How-To Start a Business: From the Tech Ground Up

START & GROW YOUR BUSINESS

October 28, 2020

Josephine Bulat

The technological world moves fast – one day, we’re impressed by a new version of an iPhone, and the next day Elon Musk is developing brain implantation devices as small as a coin to treat paraplegia.

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

The technological world moves fast – one day, we’re impressed by a new version of an iPhone, and the next day Elon Musk is developing brain implantation devices as small as a coin to treat paraplegia.  

So when that idea, that unique product or service that could impact society like never before, pops into your head, you have to move quickly before the tech world moves on to the next “big thing”.

It’s easy to move that fast when you’ve been around the business block before. But what if you haven’t? Where do you even begin?

Renno & Co. is here to work with you and your new business, from the ground up.

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Planning Makes Perfect

Prepare for Takeoff!

Every successful business venture begins with a plan of action. Simply put, a business plan is a written description of your company – who you are, what you plan to do and how you plan to do so. It will outline your business strategy for the beginning years of operation.

Why do you need a business plan?

In order for your business to succeed, you need to be working towards a goal —but you can’t do that without first outlining the necessary steps to reach that goal. Not to mention, the ability to secure finances (from banks, investors or even from friends) correlates with how strong and descriptive your business plan is. People want to know what exactly they are investing in, and the potential success rate of the company.  

A Sturdy Structure will do the Trick

How you structure your business can crucially impact your success. Preparing a business plan will help you see what objectives you are trying to achieve, and thus help you decide what kind of ownership is required to do so.  

For instance in Ontario, there are 3 main types of ownership structures for new businesses:

1. Sole Proprietorships – you and your business are one! (legally speaking), which means profits come to you (but so do expenses and debts)

2. Partnerships – 2 or more people own the business, which means profits (and debts) are now shared amongst partners, as well as financial resources (it’s not all on you anymore!)

3. Corporations – the company is managed by directors and officers, and shareholders have a bundle of rights associated with the company, depending on how much they invest in it.

There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to each structure of ownership. This is why it is important to know what you want to gain from this new business venture, and how much risk you are willing to take on to earn that.  

Show me the Money!

Securing finances for your new business venture can be a daunting task, but luckily for you there are more funding options (link to David’ article “Funding Your Start-up") today than ever before.  

Business ideas and plans differ, so the funding option you choose will too. Always keep in mind your own business plan and what you are trying to achieve. Here are just a few funding options to start thinking about:

  • Bank or credit loans = this is a common source of external funding, though sometimes difficult for novice entrepreneurs.  
  • Equity financing = this means you raise capital through the sale of shares. Since you’d be in your first stage of financing, the public would not be buying your shares, but accredited investors like venture capitalists and Angels would be.
  • Crowdfunding = this means you raise a set amount of money by asking the public at large to support your idea. If it’s unique and innovative, chances are people may be interested, but you have to work on a good strategy to attract attention, and thus funds.
  • The “New” Money = money is changing so if your business will operate in the cryptocurrency world, funding such as bitcoin or the selling equity in the form of tokens may be suitable for you.  

What’s in a Name?

The Name Game

So, you have a business idea, you created a plan, and you secured finances; now what? It’s time to start bringing the business to life by giving it a name. Try to make it something unique and easy to remember – you'll notice these days, more companies opt for one-word names to help stick in consumer brains.  

Also, it may be useful to make the name related to the industry you are entering.  

Let’s say I want to start an investment company. My name idea is “BREAD”.

  • It’s quick, catchy and easy to remember – but there is a strong possibility that someone would think this is a bakery business, before they thought it was an investment company.
  • However, if I made the name “BREAD INVESTMENTS” then people are more likely to suppose it could be an investment company (and it’s a play on words: bread can mean money).

There can be only One

By law, your business name cannot be the same as, or very similar, to an existing corporate or trademark name. This would cause confusion, and has been dealt with in court many times.

