What You Need To Start An Online Business In Canada From Home
Whether it’s a part time side hustle, or a full time career, working online in Canada can be extremely lucrative. Thanks to modern technological advancements, there’s never been a better time than the present to establish a digital business venture.
Nowadays there’s an abundance of tools, information, and efficient software to help you get started. In the past, digital businesses experienced operational issues due to low levels of technical expertise. Today, with everything simplified and made user friendly, it’s not about who can make the right online business it’s about who can make it more effectively.
That’s why taking the time to learn the proper set up process is vital. We’ve compiled a list of things you should consider when establishing your Canadian online business.
TOP THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN STARTING A CANADIAN ONLINE BUSINESS
Please note that these points are not listed in order of importance – the final product (your fully registered business) is the only thing that matters at the end of the day. Developing a general understanding of the considerations below should ideally answer your questions on what the typical online business structuring process looks like.
PHASE 1: THE BUSINESS PLAN
The most practical way to own and operate a successful online business is to avoid rushing into things. Brainstorm, research, and explore different market opportunities to realize your skill set.
Take plenty of notes (whether on paper or electronically) and figure out your overall profit strategy as a bare minimum requirement first. The right idea can make or break a business.
Choose a Niche
Whether you plan on distributing products to consumer via Shopify eCommerce, selling informational pieces, or offering your services through digital channels, it’s important to settle on a target niche/market segment.
Since your business will mostly be operating through a single niche, it’s a good idea to become as knowledgeable on the topic as possible.
Determine Your Worth
The vast majority of businesses have an acute value proposition that essentially outlines why the customer should pick them over the competition. As a general rule, the earlier you can establish your businesses’ unique value the sooner you can successfully compete within your industry.
A business that lacks a solid value proposition will have a tougher time selling their products/services to consumers.
Pick a Name
The final name you decide on for your business is crucial for two main purposes: appeal to the consumer and legal registration. The legality of a company (even if it’s only run by an individual) is of the utmost importance.
Ensure that the name isn’t violating any trademark issues by having the same combination of letters (in the same order) as another firm. Once you’ve come to a conclusion on what your business should be called, you need to register it under the Canadian government.
PHASE 2: THE FINANCIALS OF THE BUSINESS
The number one thing that matters in virtually every business is the bottom line. It’s usually not enough to be momentarily profitable, sustainable business practices include proper financial management.
Open Any Necessary Accounts
It’s widely regarded as a good idea to have a business bank account that’s separate from your personal one. This greatly eases the stress burdened by tax season, since all of your business-specific cash flows will be organized in one place. Furthermore, a company designated bank account can benefit from having its own line of credit.
As an added bonus you can sign up for digital wallets such as PayPal for your business. Depending on your operations it might make it easier to receive payment from specific customers.
Fund Your Operations
If you’re considering a solo entrepreneurial venture you’ll probably want to bootstrap the business by yourself. However, certain business models may require increased amounts of capital that many individuals cannot invest on their own.
For truly groundbreaking innovations you can apply for government-based financing and grants. Alternatively, you can take advantage of crowd sourcing platforms like Kickstarter to gather small dollar amounts from large numbers of people.
Monitor Your Money
Keeping a vigilant eye on your company’s finances will pay off in the long run. Constant monitoring of your cash flows and balance sheet can help realize savings and operating-efficiency opportunities. Doing this inevitably leads to business optimization – in other words, your ability to be as profitable as possible.
For daily expense tracking you could use Mint (a smartphone application that links directly to your bank account and outlines all expenditures). In addition, as your business scales further you’ll derive more benefit from leveraging accounting software like Quickbooks to simplify tax season.
As it currently stands if your business is generating over $30,000 annually in Canada you’ll be subject to GST/HST (a tax that you’ll need to automatically register for). Although even if you’ve yet to hit that number in sales you can still benefit from early tax registration – being recognized in the tax system can give you access to various business tax credits.
In certain cases across Canada, depending on where you’ve registered your business, you’ll be eligible for PST (provincial sales tax) or QST (Quebec sales tax) since they don’t have a unified sales tax percentage.
PHASE 3: GETTING STARTED WITH ONLINE BUSINESS
Now that you’ve established a foundation for your business it’s time to consider the actual online implementation of it. The digital aspect of revenue streams, customer outreach channels, marketing space, and supplier relationships are all things you need to iron out in this phase.
Register Your Own Space
Purchasing a website is an online business necessity. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable options for domain registration like GoDaddy who will carve out a portion of the internet just for your business. Most of the time, the domain space issuer will alert you if your domain has already been taken (and recommend you similar choices).
The main reason that owning your domain is incredibly important is due to the fact that it acts as your landing page for client traffic. Your company website should be the primary source for your product/service offering.
Create The Website
Once you’ve obtained the full rights pertaining to your internet domain, you can begin customizing the platform to your specifications. If you’re not a highly skilled web designer – and don’t wish to consult one at the beginning – you can leverage popular website template builders such as WordPress or Wix.
If your business strategy revolves heavily around eCommerce, you may wish to take advantage of flourishing product business software such as Shopify. These useful tools come in handy and often come with: a user friendly navigational interface, storefront/landing page templates, add-to-cart features, logistical analysis, and payment systems all in one package.
Develop Your Marketing Strategy
At the end of the day the quality of your advertising content is king. Everything your business puts out (other than the actual product/service being sold) can be considered valuable/attractive if executed properly. Since you’ll be running an online business, it helps to also utilize online advertising channels for marketing purposes.
To succeed as an emerging online business today, creating free social media accounts for your business is a must. Consider social media as a “lean marketing” tool to drive up your customer engagement and notify them with promotional material at the same time.
Taking Your Online Business To The Next Level
As soon as you’ve mastered the basics and developed a solid foundation for your e-business it’s time to scale up even further. There are several other tools that digital entrepreneurs leverage to stand out amongst the top competitors in their industry.
- Freelancer – this site will help you find short-term employees/part-time contract work that needs to get done in order for your business to thrive.
- Google Analytics – using this software (provided by the largest search engine in the world) can help you get a firmer grasp on the overall efficiency of your website traffic.
- Salesforce – customer relationship management software (CRM) will help your business level up its communication effectiveness with potential clients.
FINAL THOUGHTS: STARTING AN ONLINE BUSINESS IN CANADA
As long as you’re an ambitious person with a desire to learn, all the information you need to know about starting at online business in Canada can be found on the internet.
There’s a plethora of resources that you could take advantage of in order to educate yourself; popular streaming website YouTube comes to mind immediately. In any case, if you devote yourself fully to making money online it can be done – nowadays the requirements are not technical knowledge but intrinsic motivation and work ethic.
If you’re looking to start a business in the US instead and you are considered a non-resident, check out our guide to starting an American business as a foreigner.