Best Side Business in Canada (2020): Top 10 Businesses + Important Tips

Best Side Business in Canada

If you find yourself spending more time watching TV or staring at your cat than going out and having fun with your friends because you don’t have the funds…

It may be time to put your wasted hours to better use. How about starting a side business?

Also called a “side hustle”, this part-time business allows you to be self-employed, working as much or as little as you want in addition to your regular job. Some side businesses are even fun!

When you’ve settled on one of the best side business in Canada opportunities and start working, you’ll have extra cash for any needs. And your cat will appreciate having a bit more privacy…

What Is a Side Business?

A side business (or side hustle) is simply a part-time, money-making activity that typically doesn’t involve something like working the cash register at a Tim Hortons.

For the majority of people, a side hustle is part-time self-employment that you’ll do outside of your normal working hours. It often will be something that involves working from home, selling products, or providing services as a freelancer or as an independent small business owner. Although you may do jobs for another party, you’ll remain independent when you’re working as a side hustle.

With a side hustle, you can earn a bit of extra money. And some side businesses will be eligible for special grants and financing from Canadian provincial or federal governments.

Certain side hustles have no startup costs, meaning you don’t have much risk in starting one. And, occasionally, your side hustle may grow into a full-time business!

Why Would I Want to Start a Side Business?

Deciding to start a side business is not something that should be taken lightly. You may have some startup costs or training to go through before beginning work. You don’t want to go into this choice lightly and end up having it cost you money because you weren’t really ready for this gig.

Here are some of the primary reasons people choose to start a side business:

  • Paying off debt. Whether you have student loans or a couple of credit card balances that have grown out of control, picking up some extra money can help you work your way out of these unfavorable types of debt more quickly.
  • Saving for a goal. If you have a big event coming up, such as saving for an engagement ring or for a wedding, a side business gives you the extra money you may need for these items.
  • Building an emergency fund. The majority of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque, meaning they have no savings for emergencies. Working at a side business for several months can give you an important financial cushion.
  • Wanting a new full-time gig. Maybe you do not enjoy your current full-time job and are considering a new career. A side hustle is an opportunity to test out some other types of work to see if you like them better.
  • Migrating to a new job. Some people start a side business with the goal of turning it into a full-time job after several months or a few years.
  • Having more fun. Some people just love the idea of working. Maybe you have recently retired, and you are not enjoying having so much free time. Pick a side business that gives you the chance to meet new people and try new activities, and you’ll have fun while you work.

Pros and Cons of Side Businesses

Side hustles are not all fun and games. (This doesn’t apply to those who are playing video games as a side hustle, of course. Those are literally games.) Here are some of the pros and cons to starting a side business:

Pros of a Side Business:

  • Many of them are easy to start with minimal startup costs
  • Can pick something you’ll enjoy
  • Take advantage of skills that are going unused at your full-time job
  • Gain extra spending money
  • Build toward a financial goal
  • Work as much or as little as you want
  • Many of these businesses can be fully internet-based
  • Chance of side hustle growing into a full-time job

Cons of a Side Business:

  • Cuts into your free time
  • Some full-time employers frown on their employees starting a side hustle
  • No guarantee of success
  • Some side hustles have steep startup costs
  • Can feel overwhelming at times
  • May need to track expenses and do other accounting tasks
  • Being self-employed requires a learning curve on income taxes
  • Watch out for fake promises

9 Important Things to Consider Before Starting a Side Business

Operating a side business does take a little bit of time for doing accounting, understanding insurance coverage, and marketing yourself, among other things.

You’ll probably spend most of your time actually doing the thing you want to do, but you’ll have some other tasks and obligations to fill to keep your side business moving in the right direction.

Here are some of the key things you’ll need to do when you’re running a side business:

