Starting A Business In Canada

The thought of starting a business anywhere can be daunting. Indeed, there are risks, liabilities, and pitfalls. Despite the potential opportunities, anyone would hesitate to do it- let alone in today’s market which is characterized by volatilities and uncertainties.

Be that as it may, there are more than a million businesses registered in Canada. Although this does not sound too interesting, it is the characteristics of these enterprises that might intrigue you. Perhaps, the information to follow might even encourage you.

In 2015 alone, there were at least 1 million registered businesses in Canada. Most of these businesses were classified as small businesses. In Canada, a small business may either be solo-managed or have at least one employee.

As well, the same statistics showed that a vast majority of these businesses were in Ontario. Due to Quebec’s Investor Program, almost a quarter of these businesses and start-ups were in Quebec.

Other businesses in other Canadian territories and provinces numbered in the thousands.

What does all this mean for you?

Starting a business in Canada is possible. Choose Canada for your start-up, and you will be doing business in a country that will support your entrepreneurship. Canada is one of the easiest countries in which to start a business.

In fact, according to a World Bank survey in 2019, Canada ranked third when came to the ease of starting a business. This says a lot, especially because nearly 200 countries were compared.

If you are feeling encouraged, you may want to know some of the ins and outs of embarking on your entrepreneurial endeavours in Canada. Lucky for you, this article covers just that- in a step-by-step fashion.

First Things First: It All Starts With An Idea  


A business or start-up begins with your idea. You need an idea of what products or services you wish to offer. Before this, you may have had to determine the needs and wants of your community in Canada. After all, the members of the community will likely be your first customers.

These, among other considerations, need to be part of your idea for your business venture. However, an idea is only the starting point. The products of your market research and brainstorming efforts need to be expressed somehow.

In the context of business, you need to express this through a business plan. A business plan is an absolute must. It does more than keep your efforts focused. Its contents need to include everything from your products to the type of ownership under which the business will be.

A well-written business plan also needs to have predictions of how much it would make. As well, you will need to include planned locations for your business. This is also a must unless you choose to purchase a business instead. This, too, needs to be in your business plan.

In short, the first step for starting your business is writing your business plan. If you have no clue on how to do this, the Canadian government’s main site could help. This page has everything your business plan might need.

The Second Step: Come Up With A Name


You will need a name for your business. A business name is important for a number of reasons. Here are some important ones:

It Makes Your Business Easy To Remember

Thinking of a business name should actually be a part of your planning phase. Having customers or clients patronize your goods or services once is great. Be that as it may, repeated patronage is one of several things that makes a business establishment last.

A business name sets your company or establishment apart from others that offer the same services but do not have names.

With this in mind, the name of your business should be easy to remember.

Your Business Must Be Named To Be Registered

By law, businesses in Canada need to be named. This is a pre-requisite for provincial registration. The only exception is if your business is a sole proprietorship. If your business is a sole proprietorship, you only need to register your name.

The process of registration also ensures that no two businesses have the same name. Hence, besides thinking of a name, you should also check if the one you have in mind is taken.

The simplest way to check is by searching on the internet.

Step 3: Register Your Business

The contents of your business plan will be important to this step. In registering your business, you need to include the following:

  • The name of your business
  • The type of ownership of the business (e.g sole-proprietorship, partnership, corporation)
  • Your main office of operations

You need to register your business in the province in which the business will be. Should your business branch out later on to other provinces, you need to register in the provinces of the branches.

If you are getting financing or other forms of support for your business, you also need to include this. Support networks for businesses are almost always limited to a province.

For British Columbia, you could access support from firms like Small Businesses BC, and Community Futures British Columbia

In Ontario, there are organizations like FedNor and Community Futures Ontario. You could also register support from FedDev Ontario if you are seeking support for your South Ontario-based start-up. 

Registering your business will get you a business number. This is a nine-digit number that helps the Federal and Provincial governments to identify your business. You need this to register for a business permit or license.

Step 4: Apply For Business Permits, Licenses, And Taxes


As mentioned in the previous step, you can only register your business in your province. The same is true for business permits and licenses.

Different businesses require different sets of permits and licenses from all three levels of the Canadian government. Hence, there is no one set of licenses or permits that are required for all businesses.

Of course, registering your business for GST (Goods and Service Tax) is a must. If your business will be in the Maritimes, you may have to register for GST, as well as HST (Harmonized Sales Tax).

In Ontario, you only need to register for HST.

Businesses in British Columbia need to register for both GST and PST (provincial sales tax).

A helpful tool to determine the permits and licenses necessary for your business is BizPal. It allows you to check the licenses and permits necessary depending on your business’s location, type, and industry.

Final Step: Try To Get Financing To Kickstart Your Business

Not everybody has deep pockets to start a business without support.

Nonetheless, do not let a lack of funds discourage you. The Canadian government encourages and supports entrepreneurial activity in the country. Indeed, a lack of capital is a deterrent to many aspiring business people. For this reason, the Canadian government can help with financing.

Financial Assistance For Immigrant Entrepreneurs

If you are an immigrant entrepreneur, designated organizations like angel fund groups and venture capital funds can help. All you need to do is apply for their financial support. To do this, you will have to persuade a designated organization of your business’s viability and profitability.

This is where your well-written business plan comes in. For a list of designated organizations, you could visit the site of the Canadian government.

In Ontario, you could look up the Southeastern Ontario Angel Network. If you want to start a tech business in British Columbia, VanTech could be the right designated organization for you.

For Entrepreneurs Already In Canada

The Canadian government’s main site has a list of provincial organizations and institutions. These organizations and institutions are grouped according to province or territory. Also, these groups offer initial investments for start-ups in their respective provinces or territories.

Angel fund groups like the Southeastern Ontario Angel Network and VanTech are also open to funding entrepreneurs in Ontario and British Columbia, respectively.

In Canada, you could also take the traditional approach of applying for a business loan. You can do this with almost any reputable bank in Canada.

Possibly Helpful: Insurance

Getting insurance is not a requirement for starting a business in Canada. Nonetheless, it pays dividends to be prepared for uncertainty.

Having insurance can protect yourself and your business from potential mishaps or untoward incidents. Should these occur, you will not need to take much money out of your pocket.

There are many types of insurance policies for businesses. Generally, you may want coverage for:

  • Commercial property
  • Professional liability
  • General liability
  • Business interruption

Insurance companies in Canada usually offer these insurance policies. You could choose from a vast array of insurance companies.

Zensurance provides comprehensive coverage at affordable rates. The company has branches all over Canada, including Ontario and British Columbia.


Beginning your journey as an entrepreneur in Canada does not have to be intimidating. It need not be confusing nor does it need to be extremely expensive.

Canada recognizes the significant contributions businesses have to its people and communities. Canadian businesses add to the country’s economic prosperity. Businesses in the country do so on both the provincial and national levels.

For these reasons, the Canadian government along with the private sector offers support to entrepreneurs, both foreign and native.

In short, go ahead and start your business in Canada.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

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