One of the most common questions when starting a business is: “Where do I start?” This guide to starting a business will provide you with key considerations, next steps, and contact information to get your business up and running.
Please note: this guide is not all encompassing and there may be additional things that you require for your particular business.
Plan your business
Evaluate your idea
Can you make money from this business? Is there a market for your product/service?
Conduct research on the market, the industry, and your competition.
Develop a business plan
Your business plan will help you determine start-up costs, identify your customers, understand your market potential, determine what strategy(s) you will use to promote your business, and develop financial projections. A business plan is usually required to access funding.
Business plan templates
Templates for business planning can be found online, the Futurpreneur Website, or through your financial institution.
Business plan samples
Business plan review service
Entrepreneurship Manitoba’s Business Consultants can help you by objectively assessing your business plan and providing feedback in preparation for presentation to potential lenders or investors, and/or implementation. Learn more about the business plan review service. (Fee for service).
Financing your business
How will you finance your business? Along with your own money, additional funding may be provided through commercial loans and other financial programs.
Visit Entrepreneurship Manitoba's financial programs page and the Canada Business Network for a list of financial programs..
Choose a business structure
Before you register your business, you will have to choose your business structure (Sole Proprietorship, Partnership or Corporation). View Entrepreneurship Manitoba's Choose your Business Structure article to learn more.
Develop your business skills
You can attend workshops and seminars to help develop your skills. See below for some training options.
- Entrepreneurship Manitoba events & seminars calendar
- Entrepreneurship Manitoba free Business Planning for Start-Ups video series
- World Trade Centre Winnipeg | Business InfoCentre Training Seminars
- World Trade Centre Winnipeg | Business InfoCentre Free training video series
- Canada Revenue Agency: CRA Videos and recorded webinars for businesses
Register a business name
If you choose to carry on a business under a name other than your own name, you must register with the Companies Office. Sole proprietors who are carrying on business under their own name (ex: Jane Smith operating as “Smith Plumbing", does not have to register.
Note: the sole owner is required to display a sign at their business showing his or her full name. Partnerships and Corporations must be registered with the Companies Office.
Step 1: Business Name Reservation
Submit a “Request for Business Name Reservation” for approval online or in person.
Step 2: Register Business
Register the business with your chosen business structure (see "Choose a business structure" above) using your name approval.
Once your business is been registered, the Companies Office will issue you a 9-digit Business Number (BN).
Companies Office, Entrepreneurship Manitoba
Winnipeg MB R3C 3L6
Toll Free: 1-888-246-8353 (in Manitoba)
Open a business bank account
Visit your local financial institution to open a business bank account.
You will have to provide:
- your Business Number
- a copy of your Business Registration documentation, and
- your partnership agreement, if applicable.
Register a domain name (URL)
Consider reserving a domain name for your business to create your website and get a custom email address. Visit the Canadian Internet Registration Authority at www.cira.ca to see if your .ca website name is available.
Apply for a business license
Contact your local municipal office to determine whether you need a Business License.
Check out BizPaL
BizPaL (Business Permits and Licences) is a free online tool that provides information on the permits and licences you may need, from all levels of government, to start and grow your business in Manitoba. Visit BizPaL now!
City of Winnipeg, License Branch
Main Floor - 395 Main Street
Winnipeg, MB, R3B 3N8 (corner of Main Street and McDermot Avenue)
Phone: 204-986-2234 or 311
Apply for a building and/or occupancy permit
Contact the City of Winnipeg or your local municipal office to find out if you need a home or building occupancy permit.
City of Winnipeg, One Stop Shop Permit Branch
Unit 31 – 30 Fort Street
Winnipeg MB R3C 4X3
Phone: 204-986-5410 or 311
Brandon Area & Planning
638 Princess Ave.
Brandon, MB R7A 0P3
Phone: (204) 729 2121
Apply for a direct sellers/vendors license
You may be required to obtain a provincial direct sellers/vendors license if you are planning to sell door-to-door, advertise in the form of business cards, flyers, on a vehicle, etc. Apply for registration in Manitoba as a manufacturer, renovator or home hobby/craft operator of bedding and other upholstered or stuffed articles.
