Access essential business resources for business owners and entrepreneurs in the Tri-Cities.
Click on one of the topics below to jump to the corresponding section and learn more:
- Starting Your Business
- Growing Your Business
- Accredited Resources
- Economic Support Programs for Businesses
- Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation
- Closing Your Business
Starting your Business
It all starts with an idea. Whether you’ve dreamed up a lucrative dog-walking business with your best friend, or you’ve decided that your culinary skills should be unleashed upon the world, you’ve had a lightbulb moment that has effectively kick-started your entrepreneurial career.
If you choose to follow through with that lightbulb moment, our business resources are here to help you on your path towards entrepreneurship. This section, in particular, covers some of the important aspects of starting your business. If what you need to know is not covered on our website, please refer to our page of accredited resources found here for links to Canadian small business resource websites to find more information.
Want a quick page to reference as you go? Check out Small Business BC’s Starting a Business Checklist.
Starting a business in Coquitlam? Find more resources at the Business LinQ.
Starting a business in Port Coquitlam? Find more resources at the BizHub.
Crafting Your Business Plan
As an aspiring business owner, your business plan is an asset that can make or break your entrepreneurial career. By setting a course for your business in advance – outlining goals, solidifying an identity, planning an exit – your choices as an entrepreneur can remain grounded and rational even in times of hardship.
What exactly goes into a business plan? While there is no single, set layout to follow, the Canada Business Network (CBN) has put together a good set of topics worth looking into:
The executive summary, like an essay’s introduction, provides an important snapshot of your business plan. It should be concise, like a written elevator pitch. It should also quickly cover every major topic that your business plan aims to dive into later. Just remember that your executive summary is your first impression; anybody who reads your plan will make immediate judgements about you and your business based on what they saw in the summary. It’s recommended, therefore, that you write your summary after completing the other sections of your plan, as you’ll want the best understanding of your plan possible before you craft your vital first impression.
This may sound like a lot to cover in a small amount of space. While that is the case, it’s important that you really focus on keeping this section compact and easy to read. As your summary is your first impression, you do not want your potential investors to be left feeling bored or tired after reading it. A captive audience will be much more receptive to your ideas, after all. Specifically, the CBN recommends that your summary be less than two pages long.
The business and industry strategy begins by providing a look into what exactly your business aims to do. It also outlines the planned performance of your business relative to competitors in your industry. This section of your plan is fairly robust, as it aims to outline your business’s purpose, your position in the industry, your competitive advantage, and your growth plan. To help introduce your business, you’ll want to be able to answer the following questions:
- What’s the purpose of your business?
- What product will your business supply to prospective customers?
- Why would potential customers come to you over a competitor?
- Are there a lot of different competitors in the area?
Next, you’ll want to discuss the industry that you plan on entering. Is it growing? Is it shrinking? You should also note your own current position, or what stage of the business lifecycle your enterprise is in. If your business is already up and running, document any achievements you have accomplished thus far.
You’ll then want to tackle your business’s competitive advantage; investors will want to know that your business has the necessary tricks up its sleeve to find its own profitable niche within the industry. You’ll also want to do the necessary research on your competitors. Who will you be sharing the industry with? Are they big competitors? How will you compare? Lastly, you’ll want to discuss your business model. While there are many different ways to define a business model, the simplest explanation is that it is how you plan on making money. The main branches of this plan are the prices and costs of the goods and services that your business produces. You’ll want to justify why using your business model is an effective way of making money.
Finally, you’ll want to set some goals for yourself in your growth plan. Be sure to set short and long-term goals, and set when you plan on achieving them. Consider following the SMART system of goal-setting:
- S – Specific – A well-defined, discrete goal that makes sense to the average person.
- M – Measurable – You’re able to know when you’ve completed your goal. You can track your progress.
- A – Agreed Upon – Everybody involved is on board with the potential goal.
- R – Realistic – The goal is possible to do in regards to your resources, knowledge, and time
- T – Time-Based – A set time limit for your goal that is neither too short nor too long.
You should also estimate where you see your business at various years down the road. By setting goals and expectations for your business, you can better gauge where your business is and where you would like your business to be as time passes.
While it’s important to understand your product and your industry, it means nothing if nobody knows that your company is open for business. A plan covering marketing and communication will help prevent that problem. On the marketing end, the goal is to include a fair amount of discussion on the four P’s of the marketing mix:
- Product – How do potential customers benefit from using your product?
- Price – How much will your customers pay for your product?
- Promotion – How will you let the right people know about your business?
