How to Start a Business in Toronto (2023): Step-by-Step Guide + Best Ideas

Toronto is one of the world’s most promising locations to start, operate, and expand a business. Continue reading to learn step-by-step guidance about planning, registering, funding, marketing, and growing a small business in Toronto in 2023. Everything you need to know is right here.

Why is Toronto a Good Place to Start a Business?

There are many reasons why Toronto is a great place to start a business. Here are just a few things that Toronto has going for it:

  • Ranked as North America’s most environmentally sustainable city
  • Ranked first of G7 nations for competitive corporate taxation
  • Rated very highly for overall livability
  • The 4th-largest city in North America
  • Highly competitive on a global scale

With well-regulated banks and a highly educated workforce, the Toronto economy remains steady and poised for continued growth. It’s an incubator for all types of businesses.

Best Business to Start in Toronto

Toronto is the most populous city in Canada, with more than twice the population of the country’s second most populated city, Montreal. Toronto’s primary urban area’s population tops 6.2 million people, and another one million are projected by 2035.

So, you can be sure that Toronto will remain an excellent city to start and grow a business for the foreseeable future.

The following are some guides that can teach you much more about beginning specific types of businesses within the city.

Of course, there are various other types of businesses you can begin in Toronto aside from those above. While the details linked to each type of enterprise are distinct, many of the same rules and regulations apply to all types.

So, which is the best type of business to begin in Toronto for you? That depends on your passions, skills, resources, and other key factors that will come into play, particularly your financial means.

Cost of Starting a Business in Toronto

It can be challenging to accurately calculate the financing needed to start a business without first having a well-developed business plan. Sometimes, you have to be actively engaged in business to fully understand all of the costs involved.

Startup costs vary between industries, but there is some overlap. While it’s always good to have big dreams and high hopes, it’s also important not to overcommit your finances early on. It’s much smarter to meticulously plan your moves, start small, and grow methodically.

Although exciting, it can be scary to borrow the funding needed to launch a business. You don’t want to make poorly thought decisions. Consider exploring various resources for getting financial support to launch your Toronto business from the Government of Canada’s Web Portal.

How to Start a Business in Toronto with No Money

Think it’s impossible to start a business with no money in Toronto? Think again! Here are some types of “free financing” that you can tap to get your Toronto business started:

  • 3 Fs (family, friends, and fools)
  • Personal savings (including RRSPs and TFSAs)
  • Credit cards (yes, this is risky. Tread carefully with this one!)
  • In-kind support like incubators and accelerators
  • Loans (government, private, and bank loans, or, if you own your home, a home equity loan)
  • Crowdfunding

Here are some other tips to begin your enterprise without having any funding:

  • Attend trade shows and online events to meet people in the industry you’re targeting
  • Focus on businesses that require the least amount of startup financing
  • Vet your business ideas by pitching them to your inner circle
  • Don’t quit your day job until it’s financially safe to do so

Starting a Business in Toronto: Step-by-Step Instructions

If you’re considering starting a Toronto business, there are some important steps to take to ensure a trouble-free experience and the best results. They are:

  • Giving thought to the basis of your business
  • Understanding the regulations that you’ll be subject to
  • Getting more precise about start-up costs
  • Devising and composing your official business plan
  • Getting the business funding you need
  • Growing as a business

Today, right now, thousands of Torontonians are considering launching businesses. Many will remain inactive, in the dream stage, because they feel that they don’t have enough time, they fear failure, or they are reluctant to commit to the financial aspects of starting and growing an enterprise.

If you’re finished sitting on the sidelines, and are ready to follow your entrepreneurial spirit, then start working on the following steps today. There’s no better time than now!

Step 1: Think about the basics of your business

Ask yourself important questions like:


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    • What industry and niche will you serve?
    • How will you market your products and services?
    • What products or services will you offer your customers?
    • Will you run your business online, offline, or a combination of both?
    • What will you offer to entice your customers over your competition?
    • Will you operate as a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or cooperative?

