5 Steps to Starting a Small Business
I'm back with some small business tips y'all. Now that I have convinced you to follow your dream of owning your own business, let me walk you through the steps it took for me to officially start Camélia Cake Shop. It is worth noting that I am a small business in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, so this blog post specifically applies to that area. Other cities and provinces may be similar, but this post will get you a general idea of all the procedures involved in legitimatizing your business. Without further delay, let's get started.
Step 1: Register your trade name
Alright, so we're starting off strong. This is a big step because you have to figure out what your business's name is basically! I highly recommend you sit on it for a while before finalizing this. Before Camélia Cake Shop, I was thinking of going by "Cakes by Nancy" or "Cakes & Caviar". These names were good, but I am so glad I gave it some time so that I could come up with Camélia Cake Shop. I will be going over how I came up with that name and branding in my next blog post.
When you are happy with your trade name, you can register it online or go to a local registry, like me. I went to a local AMA, and it was super easy. There is a fee attached, and how much it is depends on the type of business you are. I decided to register as a sole proprietor (the lowest fee). If you decide to incorporate, it costs significantly more, but there are reasons for that. From my understanding, incorporation allows you to be a separate entity from your business, so in the case of a lawsuit, you, yourself, are not liable. Also, if you incorporate, your earnings are taxed at a lower rate. There are many advantages to incorporating, and I am no expert, so please contact your local registries for more information on that! Because I am a low-risk/small business, I decided to register as a sole proprietor.
Step 2: Open a business bank account
Now this step is optional, but I highly recommend doing so to separate your personal spending from your business spending, or you'll be spending all day on an excel spreadsheet trying to separate all of it! When you register your trade name, you are given a registration number, and that is the number you use to start your bank account. Which bank doesn't really matter, but I heard ATB is super small business friendly (not sponsored haha).
Step 3: Make sure you have all the right permits
In Alberta, you may need a food handling permit and to take a food safety course. Luckily for me, a new regulation passed where one can make low-risk foods from a home kitchen. It was like fate. I was tossing around the idea of quitting my job and doing my own cakes full time for a while. Then suddenly, I came across this new regulation, and just like that it was so apparent to me it was time to quit. However, this only applies to low-risk foods, meaning food that does not need to refrigerated, so absolutely no meat! Therefore, I didn't have to get a food handling permit and a commercial kitchen, but I paid for a food safety course anyways - just to be updated on the best sanitary practices.
Step 4: Get a business license
This is also a super easy step that you can do online! I got a business license for the City of Edmonton. When doing so, I had to state that it's a home business, how many workers there are (just me), and other information like how many clients I expect to come by my home. The type of business license that is meant for your business is then determined by the city based on your answers, so just sit back and let them figure that out. After that is determined, there is a fee. Once paid, you will receive a temporary license until the real one is mailed to you! Getting a business license made me feel legit legit, haha. There was also a sense of pride when receiving it :)
Step 5: Tie all loose ends
This step outlines all the remaining things you may have to do. One thing to consider is obtaining liability insurance. This is to make sure that you're covered if anything goes south. I think it is better to be prepared than not. Another thing you may consider is registering for a GST account with the CRA. This does not have to be done until you make $30,000. However, I find that it is harder to keep track of when that day comes, might as well get it out of the way now. Other than that, this is your time to be creative! Get all your creative juices flowing and work on your website, branding, packaging, social media, or whatever it may be. I wanted to outline the boring procedural stuff for you guys, because I know it was hard for me to wrap my head around it all at first. It was quite daunting. I think this may be why so many businesses don't take that step to becoming legit, because there's just so many steps and fees. But I'm here to let you know that you have a helping friend in me, and if I can shed any knowledge after going through the process myself, I would be overjoyed.
Tune in next time for how my creative process went, and how I thought of the name Camélia Cake Shop and came up with my logo.