- Place (Distribution) – Where will you be operating, or distributing your goods and services?
By outlining those four points, you gain an understanding of what you’re selling, what it’s going to cost, how you’re going to advertise it, and where it’s going to be sold. Do you plan on just bringing in locals with an eye-catching storefront sign? Maybe you could make use of local marketing companies to expand your reach regionally? Is there one product you offer that you think will really bring in new customers? These four P’s are interconnected, and require careful tuning if you wish to reap the greatest reward for your business and its products.
Once you’ve drawn customers to your business, the challenge becomes keeping them satisfied and loyal. Long-term customer retention can be tricky, and it’s worth going over how you plan on handling that in advance. Putting together a Communications Plan is a great start to tackling this goal. Due to the advent of social media, it has become commonplace for businesses to keep an open dialogue with their customers online. Whether you’re alerting your followers about deals, posting daily pictures of your different products, or providing insight on local news stories, it is important to plan and implement a strong web presence for your company. That presence helps you build personal relationships with your customers that don’t go unnoticed.
It’s important to plan your business’s daily and overall operations in advance. Doing this is a great way to estimate what you’re going to need in order to run your business on an average day, month, and year. The CBN even recommends that you understand what you are going to need to run your business for the next 3 to 5 years.
A good place to start is to figure out what your day-to-day operations are going to look like:
- What are your hours of operation?
- Will your store be open year-round?
- If you’re selling a product, how and when will you receive and store shipments from suppliers?
Knowing the ins and outs of your average day at work will do wonders for easing the initial stress of opening your enterprise to the public.
The next step is to figure out the scale and location of your business:
- How large of a facility are you going to need to carry out everything you plan on doing as an entrepreneur?
- Does it need to be located in areas with high foot traffic?
Answering these types of questions will allow you to find the ideal site to house your business, potentially saving money in the long run. Also, be sure to include any relevant documents, like lease agreements or supplier quotations, in your plan.
A SWOT analysis is a strong planning tool that allows businesses to take a careful look at all of their internal strengths and weaknesses along with all of the external opportunities and threats present across their industry. This sort of analysis lets you take mental inventory of your company, showing you where it excels and where it struggles. You’ll get a better bang for your buck if you know how to best exploit your business’ strengths in your industry. You’ll also be better equipped to deal with your business’ shortcomings if they don’t come as surprises.
Now, the caveat of the SWOT analysis is that you have to be honest and even brutal in your judgements. Inflating your strengths and downplaying your weaknesses will only lead to the botched execution of a plan that was flawed from the get-go. Admitting weakness is difficult, but it’s required if you want to start your business off correctly.
A template of a SWOT analysis can be found here.
A human resources plan is necessary if you plan on running your company with the help of employees. It’s important to think about where exactly you’ll need the extra assistance, and how you plan on hiring, training, and retaining the extra help. Below are some questions worth answering in this section of the plan:
- What would an organizational hierarchy chart look like for your business?
- Would your employees need outside training and experience to do their job properly at your enterprise?
- Do you have the resources to handle on-the-job training as necessary?
Be sure to go into detail on what each employee would be doing in their respective positions. By planning this in advance, you may save on costs by finding roles that are unnecessary or redundant to fill. You’ll also avoid the awkward situation of investors pointing out these redundancies before you do. Lastly, don’t forget to consider the costs involved with all of this. Do your best to conclude whether or not an additional employee will provide a net benefit to your business.
Your business’ social responsibility strategy centres itself on what’s called the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach – a framework that takes into account the three P’s of a socially responsible enterprise:
- People – A measure of how socially responsible a business is in regards to its surrounding community. Is an enterprise leaving a positive impression on the community in which it’s based? This is also referred to as corporate citizenship.
- Planet – A measure of the amount of effort that a business makes in being environmentally responsible.
- Profit – The traditional measure of how much revenue a company earns compared to the costs it undergoes.
Some entrepreneurs see positive social and environmental impacts as mere niceties that pale in comparison to economic gain, but this is no longer the case. Customers value a business that strikes a balance between all three P’s, and will make their opinions heard with their wallets. Consider including sections such as environmental initiatives, or community contributions in your business plan.
Every business owner should have at least a general understanding of modern information technology, as there are so many more opportunities available for those willing to embrace the information age. For example, by creating an appealing online storefront, you allow your customers to access your business and its products from anywhere, at any time of day. This plan should include the following:
- Any potential e-commerce activities – While online sales can open so many doors for your business, e-commerce activity takes a lot of planning to execute properly. You’ll need to consider setting up online payment, delivery strategies, delivery limits, and routine website maintenance.
