Starting a Business in Ontario: What Do I Need to Know?

Whether you’re looking to open a restaurant, offer consulting services, or launch an e-commerce company, the process of getting a new business off the ground in Ontario requires research, planning, and strategic execution. Before diving in head first, it’s important to understand exactly what’s required by law and best practices for success when starting a business in the province.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the essentials you need to know to start a business in Ontario. We understand that every aspiring entrepreneur’s path is unique, which is why our guide caters to a variety of industries and business models. By the end of this article, you’ll understand exactly what’s needed and have the knowledge required to get your business venture started on the right foot this year. Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Conduct market research to understand the business environment and your competition
  • Develop a solid business plan that outlines your goals and available resources
  • Choose the right legal structure and registration, understand tax requirements, and obtain necessary licenses and permits.

1. Understanding Ontario’s Business Environment

Ontario is home to a diverse economy, with a variety of industries and sectors, including manufacturing, finance, technology, and more. As such, it’s essential to conduct market research to help you understand the industry and market that you will be operating in.

One important factor to consider is the legal and tax needs of your business. There are four types of business structures in Ontario, each of which serves different legal and tax needs. These include sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and co-operatives. Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the one that is best suited to your business needs.

Another important aspect to consider is the availability of funding opportunities. There are various sources of funding available to entrepreneurs in Ontario, including government grants and loans, venture capital, and angel investors. It’s important to research and explore these options to determine which ones are best suited to your business needs.

In addition to funding, there are also various licenses and permits that may be required to operate your business legally in Ontario. These may include business licenses, zoning permits, and health and safety permits, among others. It’s important to research and understand the requirements for your specific industry and location to ensure that you are operating legally.

2. Research and Planning

Research and planning is one of the most if not the most important step to ensure the success of your business. Here are some steps to get you started:

Identifying your business idea and niche

First, you need to identify your business idea and niche. What products or services do you want to offer? Is there a market for your idea? What makes your business unique? These are all important questions to consider when starting a business.

Market research to assess demand and competition

Once you have a business idea, it’s important to conduct market research to assess demand and competition. This will help you determine if your idea is viable and what your competition looks like. You can use resources like Statistics Canada and Industry Canada to gather data on your industry and target market.

Developing a solid business plan

A solid business plan is essential for any new business. It should include your business goals, financial projections, marketing strategies, and more. A business plan will help you stay focused and organized as you start and grow your business. You can use resources like Business Plan Templates to help you develop your plan.

3. Legal Structure and Registration

Starting a business in Ontario requires you to choose the right legal structure, register your business name, and obtain necessary permits and licenses. Here’s what you need to know.

Choosing the Right Legal Structure

Before registering your business, you need to choose the right legal structure. The most common types of legal structures in Ontario are sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the one that suits your business needs.

Legal StructureAdvantagesDisadvantages
Sole ProprietorshipEasy to set up and manage, low start-up costs, full control over the businessUnlimited personal liability, limited access to financing
PartnershipShared responsibilities and costs, access to more capital and expertiseUnlimited personal liability, potential conflicts between partners
CorporationLimited liability, access to more capital, perpetual existenceMore complex to set up and manage, higher start-up costs

Registering Your Business Name

Once you’ve chosen your legal structure, you need to register your business name with the Ontario government. This ensures that no one else can use your business name in the province. You can register your business name online through the Ontario Business Registry.

Obtaining Necessary Permits and Licenses

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain permits and licenses from federal, provincial, or municipal authorities. These may include zoning permits, environmental permits, health and safety permits, and more. It’s important to research and obtain all necessary permits and licenses before starting your business to avoid any legal issues down the road.

5. Understanding Tax Requirements

One of the most important things you need to understand is your tax obligations. This section will provide you with an overview of the different types of taxes you may need to pay as a business owner in Ontario.

Sales Tax

If you plan to sell goods or services in Ontario, you will likely need to register for a Sales Tax account with the Canada Revenue Agency. The sales tax in Ontario is called the Harmonized Sales Tax, which is a combination of the federal Goods and Services Tax and the Ontario Provincial Sales Tax. The current HST rate in Ontario is 13%.

Income Tax

As a business owner, you will need to report your business income on your personal income tax return. This means that you will need to keep accurate records of all your business income and expenses. You may also be eligible for certain deductions and credits, such as the Small Business Deduction, which can help reduce your tax liability.


Guaranteed Government Grants

Get a FREE 45-page guide with proven steps to business grants success:

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Payroll Tax

    If you plan to hire employees, you will need to register for a Payroll account with the CRA. You will be responsible for deducting and remitting payroll taxes, such as Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions, Employment Insurance (EI) premiums, and income tax withholdings, from your employees’ paychecks.

    It’s important to note that tax requirements can vary depending on the type of business you have and the industry you are in. For more information on tax requirements for small businesses in Ontario, you can visit the website or the Canada Revenue Agency website.