  • Stop doubting yourself. One of the reasons people fail at a side business is indecisiveness. You may be second-guessing your decision, unconsciously sabotaging yourself along the way. You have to commit to your idea and give yourself every chance of making it work. Don’t go into this side hustle expecting failure.
  • Figure out how much time you have. Take a close look at your current time obligations and calculate how much time you actually have to devote to the side business. You don’t want to commit to something that will leave you so busy that you’re trying to survive on 5 hours of sleep per night.
  • Settle on something that highlights your strengths. Think about things that you like to do and that you’re successful with; then pick a side hustle that allows you to excel in those areas.
  • Set goals and deadlines. Once you have an idea for a side hustle and know how much time you can devote to it, set deadlines for when you’ll be up and running. Then set goals for generating income. Most freelancers do better when they have precise goals in hand.
  • Remember that your time is valuable. When you start a side hustle, you’re going to have friends or family who will ask you to do something related to your business for them for free. You may need to remind them that your time is valuable, and you deserve to be paid. Most of them will understand when you put it in these terms.
  • Pick something where you actually can make money. Sure, we’d all love to get paid for staring at the cat, but we’re not likely to find any paying customers for that. Make sure that any side hustle you select has an ability to generate money for you.
  • Track expenses and invoices. As a self-employed person, you will need to have a good system for tracking any expenses you have that are related to the business, as well the income you earn. If you are not interested in accounting, look for an app or some software that can help.
  • Understand the tax implications. When you are self-employed in a side business, income taxes are not taken out of your paycheque before you receive it. You have to make quarterly payments to the CRA on your own, so don’t think that every dollar you earn is yours to keep. The government will still need to receive its share … or else.
  • Additional tax complications for certain side hustles. If you will be carrying inventory, buying a franchise, or employing others, you’ll have certain income tax implications in the side business beyond paying your own income taxes.

Best Side Businesses in Canada

There are hundreds of things you can do on the side to earn extra cash (and maybe eventually build an empire!). Here are 10 excellent side businesses Canadians can have success with and that do not require much in the way of initial investment:

Child and Senior Companion Care

Babysitting is not for teenagers alone anymore. For those who love spending time with children, a side hustle for child care can be an enjoyable way to make some extra money. You also could choose to serve as a companion for seniors who are living at home or for those with disabilities.

Some of these jobs will be night time and weekend heavy, while others will be during normal business hours, so there is a lot of flexibility here. These jobs can vary quite a bit in the skills required too, as you may have to help babies change diapers, cook meals for kids, do odd jobs around the house for seniors, and other tasks.

There are established companies for these services, where all you have to do is sign up and wait for customers to pick you, such as Datenight, Canadian Nanny, and Senior Care Connect. If you live in a rural area or small town, you might want to strike out on your own, as these established companies may not serve areas outside of the largest Canadian cities.

With some of these jobs, you may have to have a nursing license or similar skills. Expect to make $10 to $25 per hour.

  • Pro: Perfect job for those who enjoy spending one-on-one time with children or seniors.
  • Con: Pay is usually a bit below average versus other side hustles

Create and Sell Products

If you have the ability to create cool things, like jewelry, art, clothing, or other items, you can use an internet marketplace to sell your items. Because this type of work starts out as a hobby for many people, having a way to make money from it is a welcome option.

You can work with an established internet marketplace, such as Etsy or eBay, or you can strike out on your own, creating your own website to generate sales, such as through Shopify or Canada Post. Or if you have unique items or food to sell, perhaps a local brick and mortar retailer would be willing to partner with you.

Startup costs are minimal. If you already make items or cook as a hobby, you may have a lot of the equipment and ingredients you need. If you want to build your own website, there are some costs associated with that.

Depending on what you’re selling and what kinds of costs you have for ongoing ingredients and supplies, you could make anywhere from $5 to $50 or more per hour.

  • Pro: Fun way to earn some extra money in a side business
  • Con: You could go a long time between customers

Creative Arts

If you have a skill related to writing, photography, art, audio, or video, you can work as a freelancer, doing jobs for individuals and companies that need these skills.

Established websites like Fiverr and UpWork help connect freelance artists with companies who need the work. Otherwise, you can search online job boards, like Indeed, to find people who need these types of services from freelancers.

You can expect to earn anywhere from $10 to $35 per hour, depending on the type of job and your skill and experience level. These jobs can be quite enjoyable, so some freelancers do them as a hobby and don’t mind making a little less money than with some other side hustles.

The initial investment will depend on what type of work you’ll be doing. Freelance photographers will need quite a bit more equipment than a freelance writer, for example.

  • Pro: Some people already do this as a hobby, so getting paid is a nice bonus.
  • Con: Some types of jobs in this area do not pay well.

Driving and Delivery

This is one of the easiest side hustles to start, should you choose to become an independent contractor with one of the established big name employers in this industry, such as Uber, Postmates, Instacart, or Lyft. You can choose to drive patrons around, or you can choose to be a delivery driver, bringing groceries or restaurant takeout meals.

You do need to have a driver’s license and a reliable car to work for a ridesharing service, as well as a smartphone for accepting jobs. Earning $12 to $25 per hour is possible with ridesharing or delivery, but you do have expenses for gasoline, car upkeep, and auto insurance.

Should you live in a small urban area or a rural area where ridesharing companies don’t exist yet, you can even try to start your own service.