- A development plan for your website – A well-planned website with an alluring look will help you attract and retain new customers.
- The hardware and software needed to properly carry out online activities – Cutting-edge software will let you craft a beautiful website that will set you apart from the competition. Powerful, reliable hardware is required to house and process that software.
- Any relationships you may have with IT specialists – A working relationship with a reliable tech guru can make all the difference for your online experience.
The level of convenience offered by a web presence is priceless, which is why you should consider growing one for your business. The planning process for this section should not be forgotten when putting together your plan.
One of the more important sections of your plan, the financial forecast converts your concepts into measurable data. In the case that you are starting a new business, these will all be projections, or estimations. These projections should span three years, while including a more detailed look at the first twelve months. Specifically, you should include the following in your plan:
- Sales Forecast – This is a spreadsheet that projects sales over the course of three years. By documenting projected unit sales, price, and unit costs, you can then calculate sales revenue and sales cost. You can use this information to compare yourself to your industry’s standards.
- Cash flow statements – These statements show the movement of money in and out of your business. All costs and revenues resulting in cash flow should all be included in detail in this section.
- Profit and loss forecast – Also known as an income projection, this section documents your projected profits over the next three years. After calculating your projected sales, expenses, interest, and taxes, how much money are you making? The answer to this question is the main point of this section.
This section will be difficult; without any past numbers to look at, it may seem daunting to put together financial projections reaching as far ahead as three years into the future. Just know that they are simply educated estimations, and are not set in stone. Also, it’s not terrible if your projections don’t match what you’re reporting once your business opens. You can use these noted differences to learn from your mistakes and build on your ability to make strong projections going forward.
While it may not seem necessary at this point in time, it is important that you plan your eventual exit from the industry. By looking so far in advance, you have the time to properly consider all of your exit options well before any decisions are required. I mean, you’re likely going to want to make sure that you’ll be able to get your money out of your business when it’s all said and done, right? Proper planning for the future can help secure that. So what exactly goes into the planning process of an ideal exit? Here are a few questions worth answering for your plan:
- When am I planning on leaving?
- What do I want to do with my business in regards to getting it off my hands? Options you can plan for include:
- Closing up shop and liquidating (essentially selling) all of your assets to other buyers
- Selling/passing down your business as a whole to a friendly buyer (a family member, or a trusted employee)
- How will I determine the value of my business and its assets?
- Do I have plan after everything is dealt with? How much money will I need to live comfortably?
Even if you’re not planning on exiting any time soon, a well-planned exit will help provide you with a destination to steer towards while you’re running your business.
Once you’ve finished putting together your business plan, you’ll want to review it extensively. Remember that the end goal is a concise, easy-to-read, professional document that clearly outlines every aspect of you and your business. When you’re confident that your plan fits all of those criteria, you’ll be properly prepared to make your entrepreneurial dream a reality.
Financing Your Business
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur with a great idea – but no actual business to speak of – you’ll find that applying for financing can be an uphill battle. Banks generally choose not to provide funding for entrepreneurs without established businesses, and many online options come with unacceptably high-interest rates. However, reasonable options do exist. This section aims to offer some relief for entrepreneurs looking to start their businesses off right with the proper funding.
To begin, you don’t need to completely scratch banks off of the list of potential lenders. With a strong credit score, you can apply for a personal loan. Personal loans differ from more traditional business loans because they aren’t backed by collateral – something valuable that banks can take from you if you are chronically unable to make your payments. Because the acquisition of these loans primarily rely on your credit score, they can be easy to obtain without an established business. They also make use of a fixed repayment system. Basically, you receive a lump sum of money that you have to pay back with interest within 2 to 5 years, over the course of monthly installments.
It is also important to know that, with a higher credit score, the interest rates you will be offered for these loans will generally be lower. Be sure to shop around for the best deal with the lowest interest.
For additional information on the loan application process, you may want to check out the Applying for a Bank Loan page in our Growing your Business section below.
Another option would be to search for funding through non-government organizations (NGOs). These organizations normally operate within certain geographic locations and act primarily to assist small business start-ups in getting off the ground.
The federal and provincial levels of government have funding programs available that aim to assist the growth of new and established small businesses. Depending on the program, your small business startup could be eligible for cash advances, loan guarantees, wage subsidies, and various forms of grants.
Licenses, Permits, and Bylaws
Businesses operating in the Tri-Cities must be properly registered with both the Province of BC and the city in which they reside. They must also make sure that their desired business name isn’t already in use in British Columbia. The type of license that a business requires depends on the type of the business in question. There are licenses available for both permanent and temporary businesses operating across the Tri-Cities.
