incurred in the name of the company by any partner regardless of whether or not these were authorized by the other partners.

An alternate form of partnership, known as a limited partnership, is an arrangement wherein one partner is strictly an investor and liable only to the extent of their capital investment in the company. The limited partner, however, cannot participate in managing the company and may not withdraw the capital they invested during the term of the partnership.


A corporation\'s main advantage is that it is a separate entity from its shareholders. This means the personal liability of the shareholders for the debts of the company is limited. Certain tax advantages are also available to corporations. There are, however, more regulations governing corporations, additional paperwork, and higher fees to startup and maintain the corporation\'s standing. You can incorporate provincially, which means your liability is limited within the province of incorporation, or you can incorporate federally which limits your liability across Canada and offers name protection second only to a Trade-mark.


A cooperative is an enterprise, or business, owned by a group of people seeking to satisfy a common need. For example, a group of people such as independent entrepreneurs, artists or farmers will use this type of enterprise to cooperatively process and market the goods or services they have produced. A cooperative can be incorporated either provincially or federally. The cooperative\'s start-up capital usually comes from cooperative shares purchased by members.

Contact the C/MBSC if you would like more information on the various business structures and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Registering Your Business Name

No matter what form of ownership you choose (sole proprietorship, partnership, incorporation or business cooperative), you should register the name of your business with the Companies Office. When you register your business name, you are assured that no one else is carrying on business under that name in the Province of Manitoba. The Companies Office must first perform a Name Search ($40 for Manitoba-wide search) to ensure the name is not currently in use. If the name you have chosen is not in use, the Companies Office reserves the name for you for 90 days, at which time you must register ($45). Fees differ for incorporation.

You may obtain the forms for business name registration from the C/MBSC or from the Companies Office (visit them online at

If you have any questions about the business registration process, please contact the Companies Office at (204) 945-2500 or toll free 1-888-246-8353.
Business Number

You will need a Business Number from Canada Revenue Agency:

* To file your annual tax return if your business is incorporated
* If you are importing or exporting goods to and from Canada
* To remit payroll deductions (Income Tax, EI, CPP) for your employees
* To collect and remit GST/HST

For information about the BN contact Manitoba Business Links (204) 945-0514 or toll free 1-866-205-1657


Goods and Services Tax (GST)

You must register for and charge the GST if:

* You sell or provide taxable goods or services in your commercial activities in Canada; and
* Your total taxable revenues are more than $30,000 in the immediately preceding four consecutive calendar quarters; or
* Your sales exceed $30,000 in a single calendar quarter

If your sales do not exceed $30,000 in four consecutive calendar quarters, you do not need to register nor charge GST. However, you still have the option of registering.

There may be instances when registering early can give you certain advantages, such as the right to claim the GST you pay on your business’s start-up expenses from the time you register. For more information, contact Canada Revenue Agency at

Federal Excise Tax and Duty

This applies to tobacco, alcohol, gasoline, jewellery, and other products under the Excise Act and the Excise Tax Act. For more information, contact Canada Revenue Agency at


Retail Sales Tax

Under Manitoba’s Retail Sales Tax Act, the provincial government imposes a tax on the retail sale of most goods and some services to consumers and users for the purpose of consumption or use and not for resale. All goods and services falling within the Act are taxed at 7%. All retailers are required by law to register with Manitoba Finance.

Dealers in propane, gasoline, diesel and heating fuels, inter-provincial trucking operators, dealers in tobacco products, dealers in electricity, natural gas and coal, retailers and other businesses affected by The Retail Sales Tax Act.

For more information, visit Manitoba Finance website at

Corporation Capital Tax

A tax on the annual paid up capital of corporations which have a permanent establishment in Manitoba. Corporations are required to register for this tax where the total taxable paid up capital of the corporation, including associated corporations, is $5,000,000 or greater.

For more information on provincial taxes, contact Manitoba Finance at 945-5603 (in Winnipeg) or toll free at 1-800-782-0318.
Hiring Employees

Income Tax Deductions

You have to withhold income tax at the source from various types of remuneration such as salaries, wages, tips, gratuities, fees, commissions and bonus pay to name a few. For more information, contact Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-5525 or visit the business tax section of their website at

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Contributions

If your net self-employment income and pensionable employment income is more than $3,500, you will have to contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

If you have employees, you will also need to deduct CPP from salaries, wages, commissions and other forms of remuneration.

Employment Insurance (EI)

Most earnings, including tips and gratuities, as well as allowances that you pay completely or partly in cash to an employee are insurable.

Payroll Tax (Manitoba Finance)

This tax is paid by employers with a permanent establishment in Manitoba who pay more than $1 million per year in remuneration to employees. Employers who pay $1 million or less per year are exempt.

