Closing your business.

Not all businesses last forever. The process of closing your business should be managed carefully, whether it involves selling, dissolving, or even facing bankruptcy. Our team of experts are here to help guide you through the steps of closing your business.

How to close your business.

There are many ways to close your business. Here are the three most common:

  1. Dissolving
    Divesting your assets, property and liabilities and dissolving your company.
  2. Bankruptcy
    Organizing the wind up of the company with a trustee due to the inability to meet debt obligations.
  3. Succession
    Selling to a new buyer or passing your business on to a family member while keeping the company structure alive.

Dissolution

You may choose to close your business due to retirement or to take advantage of other opportunities. In this case, ensure you have completed all the obligations required provincially and federally to divest your company of its assets and liabilities. To learn more, review the list below and follow the links.

  • Closing GST/HST, corporate income tax, and payroll accounts: when you close your business, you no longer need your business number, and must complete forms for the Canada Revenue Agency
  • Dissolving a legal entity in Alberta: depending on your business structure, you will have to submit appropriate paperwork through a registry agent
  • Ending your insurance: contact your insurance agency or agencies and work with them to cancel your policies
  • Complete your final year of taxes: the Canada tax year is January 1 through December 31, which may not line up with your business’ fiscal year. Don’t forget to file.
  • Closing your WCB account: complete and submit this form
  • Closing any business licensing accounts: you’ll have to close any accounts you opened with the municipal, provincial, and federal governments

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal process that can forgive your personal or company debts if you are unable to pay them.

Learn about the basics of insolvency and bankruptcy from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada (OSB).

Find out more about bankruptcy from the OSB.

Bankruptcy for sole proprietorships and partnerships:
If you own a sole proprietorship or partnership, you have unlimited liability for your company’s debts. Your personal assets (such as your house or vehicles) can be seized if your business cannot meet its financial obligations. Declaring bankruptcy for your business is effectively the same as declaring personal bankruptcy.

If you are an individual and your total debts do not exceed $250,000, you may also want to consider a consumer proposal. This is a formal, legally binding process that is administered by a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). The LIT will work with you to develop a plan for paying back your creditors. Learn more about consumer proposals from the OSB.

Bankruptcy for corporations:
If you own a corporation, you cannot be held personally liable for the debts of your business. But declaring bankruptcy isn’t a free pass—it will still affect your credit rating and make it harder to get a loan in the future.

Succession

Selling your business:
Don’t rush into selling your business—take time to find the right buyer and arrangement. Do everything you can to increase the value of your company before you sell so you can maximize your sale price.

Succession planningnew ownership for your business:
Closing a business is the last thing most entrepreneurs want to do, but succession planning (or planning to leave your business) is important to do ahead of time. Think of succession as planning for the transfer of knowledge, skills, labour, management, control, and ownership between the founder (retiring owner) and the successor (new owner). Create a succession plan, just like you created a business plan when you started.

Looking for personalized support?

Our team of in-house small business experts are here to help you navigate your unique entrepreneurial journey with free one-on-one advice. We can help you:

  • Understand and navigate the startup process including regulations and licensing
  • Explore strategies to successfully run and grow your existing business
  • Learn about your financing options, marketing and sales strategies, HR, and more
  • Get connected with the most relevant resources and support in the business community
  • Review your business plan

Explore resources for other business functions.

There are some tasks that almost every small business owner needs to complete before they get off the ground. These pages will educate you on some of those essentials to help get you on your way.

Financing Your Business

Creating a Business Plan

Legal Advice