Squamish is one of the fastest growing communities in BC. Combined with the recently built $600 million-dollar highway that serves 9.5 million people a year, Squamish is a haven for entrepreneurs and business owners.
This short guide will help you with planning to start a business in the District of Squamish, including resources and links to help you find success with your new venture.
Your first step to start a business in Squamish? Decide on a legal structure. Will it be a sole proprietorship, general partnership, or corporation? Small Business BC offers a small, free fact sheet discussing the benefits and drawbacks to each option in the Province of BC.
Most entrepreneurs will skip this stage, unless they require a business plan to secure financing, grants or loans. Yet this step is more important than all the others combined for the business owners themselves: it shows you a specific map as to where you want to go, how you’ll get there, and within what time frame. Plus, you can map out your entire business before spending a penny, allowing you to make an informed decision before signing any legal paperwork.
Whether you’re relying on your own savings, that of friends and family, or the bank, you’ll need at least three month’s operating expenses at the ready before opening your doors for business.
The District of Squamish has a Business Retention and Expansion Program, while Community Futures, Futurpreneur, Canadian Small Business Financing Program, and the Women’s Enterprise Centre all offer some form of loan, grant or financial support for new entrepreneurs.
One of the most challenging decisions you’ll make starting a business in Squamish revolves around the name you choose for your new business. Before starting, make sure to check out Small Business BC’s How To Choose a Business Name article. Then, pick a few you like (it’s rare to have your first choice approved), check to see if it’s been taken, and apply for approval all at BC Registry Services.
The District of Squamish requires business registration for every business providing services or products in the area, including home based businesses. They recommend registering your business, first, before applying for any sort of required licensing. The easiest way to ensure you’ve covered all your bases with starting a new business in Squamish is to work with BizPal, a website that compiles all the legislative documentation required to start a business in British Columbia. Alternatively, you can jump right to the BC Business Registry to start the process on your own.
While BizPal will cover most of your new businesses’ registration and licensing needs, in some cases, you may need extra paperwork or documentation before opening day. The District of Squamish has specific requirements for those opening marijuana dispensaries, plumbing, electrical, alarm or registered massage therapy services, as well as auto sales and portable food vendors.
With more than 300 new businesses starting in the District of Squamish in 2017 alone, there’s a large network of support and guidance available for new entrepreneurs . Mentorship BC offers assistance for those wanting a more experienced business owner to guide them along the journey, and the Squamish Chamber of Commerce offers networking opportunities as well as business support.
The Squamish Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in the Squamish community by actively supporting business, economic growth and diversification. The Chamber takes a leadership role in advocating for the interest of Squamish business and provides member services such as networking and educational events, policy positions and partnerships with other organizations.