New Year, New Business: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting a Business in Alberta

Starting a new business can be an exciting yet daunting experience. It requires a lot of planning, hard work, and dedication to make your business successful. One of the first steps to start a business in Alberta is to incorporate it. Incorporation is a legal process that provides your business with a separate legal entity from its owners, which means that your business can operate independently and have its own legal rights. In this blog post, we will discuss the process of starting a business in Alberta, including incorporation, registration, and other important aspects that you should know.

Decide on Your Business Structure

Before starting a business, you need to decide on its structure. In Alberta, you can choose from four types of business structures: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or cooperative. Each of these structures has its own pros and cons, and choosing one that is suitable for your business will depend on factors such as your business size, ownership, and liability. If you decide to incorporate, you will need to choose between a federal or provincial corporation. A federal corporation is recognized across Canada, while a provincial corporation can do business only in Alberta.

Register Your Business Name

Once you have decided on your business structure, the next step is to choose and register your business name. Your business name will serve as your brand so it is important to choose a name that is unique and easy to remember. You can check if your desired name is available using the NUANS (Newly Upgraded Automated Name Search) system before registering it with the Alberta Corporate Registry.

Incorporation Process in Alberta

Incorporating a business in Alberta involves several steps, including the following:

1. Preparing the articles of incorporation;

2. Filing them with the Corporate Registry; and

3. Paying the fees.

The articles of incorporation contain details such as the company’s name, business purpose, and share structure. Once the articles receive approval, you will receive a certificate of incorporation. This confirms your business’s legal existence and provide you with a unique business number.

Get Required Business Licenses and Permits

Before you can operate your business, you’ll need to obtain the necessary licenses and permits. The specific requirements will depend on the nature of your business and its location. Some common permits and licenses that businesses require in Alberta include a business license, GST/HST registration, and workers’ compensation coverage.

Understand the Tax Obligations

Once your business is up and running, you’ll have to fulfill certain tax obligations. In Canada, there are various taxes businesses pay including corporate income tax, payroll taxes, and GST/HST. It is essential to understand your tax obligations and deadlines to avoid any penalties or fines.

Starting a business in Alberta requires a lot of planning and preparation. Incorporation is a crucial step that provides your business with a separate legal entity. This offers several benefits such as limited liability and access to funding. By understanding the process of starting a business in Alberta and the requirements, you can ensure that your business is set up for success from day one. If you are still unsure about the process, it may be helpful to seek the guidance of a lawyer or accountant who specializes in business incorporation.

Summit Legal Group has a corporate law team who can help guide you through the necessary requirements to set up your new business. Contact us today to let us help you start! Schedule a complimentary call with our Corporate Paralegal who can assist you with any questions you have before you begin!

Estate Planning for Self-Employed Individuals and Small Business Owners

When you leave your pet for a weekend, you have a plan. You know who’ll feed it and how much it will cost. So, what happens when you step away from your business for the weekend? More importantly, what will happen when you leave your business for much longer – as in, permanently?

Anyone who owns a small or medium-sized business, regardless of age or stake in the company, should give some serious thought to succession planning. Why? Because you never know when you’re going to be hit by a wayward bus. That metaphorical bus could kill you; or worse, could leave you physically or mentally incapacitated. In addition to a will, you should also have a personal directive and power of attorney to deal with financial and health care matters in the event the metaphorical wayward bus doesn’t kill you, but you become physically or mentally incapacitated.

If a business owner dies and there’s no plan in place, it’s the survivors who are left without direction. While your business might be humming along right now, how will it be if you’re not around? Executing someone’s affairs after death is a whole new, and potentially messy, ballgame. If you want to take care of business even after you’re gone, you need to plan what will happen to your estate, and that includes your business.

As a business owner, it’s quite likely that a significant portion of your wealth, and your family’s source of income after your death, is tied up in the family business. The success of your estate plan is dependent upon the business being transitioned to the next generation or sold to someone outside the family for a fair price. Proper estate planning can keep your business from becoming a fire-sale.

The key to successful estate planning is communication and documentation. You want to communicate with your family about a wise path for the future. But you also want to document those wishes in an estate plan to prevent future disagreements. I recommend clients review their wills every five years, or when their circumstances change, such as the birth of children, deaths in the family or a change in their financial circumstances.


Estate planing considerations for small business owners include:

Minimizing Taxes

If nothing else, one good reason for estate planning is to minimize the amount your estate will owe in taxes. You’ve worked hard to establish your business as a profitable entity. Don’t lose the fruits of your labor to the CRA in taxes.

Owner Dependent Business

Although the business may, in fact, become worthless upon the owner’s death, tax may theoretically be imposed on the value of the business on the day before the owner died. If the owner’s death is unexpected the business may be thriving immediately prior to the owner’s death. To minimize the risk of the surviving family members owing tax on a business that no longer exists, you should document the business plan and the business’ characteristics that act to limit transferability of the business. Your ability to prove the limited value of the business is crucial to avoiding tax on a business that no longer exists.

Sole Proprietors

If you’re a sole proprietor, you’re well aware that your business is not separate from your personal assets – in a sense, your business is you. Probably more than any other type of business organization, you need a clear plan of action for what should take place after you’re gone. What you own personally can be used to cover business debts. Delegate and prepare your successor if you want to pass on the business. If you want to sell the business, do the research that will make selling it easy and inexpensive for your heirs.

Family Run Business

In a family-run enterprise, you may have some heirs who are involved in the business and others who are not – how do you divide your business assets? Many people choose to distribute assets based on a relative’s contribution level. Let’s say two of your children are going to take over the family business. Do you want your third, uninvolved child to have an equal share? Perhaps you want the two involved siblings to buy out the third. Regardless of what you decide, controlling these types of choices is critical. After all, the passing of a family member is hard enough to deal with on its own. Proper estate planning at least allows your business to have a smooth transition.

Buy-Sell Agreements

A buy-sell agreement is a contract between shareholders or partners which establishes a plan for the business in case one of the owners dies or becomes incapacitated. The principal benefit of a buy-sell agreement is that it establishes a sale price for the business and your share of the business. A buy-sell lets you document whether or not you want your partners to buy out your share, if you want to block certain individuals from having a role in the business, or if you want your heirs to sell your portion. Since the business price has been established, family members know they are receiving a fair price.

As any good business plan anticipates the future, a buy-sell agreement is simply another aspect of good business. While creating a buy-sell agreement requires open communication with both your family and your business partners, which can be difficult to achieve, it will establish a solid path for the future, greatly reducing any potential for disaster.

Life Insurance

If the business assets are not liquid, where do partners get the capital to buy out a deceased partner’s shares? Very often, the necessary capital comes from life insurance. This is a common business practice – each partner takes out a life insurance policy which names the other owners as beneficiaries. This strategy gives surviving owners tax-free proceeds to purchase the deceased’s portion of the business from his or her estate.