For more information on registering your business with the Province of BC, you can refer to the OneStop Business Registry, a government website that provides step-by-step instructions and links to assist business owners in the provincial business licensing process.
The Tri-Cities Mobile Business Licence (also known as an Intermunicipal Business License) is a new licence allowing mobile businesses based in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody to obtain an add-on to their business licence from their principal municipality and operate legally in the other two Tri-Cities municipalities.
A mobile business is a business that has a location, shop, office, or is home-based in either Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam or Port Moody and delivers its services by moving from client to client throughout the Tri-Cities.
Please contact your municipality’s business licence office for more information.
Find Your Municipality
At this point, you need to be wary of the myriad federal, provincial, and municipal permits that you need to obtain in order to function legally in Canada.
For this task, the Province of British Columbia offers BizPal, a free online service that quickly assists you in identifying every permit that you could potentially require based on your new business’s location and type of operation.
Bylaws are rules that solely apply to the communities in which they are created. They help smaller communities regulate themselves in ways that a provincial or federal government wouldn’t think to do. As an entrepreneur, you’ll want to make sure that you’re correctly following the bylaws relevant to your city of operation. Click the links below to bring up lists of commonly accessed bylaws for each of the Tri-Cities.
Finding your Business Space
Most traditional businesses logistically require a physical store or office to operate out of. A challenge for new entrepreneurs lies in finding that first location, and you may not know where to begin in your search. This section aims to provide some basic guidance as you navigate to find your first business space.
Many people see the debate between buying and leasing simply as a debate between long-term and short-term savings. Here’s the thing: for all intents and purposes, they aren’t wrong. Small business blog Fit Small Business crunched the numbers and concluded that, generally, if you plan on staying open in one location for more than seven years, you should consider purchasing your property rather than leasing it. Seven years appears to be the break-even point between the two options. That may be a handy rule of thumb, but you may also want to consider a more nuanced table of the pros and cons before making a decision as large as this one.
Pros of Buying
- You secure a location that you may love
- Increasing property value may provide additional income upon resale
- No more dealing with landlords
- Monthly mortgage payments are commonly cheaper than monthly rent
- You can freely improve the space
- You can host tenants of your own for additional income
Pros of Leasing
- Much cheaper upfront; easier to commit if you don’t have much cash to spend
- Good for a business with rapidly changing needs; easier to move locations
- Less of a hassle than ownership; you can focus solely on running your business
Cons of Buying
- Rising interest rates may make a floating/variable interest rate mortgage very costly
Buying a building is a huge commitment in time, money, and energy
You’ll be responsible for any defects and outstanding costs tied to the building
Cons of Leasing
- Your landlord may refuse to renew your lease
- You’ll be restricted in the improvements you are able to make to your building
- You may not get guaranteed parking spots
- Lease payments are commonly higher than monthly mortgage payments
How do you go about looking for a property to lease or purchase? A great way to start is to check out the various free websites that allow you to browse available properties in your area. Be sure to look through multiple sites if you do this, as one site may not catch all of the actual opportunities available to you. Below is a list of some of these sites.
This section aims to cover the point in time between finding the property you wish to lease, and signing the lease agreement with your future landlord. Lease agreements can be pretty difficult to read and fully grasp, but it’s vital that you know exactly what you’re getting into when you sign one. The fate of your business could rest in the terms of your lease. If possible, even consider the help of business professionals in going over your agreement and advising you of any potential shortfalls.
When you discuss the terms of your lease, you should be prepared for some heavy negotiation; it’s not expected that you agree to all of your landlord’s terms right away. If you and your landlord end up agreeing to any changes, be sure to get them in writing, and document them for later use if necessary. This is because verbal agreements have a tendency to disappear when you need them the most.
Remember also that, while rent is an important portion of your agreement, it doesn’t immediately hold priority over everything else. If your landlord wants more rent than you expected, don’t let that make you give up, for example, a prime location with lots of foot traffic.
Lastly, in any negotiation, you have to be prepared to completely walk away from the deal if necessary. Landlords notice people who aren’t comfortable with walking away, and will take financial advantage of those people to make a larger profit for themselves. While you may think that you’ve found your dream space, hostile lease conditions simply aren’t worth the hassle. Remember that there are always alternatives.
Important Terms to Understand
While lease agreements don’t follow a single, set template, there are common sections that run between most of them. The following is a list of some of these common terms and what they mean.