    6. Setting Up Your Business Location

    When setting up your business in Ontario, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the right location. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a location for your business:


    You want your business to be easily accessible to your customers. Choose a location that is easily accessible by car, public transit, or foot traffic. If your business requires a lot of deliveries or shipments, consider a location that is close to major highways or shipping routes.


    Make sure the location you choose is zoned for your type of business. Some areas may be zoned for residential or commercial use only, so it’s important to check with your local government to ensure you’re in compliance.


    Consider the amount of space you need for your business. If you’re running a retail store, you’ll need enough space to display your products and accommodate customers. If you’re running an office, you’ll need enough space for desks, chairs, and equipment.


    The cost of your location will depend on factors such as size, location, and zoning. Make sure you have a budget in mind and shop around for the best deal. You may also want to consider leasing or renting a space instead of buying.


    Consider the amenities that are important to you and your business. Do you need access to high-speed internet, parking, or a loading dock? Make a list of amenities that are important to you and prioritize them when selecting a location.

    7. Hiring and Managing Employees

    When starting a business in Ontario, one of the most important things to consider is hiring and managing employees. Finding the right talent can be a challenge, but it is essential for the success of your business. Here are some things to keep in mind when hiring and managing employees in Ontario:

    Recruiting and Hiring

    Recruiting and hiring the right employees is critical to the success of your business. You can attract the right talent by offering competitive salaries, benefits, and work-life balance. You may also want to consider hiring students, foreign workers, or apprentices to help you grow your business. The Canada Job Grant program can help you offset the cost of training your employees.

    Payroll and Benefits

    As an employer in Ontario, you must handle payroll deductions, earnings reports, unemployment benefits, and insurance premiums. It’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest regulations and requirements to avoid any legal issues. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provides guidance on opening or managing a payroll account, calculating and remitting deductions, and keeping proper records.

    Wage Subsidies and Other Assistance Programs

    There are several wage subsidy programs and other assistance programs available to help you hire and train employees. For example, the Ontario Job Grant program provides funding for employee training, while the Youth Employment Program provides wage subsidies for hiring young workers. Here’s a list of wage subsidies you can take advantage of.

    8. Marketing Your Business

    Marketing your business is crucial to its success. It’s how you get the word out about your products or services and attract customers. Here are some tips to help you market your business in Ontario:

    Know Your Target Market

    Before you start marketing your business, you need to know who your target market is. Who are your ideal customers? What are their needs and wants? What are their pain points? Knowing your target market will help you create marketing messages that resonate with them.

    Create a Marketing Plan

    Once you know your target market, you can create a marketing plan that outlines your marketing strategies and tactics. Your marketing plan should include your target market, your unique selling proposition, your marketing budget, and your marketing channels.

    Use Social Media

    Social media is a great way to reach your target market and build brand awareness. Create social media accounts for your business and post regularly. Engage with your followers and respond to their comments and messages.

    Attend Networking Events

    Networking events are a great way to meet potential customers and other business owners. Attend local events and conferences related to your industry. Bring business cards and be prepared to talk about your business.

    Offer Promotions and Discounts

    Offering promotions and discounts is a great way to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Consider offering a discount to first-time customers or running a promotion during a holiday or special event.

    9. Networking and Resources

    There are many resources available to help you succeed in your new venture. Networking is one of the most effective ways to build relationships and find support. Here are some ways to get connected.

    Joining local business associations and networking groups

    Joining local business associations and networking groups can be a great way to meet other entrepreneurs and business owners in your area. These groups often hold events, workshops, and seminars that can help you learn new skills and stay up-to-date with industry trends. Some popular business associations in Ontario include the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Toronto Board of Trade.

    Accessing government resources and support for entrepreneurs

    The Ontario government offers a range of resources and support for entrepreneurs, including funding programs, mentorship opportunities, and business development services. The Small Business Enterprise Centre is a great place to start if you’re looking for help with business planning, market research, or financing.

    10. Frequently Asked Questions

    The procedure to register your business depends on the business structure you choose to register. This is a complete guide on how to register a business in Ontario. It cover everything you need to know about Ontario business registration, including the taxes you may need to pay.

    If you are operating a sole proprietorship in Ontario and if you are using your own name as the business name, you do not have to register. You only must register a sole proprietorship in Ontario if you are using a distinct business name. You also have to register your business if you are have a business structure other than sole proprietorship.

    Yes, you can register your business in Ontario online. You can use the Ontario Business Registry to register your business name, obtain a business number, and register for any necessary licenses and permits.

    The permits and licenses you need to operate a business in Canada depend on the type of business you are operating and where you are located. Some businesses require specific licenses and permits, such as food service establishments or businesses that handle hazardous materials. You can visit the BizPal service to find more information on the permits and licenses you may need.

    The licenses and permits depends on the type of business you are operating. For example, if you are operating a food service establishment, you will need to obtain a Food Handlers Certificate.

    11. Resources for Starting a Business in Ontario

    Government Resources

    Industry Resources

    Other Resources

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *