Business Venture Blog
This is where we post about business, ventures, law, and business venture law.
Anything interesting, really.
Anything interesting, really.
So, You’re Ready to Incorporate You’re Business: Where to Start.
You’ve had a great idea for some time. You’ve considered it deeply. You’ve made a business plan, and now it’s time to turn your dream into a reality. But where to start?
There are a variety of forms a business can take, but the corporate structure has tended to predominate for start-ups in Canada.  There is a good chance therefor you might settle on the corporate form for your new business. This post will not consider the pros and cons of different business structures. If you would like information that could help you choose a business structure, please contact the BLG Business Venture Clinic (the “Clinic”).  Incorporation, particularly in Alberta, is the subject of this writing. The purpose of this post is to shine light on resources that can help get you started and raise important considerations.
There are many free resources available online. It is important to ensure the information you find is trustworthy before relying on it to make business or legal decisions. The BLG Business Venture Clinic does not certify the correctness of the information in the resources that follow.
The Government of Canada provides a “Business Start-up Checklist” which offers a wide variety of information, including direction to provincial and territorial business registration resources.  The business registration information is separated by province and territory.  This is important because a business can be incorporated in a province, a territory, or at the federal level. The Government of Alberta offers information on registry costs and categorizes registries by services offered.  To find a business registry that offers incorporation services in your area, registry locations can be searched by city or town. 
Before you head to your local registry, there are a number of steps and information to gather. The Government of Alberta provides a list of steps to incorporate a business in the province.  They are as follows:
An entrepreneur could use the resources above, pay the NUANS report and incorporation fees and successfully incorporate a business in Alberta. The incorporation documents discussed are the legal foundation of a business and considerable thought should go into drafting their substance. For example, in the articles of incorporation or an appendix thereto, the drafter can add desired provisions. A provision in the articles can allow the board of directors to increase the number of directors by up to one third (1/3) of those elected at the last annual general meeting.  This increase can remain in effect until the following annual general meeting. 
Another consideration is, “[t]he securities law regime in Canada requires that certain restrictions on the transfer of shares be included in the articles of a company if certain exemptions from prospectus and registration rules are to be available.”  One of these exemptions is the “private issuer” exemption which “is one of the easiest and least complicated to use in the very early stages of a growth company’s financing.” 
Aside from the documents discussed above, a corporation should consider having by-laws ready to sign upon incorporation. The by-laws of a corporation deal with a variety of internal elements including processes, powers, and roles. Ensuring a corporation has by-laws in place from the start can avoid uncertainty and potential issues. There are boiler-plate by-laws available online, but they often are ill suited to a particular corporation. Certain boiler-plate provisions “will be removed as a condition of any future financing.”  They should be avoided at the outset instead of requiring amendment later. Aside from issues to avoid, the by-laws should be drafted to appropriately reflect the needs of the corporation. This means including the right provisions and the correct balance of powers.
Resources are available to incorporate a business on ones own. There are however considerations and drafting of language that may warrant the services of a lawyer. Finances are often tight during the start-up phase and it may be tempting to avoid the cost of legal fees. However, there are options that may help control costs. The BLG Business Venture Clinic is one resource that can help do just that. The Clinic offers free legal assistance, provided by law students. The assistance offered includes drafting of documents discussed in this post and the writing of memos on specific issues or questions a business might have. It is recommended that clients of the Clinic have the work reviewed by a lawyer. A review of prepared documents should however cost less than having a lawyer draft the documents themselves.
Neil Thomas is a member of the BLG Business Venture Clinic, and is a 2rd year student at the Faculty of Law, University of Calgary.
 Bryce C. Tingle, Start-up and Growth Companies in Canada: A Guide to Legal and Business Practices, 3rd ed (Canada: LexisNexis Canada Inc, 2018) p 58 [Tingle].
 University of Calgary, “We’re here to help – Contact us!” (2017), online: BLG Business Venture Clinic <thttp://www.businessventureclinic.ca/contact.html >.
 Government of Canada, “Business Start-up Checklist” (September 28, 2018), online: Government of Canada <https://canadabusiness.ca/starting/checklists-and-guides-for-starting-a-business/business-start-up-checklist/>.
 Government of Alberta, “Find a business registry” (2019), online: Alberta <https://www.alberta.ca/find-business-registry.aspx>.
 Government of Alberta, “Level 2: advanced registrations” (2018), online: Alberta <http://servicealberta.ca/Find-a-business-advanced-registrations.cfm>.
 Government of Alberta, “Alberta Corporations” (2018), online: Alberta <https://www.servicealberta.ca/712.cfm>.
 Government of Alberta, “Incorporation forms” (2019), online: Alberta <https://www.alberta.ca/incorporation-forms.aspx>.
 Business Corporations Act (Alberta), RSA 2000, c B-9, s 106(4).
 Tingle Supra note 1 at p 63.
 Tingle Ibid; Prospectus and Registration Exemptions – Consolidated Version for Periods Relating to Financial Years Beginning Before January 1, 2011, NI 45-106, s 2.4.
 Tingle Ibid.