Show Me the Money: How Much Does it Cost to Start a business in Ontario?

Starting a business in Ontario is an exciting venture, but it’s essential to know the costs involved. The total expenses may vary depending on factors such as the industry, location, and the type of business you plan to open. Whether you’re starting a small storefront or pursuing a tech startup, understanding the financial aspect is crucial in ensuring a successful launch.

In this article, we’re delving deep into the realm of startup costs in Ontario. We’ll uncover the various elements that contribute to the price tag of starting a business here, providing you with insights that will help you navigate this crucial phase with confidence. So, join us as we unravel the intricate question on every entrepreneur’s mind: How much does it really cost to start a business in Ontario?

Key Takeaways

  • Know the costs involved in starting a business in Ontario, such as industry, location, and business type
  • Research business structures and initial costs of setting up your business
  • Consider ongoing expenses and indirect costs to create an accurate budget for starting your venture in Ontario.

Business Registration Cost

When starting a business in Ontario, it’s essential to understand the different business structures available to you. In this section, we will briefly discuss the costs associated with the three main types: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, and Corporation.

Sole Proprietorship Cost

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and least expensive business structure to set up. As a sole proprietor, your business and personal assets are not separated, and you have full control over your business. The main costs associated with starting a sole proprietorship include:

  • Registering your business name: approximately $60 CAD
  • Business licenses and permits: Vary depending on your industry and location

Keep in mind that as a sole proprietor, you are personally responsible for your business’s debts and liabilities.

Partnership Business Cost

A partnership is formed when two or more individuals decide to establish a business together. Partnerships can be either general or limited. The costs of setting up a partnership are similar to those of a sole proprietorship. However, you should consider drafting a partnership agreement to clarify roles, responsibilities, and profit-sharing. The main costs include:

  • Registering your partnership: Approximately $80 CAD
  • Partnership agreement: Legal fees vary depending on the complexity
  • Business licenses and permits: Vary depending on your industry and location

Partners are jointly responsible for the debts and obligations of the business, so be prepared to share the financial risks with your partners.

Corporation Business Cost

A corporation is a separate legal entity, providing limited liability protection for shareholders and separating business assets from personal assets. You can choose to incorporate federally or provincially, and each option comes with its own pros and cons. Incorporating your business can be more expensive and requires more paperwork, but it offers several benefits, such as tax advantages and access to funding opportunities. The main costs associated with starting a corporation in Ontario include:

  • Incorporating provincially: Approximately $300 CAD
  • Incorporating federally: Approximately $200 CAD, plus an additional $260 CAD for the mandatory name search
  • Annual maintenance fees: Around $20 CAD for provincial corporations and $250 CAD for federal corporations
  • Business licenses and permits: Vary depending on your industry and location

Remember that incorporating your business involves additional costs and administrative tasks. However, the benefits of limited liability protection and potential tax advantages may outweigh these costs, depending on your business’s size and nature.

Ongoing Costs

Starting a business involves not only the initial investment but also the ongoing costs to keep your business running smoothly. It’s essential to understand these costs to effectively budget and manage your finances. In this section, we’ll go over some key ongoing expenses.

Annual Filings

As a business owner in Ontario, you are required to submit annual filings to the provincial government. These filings help ensure your business remains compliant with relevant regulations and legislation. Some examples of annual filings include:

  • Corporate tax returns
  • Financial statements
  • Annual reports

There are no government fee to file these documents, but if you hire a third-party service, they will charge a fee.


Some of the most common taxes you’ll need to be aware of include:

  • Federal and provincial income taxes: As a business owner, you’ll be responsible for paying income taxes on the revenue generated by your business. Make sure to set aside a portion of your profits to cover these payments.
  • Harmonized Sales Tax: Businesses in Ontario are required to collect and remit HST on applicable goods and services. You may also be eligible to claim Input Tax Credits to offset the HST paid on business expenses.

Stay up to date with the latest tax rates and any changes that may impact your business.


Securing appropriate insurance coverage is a crucial part of protecting your business and its assets. In Ontario, some of the common types of insurance you may need include:

  • General liability insurance: To protect your business from potential lawsuits resulting from injuries or property damage that may occur on your premises or as a result of your operations.
  • Property insurance: To safeguard your business’s physical assets, such as buildings and equipment, in case of damage or loss.
  • Professional liability insurance: If your business provides professional services, this insurance covers you in the event of alleged negligence or errors in the services you provide.

Take the time to research and select the right insurance policies for your business, keeping your specific industry and risk factors in mind. With proper planning and awareness of ongoing costs, you can better position your business for success in Ontario’s competitive market.

Indirect Costs

Office Space

When starting a business, it’s essential to consider the cost of office space. Depending on your needs, you can choose to either lease or purchase an office. Leasing usually involves a monthly rent, which varies depending on the location, size, and amenities of the space. Keep in mind that prime locations will come with a higher price tag. On the other hand, purchasing a property might be a significant upfront expense, but it adds value to your business as a long-term asset.


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    Marketing and Advertising

    Another crucial aspect of starting a business is promoting your products or services. This can include a variety of marketing and advertising strategies like creating a website, developing promotional materials, and running ad campaigns. These costs can be unpredictable, as they often depend on the size of your target market, the channels you use, and the effectiveness of your strategy. To ensure your marketing efforts are worthwhile, focus on targeting your ideal audience and measuring the results to make informed decisions.

    Employee Salaries

    Last but not least, you need to consider the cost of hiring employees to help run your business. Employee salaries can be a significant expense, especially as your business grows. In Ontario, the minimum wage is currently $15.00/hour, but this might not be enough to attract skilled professionals in your industry. Take the time to research the competitive rates for the positions you are looking to fill, and remember that offering a competitive salary package can help attract and retain top talent and improve the overall success of your business.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Registering a business in Ontario comes with different fees depending on the type of registration. For online applications, the fee is $60, and you’ll receive your Master Business License within two business days. If you prefer to mail your application, the fee is $80, and you’ll receive your Master Business License within 20 business days.

    The ongoing costs for a business in Ontario can vary widely depending on factors such as the business type, location, staffing needs, and more. However, common ongoing expenses may include taxes, lease payments, employee salaries, inventory, insurance, utilities, and marketing costs.

    Startup expenses between Ontario and Alberta may differ due to the specific regulations and tax structures in each province. However, factors such as business type, location, and industry will affect costs more than provincial differences. It’s essential to research the specific costs for your business in the province you want to operate and plan accordingly.

    When starting a business in Ontario, you should:

    1. Determine the legal structure of your business (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation).
    2. Register your business name and obtain a Master Business License.
    3. Obtain necessary permits and licenses as required by your industry or local regulations.
    4. Register for a business number with the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) if necessary.
    5. Familiarize yourself with Ontario’s employment and health and safety laws if you plan to hire employees.

    What are some cost-saving tips for starting a business in Canada?

    1. Start small and scale up as your business grows.
    2. Utilize free or inexpensive marketing methods, such as social media.
    3. Look for opportunities to barter or trade services with other businesses.
    4. Make use of government programs and grants that can help offset costs, especially for research and development.
    5. Leverage technology to automate tasks and reduce administrative expenses.

    Resources for new Businesses in Ontario

    Government Resources

    Industry Resources

    Other Resources

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