Considerations for Foreigners Starting a Business in Canada

business in canada as a foreigner

When starting something new in life, you need to weigh things first before you proceed. This practice is applicable to everything, especially when starting a new business. When starting a business in Canada as a foreigner, you need to carefully weigh the relevant factors, especially if you are planning on starting it in a foreign country.

Here are 7 considerations for those who want to start a business in Canada as a foreigner:

1. Cost of Doing Business

When you are a foreigner who wants to start a business in a foreign country, it’s very important that you are financially ready. Especially as an entrepreneur, the cost consideration is for both your personal and business finances. The cost of living in Canada may be higher compared to the country where you came from. The cost of doing business may also be higher, given the high minimum wage in Canada, commercial lease costs, and other costs of doing business.

In Canada, the cost of living and business differs in every province, so if you want to start a business, don’t forget to CHECK, REVIEW, and DECIDE.

  1. CHECK the cost of living and business operations in every province of Canada.
  2. REVIEW to make a comparison of every cost of living and business operation in Canada.
  3. DECIDE which province suits your business the best depending on your goals.

No matter which province you decide to settle in and start your business in Canada as a foreigner, you are still going to have a good quality of life, just differences in costs and better opportunities for starting your business. You will also need to budget for the initial cost of business immigration when you first set up your business in Canada as a foreigner. If you are acquiring a Canadian business, that is an additional cost to consider. The one-time and ongoing costs will differ based on the province and your proximity to the city centers. Chitra & Associates can help you determine the best immigration option within your budget.

2. Languages

Good communication skills are important to establish a connection with other people. Since you are in a foreign country, you must learn the people’s languages. Canada’s main languages are English or French, so if you come from a non-English or non-French-speaking country, learning these languages should be your top priority. Learning these languages is beneficial to your daily life as well as to your business’ growth. Remember that you can’t deal with people and build a professional network, which are crucial elements in business to ensure a high success rate, if you don’t possess good communication skills.

This is an important consideration for where you want to establish your business. Certain provinces are primarily French-speaking, and so are certain specific cities. Some cities or suburbs have a higher concentration of minority groups who speak specific languages, such as Punjabi or Mandarin. 

3. Cultures

Canada is known for its diverse cultures, which is why it is a good place to start a business. Although there are several cultures that you will encounter in Canada, it does not mean that they need to forget their culture of origin. Canada is a perfect place to share your culture while trying to embrace other cultures with an open mind.

When you want to start a business in Canada as a foreigner, you must also consider learning the cultures, so that you can learn the needs of your new market, which will allow you to produce effective business strategies. Depending on your target market, this can help you build connections with new clients and communicate your product and services in a way that resonates with them.

4. Industries

Before starting a business in Canada as a foreigner, RESEARCH. Research the trends in industries. It’s important to align your business’ services and products with the Canadian market to ensure its success.

Here are the top five most profitable industries in Canada:

1. Transportation and Storage Business

This industry offers transportation and shipping services as well as storing and warehousing products. If you have a limited budget for starting a business and want to start small, this industry may be a good option for you.

In transportation, you can start by purchasing one truck, but you must have very good customer solicitation skills. If so, you can expand your business by hiring more drivers and buying more trucks as your number of customers grows. Meanwhile, in storage, you can also start small. You can start by renting a space for your warehouse and growing it at your own pace.

In 2017, 86% of small and medium-sized businesses in this industry made an average yearly revenue of $279,000.

Here are two things to take note of if you are planning on entering this industry:

  1. Ask yourself what type of transportation business you would like to start.
  2. Determine which permit (registration and license) you will need before starting.

2. Business Support Services and Waste Management

Since Canada’s economy is continuously growing, the volume of waste is also growing along with it. While businesses expand, the more paper is used, the more old electronic gadgets are thrown away to be replaced by new ones, and the more debris is collected from renovating business offices.

In 2017, 86% of small and medium-sized businesses in this industry made an average yearly revenue of $336,800.

