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Starting a Business in Ontario

Are you looking to start a new business? If so, you may be thinking about whether to incorporate or not.  Businesses can take many forms.  Sole proprietorship, partnership and corporation are forms of operating a business.  Which one should you choose? Your choice can have tax consequences and can affect how much time you spend on doing administrative tasks. You may also be concerned about business liability and how to limit your own personal liability.  

Does your company have numerous shareholders? A shareholder’s agreement is an agreement among the shareholders of your company. Taking time now to draft a solid agreement can avoid problems later on.

If you decide to incorporate, you may also be wondering if it’s better to incorporate provincially or federally.  In other words, should it be an Ontario Corporation or Canada Corporation? The steps are different and the cost is different as well.  Canadian corporations tend to be a bit easier to do online while Ontario Corporations can also be started by using an online platform but is a bit more costly and slightly more complicated than Canada corporations. 

Have you considered the name of your corporation? You will need to do a NUANS search to ensure no one has an identical name.  There are also Articles of Incorporation you have to draft. You will also need to have a registered office address and your initial board of directors.  How many directors do you intend to have? Just one or more? You will need to decide how many you plan to have.  

Do you already have a business? Running a business can result in legal issues arising out of day to day operations.  For example, you may have customers who have not yet paid your invoices.  What is the best way to collect unpaid debt? Another consideration is keeping customers happy versus protecting unpaid debt.  Perhaps some compromise is needed.  

You may also have employees.  Keeping your staff happy and engaged is important to running a successful business.  Employment issues can lead to liabilities for the company.  When do you need to conduct a workplace investigation?  Recent cases have shown where an employer is aware of a toxic work environment or harassment or abuse in the workplace, they may be held liable for doing nothing.  What type of investigation needs to be done and what’s the scope?  A lawyer can help you determine that.  Sometimes a full workplace investigation might not be necessary but better human resources and management oversight of what’s going on in the workplace is key.  

Your business will involve many agreements.  Employment agreements, supplier agreements, rent or lease agreements are just some of the different forms of agreements your business may have.  It is important to ensure these agreements consider future contingencies to avoid problems such as wrongful dismissal, severance, notice pay, Employment Standards Act breaches, unpaid bills, invoices overdue, rent or lease agreements that don’t suit the business, such as limits to what the premises can be used for or the type of business that can be run.  

It is important to be careful to consider all elements of running a business and try your best to anticipate potential problems before they happen.  A lawyer can help you plan your business and consider issues you may not have considered.  

Speak to an Ontario Business Law Lawyer for free by telephone, WhatsApp, WeChat, Text Messaging (SMS) or Zoom.