1. I have a great idea for a small business but don't know where to start

As a first step to accessing the Small Business Centre's resources, we recommend attending the introductory seminar, Starting a Small Business. The Starting a Small Business Seminar is for individuals who are in the beginning stages of starting a business, and are looking to explore what is involved in starting and running their own business, e.g. characteristics of an entrepreneur, steps to starting a business, business structures, some licensing and tax considerations, etc. It will also help you get a better sense of the services, events, and programs the Small Business Centre offers to determine which best suit your needs. This free seminar is held on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at varying times. It is 90 minutes in length and takes place at our Centre. This seminar also provides an information package to take home, and the opportunity to ask questions and learn from the questions other seminar attendees put forward. To learn more or to advance register, visit www.sbcentre.ca.

You can also schedule an appointment with one of our Business Advisors at any time (Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 4:30). Our Advisors offer free one-on-one consultations to discuss business and answer any questions you may have. The Starting a Small Business Seminar is not required before meeting with a Business Advisor, but they may help you to weed out some of your general questions prior to an appointment. When you are ready to speak with a Business Advisor, they each book their appointments directly with you. To make an appointment, visit https://www.sbcentre.ca/contacts.php or call us at 519-659-2882 ext.0.

Alternatively, you can learn about what our Small Business Centre has to offer by checking out our website; try our services webpage, programs webpage, and events calendar.

2. What are the rules, regulations and licenses I need to be aware of in order to start a business?

Requirements vary by the type of business. For local requirements, you can speak to a Business Advisor from the Small Business Centre, or contact  London Service Business at City hall. Another great resource can be found on the FedDev Small Business Business Services website (formerly known as Canada Business Ontario).

3. Do I need to register my business/idea?

The first thing you need to identify is what type of business you have or want to start. There are 4 main types:

- Sole Proprietor
- Partnership
- Cooperative
- Corporation

To find out more about the business types, visit: https://canadabusiness.ca/starting/before-starting-your-business/corporation-partnership-or-sole-proprietorship/

If you need to register your business name, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/start/register-with-gov.html to get started. Note: The only business type that does not require a business name registration is ‘Sole Proprietor’; HOWEVER this only applies if you are starting a business in your full name. If you decided to start a ‘Sole Proprietor’ business using another business name, then you will need to register your business with the Government of Canada.

If you’re still having difficulty registering your business, we recommend you pop into one of London’s entrepreneurship support centres (listed below).

4. I am a student where should I go to learn more about entrepreneurship and startups?

As a student, you have access to a large scope of resources at Western University and Fanshawe College. You can visit the Propel or LEAP Junction websites to learn more and set up a meeting with a business advisor.

PS. Alumni of Western University and Fanshawe College also have assess to Propel's and LEAP Junction's resources and supports.

5. How can I expand into new markets?

For many growing companies, keeping a pulse on what's happening in the local ecosystem is a great way to make connections that can help you identify new opportunities. Take a look at which business events are coming up at ledc.com/events.

Often funding is needed to export products or take services overseas. Take a look at the FAQ "Where can I find funding?" for more information on where to look.

This truly depends on what your goals and services are - contacting your local entrepreneurship support organizations about your specific needs is a great first step.

6. Where can I find funding for my startup?

Finding funding is always a challenge for every business. You can look for government grants and awards in your area by staying up to date with your local entrepreneurship support organizations:  

Innovation Works

LEDC

Propel

Leap Junction

Small Business Center

Service London Business

TechAlliance

Spring Board

You can also check out our community funding document titled: “Access to Capital: Funding opportunities for London entrepreneurs.”

7. Where can I find talent for my growing business?

Start by ensuring your positions are posted to your company's careers page and are shared to local job boards, including any post-secondary boards. Attend local and regional job fairs where you can connect with jobseekers in-person, and networking events that are geared towards the types of roles you are hiring for.

If you're offering co-ops or internships, work with the local colleges and universities to connect into their talent pools and look for incentives through the Ontario Government's website to support your recruitment efforts. You can explore these resources and more in-depth at ledc.com/talent.

8. What is a social enterprise?

Social enterprise is a term for a business whose primary focus is creating positive impact in the community and/or the environment. It describes a movement of people who have decided to make an INCOME while making an IMPACT!  It is important to note that social enterprise is not a legal definition, and social enterprises come in many forms; for-profits, nonprofits, cooperatives and grassroots movements.  To learn more about social enterprise and how you can have a positive impact while generating income, visit pillarnonprofit.ca/socialenterprise.

9. How can my business give back to my community?

We are so glad you asked!  No business operates in a bubble, and successful businesses think not only about their clients but also their community.  There are many ways to involve the community in your business, and we encourage you to think creatively about the needs and opportunities of your community.

Start by asking yourself:

- "Where do I see need in my community?"
- "What community issue or cause am I passionate about?"
- "How could my skills, knowledge or resources support marginalized community members?"  

Want to have a conversation about how your business impacts the community you work in? Reach out to Pillar Nonprofit Network at secoach@pillarnonprofit.ca.

10. Where can my business learn more about being environmentally responsible?

We believe strongly that all businesses have a responsibility to understand the impact their operations have on our environment.  While not all businesses will be able to reduce their environmental impact to zero, there are changes that can go a long way. You can find many tips, resources & funding to green your business from the Government of Canada.

Looking for local support in reaching your sustainable business goals? Reach out to Green Economy London at greeneconomy@londonenvironment.net.

11. How do I know if my business qualifies as a “tech” company?

Great question! TechAlliance helps companies using or developing technologies for new and innovative purposes across many industries. We’re proud to support digital media startups like STMNT & Dibbzz life science innovators like Triage, companies working within the Internet of Things like FreePoint Technologies, and so many others.

If your business is using technology in a new and interesting way, reach out to our Business Services team to see how we can help!

To get started, take a couple to minutes to fill out our short startup intake form. This gives our Business Services team a good idea of the status of your company and your needs going forward. We’ll follow up to set up a meeting and get started!

12. Where can I find an app developer?

Finding skilled app developers is always a challenge. A good place to start is by attending networking events that developers also attend.  A list of community entrepreneurship events can be found on: https://www.ledc.com/events.

Looking to add a technical co-founder to your team? Consider reaching out to Propel (Western University) or Leap Junction (Fanshawe College) to get connected with enterprising students developing their technical skills thru their University/College studies.  

Alternately, if you’d like to contract the work to another organization, you can do so with an easy Google search. Searching online will showcase local developers in your area that you can contact.

Finally, you can also visit TechAlliance to get more information on growing a technology-based company in London Ontario.

13. Is a Master Business Licence, and a City of London Business Licence the same thing?

No - a Master Business Licence is a Provincial Licence issued by Service Ontario: Nearly every business requires a Provincial Master Business Licence.  A City of London Business Licence applies to specific businesses identified in the Business Licensing By-law. For information regarding which businesses require a City licence, visit www.servicelondonbusiness.ca