Starting a Small Business in Nova Scotia

Starting a new business venture can be a very exciting, yet overwhelming task. Once you have decided you are ready to start the process, the following task list may be of some help.

1.       If you do not currently have one, find a qualified professionally designated accountant in good standing.  Recently, the three accounting bodies merged into one designation in most provinces. They are now considered CPA – Chartered Professional Accountant. The legacy designations are

a.       Certified General Accountant (CGA)

b.       Chartered Accountant (CA)

c.       Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

NS small business accounting

Regardless of the designation, you will want to find an accountant that you can connect with and build a long term relationship.  Your accountant will become an integral part of your business and life. Make sure you can at least tolerate each other.  It also helps if they are up on the new trends of social media and internet marketing as well as new technologies.  An accountant should be someone that helps with more than just taxes and accounting, they should also be able to help with growth plans and other business development. Therefore, their understanding in the changing trends of today’s business is imperative. Check out their website, Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter, ect.



2.       Decide on the type of business you would like to operate

a.       Sole proprietorship

 i.      Operating as an individual and taxed as an individual.

 ii.      No protection from creditors

 iii.      Least expensive to set up and operate                  

  iv.      May have tax disadvantages

b.       Partnership

    i.      Two or more owners

    ii.      Income divided according to partnership agreement and taxed as individual

    iii.      May be liable for partners actions and debt

    iv.      Less tax advantages

c.       Corporation

      i.      One or more owners

      ii.      Private or public

      iii.      Separate legal entity

      iv.      Limited liability

       v.      Tax advantages

      vi.      Tax planning opportunities

      vii.      Most costly to setup and maintain

NS small business plan

3. Prepare a Business Plan 

Having a well laid out business plan, including a marketing plan, can be a huge benefit especially if you are looking for financing.  There are many basic templates available on the internet, but the strength of a successful business plan is in the details and professional judgment. Typically, if you require a business plan, it would be worth the investment to have a professional accountant assist with the process to ensure it is realistic, accurate and objective.



4.       Register your Business

a.       Choose a name- select a variety of potential names for your business and prioritize by order of preference

b.       Get name search done and secure name (NUANS)

c.       Register your name and business with the Registry of Joint Stocks of Nova Scotia. The assistance of a good corporate lawyer can help greatly. Typically, it will cost about $1500. We can help you incorporate should you require assistance.

register small business nova scotia

5.       Register for Sales Tax - Depending on the jurisdictions you will do business in, register for the appropriate sales tax

 i.      Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and Goods and Services Tax (GST)(Federal) -NB,NS, NFLD, PEI and ONT. The number is a federal number and can be used for HST and GST together.

 ii.      Provincial Sales Tax (PST) – Manitoba, Saskatchewan, BC – this is a provincial tax and must be registered with the province in which you are doing business.

 iii.      Quebec Sales Tax(QST) – Register with the province of Quebec if doing business in Quebec


6.       Register for Payroll – If you are employing at least one person, you must register for payroll with the federal government and/or the province of Quebec if employees in Quebec.

a.       Payroll

b.       Worker’s Compensation (if required)

small business payroll

7.       Select Accounting System- Depending on your type of business, you may find it easier with an industry specific software package that caters to your particular needs. Most small businesses use an off the shelf software package which is fairly inexpensive. Our firm uses several packages including Quickbooks Online, Xero, and Sage 50. Using a cloud based system seems to be the way of the future and allows your accountant, and yourself, to access your books from anywhere there is internet access, all in an ultra-secure environment.

As overwhelming as it may seem, taking the process one step at a time and having a trusted advisor, enables you to focus on the business operations and frees your mind to creativity. Best of luck in your new business venture, it is a rewarding experience for the right entrepreneur.

NS Small Business Plan

About the Author

Gerard Jones is a Chartered Professional Accountant and is President and CEO of Atlantic Canada’s first Virtual Accounting firm, BAGE Tax and Accounting Inc. Gerard is very well versed in understanding the intricacies and challenges that small and medium sized businesses face in the 21 century. 

Gerard Jones

Gerard's passion to see small business thrive in the 21 century fuels his determination and "can do" attitude. He balances knowledge gained through practical experience with common sense learned through professional life, to design an affordable solution to ANY business. 

If you are a business looking to improve efficiency in your back office, achieve cost savings, embrace technological advances and want to benefit from a new "paradigm", please reach out to Gerard, or BAGE Tax and Accounting by email, phone, or visit . 

Gerard guarantees a cost savings for all new clients. Typical savings will average 25%.

Call now at (902) 407 4204 or email