This is the start of your corporate identity – It’s the starting point for all of your marketing, choosing a name, a logo, etc.

Today we will go over whether you will need to register or incorporate your business & if incorporating we will go through the considerations.

Furthermore, let’s discuss grants and business loans… getting to be fewer!

Making It All Official:

Generally, you will require:

  • Business Plan (optional, but recommended).
  • Corporate Identity (your name, what you stand for, your co’s personality)
  • Logo/Branding – try 99designs.com – inside tip from the pros!
  • Company Registration or Incorporation papers
  • Bank Account / Company Cheques (which you will get with the above).
  • Internet Domain – www.YourCompany.com (or .ca).
  • Corporate Website / emails of SOME SORT – it’s really important!
  • Corporate Stationery – Letterhead/email signature/brochures…
  • PayPal Account is GREAT for accepting online payments.

Your Corporate Identity

You probably already have a really good idea about WHAT KIND OF COMPANY you want to create.

It may be dedicated primarily to CUSTOMER VALUE (like WalMart) or to THE ENVIRONMENT (lots of companies popping up with “sustainability” in the mission statement) – what is YOUR company’s identity?

  • What are your products & services?
  • What is the story behind your brand?
  • What is your mission statement?
  • What are your Corporate Values?
  • What is your Company Philosophy?
  • What do you offer your customers?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What is the “tone” of your brand?

Here is a GREAT online questionnaire to help you define your corporate identity: 
http://www.promotestudios.com/page.php?page=61

Your Company Name

What’s in a name?  According to Shakespeare, it’s not that important, but in business, there are some important considerations!

  • You need one unique element in your name (rose / alligator / diamond )
  • You need some kind of descriptor in your name (baking services)
  • If a registered company, that’s all you need, although you CAN add words like Enterprises, Solutions, and so on at the end
  • If an incorporated company, you need to add Inc. or Ltd. at the end or spell them out … it’s up to you.

What Is Brand Identity?

Here is one definition

While putting together this Course, I came across a great article on branding:
http://www.brandingasia.com/columns/temporal10.htm

“Brand identity is the total proposition that a company makes to consumers – the promise it makes.

It may consist of features and attributes, benefits, performance, quality, service support, and the values that the brand possesses.

The brand can be viewed as a product, a personality, a set of values, and a position it occupies in people’s minds.

Brand identity is everything the company wants the brand to be seen as.”

Your Company’s Personality

With whom do you like to deal?

  • Developing a “personality” for your company is a bit of a challenge but well worth it – especially later if/when you want to start with blogging & social marketing.
  • Some people who launch small new businesses try to give the impression on their websites & promotional literature that they are bigger than they actually are.
  • That is not always the best strategy, as it frequently starts sounding a little impersonal or generic.
  • Having read a LOT on the topic, I come in on the side of “keeping it real”. That is, if your company is JUST YOU or YOU & YOUR friend/wife/child/etc., just don’t make any excuses about it (a la Julia Child – “Make No Excuses”!).
  • Bigger is not always better.
  • Frequently, potential customers are happy to find there is a human name there, writing a blog, offering expertise, a commitment to quality, etc.

Your Company’s Logo & Branding

2 Basic Elements Of A Logo:

  • Iconic Element (graphical)
  • Text Element (usually company name)

You don’t need to be a logo/branding expert to get started on building your company brand, but it HELPS to know a thing or 2 about it before you start paying designers.

Look at SUCCESSFUL branding campaigns and learn from them:

  • MacDonald’s
  • Telus (yes, awesome branding)
  • IBM
  • Pepsi / Coke (they are ALL BRANDING + a little sugar & water)

Logo Basics:

  • Other than the 2 concepts above, here are a few more rules of thumb when designing a logo or having one designed for you:
  • Make sure you have versions which can go on LIGHT OR DARK BACKGROUNDS
  • Make sure your logo can be reproduced SMALL OR BLACK AND WHITE – you may need to have 2 VERSIONS: SIMPLE & ENHANCED – one for black&white/small applications, and one where you have available space and the ability to use fancy colours.
  • Choose a font for the text element of your logo – if your designer chooses your font – MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT THE FONT NAME IS AND WHERE TO GET IT!

 

  • TRADE SECRET: 99designs.com or if you are having a friend do it, save yourself some heartache and make sure you use this info!

Excellent Local Resource:
SmallBusinessBC.ca

There is a small, BUSY, centrally-located office dedicated to helping people who want to start up their own small / new businesses right here in Vancouver.

Here is the website: http://www.smallbusinessbc.ca
They are located at the Sea Bus Terminal, Waterfront Station – check their website if you need directions
They are a private not-for-profit company, mostly government- funded.

There are a lot of courses and activities, and also some free seminars offered at Small Business BC:

Do You Need To Incorporate?

