5 steps to starting a business in Canada

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Did you leave a thriving business back home that you wish you could restart in Manitoba? Or have you always been business-minded and a self-starter? Do you have an amazing idea for a product or service that you feel you need to try out? Or have you been laid-off, quit your job or are having a hard time looking for a job?

If you said yes to any of these questions, then your ideal path could be entrepreneurship. Whether big or small, starting any business venture can be a challenging but rewarding choice. It takes energy, talent and resourcefulness (and of course capital!). And for you, who are new to this country, it will require extra effort since you will need to know about new rules and regulations to operate. This article will start you off on the basics of your journey towards building a business in Manitoba.

  1. Have an idea

    It all starts with an idea, preferably, unique or novel, for a product or service. Many business gurus will say that more than being a profitable idea, it should be something that you are passionate about. It can be related to your talents, interests or your advocacies.

    Once you have an idea, you can narrow down your search for information and have more direction for the next steps. You can search the internet for information on the basics of starting a business as well as organizations that offer mentorship and other supports to new entrepreneurs. SEED Winnipeg holds the Newcomer Business and Enterprise Support Training where you can learn setting up a business phase by phase. The YMCA has a program for business-minded youth: Youth Entrepreneurship Program and the Self-Employment Program (even for the not so young). These programs equip you with the basics and help you build a business plan (even help launch your business). If you are aged 18-39, you can connect with Futurpreneur Canada for financing, mentoring and support tools. Meanwhile, the site Business Owners’ Idea Café (a US-based site), recommends many small business opportunities to startup entrepreneurs. Most of these programs and trainings are for free.

  2. Research

    Learn all that you can about the province, area, and industry you wish to operate in, and the market you wish to cater to. Industry sector data and economic indicators will give you a general picture of your business prospects. There are numerous learning opportunities at Entrepreneurship Manitoba that you can explore. Attend seminars, read up on trends, and don’t forget to talk to people who are already in the business. Getting the help of a good mentor can be crucial to your success. The Self-Employment Training Program from the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg mentioned above provides help from a coaching pool composed of self-employed business owners.

  3. Make a business plan

    What is a business plan? It is a document that explains what your business idea is, how it will work, how much it will cost to run, and why will it work. It mainly communicates your vision and helps persuade a potential supporter to help fund it. It is also your road map to running your business as it contains your strategies and projections. To learn the basics of creating a business plan, go to the Canada Business Network site. Part of the YMCA and SEED trainings mentioned in #1 above is developing a business plan. These programs can take you step by step into the process.

  4. Legalize it

    Decide on your enterprise’s legal ownership structure. Would it be a sole proprietorship, partnership or a corporation? You may also come up with a business name, after which you can apply for your business license and then tax registration. Sounding complicated? Watch this video for the four steps to starting a formal, legal business in Canada:

  5. Fund it

    Newcomers will find many venues for funding and support in Canada. You can go to the following links to know more:

    To know more about government assistance, watch this video from Canada Business Network on finding grants and financing:

Article updated July 9, 2019.

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Community Resources

Read Are you a business-minded young person? Learn business 101 at the Y to learn more about the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg’s programs.

Connect with the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba. It is a resource for women looking to start or expand their business.

You can find all you need to know about having a small business and being self-employed at the Canada Revenue Agency site or at Starting a business.

Check the Licenses and permits page for business licensing and registration requirements in Manitoba.

The Canada Business Network has a series of videos for newcomer entrepreneurs:

Find the Permits and Licenses you need

Get help with Intellectual property and Market Research

And a webinar that explains how the Canada Small Business Financing Program works and how it can help you:

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