- Term – Essentially, it’s how long your lease lasts. Terms can last anywhere between a few months and 5+ years, depending on the situation. If you plan on staying past the lease’s term, the lease must be renewed. In that time, sections of the lease can be changed and negotiated once again. Your landlord even has the right to refuse a renewal, leaving you without a space to do business.
- Rent – how much you’ll be paying your landlord to use their space. Commercial rents are commonly based on the square footage (SF) of the space. Depending on the type of lease you sign, what you’ll actually be paying for will vary.
- Percentage rent lease – common for retail businesses, you’ll be paying a base rent, along with a percentage based on your sales.
- Gross rent lease – You’ll just pay a flat rate for rent and other, specific expenses, while your landlord covers the rest of the operating costs.
- Net lease – You’ll pay some of the property taxes along with the base rent.
- Double net lease – You’ll pay the base rent, taxes, and insurance costs.
- Triple net lease – You’ll pay the base rent, taxes, and any operating and maintenance costs.
- Space and Services – This outlines what you’ll actually be receiving upon signing your lease. You’ll want to make sure that the square footage outlined in the lease actually matches up to the space you expect to receive. Also, you’ll want to know who is handling the tasks necessary to keep your physical store, safe, clean, and convenient. Who takes care of any outdoor landscaping? Will any common spaces be cleaned? Who handles any needed repairs?
- Leasehold improvements – Because you won’t own the building, your ability to make any improvements to it for the well-being of your business could vary. If you can make improvements, will they be your assets? Will they be the property of your landlord when you leave? In leaving, you should also know what you can take with you and what you can’t.
- Escape clause – In the event that you are no longer able to run your business, what happens? Are you trapped in your lease, or will you be allowed to end it early?
Once again, leases can get terribly complicated. It’s recommended that you get help from trained professionals in order to get the most out of your lease agreement, and to understand what exactly you’re getting into.
Growing Your Business
Opening your own business is no small feat. Now that you’ve passed that initial point, you finally have some room to breathe; you’ve established yourself in your community, and profits are steady.
This new situation begs the question: where do you go from here?
Are you happy with where your business is right now, or are you considering making some major improvements? How do you plan on making sure that your business is attracting new customers every day? Are you willing to further commit to an ideology of corporate citizenship within your community? This section aims to cover just a few of the different things you can do with your company once it’s comfortably off the ground.
The Triple Bottom Line
Traditionally, the bottom line goal of any business was to simply maximize profits. While profit is still important – it’s what keeps businesses open, after all – business author John Elkington proposed that businesses should also equally focus on the people they are affecting and the planet on which they are living. These 3 P’s – profit, planet, and people – combine to become the Triple Bottom Lineof social responsibility. The Triple Bottom Line was a cautionary philosophy, introduced as purely profit-seeking corporations were contributing to rainforest loss and opting for cheap, overseas labour. Today, this philosophy can be adopted by any business looking to make a positive difference in its community.
So how exactly does one follow this triple bottom line philosophy? After all, there’s no agreed upon way to physically measure people and planet like there is with profit. As it turns out, this may actually make the sustainable philosophy both more accessible and more effective. This is because businesses are different from one another; they have varying day-to-day responsibilities and routines that can’t really be compared. While the concept of profit remains pretty black and white, this means that businesses are free to focus on their own definitions of corporate citizenship and environmental sustainability.
For example, a restaurant could make an effort to deliver unused food to local soup kitchens, reducing food waste and helping their community. Meanwhile, an electronics repair shop could give special “forgiveness” rates to young students who dropped and damaged their phones for the first time. These initiatives differ greatly, but they both go towards building a better community.
Physical recognition of a business’s Triple Bottom Line mentality comes in the form of a B Corp certification. The Beneficial Corporation certification process involves an independent assessment of your business’s accountability, transparency, and social, workplace, and environmental responsibility. Based in Pennsylvania, B Lab has been carefully granting these certifications since 2006.
A 2022 Nielsen Report showed that about approximately three-quarters of consumers around the globe were willing to change a behaviour to help reduce their individual impact on the planet. A meaningful certification is a great way to prove that your business is committed to the Triple Bottom Line, and may help in attracting these consumers to your business.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
One great way to market your company is to make it easy to find on search engines, like Google or Bing. Even if you’ve made the choice not to create a standalone website for your business, any relevant Facebook page, Twitter handle, or even Instagram profile for your business should fill the top spot on the search engine results page (SERP) if people are looking for businesses like yours in your area. You can do this by improving your website’s search engine optimization, or SEO.
