Even though Canada ranks 23rd among all of the world’s countries in terms of the ease of doing business, according to the World Bank, this is no guarantee of success. Business ownership requires a lot of discipline and hard work to be successful.
Clearly, starting a business is a challenge under ideal circumstances. But for someone who is an immigrant to Canada, the process of starting a business would appear to be an even bigger challenge than for a lifelong Canadian citizen. If there are language barriers or a difficulty in understanding local and provincial regulations for the immigrant, the challenges only grow.
However, these potential challenges do not stop immigrants from trying to start businesses. CIC News reports that immigrants often are more willing to try to start businesses than native Canadians, and they tend to have an above average level of success.
As an immigrant to Canada, if you have interest in trying to start a business, we have some ideas and information that can help simplify the process, including the best businesses in Canada for immigrants.
Legal Requirements for an Immigrant to Start a Canadian Business
One of the most challenging aspects of starting a business for anyone, including immigrants, is dealing with the legal process. Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you may have to undertake a number of steps to be a legal business to meet federal regulations, including:
Understand that there could be additional municipal and provincial regulations as well.
Rules for Immigrant Business Owners
For immigrants who are not Canadian citizens, a number of avenues exist for starting a business. You will have to show some financial stability, and you’ll need a work permit. There may be some fees associated with your application, depending on your business plans.
Here are some programs to check out:
Best Places in Canada for an Immigrant to Start a Business
According to Statista, Ontario had the largest number of immigrants in 2019 among Canadian provinces and territories, outperforming the second highest province by 3 times. Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta all had a large number of immigrants in 2019, too.
Here is a list of some of the guidance and advice that is available at the provincial level to immigrants trying to start a business in each of the Canadian provinces and territories.
Best Businesses for Immigrants to Start in Canada
An immigrant can start almost any kind of business in Canada, depending on his or her skills. However, there are a few types of businesses especially seem to fit immigrants well. Here are the 6 best businesses for Canadian immigrants.
For an immigrant who has skills with cooking, starting a restaurant is a popular business opportunity. Through the restaurant, the immigrant may be able to introduce foods and recipes native to his or her country that Canadians may have an interest in tasting.
An advantage of opening an authentic restaurant is that it may not be like anything else in the area where you are opening it, giving you a niche place in the restaurant market.
This market is highly competitive, and many restaurants don’t make it, so it is helpful to have some previous experience in this type of business. But this can be a great business to start when family members are immigrating with you, as you can all work together, making it a family business.
In some countries, certain types of coffees are popular. By opening a coffee shop in your new Canadian home, you may be able to introduce some of the types of coffee from your native country to Canadians through this type of business, along with pastries and other treats.
Serve your native coffees and foods in your shop, along with favorites for the region of Canada in which you’re operating the business, and you can appeal to both those who like trying new things and those who have an affinity for their long-time favorites.
Retail Store or Grocery
For immigrants looking to introduce their native culture to their new home in Canada, starting a retail store that features some products from their home country could create a niche business.
Immigrants moving into an area of Canada that is already home to a significant number of fellow immigrants from the same country could choose to start a grocery store that carries some types of foods that are native to the home country, along with traditional Canadian types of foods.
Carrying specialty foods related to his or her home country could give the grocer a built-in customer base of fellow immigrants who may not be able to find these types of foods anywhere else in the area.
Brick and mortar retail can be a challenging industry, so consider selling products online too, if possible.
If you, as an immigrant, have experience as a farmer in your home country, you may be able to start a small scale farm in Canada. You could start a business that grows specialty crops not found in other areas of the province, or you may be able to have livestock that is not typical to the area.
Perhaps you have experience with these non-traditional farm products from your native country, giving you an interesting business opportunity that is not commonly found elsewhere in the area.
Additionally, these types of small scale farming operations could provide an opportunity for farm tourism or agri-tours, giving you a second stream of income for your new business.
For an immigrant with training in high-tech applications, there is the possibility of starting a technology related company.
Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Ottawa all have thriving tech industries, according to the Vancouver Sun, which is helpful for those immigrants who are looking to start a business related to software programming, gaming, or app building.
For those who have more experience in setting up networks or working with computing hardware, consider a startup business that provides help to small businesses for setting up a network or that performs repairs on computing equipment.
There are a number of tech-related business ideas that are possible for immigrants looking to create a startup.
Construction or Contracting
Several Canadian cities are experiencing strong growth in construction, and this can provide a high-demand business opportunity for an immigrant who has experience in managing large construction projects, handyman contracting jobs, or anything in between.
Contractors often can work alone when doing smaller, handyman types of jobs, which simplifies the process of running the business. For those who don’t mind the complexities of running a business with multiple employees, a larger contracting or construction business is a possibility.
If you are immigrating into an area of Canada where many others from your home country have also immigrated, you may find skilled laborers from your home country who are eager to begin working for you, as your fellow immigrants may be more comfortable working for someone who speaks their native language.
Other Options for Entrepreneurial Immigrants
Those who have specific skills may want to purchase a business that’s for sale that matches up with those skills. An immigrant who has training as a medical professional could look to purchase a medical practice, jumping into a business that already has a client base.
One final way immigrants start a business in Canada is by migrating a business they have in their home country into Canada. Some people may decide to continue operating the business in the home country, opening an additional location in Canada, while others may completely move the business to Canada. For those who are already entrepreneurs, this may be the best option when immigrating to Canada.
Maurice (Moe) Muise learned the ins-and-outs of government while an employee of the Government of Canada in Ottawa for 10 years. His current focus is helping small businesses in Ontario to identify and maximize government grants to grow their business.
Click here to learn more about Moe’s background and how he can help your business.