Employment Standards

Designed to promote fairness for employees and employers, these standards cover a wide range of areas such as minimum wage, overtime, holidays, meals, breaks, maternity leave and termination, to name a few. Information at or call Manitoba Labour and Immigration at 945-3352 (in Winnipeg) or 1-800-821-4307.

Workers\' Compensation Board

In most cases, workers\' compensation coverage is mandatory if you employ workers. To find out if your business requires workers compensation coverage or not, call the Registration Unit in Winnipeg at 954-4775. Outside Winnipeg, call 1-800-362-3340, extension 4775. Registration can often be done over the telephone.

There are many programs and services available from the federal and provincial governments as well as private organizations to help new businesses. For more information, call the C/MBSC 984-2272 or 1-800-665-2019 or visit our web site
Business Licenses and Permits

If your business is located in the City of Winnipeg...

You may need several licenses and/or permits depending upon the type of business you are operating. For information on licensing contact the City of Winnipeg at 986-6420.

If your business is located outside of Winnipeg...

The Municipal Act of Manitoba empowers all rural municipalities to regulate certain trades and occupations carried on within their boundaries. Therefore, it is up to each municipality to set its own licensing requirements. These regulations vary among the 201 municipalities within Manitoba. For more information, contact your local municipal office or, if you need help determining where your municipal office is located, contact our Centre.
Business Insurance

A wide variety of insurance products are available such as those covering fire, theft, or vandalism. Having the proper insurance coverage can offset a potentially serious loss of buildings, equipment, or inventory. It is likely that a lending institution will insist that adequate property insurance be carried as a condition for a loan. Also, life insurance is often carried on a key individual(s) in an organization to minimize the impact of the absence of that individual(s).

Many specialized types of insurance are also available such as business liability insurance which protects your operations against legal action. As well, certain assets of the business such as plate glass or boilers may be specifically insured against loss or damage. Other types of insurance include business interruption, crime coverage and broad form money and securities insurance. There is also insurance specifically for home-based businesses. Consult with your insurance professional to find out the coverage that is best for your type of business.

Depending on what type of business you are in, you may be required (by law) to obtain bonding before any work can begin. There are contract bonds (used mainly in the construction industry) and commercial bonds which consists of five main bond categories that include license & permit, customs & excise, fiduciary, court and lost document bonds. Contact our Centre at 984-2272 or 1-800-665-2019 for more details on bonding or refer to our fact sheet on Bonding.

Good records will help you:

maintain accurate, up-to-date financial information on which to base management decisions
identify the sources of your income
maximize tax deductions
eliminate a host of problems you might encounter if your income tax is audited or you have GST/HST returns
keep informed about the financial position of your business
obtain loans from banks and other creditors

A bookkeeper or an accountant can help you set up your records or you can do it on your own. For publications and videos on bookkeeping call the Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre at 984-2272 or 1-800-665-2019.
Will You Be Conducting Business on the Internet?

The C/MBSC has publications and seminars on e-business topics such as online marketing, building a website, security and the internet, integrating e-business into a small business, internet payment processing, online legal issues and more.

For more information phone (204) 984-2272 or 1-800-665-2019.
Other Services

Regional Sites

The Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre has more than 30 regional sites located throughout Manitoba. These offices provide information on programs, services and regulations as well as business counselling and small library collections.

Services for Women

• The Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba (Phone: (204) 988-1860 or toll free at 1-800-203-2343 or visit the web site at ) offers financial assistance, mentoring and networking programs as well as business-related seminars targetted to women.

• Competitiveness, Training and Trade, Women\'s Entrepreneurial Initiative promotes entrepreneurship as an economic alternative for women. Contact Margaret Kelly at (204) 945-7721 or toll free at 1-800-665-2019.

Services for individuals collecting Employment Insurance or Social Assistance who want to start a business

The Self-Employment Assistance Program provides income support, training and technical assistance to qualified Employment Insurance (EI) claimants to enable them to become self-employed. Contact a Human Resources and Skills Development Centre near you, or the C/MBSC for more information.

The SEED (Support Employment and Economic Development) Program helps low income people establish their own business in Winnipeg. SEED provides financial and business planning assistance, consulting and mentorship services and business management training. Contact (204) 927-9935.

Services for entrepreneurs with disabilities

There are programs and services designed for individuals with disabilities who want to establish a business. The Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre also offers specially equipped computers which allow individuals with disabilities to undertake business research on the Internet. Both the Centre and its washrooms are wheelchair accessible. Any materials produced by the Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre as well as any federal government department can be made available in alternative formats upon request. See our Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Info-Guide for more information.

Services for youth

There are many organizations and funding programs created for young entrepreneurs. Call the C/MBSC and ask for the Young Entrepreneurs Info-Guide.

Manitoba Business

Share This Page With Your Social Networks

Other Articles Related To State/Province Resources

Quick Navigation

Business Startup Checklist and Pathfinder