While the actual algorithms used by search engines to bring up relevant results are largely unknown, sites like Search Engine Watch offer their best estimates of what Google wants in a website.
Visit Search Engine Watch’s website for its full list of 22 SEO Essentials.
Relevancy — Quite simply, relevancy refers to a search engine’s main goal of answering the queries of its users. If you have a website to represent your plumbing business online, and somebody in the area wants to know about ”plumbing services nearby,” then you are likely to show up on the SERP when they ask that question.
The caveat, however, is that you need to make sure that search engines know what you are and where you are located. One great way to accomplish this for Google searches is to register your business with Google My Business. By providing Google with information like your business’s hours, contact info, and industry type, they can tailor their search results to better inform locals about your business as it’s relevant
Meta Descriptions and Title Tags — When you’re searching for businesses in your area on Google, you may notice that some business websites have search results with professional, concise titles and quick, clear descriptions. While these fine-tuned title tags and meta descriptions aren’t necessarily improving these websites’ positions on SERPs, they may help to entice people to enter their website and look around.
In regards to implementing these tags and descriptions, all common website hosting services – such as WordPress and Wix – should have the capabilities to let you do this quickly and easily.
User Experience — In ranking similar websites, search engines often give SERP priority to the ones that appear to keep users engaged for long periods of time. This means that focusing on your website’s user experience may be killing two birds with one stone; while a positive user experience has always kept the user coming back for more, it will now also lead to an increase in the site’s overall visibility.
So how exactly does one create such an experience? While the actual nuts and bolts may vary depending on what your website is for, you’ll generally want your site to have an intuitive design and a good number of internal links in the right places. The design aspect will let users understand where they need to go to get the information they need, whereas internal links will let users jump between relevant topics, lowering the site’s bounce rate (the rate at which users leave the site entirely).
Another increasingly important aspect of the user experience is whether or not your website supports mobile viewing. Nowadays, websites that don’t do this just seem outdated. Google has stated that a website with a responsive design – one that changes its layout based on the size, type, and orientation of the user’s device – is preferred, and will assist in boosting your SEO.
Key/Buzzword Stuffing — While it may seem tempting to fill your webpage with reams of oft-Googled keywords in an attempt to boost your relevancy, it actually does more harm than good. Search engines avoid sites that exhibit that behaviour — this includes hiding keywords or links on your page that nobody can see. Search Engine Watch wonders whether or not Google even uses keywords as a SERP ranking criterion anymore.
Annoying Advertisements — Having an ad on your site that automatically plays sound, covers large portions of the screen, or just slows down and degrades the user experience overall will lower your SEO ranking. While advertisements are a large source of income for some website owners, you have to consider whether or not an ad is doing more harm than good.
Link Buying — While it’s true that your SEO ranking is boosted if another site has a link to your content, the catch is that the link has to come from a site with A website with authority is one that is trusted by its users, other sites, and the search engines themselves. A link farm – an operation with the sole purpose of using multiple web pages to link to your content – has no such authority and will only help in penalizing your SEO ranking.
Applying for a Loan
First and foremost, you should know what a loan officer is looking for in a good loan applicant. While personal values may differ from creditor to creditor, you should know that any creditor will generally judge your application based on the Five C’s of Business Lending:
- Character – One key criterion that lenders examine is that of your character as a business owner. Basically, your character covers topics like your experience in running a business, your management skills, and your reputation within your industry. If you seem like a trustworthy, experienced person, lenders will be more likely to approve your loan requests.
- Credit – A less abstract criterion than the concept of “character,” your credit score is a number ranging from 300 to 900 that is calculated by your overall financial history. While the actual determinants of your credit score are intentionally vague, your score is essentially calculated by looking at your credit history – whether you’ve repaid any debts/loans you’ve had or not. Many lenders won’t provide loans to applicants with scores below 650, as they deem those people untrustworthy.
- Capacity – Looking at your capacity will help lenders determine whether or not you’ll physically be able to repay your loan, all other things being equal. This is because your capacity has to do with your business’s overall cash flow. Will you be able to make the required payments, given the amount of money you are bringing in with your business?
- Capital – To define “capital” is to open up a particularly large can of worms. While economists disagree with the technicalities of this definition, lenders see capital as the amount of your own money that you are willing to invest into your venture. An example of this would be providing a down payment for a mortgage. If creditors see that you are serious about your application – and have the funds to back up your claim – they may be more likely to accept your request for additional funding.
