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Best businesses to start in Canada

If there is one thing all immigrants have in common, it’s the desire to prosper financially in their new country.  One way most people do this is by starting a business in Canada to grow their income. For immigrants, the stakes are higher when starting a new business. With few options to fall back on, most of their enterprises are all or nothing.

In a Statistics Canada research paper by research analysts Yuri Ostrovsky and Garnett Picot, their findings revealed that recent immigrants (40%) without a job were two times more likely to start a business than Canadian-born residents (20%). And starting a business today will change your life and those of your family members tomorrow!  This article outlines the best businesses to start in Canada at the moment, ways to enter with minimal risk, and how to take advantage of growth opportunities.

Key Things to Understand Before Starting a Business in Canada

As immigrants have more on the line in the quest for success in their new enterprises because the business is often their major source of revenue. And in some cases, the business will provide funds needed for dependant family members back in their home country. So it’s important to get things right so that your new business will be profitable in the short term, and sustainable in the long run. Here are some tips to consider before you begin:

Build from customer demand: Look for a gap in the market, but be sure there is a market in the gap. Identify what needs aren’t being met by businesses in the sector and build your business to address it if there are people willing to pay for it.

Start small, then scale: Every entrepreneur has dreams of greatness, however, most of the biggest companies in the world started from garages. There is a smaller version of every dream, find yours and start there.

Take advantage of available resources in your province: Depending on where you settle, and what industry your business is in, there are many resources available from free settlement services to professional associations.

The internet is an ally: build your business on the back of the internet and harness its vast resources for advertising, distribution, and for scale.

What do Immigrant Entrepreneurs Bring to the Canadian Business Sector?

Immigrants bring a new perspective to the business culture, and their optimism and determination are always welcome traits in any ecosystem. A look at some of the biggest businesses in Canada will not be complete without listing the ones built by immigrants. From BroadbandTV, Fairfax Financial Holdings, and even Shopify. Their routes to success are diverse but a few things stand out such as their willingness to be the best versions of themselves. Some newcomers started while holding multiple jobs or working from the base positions in their industry. They did it, and so can you!

“Sticking out from the crowd” is a saying that is especially true for immigrant entrepreneurs. Some have fought their way through inadequate language skills, cultural shocks and challenges to succeed. And, in their success, they serve as a source of inspiration to others.

Learn all about how to find a job in Canada

Canada Job Bank | Your Vital Research Tool

How to Get the Job You Want in Canada

LinkedIn Profile | Essential Tips & Advice for Newcomers

Working in Canada | A 5-Step Approach

5 Best Businesses to Start in Canada in 2021

Starting a business in Canada can be challenging, but starting the right one can be very rewarding. I have detailed the five best businesses to start this year in Canada. These businesses have minimal barriers to entry that you can take advantage of to start earning money. I have also outlined the resources that you would need to get started.

Real Estate Sales and Consultancy

This is the perfect time for new entrants to get into the Canadian real estate sector. Factors like increased demand, pandemic-induced change in working conditions, and reduced expenses have many families looking to trade up on their homes. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recently released a Housing Market Outlook report with predictions that the housing markets will see a 14% price increase this year, with homes expected to sell for an average price of C$ 649,400.

How to get in: There are some general requirements, but the major ones are that you have to:

  • be older than 18
  • be a Canadian citizen
  • have graduated from the 12th grade.

However, there are also provincial regulations that intending entrants will need. You can learn more about what you require to become a licensed realtor in each province here.  Again, this is something you can start small. For example, you can decide to rent out a room in your apartment, especially if you’re in a university city. You can also buy a REIT – basically, a trust which allows you to become a part-owner in income-producing real estate. But, whatever you do, just start!

Travel Agency

As a new immigrant, you must have done a fair amount of research before achieving your relocation goals. Now is the time to put your knowledge to good use and set up your own travel agency in Canada.

How to get in: The registration process is simple and the licensing is straightforward. Depending on your industry niche, you can either register a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company, You will also need to take and pass the licensing certification exam either as a:

  • Certified Travel Manager, or a
  • Certified Travel Planner.

You can find more information about how to register a business in Canada here. And, you can even take advantage of online learning for travel agents in Canada.

Food Business

From Pasta to Pizza, Sushi and even burgers. A cursory look at the most popular dishes in the world will show you how global the human palate is. Your move to Canada is a unique opportunity to introduce new tastes with your own special recipes to a new audience. And the time is ripe too, according to Statistics Canada, in 2019, about 54% of Canadians dine out once a week. And, with the COVID rules beginning to lift, we may see a surge in those numbers. Take your own bite from the market.

How to get in: As with the other industries listed, you need to understand what licensing regulations guide the food industry. Personally, I would recommend starting with community demand. For example, you can have meal sampling events or cookouts in the backyard. And, when you have gauged the demand of your prospective customers, you can begin the registration process before you invest significant amounts of money.

Retail is Another Best Business to Start in Canada

The retail industry saw a lot of growth during the pandemic, and analysts expect the growth will be consolidated. This presents a market entry opportunity for immigrants looking to start a business in Canada.  According to the Retail Council of Canada, year-on-year industry growth is at 6.14% in 2020.

How to get in: There are different entry routes to the retail market. Some of the visible options include a franchise, online stores, and even mail orders. You can select the market entry route that works best for you. Some parts of the retail industry saw growth in apparel, footwear, and household appliances. So if you have prior sales experience, you can take advantage of the demand and start a niche service


This is another industry that discerning immigrants can take advantage of the post-pandemic behavioural switch and launch their businesses from. In continuation of the general growth, we have noticed in retail, the pandemic has influenced consumer behaviour in retail with the majority now more open to making online purchases. Even though the growth rate has slowed considerably this year due to the lockdown being lifted, it’s still at a healthy 8.5%  and will support many innovative businesses before the next lull.

How to get in: I have put e-commerce last as I believe that whatever business you choose to start, it should have an e-commerce element. The resources that will aid your journey will depend on the industry you’re in. Some of the most popular e-commerce sites in Canada are:

They all have different pros and cons but they all offer invaluable tools to launch your new business. All the best!

Knowing the best businesses to start in Canada can help you decide if this is a path you want to follow. With minimal risk, you can take advantage of growth opportunities in these industries to start and grow a profitable business.

For information, tools, FREE webinars, and more visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!