  • Pro: Extremely easy to sign up and start working quickly
  • Con: Lots of hidden costs on your end, like gasoline and insurance

Repair and Home Cleaning

If you enjoy fixing things around your house or doing cleaning, you may enjoy doing these jobs for other people and being paid for the work.

If you enjoy fixing things around your house or doing cleaning, you may enjoy doing these jobs for other people and being paid for the work.

To simplify this kind of side hustle, there are established companies in this arena that allow you to work for them as a freelancer, such as TaskRabbit or Handy. People will make requests for your services through an app, and you then can accept the jobs through the same app.

These types of side businesses require that you have your own tools or cleaning equipment. You can expect to make $12 to $35 per hour, depending on the job. Most of these services are only in the big cities, so if you live elsewhere in Canada, you could try to start this type of service on your own.

  • Pro: Pay is above average versus most side hustles
  • Con: Need to spend money on supplies before you can start

Pet Walking and Pet Sitting

If you love animals, people will pay you to walk their dogs or keep an eye on their pets when they are not at home.For those who live in a larger city, companies already exist that can help you connect with people who need these pet care services, such as GoFetch, Rover, and Spot. This means all you have to do is sign up to be a provider. You then can see and accept jobs through an app.

Dog walking doesn’t pay as well as some of the other side hustles, but there are almost no startup costs.

You can take on more than one client per day. On average, this side hustle may pay $10 to $20 per client, but the profit varies, based on what you are being asked to do. With most of these, you will set your own prices, and clients can choose you, if they’re willing to pay what you’re asking.

  • Pro: You can spend time with dogs and other pets
  • Con: The overall pay is below average versus other side businesses

Sell Stuff

Maybe you have too much clutter around your house, and you’d like to earn some extra money by selling it. And maybe your friends and family also have some extra items they no longer need, but they don’t want to spend the time needed to sell it.

You can set up a side hustle where you sell items for yourself and others through places like eBay, Amazon, and Alibaba. When selling items for other people, you will make a deal with them about what percentage of the sale you will keep as a fee. Some small brick and mortar businesses in your local area even may be willing to let you sell items on the internet for them.

Selling items though online marketplaces will be pretty easy, once you gain the hang of it. You have to take photographs of the items, create the listing, answer any questions potential buyers may have, and package and ship the products once they sell.

To make $12 to $25 per hour, you will need to sell a lot of small, inexpensive items or a few bigger, expensive items. And you may have to wait months to see a return on your investment of time after putting an item up for sale, as it may take a while to find a buyer. Still, this is a good side hustle that does not have set hours.

  • Pro: Very easy to start, and you can work whenever you want
  • Con: You could go long periods without selling anything

Social Media Guru

If you enjoy using all kinds of social media, and if you have built up a following, you may be able to turn your skills into a side hustle.Many companies struggle with social media management, and they will be willing to pay you to help with their social media strategy and upkeep. Places like Fivrr and UpWork are great sites to find companies looking for social media help.

For someone who has a lot of followers, you may be able to monetize your popularity. Companies will pay you to talk about their products, to have advertisements on your feed, or to have their products in the background of your videos.

For gamers who have built a big following, Twitch is a way to earn money in a side hustle. Some of these jobs end up being quite lucrative, but it takes a lot of work at first to build your brand.

  • Pro: Good way to show off your creativity and be paid for it
  • Con: Building up the size of audience you need to monetize is tough

Tutoring or Giving Lessons

Online tutoring or giving music lessons are great ways to help students improve their skills, while also putting your knowledge in certain subject areas to good use.

With this type of side hustle, you won’t have any startup costs. You can signup with online tutoring services, such as Chegg or First Tutors Canada, where you can list your skills in the app. Parents and students who need help in those academic areas then can select you as a tutor. You also can attempt to do tutoring or give music lessons locally in person.

Expect to make $12 to $25 per hour when you’re working, but you could go long stretches of time without any clients, especially if your area of expertise is more of a specialized topic.

  • Pro: Great way to help others while making some money
  • Con: May not give you work as often as you’d like

Virtual Assistant

If you have quite a few different skills that would fit into an office setting well, but you loathe the idea of going into an office for a part-time job, a virtual assistant job may be perfect for you.

Virtual assistants can work for small or large companies, and they can do a variety of tasks, like monitoring social media outlets, creating documents, bookkeeping, data entry, and almost anything a business manager or owner needs, all from your own home.

There are almost no startup costs with this type of work, which is a big advantage.

Depending on your skills and the work you’re doing, you could expect to make $12 to $35 per hour. Sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Upwork may have job listings for these types of side businesses.

  • Pro: Lets you show off a variety of skills you may have
  • Con: You may struggle to find clients initially until you have experience

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