Consumer Protection Office
Winnipeg: 204-945-3800 | Toll free: 1-800-782-0067
Register for tax accounts
RST or PST
The Retail Sales Tax (RST or PST) is a tax applied to the retail sale or rental of most goods and certain services in Manitoba. Any person carrying on a business in Manitoba (except for small businesses with annual taxable sales under $10,000) must have a valid RST/PST number.
Manitoba Finance, Taxation Division
Winnipeg: 204-945-6444 |Toll Free: 1-800-564-9789
Brandon: 204-726-6578 | 1-800-782-0318
The goods and services tax (GST) is a tax that applies to most supplies and services in Canada. A business whose total taxable revenues before expenses are $30,000 or less in the last four consecutive calendar quarters are not required to register.
Canada Revenue Agency
Toll Free: 1-800-959-5525
Contact the municipality where you plan to open your business.
Corporation capital tax
As a sole proprietor, you may have to pay your tax by installments. You may also need to make instalment payments for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions on your own income.
- See CRA's paying your income tax by instalments.
Maintain business records
You are required by law to keep records of all your transactions to support your income and expenses. Tax documents must be kept for the current year plus six years. Other documents may have other retention periods. It is best to consult with an accountant, lawyer, HR professional, industry professional, or ARMA International for further guidance.
In addition to insuring your property and business assets, consider other forms of insurance such as liability, disability, business interruption, errors & omissions, inventory and bonding.
Open an import/export account
There are several other factors you must consider when importing or exporting, including
- import/export controls
- packaging and labeling requirements, and
- international trade agreements
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
Toll Free: 1-800-461-9999 (in Canada)
- Step-by-Step Guide to Importing Commercial Goods into Canada
- Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting Goods from Canada
Know Your Industry
Know the laws and regulations of your industry
Determine which municipal, provincial, or federal government departments regulate your industry.
Join local affiliations
Consider joining a Chamber of Commerce or industry association to network with other business owners and get the most up to date information on your industry.
Support Your Employees
Comply with Manitoba Employment Standards
Make sure you are aware of your requirements as an employer under the Employment Standards Act.
Remit payroll deductions
As an employer, you are responsible for deducting Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions, employment insurance (EI) premiums and income tax from employee salaries, wages, or any other type of income and remitting them to Canada Revenue Agency. Using your Business Number, open a Payroll Deductions account and remit these deductions monthly.
Canada Revenue Agency
Register with the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba
The workers compensation system is an injury and disability insurance for workers and employers, paid by employers. As an employer, you must register for Workers Compensation from the moment you have your first employee, whether you are paying wages or not. Self-employed individuals can also obtain personal coverage.
Maintain a safe and healthy workplace
As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure you are providing a safe and healthy work environment for your employees. For more information on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, please see:
- View Entrepreneurship Manitoba's Hiring Employees guide.
Workplace Safety and Health
Phone: 204-957-SAFE (7233) | Toll Free: 1-855-957-SAFE (7233)
SAFE work Manitoba
SAFE Work Manitoba is the public agency dedicated to the prevention of workplace injury and illness.
Build Your Team of Experts
- Bookkeeper - Manta list of Bookkeepers
- Accountant - Chartered Professional Accountants Manitoba
- Lawyer - The Law Society of Manitoba
- Insurance Broker - Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba
- Manitoba Business Support Services Directory - Biz-Grid
This document was produced in collaboration with World Trade Centre Winnipeg | Business InfoCentre
Note to Reader
The individual/business/partnership/corporation (hereafter referred to as the client) acknowledges and understands that the Government of Manitoba and World Trade Centre Winnipeg | Business InfoCentre do not warrant or represent the accuracy, suitability or applicability of this information and assume no responsibility or liability for the use thereof by the client and any third parties, and that the interpretation, use and application of such information shall be the client’s sole responsibility. This guide is to provide basic information only. (Note: information such as addresses/phone numbers/websites may be subject to change without notice)