Basically you have these choices when starting up a business:
No Company: You *could* go ahead with your business and not even form a company. You can have people pay you personally for your services or products, but most people want to have a corporate identity.
Registered Company : Second simplest method is a Registered Company, AKA: “Sole Proprietorship”– this is just yourself, John or Jane Doe “Doing Business As” [Company Name] – the company is really YOU or YOU and YOUR PARTNER
Incorporated Company : The third way to go is to INCORPORATE. When you incorporate your company, the COMPANY is an INDIVIDUAL in the eyes of the law.

Incorporate FEDERALLY OR PROVINCIALLY?

The Registered Company

  • The simplest and cheapest (about $70) way to get a company and a corporate identity going is to form a registered company.
  • The Registered Company is actually YOU!
  • On your Bank Account, your company account will say something like mine: bcbizdev.com
  • This kind of company allows you no special tax advantages like: expense “write-offs” above and beyond what you could have as an individual.
  • If you get sued or go bankrupt, you have none of the legal protection that incorporated companies offer their principals.

More About Registered Companies:

  • Registering a company is a nice simple way to start if:
  • You are not expecting large liabilities
  • It is OK that it is you who is “Doing Business As” the company name

You have a choice when you are registering a company whether you want to register as a SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP or as a PARTNERSHIP.

You will need to have a lot of information on hand, so if you are in a partnership, you should have ALL PARTNERS PRESENT when registering the company – or else you will have to know all their details!

Another very important consideration when forming a partnership is a “Partnership Agreement” to insure such things as: Right Of First Refusal (ROFR) for Succession, Buyout, Share dilution etc. Legal Advice is always a good idea when structuring a Partnership.

The Incorporated Company (Limited Liability)

Otherwise known as a limited liability company,
the incorporated company is very different from a registered company.

An incorporated company is an individual in the eyes of the law. It is liable, more so than the executives & shareholders, for debts and liabilities.

Some people say there should be no such thing (ahem – Enron)– LOL! But at the moment, the limited liability or incorporated company is the most common way to run a business.
In order to Incorporate, you will need to decide & write-up ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION for your company.

Registering Your Company Online – Simple!

Information:
http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/registries/corppg/crpartnership.htm

The form:
http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/registries/Corppg/forms/0707FILL.pdf

Contact them for HELP:
http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/registries/corppg/CRContact.htm

Sherrilyn.Johnson@gov.bc.ca
BC Registry Services
2nd Floor
940 Blanshard Street
Victoria, British Columbia
Mailing address: PO Box 9431 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria BC V8W 9V3
Office hours: Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (excluding statutory holidays)
General Information Line (Phone Tree)
Phone: 250 387-7848 or 604 775-1041 (Direct dial free line from Greater Vancouver)
Fax: 250 356-8593

NAME RESERVATION AND PARTNERSHIPS

The Names/Partnership Unit is responsible for the approval of all names to be used for corporations, proprietorships, partnerships, societies, cooperatives and financial institutions and also to register sole proprietorships, partnerships and limited partnerships.
Phone: 250 356-2893 or 604 775-1044 (Direct dial free line from Greater Vancouver)
Fax: 250 356-0206

NAME SEARCH – AKA: NUANS

It is never straightforward doing anything that involves bureaucracy, but registering your company or incorporating online is not that difficult.
Basically you will need a NUANS search (to see if your name is already in use or if you can go ahead and use it) IF you are incorporating FEDERALLY.

You will then need your NUANS number to plug into your incorporation application.

Here is a 3rd party company I have personally used for a NUANS search – it is reliable, fast, and not expensive (about $21):
http://www.corpcanada.ca/info_nuans.html

INCORPORATING ONLINE

Visit this link to incorporate online:
http://www.corporateonline.gov.bc.ca

(Halfway down the page): File an Incorporation Application

Be sure to print out Appendices A & B first.

PDFs – let’s have a look – there are 13 pages of Appendix A, so we will just go over it quickly rather than get completely bogged down.

IMPORTANT INFO: they have a real live telephone number for you to call if you get bogged down: (604) 775-1041.

YOUR BANK ACCOUNT

  • You will feel really important as you write your first company cheque!
  • Choose your favourite bank – I use VanCity, because they are local and also they do have good programs for small businesses in terms of business loans/microloans etc.
  • It is very simple to set up your corporate bank account once you register or incorporate your company.
  • If you have a partnership or an incorporation you may decide that both/all signatures are required on a cheque to make it valid.
  • If you have no credit as yet, you can put some money down (even a few hundred dollars) to get a corporate Visa card, which can make your life easier when making online purchases etc.

