Resources for Business and Self Employment
The CSEWS project has created a list of resources for self employed women on the Sunshine Coast. Links are below, or you can download our one page brochure (PDF).
Sections in this Page
- Four banks have local business advisors and banking services, but most resources are online through corporate websites. — BMO (Gibsons), ScotiaBank (Sechelt), TD/Canada Trust (Sechelt) and CIBC (Gibsons)
- Offers a Business Administration certificate and some Continuing Studies business courses at their Sechelt campus, and a full Business program in North Vancouver.
Chambers of Commerce
- The Gibsons, Sechelt and Pender Harbour Chambers of Commerce provide information, workshops and informal networking opportunities for members.
- Support for people wanting to start, expand, franchise or sell a local business. Offers business advice, loans, and social enterprise partnerships.
Community WorkHub (Sechelt)
- Office and meeting space is available at the Community Futures office in Sechelt. Hourly and monthly rates.
- Co-working space in Lower Gibsons. Office space rental, hot desks, meeting room, informal networking and collaboration, workshops, social gatherings. Hourly and monthly rates.
- Federally-funded program for entrepreneurs under 40.
- Business incubator program for start-ups, especially tech businesses. Based in Nanaimo but mandated to serve the Sunshine Coast.
- Gibsons Public Library and Sechelt Public Library offer free or low cost computer access, and online links to a wide range of web-based programs and resources, including business courses. Librarians can help with research requests, e.g. marketing research. Free wifi.
Open Door Group/Work BC
Sechelt: 604-885-3351 | Gibsons: 604-886-7729
- ODG provides employment services on contract for the province. Services include a 48 week Self Employment Program, and other support services and funding for qualified individuals. Offices in Sechelt and Gibsons.
- Informal networking group for people working in the tech sector to foster collaboration and community. Meet-ups. Website. Workshops.
- Networking events, website, news, closed Facebook group. Membership $25/year.
- Band members have access to career and employment training advisors, business plan development, business start-up grants and other business support services.
Small Business BC 1-800-667-2272
- BC’s most comprehensive resource for starting and running a small business. In-person services in downtown Vancouver. Extensive online resources including webinars. Expert advice by phone. Some services are free, others have fees.
Sunshine Coast Credit Union 604-740-2662 | 1-800-320-4588
- Branches in Gibsons, Sechelt, Pender Harbour. Business loans and advice from commercial advisors. Non-profit business development support. Money Skills Financial Literacy Program.
THRIVE (Women’s Business Group)
- Informal networking group based out of the FUSE Work Hub. Monthly meet-ups. Closed Facebook group.
UVic Business Legal Assistance
Business Law Clinic: 250-472-4522 | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Free legal information for BC business owners, entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations across BC, e.g. incorporation, financing, charitable registration, intellectual property protection, taxation, and contracts.
Women’s Enterprise Centre 1.800.643.7014
- Federally funded program for women starting and running businesses. Loans. Webinars. Office in Vancouver.
Women living on the Sunshine Coast have told us that they have challenges around child care, elder care and transportation that may interfere with their ability to be self employed. Here is a short list of resources. You can find more on this website, or by calling the Resource Centre.
- Sunshine Coast Transit 604-885-6899 – Transit buses and HandyDart.
- Coast Car Co-op 778-374-3092 – Car Share with five vehicles, including a van and a pick-up truck. Business memberships available, with driving privileges for employees. Members can use other car shares in Greater Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, and across Canada.
- ShareThere – Web based ride share service for the Sunshine Coast. Register (free) and offer or request rides. Also on-line ticketing for events.
FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT SERVICES
- Sunshine Coast Community Services Society 604-885-5881 – Operates family and youth services, food bank, counselling, volunteer centre, etc. Main office in Sechelt.
- Child Care Resource and Referral Sechelt: 604-885-5657 Gibsons: 604-886-3103 – Child care directory, information and assistance with BC Child Care Subsidies, library of books, toys and parenting resources.
- Fetch – Community Health Sunshine Coast – Directory of health and community services on the coast. Can be searched by subject. Compiled by the Division of Family Practice.
- Home Care Services, Vancouver Coastal Health 604-741-0726 – Assistance with adult or senior caregiving.
LICENSES AND ZONING
Do I need a business license for my Home-Based Business?
Gibsons, Sechelt and SIGD – If you live in the Town of Gibsons, the District of Sechelt, or the Sechelt Indian Government District, the official answer is yes. For instance, Gibsons requires a license for any home based business operated “for gain or profit”. However most residents are unaware of this, and many “invisible” home-based businesses do not buy a license. Sechelt business licenses are sold online or at the municipal office, 5797 Cowrie Street. SIGD licenses at sold at the SIGD Office, Suite C, 5555 Sunshine Coast Hwy. And for Gibsons you go to Town Hall, 474 South Fletcher Road.
The Sechelt Business Licence fee is $125, or $175 for a business offering two or more types of services. (Details in Bylaw 520.) In the SIGD, fees vary according to type of business. (Details in Schedule A of Law 1989-05.) Most typical home-based business would pay $50. In Gibsons fees also vary according to the type of business. (Details are in Bylaw 666, Appendix A.) Most fees range from $100-$300.
SCRD – If you live in a rural area of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the answer is no, because the SCRD does not issue business licenses. Note: many people whose mailing address is “Gibsons, BC” live outside the Town’s boundaries in the SCRD.
Inter-Community Business Licenses – If you have a mobile business that deliver services coastwide, you can buy an inter-community license that covers Sechelt, Gibsons and the SIGD. Some examples are lawn care, home support services, or sales that involve visiting a customer’s home.
- Sechelt residents apply at the District of Sechelt. They will charge their regular fee plus $50.
- SIGD residents buy a business license from the SIGD and then go to Sechelt and get an inter-community license for an additional $50.
- Gibsons residents should ask for an inter-community license when you buy your business license and it will be added at no extra charge.
- SCRD residents can apply at Gibsons or Sechelt.
What about Zoning? Is my Home-Based Business permitted?
In general, if your home-based business does not have employees (other than family), does not have customers visiting, and is not creating noise, traffic or other nuisance to the neighbours, you are probably fine.
Gibsons and Sechelt – In single family dwelling zones, bylaws place restrictions around daycares (Sechelt), bed & breakfasts, putting up commercial signs on your property, outside storage of equipment and materials, traffic, and parking. Retail sales are limited to goods that you produce yourself (e.g. artists’ studios).
SIGD – The SIGD does not have zoning. Check the terms of your lease agreement (for leased properties) or with SIB Housing (for band members) to see if a home-based business is allowed.
SCRD – First, be sure you know which Rural Area you are in (A, B, D, E or F). Then check your property’s zoning, and the relevant Zoning bylaw. There are restrictions around home occupations, daycares, bed & breakfasts, putting up commercial signs on your property, outside storage of equipment and materials, traffic, and parking. If you intend to have customers or clients visit your home or are creating any parking congestion or disturbance, you are well advised to talk to your neighbours. Bylaw enforcement is complaint driven.
Do I need Insurance?
Some people who run businesses from home are reluctant to disclose this to their home insurance provider, for fear that their premiums will rise, but you should consider this:
- If you invite clients, customers, colleagues or employees to your home you should be covered for liability in case they have an accident on your property.
- If you have important equipment you use for your business that would be expensive to replace, you want to be sure it’s covered. This includes computers.
Other considerations include checking that your auto insurance covers the use of your vehicle for business. And many types of businesses should buy general business liability insurance, especially those who deliver personal services (such as hairdressing), who work on customers’ property, or who handle other people’s belongings (e.g. taking items for repair).