To save yourself the legal problems, all you have to do is search! The Government of Canada created a combined search tool for business names and trademarks called NUANS. Simply input the information about the business you are creating, and then you’ll be free to propose your name and search for results.  

In Ontario, you can also use the Enhanced Business Name Search tool online to search for existing business names (this is only available Monday-Friday, whereas the Integrated Business Services Application is available at any time).  

You don’t necessarily have to register your business name, but in some circumstances, you do:  

  • In sole proprietorships, the name must be registered if it’s different than the owner’s name
  • In existing general partnerships, the name must be registered if it’s different than the registered firm name
  • In corporations, the name must be registered, whether it’s the corporate name of the corporations or its operating name that is different than its corporate name.

For more details on registering a business name in Ontario, check out the government’s website pages here and here.

May I see your License and Registration, please?

Everything Comes at a Price

Your business idea may have come to you for free, but the registration process is not.  

To register a new business name (or even to renew your name), it costs $80 according to the Ontario government, and within 20 days of this payment you will receive you Master Business License.

This is applicable for sole proprietorships and general partnerships.  

Incorporating a business is a very different undertaking (but luckily for you, Renno and Co. know where to begin). To help you begin understanding, here are some basic components of the incorporation process to keep in mind:

To incorporate your company in Ontario, you must file Articles of Incorporation, Form 1 and other documents with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. To do so electronically requires a $300 payment fee, but it is more cost-effective (and efficient) to do it online versus in person. As well, first directors (people who are appointed directors at the beginning of incorporation – you may have more as you continue to grow) must complete a Consent to Act as First Director, Form 2.

Incorporation is not something to do without proper research first. This part of our guide only scratches the surface in terms of incorporating a business. Contact one of our professionals at Renno & Co. to dive deeper into this process, or check out information here.

May the Market be with You

Build-A-Brand

You’ve now built a company from scratch and so, the sky is the limit

Well actually, there’s just one cloud left floating in your way of endless business opportunities: the marketing cloud.  

As a Startup it can be a bit too pricy to hire a marketing team, so some people decide to do it themselves and learn the craft, or hire an agency to help them. If you wanted to take on the task of marketing yourself, here are some steps to follow:

  1. Industry Analysis: Before preparing a marketing plan, you need to complete the industry analysis of your business plan. Why? Well you need to have sufficient knowledge of the environment (national and local market) because trust me, it will affect your marketing strategy decisions.  
  1. Competitor Analysis: You're not alone in the business world and you need to know who you’re playing against and what their marketing looks like.  
  1. Marketing Research: More research? Marketing is all about. This step is about collecting data that will help you determine who will buy your product or service, what is the size of your potential market, what price you should charge, what is the best distribution channel for you, and what is the most effective promotion strategy to reach your clientele.  
  1. The Marketing Plan: We're finally at the planning stage. The marketing plan will help you answer these 3-simple question:
  • Where are we now?  Be sure to include updated information on your target market and any new goals you want to accomplish.
  • Where do we want to go? Has your long-term plan changed? If so, update!
  • How do we get there? This should include budget plans related to social media, public relations, website development, etc.

FOR EXAMPLE: Part of your marketing plan could be creating a website and social media platforms, all of which share the same information, logos, and slogans. As long as you convey the same message across the board, your customers or clients will understand the company’s objectives. If you want to buy your own domain name, maybe even consider applying for domain shortcuts to help link people to your website faster -- like Google’s .new! <-- Link sharing article hyperlinked

Usually, a marketing plan should be prepared annually, assessing the goals and objectives for the next year, and also needs to be integrated in your company’s long-term strategic plan.  

Be clear, be consistent across all the platforms and constantly be online. The stronger your active presence, the more likely you will drive attention to your website and thus your company.  

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Starting your business can seem like a lengthy and complicated process. But it doesn’t have to be. Here at Renno & Co., our business is to help your business, so let’s build one together.

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