YOUR INTERNET DOMAIN

  • When choosing a domain, remember this rule of thumb: try to make it as short as possible, without being too cryptic!
  • If your company is English Rose Catering Services, remember that you WANT the word “catering” in your domain – it is good for search engine optimization.
  • Remember if you need to include the word “services”, “solutions” etc. in your domain, it’s not the end of the world. People don’t USUALLY need to type your domain into the address bar – as you rise on the search engines, visitors will arrive by search queries, not directly.
  • I recommend you buy your domain at www.godaddy.com – it is the best domain registrar in the world!
  • Watch out though- you ONLY need the domain, not all the other things they try to sell you as you check-out!!

YOUR WEBSITE HOSTING

  • Having a domain is great but until you put a website there, it is just going to say something about being parked at godaddy.com
  • I highly recommend HostGator.com – the cost is about $80/year for unlimited everything and they have great support.
  • Once you have a hosting plan you can put a COMING SOON page – or even put a form on there to collect emails of people who want to receive an alert when the website is live.
  • At any rate, you can put your contact info on the “COMING SOON” Page and start using your domain & corporate email address on your business card etc.

YOUR WEBSITE

NO NEED TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY!

If all you can afford to budget for a website is the cost of hosting and domain purchase, then you can either have someone you know do a COMING SOON or a “Business Card” website for you.

A Business Card Website is just a ONE-PAGER with your company name, logo, company information, and contact information. It’s not much of a website, but it does allow you to have some internet presence, emails @yourcompany.com & the beginning of your “credibility” with Google
If you have a few hundred to a thousand dollar budget for a website with all of your products, services, photo galleries, etc., you are well advised to get a WordPress website – it is an open-source platform so that you can put all your info into the system ONCE, then later if you want to upgrade, you don’t need to touch any of your content! More and more companies are using WordPress for their corporate sites.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: WordPress has a CMS (back-end content management system) where you can update YOUR OWN WEBSITE, instead of having your web developer do every single edit.

If you have a larger budget, you may still want to use WordPress, but with a custom theme – or you may want a totally custom site. Word of warning: check references and make sure the web developer has happy clients. I have seen some corporate horror stories with custom / proprietary CMS systems, where the customer is trapped in a system which is inferior to, and more expensive than an opensource system like WordPress.

PayPal – It’s GREEAAATTTT!

Once you have your real-world bank account, why not get a PayPal account too?
It’s simple, just go to www.paypal.com and sign up.

Once you set up your PayPal account, it allows you to generate “Buy Now” buttons & “Add to Cart” buttons with EXTREME EASE, and you can get paid online or even by emailing a link to your customers.

Many customers find it extremely convenient to pay online and until you get more established, you may find it rather arduous to get a “Merchant Account” from your bank.

PayPal allows your customers to pay with any major credit card (no, they do NOT need to have a PayPal account)

CORPORATE STATIONERY

EXTENDING YOUR CORPORATE IDENTITY

  • Business Cards!!! Yes, get them ASAP – as soon as you have your logo, domain, and email account.
  • Email Signature or Email Stationery – Microsoft Outlook allows you to have some very fancy email signatures – you may add your logo, name, address, phone, website & whatever you like – take advantage of this if you have MS Outlook – it’s like dropping a business card with everyone you ever send an email to!
  • Letterhead – depending on your company you may not need this as urgently – in my field, I rarely use letterhead, but it’s nice to have!
  • Brochures – you may or may not want to use physical paper brochures, because they get expensive and some people feel strongly about the use of paper…! Tear-away strips can be very useful, and they use very little paper if each person rips off a small piece of the bottom.
  • As your budget increases & your company grows, you are definitely going to want to have some fancy brochures to give to certain (good!) leads… We will cover more of that next session!

GRANTS & LOANS

Mostly Loans!!

  • With the current economy, there are a lot fewer GRANTS for small businesses!
  • I have a lot of information about grants from yesteryear for small new Canadian businesses, but alas it seems they are almost ALL GONE
  • There are only 2 now IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, according to SmallBusinessBC.ca – one is for writers (The Canada Council Grant) and the other is a grant available to farmers who would like to market their farm as a way to increase tourism. That’s it.
  • If you are incorporating federally, you may have other opportunities, but they are slim-pickin’s at the moment – I am going to see what else I can find and put it on the web link for you.
  • There is more than one way to skin a cat, though, and there are many opportunities and programs for up and coming businesses in the form of small business & micro-loans.
  • ALSO you can look for programs which pay a percentage of a new employee’s wages. This saves you a lot of money.
  • In fact, you are able to go to many career colleges and hire “Practicum Students” on a trial basis for free as part of their course – they can work for you as interns, basically at first and then if everything is working out for everyone, you can turn this into a full-time paid job.

Questions?

Let’s talk about your up-and-coming new business! 604-757-1969 or click here regarding Vancouver business consulting services.