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4 Things To Know Before Incorporating a Business

So you’ve decided to incorporate your business — congratulations! While you’re eager to move ahead as a corporation, there are a few things you will want to take care of before you incorporate. Doing so can help you make the best decisions for your business.

Learn the Lingo

Before incorporating, take some time to brush up on the following terms you’ll be hearing and reading about:

  • Incorporator — the single point of contact on the application to incorporate and the individual responsible for incorporating the business.
  • Directors — your corporation needs at least one director. A director(s) is ultimately responsible for the decisions and operations of the business. Directors must be age 18 years of age or older, click here to read the full list of requirements that directors must meet. (Note: A director can also be the incorporator)
  • Officers — officers make the day-to-day decisions about the corporation. An individual can be both a director and the officer.
  • Corporate by-laws — these set out the rules governing the internal operations of a corporation, such as setting the corporation’s fiscal year-end, appointing officers, issuing shares and setting the procedures for the meetings of shareholders and directors.
  • Shares and Shareholders — shares represent an ownership interest in a corporation. A person who owns shares in a corporation is called a shareholder.

Choose a Name

If you thought naming your first pet was tricky, there’s even more to consider when choosing a name for your corporation. Your corporate name is your business’ legal name and can be used on documents such as contracts, invoices, and purchase and service orders.1

If having a distinctive name for your business is not important to you, you may choose the faster route and let the government assign you a number, in which case your corporation will have what’s known as a numbered company name.

If having a distinctive name for your business is important to you, you can opt to be more creative and choose a named corporation. Name corporations should have three parts, according to Corporations Canada:

  1. The distinctive element distinguishes your corporation from others. This could be a last name or other word, for example “Sam’s” Plumbing or “Sunshine” Plumbing.
  1. The descriptive element describes the corporation’s main activity – for example, “Plumbing Services” or “Florist.”
  2. The legal ending indicates the business is a legal corporation, signified by any of Incorporated (Inc.), Limited (Ltd.) or Corporation (Corp.), and you can choose whichever one you like the sound of …it really makes no difference which one you choose! 

Before falling in love with the perfect name for your incorporated business, check out the words or phrases the Canadian government prohibits in company names.2

After settling on a name, you will need to do a business-name search to make sure the name you have chosen is unique enough. With Ownr, you’ll get 30 simple name searches and a NUANS report to check name availability to help you choose the perfect name for your business. If your proposed name isn’t unique, you’ll have to change your business’s name. 3

Before making your final decision on your business’s name, you should consider checking out the name’s availability online to see if you’ll be able to get the URL and social media account names to match your business’s name.

Learn the Rules of Incorporation

Before incorporating, it’s important to understand exactly how becoming a corporation will change your business. Start by learning the roles and responsibilities of directors, shareholders, and officers. Think carefully about who will become a part of the corporation, and what they’ll be expected to contribute on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis.4

Once a business incorporates, it is required to maintain certain legal documentation. Take note of the requirements for filing articles of incorporation and bylaws, and amendments to the articles or bylaws. Corporations must also file annual financial reports and tax returns. Any changes to the officers or directors of a corporation must also be documented and filed with Corporations Canada.4

This list might sounds daunting but fear not, Ownr is here to help every step of the way!

Learn more at Next Steps Following Incorporation.

Budget for Incorporating

Before incorporating, set aside money to cover the costs. You may choose to incorporate on your own online (with a company like Ownr) to save the legal fees a lawyer may charge. You’ll still always have to pay the government fees required in your jurisdiction, as well as the cost of a business name search and registration.5

Also, if you incorporate with Ownr, we have a great offer with RBC to save you even more money. Learn more about it here.

Give these points some thought before moving on to the next steps of incorporating — creating articles of incorporation and bylaws. Doing so can save you time and money — giving you more of both to help your new business get off the ground.


1. Naming a Corporation – Overview

2. Qualifiedly Prohibited

3. Naming a Corporation – Requirements

4. Next Step – Following Incorporation

5. Business Name Registration Information (Ontario)

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