    Brainstorm different names that you would like to possibly call your business. Then, do a search on the New Upgraded Automated Name Search (NUANS) database to ensure that the name you want isn’t already trademarked or incorporated.

    Step 2: Understand government requirements

    If you’re going to operate your business in any name except your personal legal name, then you’re going to need to register your business name in Toronto.

    Registering your Toronto business

    It’s fast and easy to register a business in Toronto via the Ontario Business Registry. On the site, you can complete nearly one hundred different transactions – like registering a new Toronto business, updating your business’s information, filing Articles of Incorporation, plus a lot more.

    Federal business number (BN)

    Your Toronto business will require a 9-digit Business Number (BN), which is issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the purposes of taxation and communication.

    Licenses & permits required in Toronto

    The Government of Canada provides BizPaL, an online portal that helps entrepreneurs stay clear about all licenses and permits required to operate their businesses. Its simple interface is easy to understand and use. You can begin by entering your province and industry and the app will guide you from there.

    Toronto business insurance

    If you operate a sole proprietorship in Toronto, you’re not required to carry business insurance. However, it’s still wise to do so, even if you start a business from your home. Business insurance protects you, your business, and your assets. It’s smart to compare the features and costs of 3 or 4 different business insurance providers, and then choose the one that suits you best.

    Step 3: Research start-up costs

    Get to know your industry and niche to understand the financial resources you’re going to need to begin, sustain, and expand your business dealings. If you want to learn specific demographics of a targeted market, search the database available at Statistics Canada.

    Another excellent resource is the Government of Canada’s Small Business Services, where you can learn more about registering a business in Toronto, marketing techniques and resources, building your company website, and developing novel products and services.

    Step 4: Develop a business plan

    Next, it’s time to build your basic entrepreneurial ideas into a cohesive business plan. This detailed project strategy should clearly lay out your short- and long-term objectives. It should outline all of your resources and define how you start and develop your operations. Be as specific as possible with each section of your business plan and know that it will need revision with time.

    If you would like some assistance developing your Toronto business plan, reach out to the Ontario Small Business Enterprise Centre. And if your business is technology- or innovation-based, check with your Regional Innovation Centre for business plan help.

    Step 5: Obtain the funding you need

    Once your business plan is well-defined, it’s time to address financing. It’s good practice, especially for new entrepreneurs, to begin small and then scale up operations. It’s completely acceptable to begin your business from home, and expand your offerings and staff, if needed, as necessary and possible.

    You can learn all about government grants and other federal financing options available in Toronto, Ontario, by visiting the government’s Business Grants & Financing Page.

    If you want to incorporate digital equipment and tools into your operations, you can contact the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP). Plus, you can inquire at Futurpreneur about receiving financing up to CA$15,000 for launching a side hustle business.

    Also, you can access loads of available financial resources via Ontario’s Funding Opportunities Page.

    Step 6: Find business advice and support

    As your business takes off and grows, you’ll undoubtedly continue learning and perfecting your techniques. You can learn a lot and make new entrepreneurial acquaintances at Digital Main Street.

    You can access small business legal advice, for free, on the Pro Bono Ontario Hotline. Also, the Small Business Enterprise Centre provides various support resources for all Toronto and Ontario businesspeople.

    Finally, you can sign up for training, mentoring, and non-traditional grants  at Ontario’s Starter Company Plus, and enjoy various other small business resources at Ontario’s Business Registry Page.

    Closing Thoughts about Starting a Business in Toronto

    Planning and launching a small business in Toronto is definitely an exciting, lifechanging undertaking. And while there’s no doubt that Toronto is ready for your enterprise, it’s important to ensure that you are also ready for the move. Be thorough and perform every step carefully.

    Many small businesses fail because entrepreneurs rush in without proper thought, planning, preparation, and execution. So, it’s very important to thoroughly own every task you perform during the process. With smart actions and diligent work, your enterprise has an excellent chance of thriving!

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