Here’s what you need to know about starting, buying or selling a business

Sponsored by the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce

It may not seem important to have a lawyer when starting a small business, but as things grow, having easy access to a legal professional can be a huge help.

Field Law’s Alain Chiasson is based in Yellowknife and works with businesses at all stages of development. With three local business lawyers, his full-service firm handles a lot of business law work, such as incorporation and the purchase of shares, as well as working with companies operating in the mining, natural resources and energy sectors.

“My role is to be the trusted legal adviser,” says Chiasson, who’s hosting a session on starting, buying and selling a business for Small Business Week in Yellowknife. “It’s good for a business to have somebody who can help them avoid some of the pitfalls and problems. And it’s very rewarding for me to see the business grow and walk that path with them.”

Even before opening, Chiasson recommends every business have a good accountant, banker and lawyer. At this stage, he’ll also discuss the structure of the business, sources of financing and how and where the entrepreneur might get the needed funds. Along with due dilligence to identify any potential issues, Chiasson says “You really want to get into a business you’re passionate about from the start. Because if you’re not, it might be a problem.”

When buying or selling a business, Chiasson often helps clients decide how to structure a deal that works for everyone. Two main considerations are whether a potential purchaser is buying a business’s share, or its assets. The former’s often preferred by the seller as it allows them to take advantage of a sizeable capital gains exemption and pay no, or less, tax on the purchase. Buyers may prefer to purchase the assets as this allows them to claim depreciation against future income and means they assume no outstanding or future legal liability against the corporation.

One area where Chiasson feels the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are places where more eduation is needed around secession planning. “You really do have to prepare in advance because it might take up to three years to sell your business and make sure it can qualify as a capital gains exemption,” he says. “There’s not only the Yellowknife market. People also want to develop deals involving people down south. Is that good or bad? It depends how you look at it, but if they stay and continue to employ people then that’s good.”

To hear more of Chiasson’s tips and tricks for starting, buy and selling a business, attend his free session at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 21 on the third floor of NWT Commerce Place, located next to the Yellowknife Book Cellar.

October 19-23 is Small Business Week in Yellowknife. There are tons of free helpful seminars and presentations by industry experts, but space is limited, so get the schedule and RSVP info at the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce website.

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