Regulations: the not-so-sexy but important facts you need to know

Category: Legal issues Operations

You have enough on your plate when starting a business, add in the complexity of understanding compliance and licensing and it can be downright overwhelming. Just ask Saylish Haas, co-owner of The Next Act Pub, a restaurant in the culturally rich, southside neighbourhood around Whyte Avenue in Edmonton, and Meat, a Texas-inspired barbecue joint right next door. Her challenges were many and varied as she attempted to convert what was originally a retail space into a restaurant. Business regulations in the food industry can be tricky. Whether it be parking, ventilation or signage, you need to know the challenges you may face as you prepare to open your doors. But fear not, here's some quick tips on what you need to know to take the complexity out of compliance, regardless of your industry. 

1. Know your business regulations

Saylish knew the regulatory process would be complex and extensively researched the different levels of government that would be involved in setting up shop, yet she still faced barriers due to outdated bylaws and regulatory technicalities. One of those bylaws deemed that in the bustling Whyte Avenue area, where parking is always a hot commodity, owners applying for a change of use permit must provide one parking stall for every four seats in the restaurant. She successfully fought the bylaw, opened up Meat in 2013 and as they say, the rest is history.

2. Educate yourself

Saylish is not alone in her experience and she urges you to educate yourselves in the process of compliance with regulations at all levels of government so you're prepared if you face challenges. Business owners in the food service industry who are looking to open up restaurants or food trucks, for example, will need to comply with municipal, provincial, and federal regulations. What levels apply to which regulations can complicate the process for aspiring entrepreneurs. For example, business licensing and development permit rules are managed by the city, food safety requirements are provincially monitored, and payroll compliance is a federal matter. You can learn more about licensing, permits and regulations in this article.

3. Seek out help 

"Here we were, trying to offer customers a great experience and we got dinged for it", says Saylish. Even though there was a positive outcome, as she waded through complicated government acts and regulations, she often wondered how entrepreneurs are supposed to find the information they need. She doesn't want other business owners to jump through the same hoops she encountered. Saylish encourages entrepreneurs to seek out the resources available to support small business. 

Feeling the pain of regulations and licensing issues in your business? You're not alone. We have a whole team of regulatory and licensing specialists who can help you simplify complicated compliance issues. 

Still have questions about business regulations? Join me in my upcoming BizChat webinar on June 10 and get answers.

About the Author

Heidi Hoover

Heidi Hoover

Senior Business Advisor, Business Link

Heidi believes innovation is what keeps the world spinning and entrepreneurship is innovation at work. Here at Business Link, Heidi is able to fuse her extensive background in small business support programming with her dedication to helping entrepreneurs succeed.

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