Best business ideas in Canada

Be your own boss

Canada’s economy is evolving — in fact, the country’s job creation hit a three-decade high in the first few months of 2019. Which might make this the right time to start the small business you’ve always dreamed of. Here’s a look at eight great business ideas in Canada, along with startup costs.

8 great business ideas for Canada

Thinking about starting your own business? Here are eight good ideas, along with the general startup costs for each.

  1. Photographer $
  2. Real estate $$
  3. Personal trainer $.
  4. Mobile home services $$.
  5. Freelance content creator $.
  6. Rideshare driver $$.
  7. Goods transportation $$$.
  8. Niche retail business $$$.

Interested? Let’s dig into the startup requirements of each business.

1. Photographer $

Business Ideas in Canada Woman with Camera
Customers pay photographers to capture weddings, births, family events and daily life.

Combine cutting-edge digital technology, social media and an eye for detail and you could make money as a photographer.

The biggest cost here? A high-end professional camera, which could cost $2,000 to $5,000.

Still, this makes the list of home business ideas with low startup costs since the camera should last for years if properly maintained.

Courses in photography don’t hurt either, but the biggest challenge for startup photographers is getting the word out. They’ll need active social media accounts and a website with hosting capable of handling large image files.

2. Real estate $$

Real estate remains one of the most reliable industries in Canada. Despite occasional instability, the buying and selling of residential and commercial properties is an evergreen job.

This potentially lucrative business isn’t tied to a 9-5 schedule.

 

According to the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), new agents can expect to pay more than $2,000 for licensing courses and the same for first-time license registration. In addition, each province maintains its own real estate board that charges initiation fees and monthly dues.

Also critical? Building a new client base. While this can be done via word-of-mouth, new agents are often best served by professionally-designed websites linked to social media accounts.

Related: How to become a real estate agent in Canada

3. Personal trainer $

The fitness market in Canada is expected to reach $266 million this year, making it a good opportunity for entrepreneurs. It’s also one of several home business ideas with low startup costs listed here.

Personal training offers a simple path to startup: prospective trainers pay for certification courses ($500 – $1000) and then start looking for clients. While it helps to own some fitness equipment, many clients prefer to work out in their own homes.

Expertise, not equipment, is your most valuable asset.

 

The challenge? As this market expands, you need a reliable way to find and keep new clients. Here, a great domain name and website can help get new customers to contact you directly.

4. Mobile home services $$

Business Ideas in Canada Person Snow Blowing a Sidewalk

Next on our list of top business ideas in Canada are mobile home services. It’s a lucrative market because no one really wants to wash their own windows, mow their own lawn or clean their own car. Canadians are already over-worked and looking for more vacation time.

Tap into a growing market of stressed and tired homeowners just looking for a break.

Getting started here requires some capital investment. For example, if you start a window washing business you’ll need:

  • Multiple ladders.
  • A vehicle capable of carrying those ladders.
  • Tools and products to efficiently clean windows.

Insurance is also a requirement — homeowners won’t hire you if they’re worried about potential injuries leading to litigation.

Bottom line? Expect to pay between $10,000 and $50,000 to get started.

5. Freelance content creator $

The gig economy offers a host of opportunities for content creation specialists looking to work from home. This is another home business idea with low startup costs for:

  • Freelance writers.
  • Graphic designers.
  • Website developers.
  • Researchers.
  • Videographers.

As mentioned, startup costs are minimal. A freelance writer can get to work with a computer and reliable internet connection.

The challenge? Finding clients. Freelancers need reliable, high-quality websites that draw in prospective clients and encourage them to learn more. A strong professional network is also a good source of steady leads.

6. Rideshare driver $$

Ridesharing services are quickly becoming popular in Canada. While Uber has been here for several years, competitor Lyft has now entered the Toronto market with plans to expand across the country.

Driving for a rideshare company offers several benefits. Drivers can:

  • Set their own schedules.
  • Use their own vehicles.
  • Leave the logistical details such as pickups, drop-offs and payment to the service’s mobile app.

Potential drawbacks include wear-and-tear on your vehicle and associated fees. These can range from 25 to 40 percent depending on the type of ride, distance and time of day.

Startup costs here are variable. If you already own a safe and reliable car, you can get started with virtually no overhead. If you need a new car — or if you prefer to tap the more lucrative market of longer-haul rides in larger vehicles — you could end up spending anywhere from $20,000 to $70,000.

7. Goods transportation $$$

Business Ideas in Canada Semitruck in the Road

Transportation and warehousing are critical to the country’s economy, representing almost 5 percent of the nation’s GDP. As a result, there’s always a need for businesses capable of moving goods cross-province or cross-country quickly and safely.

If you can build a reputation for service and reliability, this could provide long-term, stable income.

Starting a transport business comes with substantial costs, with the largest being the vehicle itself. Buying trucks outright can cost anywhere from $15,000 for smaller, used fleet vehicles to over $150,000 for large semitrucks and trailers. In addition, you’ll need:

  • A license to carry commercial goods.
  • Insurance for your vehicle and its cargo.
  • A name for your business, registered in your province.

All told, you could easily spend more than $200,000 to get up and running with a transportation business.

8. Niche retail business $

Small specialty stores are enjoying steady growth as consumer spending shifts away from “big box” retailers.

If you can find the right product — for example, specialty pet supplies or organic baked goods — and the right location, it’s possible to establish your brand as one to watch.

The challenge? Small retail businesses are costly and time-consuming.

 

As noted by the Ottawa Business Journal, renting retail space in the nation’s capital ranges from $26 per square foot in the suburbs to twice that downtown. Business owners must also consider the cost of:

  • Staffing.
  • Inventory management.
  • Insurance.

If you’d rather avoid the upfront costs of a retail store, start online by using social and having a website that sells products

You could be the next big thing

Ready to ditch the daily grind for a small business opportunity? Canada offers variety, depth and potential for growth. If one of the eights options on our list of business ideas in Canada fits, start planning now. Then read How to start a business in Canada for the steps required of all Canadian startups.

This business ideas Canada post was originally published on 2 April, 2019 and was updated on 29 October, 2019.