- Collateral – Lenders look for collateral when assessing loan applications because they want to know that they’ll be able to get their money back, in the form of physical assets, if the applicant can no longer make their required payments. Collateral takes the form of things like cars or houses because they are liquid; they can be sold easily for cash if necessary. Lenders feel better about applicants who have collateral to offer if they can no longer make their loan payments.
By understanding the criteria used by most lenders, you’ll be able to make changes to your loan application that you know will boost your chances of receiving a loan. You’ll know how your business compares to the ideal ca
One of the most common ways to receive funding for your business is to apply for a bank loan. These loans come in different forms, but the main idea is that they provide you with the financial means to undertake necessary projects for your business, with the expectation that your debt will be repaid in the future. Below is a list of some of the different forms that these bank loans can take:
- Term Loan – A lump sum loan that gets repaid over a set amount of time. When most people think about loans, this is what they have in mind. These loans are handy if you are looking to make a major purchase for your business.
- Line of Credit – A “take as you need” loan, where the bank leaves a sum of money for you to use as you need it. This type of loan is great for handling short-term expenses as they arise.
- Invoice Financing – This sort of loan protects you from the consequences brought on by unpaid invoices. Basically, banks will provide temporary cash for invoices that don’t get paid on time by clients. This sort of loan is handy for businesses that depend on their sales revenues to stay afloat, as it keeps cash flow steady.
Now, this is not to say that banks are your only option for financing. Other options do exist, and they compete with traditional banks in their own ways. Many non-profits, for example, offer microloans capping at around $45,000 for small, less experienced businesses. Some online lenders also offer loans to new businesses, providing an option for those who need cash quickly and easily.
You should treat looking for a loan like buying a car; you should figure out which type of loan you want, and then compare two or three different relevant options extensively. Out of the loans you qualify for, you’ll want to look for the one that offers the lowest APR, or annual percentage rate. Basically, a low APR means that the loan is less expensive, as you won’t be paying a lot of interest on the money you’ve borrowed.
You should have a strong understanding of your full credit report before you apply for funding. You can apply to receive a free credit report each year from Equifax and TransUnion, the two major credit reporting bureaus in Canada. Your free report will be sent to you by mail. If you wish to view your credit report online, you will be charged a set fee. For more information on how to apply for your free credit report, click here.
There are many unverified websites on the internet that claim to offer free credit reports of their own. It is highly recommended that you avoid these sites, as they may be scams set up to steal your credit card information.
Published by the BC Provincial Government, this handout provides key Information about small business services, programs and publications for new small business owners.
Published by the City of Coquitlam, this document provides local coverage of institutions you may find useful when starting a business in Coquitlam.
BC Assessment produces independent, uniform and efficient property assessments on an annual basis for all property owners in the province.
BC Stats — Ministry of Finance and Corporate Relations
BC Stats is the central statistical agency of the Province of British Columbia.
BC Trade and Investment Office
British Columbia’s diverse communities and regions offer a wide range of attractive business location options. This site contains profiles with key site-selection information for individual communities and regions.
Business Development Bank of Canada
The Business Development Bank of Canada focuses on supporting small and medium-sized businesses at every stage of their growth.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
If your business involves food, animals, and/or plants you may want to check the Government of Canada’s regulations posted on this website.
Futurpreneur provides aspiring entrepreneurs with everything they need to know about starting their own businesses.
Health Canada is the Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health while respecting individual choices and circumstances. This website contains a variety of health-related information.
Innovate BC is a one-stop service centre to connect innovators — large and small — with BC government funding, tools, resources and support.
Liquor Control and Licensing Branch
Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) issues licences in B.C. for making and selling liquor (either by the glass or bottle) and supervises the service of liquor in licenced establishments.
Small Business BC
Support and resources for those running or starting a small business in British Columbia.
The Canadian Government’s central statistical agency.
Economic Support Programs for Businesses
Discover and learn more about the economic support programs and resources available for your business, industry, organization, or community groups.
Loans and Grants
Access loans, grants, and flexible financing solutions that are available to BC businesses.
The Workplace Accessibility Grant program provides direct financial assistance towards creating an inclusive work environment for persons with disabilities, and small business employers in BC can apply for grants of up to $1,000.
The grant will be administered from Monday, June 21, 2021, through Saturday, April 30, 2022, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Programs and Resources
Programs and resources are available to help develop, expand, and manage your business operations.
The Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) has been established to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) realize their full potential by adopting digital technologies.
Announced in Budget 2021, the $4 billion program is an investment of $1.4 billion in grants and advisory services to SMEs from the Government of Canada and up to $2.6 billion in loans from the Business Development Bank of Canada to help businesses cover the costs of implementing new digital technologies.
Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)
The Canadian anti-spam legislation protects Canadians while ensuring businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace. Any business using electronic channels to promote or market your business will be affected by these laws.
If you use email, SMS, social media, or instant messaging to send promotional information about your business to customers and prospects, you must have a valid form of implied or expressed consent from your contacts. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to understand and comply with this legislation.
In order to be CASL compliant, you need to have the recipient’s consent, to identify yourself, to offer an unsubscribe mechanism, and to be truthful. In addition, you must have:
- Consent: You must have express consent from your contacts. Learn how to properly obtain express consent.
- Identification: Clearly identify your organization, include your mailing address, phone number, and email address or website.
- Unsubscribe: Provide an unsubscribe mechanism.
- Truth in advertising: Your message must NOT be false or misleading.
You have express consent when:
You have valid consent given in writing or orally
You have a record of how you obtained that consent
Time-Limited: Consent is withdrawn when the recipient unsubscribes.
You have implied consent when:
You have an existing business relationship (business inquiry, past purchase of goods and/or services, interest in business, investment opportunity).
You have an existing non-business relationship (registered charity, political party or candidate, donations, club or association member, or volunteer).
The recipient’s email address was published without any restrictions and the recipient relates to your business
The recipient’s email was sent to you
Time Limited: Implied consent is time-limited to approximately 2 years after the relationship ends.
Closing your Business
It is important that you plan your business’s exit from the industry far in advance, as you’ll want the time to properly consider all of your exit options well before any decisions are required of you. You’re likely going to want to make sure that you’ll be able to get your money out of your business when it has run its course, and proper planning for the future can help secure that.
The Canada Business Network stresses that a successful exit may take as long as five years to carry out. So what exactly goes into the planning process of an ideal exit? If you have not already documented a planned exit in your business plan, consider answering the following questions:
- When am I planning on leaving?
- What do I want to do with my business in regards to getting it off my hands? Options you can plan for include:
- Closing up shop and liquidating (essentially selling) all of your assets to other buyers
- Selling/passing down your business as a whole to a friendly buyer (a family member, or a trusted employee)
- How will I determine the value of my business and its assets?
- Do I have a plan after everything is dealt with? How much money will I need to live comfortably in retirement/between jobs?
Even if you’re not planning on exiting any time soon, a well-planned strategy will help provide a destination for you to steer towards while you’re running your business.
As an entrepreneur about to sell or close your business, it is important that you understand the many obligations you have in regard to making a responsible exit. Small Business BC has an extensive section on its website that outlines all of the legal procedures you need to carry out in closing your business. To travel to Small Business BC’s webpage, click here.
What does it mean to declare bankruptcy? More than just a simple announcement, a bankruptcy declaration can help relieve pressure for unfortunate individuals who are unable to repay their debts. Basically, filing for bankruptcy will involve working with a licensed insolvency trustee (LIT), who will deal with any unpaid money lenders, or creditors, on your behalf. After being formally declared bankrupt, you will no longer make direct payments to your creditors, any lawsuits between you and your creditors will be stopped, and your creditors will no longer take portions of your salary each payday.
Once these immediate issues have been cleared up, your LIT will begin to sell any assets of yours to raise money that will eventually be distributed to your unpaid creditors. You will also be required to make surplus payments if you make over $200 more than what is deemed necessary for a family to maintain a reasonable standard of living.
Your Rights when Dealing with Debt Collectors
Note that, when you are dealing with a debt collector, you have certain rights that they cannot violate. Generally, a debt collector can only contact your friends, employer, relatives, or neighbours to get your telephone number or address. A debt collector can only contact you at the following times:
- Monday through Saturday: 7:00am – 9:00pm
- Sunday: 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Collectors are not allowed to contact you on holidays.
Debt collectors are also not allowed to do the following:
- Suggest to your friends, employer, relatives, or neighbours that they should pay your debts, unless they have co-signed on your loan
- Use threatening, intimidating, or abusive language
- Apply excessive or unreasonable pressure on you to repay the debt
- Misrepresent the situation or give false or misleading information
- Add any collection-related costs to the amount you owe, other than legal fees and fees for non-sufficient funds on payments that you submitted
Filing a Complaint
If you feel that a debt collector isn’t respecting your rights, you should know who to contact to resolve the issue. Contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada if you are dealing with a federally regulated financial institution or a debt collection agency hired by one of these institutions. Alternatively, contact BC’s consumer affairs office if you are dealing with a debt collection agency that bought the right to collect your debt from your creditor.