If you are an entrepreneur who is environmentally conscious, you may consider business services and waste management. It’s a business with a two-fold benefit – helping the environment while making a profit.

3. Professional and Consulting Services

Knowledge is power. If you have knowledge and skills in accountancy, marketing, consultation, and scientific research, you can make a profit out of it.

Business owners are constantly in need of professionals who can help their business with saving taxes, streamlining its accounting and payroll, improving managerial strengths, and innovating new products, so this industry is deemed profitable because they are willing to pay for the services you offer that may help their business grow.

In 2016, 88% of small and medium-sized businesses in this industry made an average yearly revenue of $260,000.

4. Real Estate and Construction

Buying a new property, whether it be a house, a condominium, or an apartment, is an investment for many people. Similarly, construction, renovation, and repair services are in-demand services as well, especially given the damage caused by harsh weather conditions. 

In 2016, 85% of the construction businesses in this industry made an average yearly revenue of $181,000. Meanwhile, 82% of real estate firms made an average yearly revenue of $427,000.

If you have knowledge about real estate, you may consider entering the real estate and construction sectors of the Canadian market.

5. Accommodation and Food Services

This industry offers short-term accommodation for travellers, vacationers, and other people who want to stay in Canada for a short period of time, such as hotels, resorts, and motels. This industry is also engaged in meal, snack, and beverage preparation for the customers to be consumed immediately.

In 2016, 70% of small and medium-sized businesses in this industry made an average yearly revenue of $618,000.

5. Regulations of the Canadian Government

Canada has a federal government and it’s decentralized. With that, the regulations are under the control of provincial authorities, so it’s very crucial for those who want to start a business to review the business laws and regulations of the province where they want to start the business in Canada. This is especially true if you are in a regulated industry. You will need to research the licensing requirements, if any, and certifications required before selling a product.

6. Business Plan

A detailed business plan summarizes the factors mentioned above, which will provide you with a clear path for growing your business in Canada. What you need to do is conduct a thorough market research with clear and realistic projections. You will need to determine your target market, what their needs are, and how you will address those needs. You will also need to determine marketing and sales strategies, especially for initial market penetration as you enter the Canadian market.

Other considerations for a thorough business plan are a talent strategy, and realistic projections for sales and expenses. Certain provinces in Canada have strong talent pools, such as Ontario and BC, due to the number of top universities in those provinces. This is especially important for businesses with requirements for specialized employees, such as artificial intelligence, biotech, etc.

7. Professional Network

Starting a business in a foreign country requires you to familiarize with the business regulations of the government and to get a lot of documents. With that, it’s important that you have a professional network who you can ask for help in preparing everything before starting your business. Your business mentors can help you gut check your business plan and connect you with essential professionals in the industry when you first start.

You can start building this network before even coming to Canada, by tapping into your existing network of alumni from your alma mater or other immigrants who started businesses in Canada.

Take an Eligibility Assessment for Business ImmigrationChitra and Associates will be very happy to review your profile if you are eligible for business immigration programs in Canada. We are experienced in helping entrepreneurs open a branch or subsidiary in Canada, or start a new business. We facilitate the end to end process, starting with an initial assessment of your profile to determine if you qualify for one of the business immigration programs.


Please note that none of the information on this website should be construed as being legal advice. As well, you should not rely on any of the information contained in this website when determining whether and how to apply to a given program.
Canadian immigration law is constantly changing, and the information above may be outdated.
If you have a question about the contents of this blog, or any question about Canadian immigration law, please contact the Author. Please book a consultation if you would like to get answers to general immigration questions and advice specific to your situation.

About Chitra & Associates

Chitra & Associates Immigration Consultants Inc. is an Immigration Consulting company specialising in Canadian Immigration and Visa Services. We provide services in the area of Economic Immigration, permanent residency for Canada for Individuals, Business Immigration, work permits, visitor visas, study permits, and much more.

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