Starting a business in Jamaica | Business Ideas and necessary steps

Starting a business can be hard, especially for individuals without experience or good knowledge of entrepreneurship

Starting a Business

Have an idea?

It might be a product you've always wanted to make, or a service you feel people need. It might even be something people don't know they need yet, because it hasn't been invented! It can be helpful and fun to have people who are bright and creative join you for a casual brainstorming session. Start with a simple question like: "what shall we build?". The idea is not to create a business plan, just to generate some ideas. Many of the ideas will be duds, and there will be quite a few ordinary ones, but a few will emerge that have real potential.

Create a business plan
A business plan helps to define what you think you need to launch your business, large or small. It summarizes the sense of your business in a single document. It also creates a map for investors, bankers, and other interested parties to use when determining how they can best help you and to help them decide whether or not your business is viable.

  • Executive summary. Describe the overall business concept, how it will be monetized, how much funding you will need, where it stands currently, including its legal standing, people involved and a brief history, and anything else that makes your business look like a winning proposition.
  • Business description. Describe your business more specifically, and how it fits into the market in general. Who will you be selling to, and how will you deliver your product? If you are a corporation, LLC, or sole proprietor ship, state that, and why you chose to go that route. Describe your product, it's big features, and why people will want it.
  • Marketing strategies. You must know your market if you are to be successful, so spend a great deal of time analyzing just who it is that will want your product, and how you plan on appealing to them to take cash out of their bank account and give it to you. What is the size of your market, will there be opportunities to expand the initial market, and what are your sales potentials? When you understand these variables, you want to sell them to the person reading your business plan.
  • Competitive analysis. As you develop the above sections, you will learn who your key competitors are. Find out who is doing something similar to what you are planning, and how have they been successful. Just as important is to find the failures, and what made their venture fall apart.
  • Development plan. How will you create your product? Is it a service that you are offering, or if it's more complex software, a physical product like a toy or a toaster whatever it is, how will it get built? Define the process, from sourcing raw materials to assembly to completion, packaging, warehousing, and shipping. Will you need additional people? Will there be unions involved? All of these things must be taken into account.
  • Operations. Who will lead, and who will follow? Define your organization, from the receptionist up to the CEO, and what part each plays in both function and financials. Knowing your organizational structure will better help you plan your operating costs, and fine-tune how much capital you will need to function effectively. Keep in mind that your business will continue to evolve and that this will be a rough idea of who is needed to keep things functioning; as the business grows, you'll likely make changes to the hiring plans to fit what is happening at the time. Also, in a number of cases, the "staff" is you and whomever you can consult, such as your lawyer and accountant. This is fine, as long as you show that you're prepared to pay for external advice and help until your business is ready to take on staff.
  • Financials. Succinctly, this describes how much are you plan on spending, and how much you're making. Since this is the most dynamic part of your plan, and perhaps the most important for long-term stability, you should update this monthly for the first year, quarterly for the second year, and then annually after that.
  • Get a Website. Whether you're selling online or not, get your website in gear or have one built for you. It's your storefront, so anything and everything you can do to make people want to visit, and want to stay, do it.


  • Always provide value and service to those who may be your customers, even if they are not currently. When they do need your product, you want them to think of you first.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment with prices.
  • With the advent of the internet, online businesses are probably the easiest way to start and very much less expensive in terms of start-up cost than an offline counterpart.
  • Keep learning, and be adaptable to change. Find buddies, mentors, Internet forums to discuss the daily details of running a small business.
  • Most direct selling companies have low start up capital compared to a traditional brick and mortar business. You can also break even rather quickly compared to the traditional business.
  • A franchise is a great idea although the start-up capital is way too high for most people.

Requirements in Jamaica

Ascertain from the Registrar of Companies whether the desired name is available and acceptable with the Office of Registrar of Companies (ORC)

  • File the company deeds to the Registrar of Companies. Only a single document, the articles of incorporation, is now required to constitute a company. Previously, both the memorandum of association and the articles of association had to be filed with the Registrar of Companies. The rationale for this new requirement is that because the Companies Act, 2004 abolished the doctrine of ultra vires and because companies now have the same legal capacity as individuals, there is no need to set out the company’s objectives in its memorandum of association. The articles of incorporation capture all the essential facts of the company (i.e., the number of shares, the subscribers’ names, and the company’s internal rules and regulations) and is signed by at least one person (for a private company). Articles may be prepared according to the model set out in Table A in the First Schedule of the Companies Act. The other documents that must be submitted to the Registrar of Companies are:

• Form 2: The declaration of compliance made out by an attorney at law, an International Customer Service Association (ICSA) graduate, or a company promoter (member or director of the company engaged in its formation). This document attests that all the documents conform to the provisions of the Companies Act.

• Form 17: Notice of registered office.

• Form 23: Notice of appointment/change of directors.

• Form 3: Particulars of shares. Where there are two or more classes of shares (i.e., ordinary or preference shares) on incorporation, this form must be filed to set out the rights and obligations of each company share class.

• Form 20: Notice of appointment of company secretary and notice of particulars of directors.

Within 3-4 days, the Registrar of Companies, if satisfied that all is in order, will issue the certificate of incorporation and assign the company a designated company number. A notice of appointment of company secretary, including particulars of directors, must be filed within 14 days.

Obtain national insurance scheme (NIS) reference number from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security

As of January 2012, Employers are required to file all annual returns affecting NIS, NHT, Education Tax and/or PAYE Income Tax for 2011 and onwards using the SO2 Form which replaces the following:

• C4 – Employer’s Annual Return: Declaration and


• IT06 – Employer’s Annual Return PAYE (Income Tax)

• IT06 – PAYE Employer’s Annual Return Schedule 5 & 6

• ET02 - EDTAX Self-Employed Annual Return (with employees)

• ET03 - EDTAX Organization Annual Return

Obtain taxpayer registration number (TRN) from Collector of Taxes

The taxpayer registration number (TRN) is a unique taxpayer identfication number and is used for the payment of governement taxes and duties including income tax. Income tax returns are to be filed annually by March 15. The TRN must be affixed to all written communications to all revenue departments.

Documents to be submitted are the following:

1. Completed application for TRN Number Organisations

2. NIS number or clearance letter confirming that the company is not yet liable to National Insurance.

3. Certified copy of Articles of Incorporation

4. Certified copy of Certificate of Incorporation

5. TRN of Directors (or at least one Director)

6. Authorisation letter if the TRN application is being made by a third party Currently, a print-out of the TRN is available within 24hrs and the TRN may be used immediately.