Step by Step Checklist to Start an Online Business in Canada
Jun 25 2021|
Last Updated: June 25, 2021
So, you’ve decided to start your online business in Canada. Hurray!
Choosing to start a business may feel overwhelming and challenging. But making that first step towards understanding the nuances of starting your own business is by far one of the best decisions you could have made.
There are so many online businesses you can start and run successfully in Canada if you know the right path to follow.
We’ve helped many new startups and SMBs to get off to a great start with targeted guidance towards understanding the market and strategically taking steps to manage the business.
So, this blog is the condensed checklist for starting an online business in Canada.
13-Step Checklist to Start an Online Business in Canada
Is this how you see yourself a year down the line, happily running your business online?
Well, you can make this vision a reality if you’re prudent enough to set up your online business.
If you’re confused and lost about starting your online business, then our step-by-step checklist will help you out of the muddle. Use this checklist as your reference to have a concrete idea of what to do next to start your online business in Canada.
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1. Choose the Right Product Idea
When you plan to start an online business, you need to be very clear about what you want to sell.
(If you already have a clear idea of what you want to do, you can stick to step #3.)
It can be a product, service, a digital product or any other online resource. But it should be something that you’re knowledgeable at and interested in learning the ins and outs.
You have so many options for online businesses to choose from. And picking the right one could make a huge deal of difference for your business to succeed.
If this is a short-term goal, you can go for some current trending products and quickly take advantage of them. If you want to build a long-term business, then you should opt for the timeless stuff that has demand in the market twenty years down the line.
So, create a list of online business ideas that fits the bill.
Here are our best articles to explore more.
2. Validate the Ideas
This is the step where you evaluate your ideas and see which one sticks.
Ask these questions to cross-off some ideas from the list.
● What are the market size and the current players?
● Who are my competitors? Can I get my business on par with them?
● How far in the future can I see this product in demand?
● How can I manage the logistics?
● How much should I spend to start this business before I break even?
● How much can I afford to spend from my pocket?
● Where is my target audience?
● Are there some pain points that could affect selling the product?
● What are the restrictions and regulations for selling the product?
As you ask these questions, you can cross off some of the product ideas based on your preferences and finally choose the best one.
3. Come Up with a Business Plan
By now, you must be sure of the online product you want to sell in Canada.
This step is when you are making things concrete. As you draft a business plan, you’ll be more aware of the nuances in running a business and discovering new stuff you need to prepare.
Your business plan should have:
● Your business overview.
● Market research data
● Competitor analysis
● Description of the management
● Distribution channels
● Legal information
● Risk assessment
● Marketing and sales strategies including buyer persona
You can download StepToInbound’s Buyer Persona here for free.
A business plan is not a paper that outlines how you’re starting your business. It’s a checklist to start and manage an online business in Canada. This business plan should serve as the mother document that’ll come back to you again and again in the beginning months of your business.
4. Choose the Right Name for Your Business
You need a business name that will grab attention, be remembered by the target audience, and set you apart from the competition. And, of course, some legalities are important while finalizing the business name. So, it’s best to consult with a lawyer to choose a business name within the legal limits.
You’ll have to choose a name that shows the business ownership: the sole proprietorship, the partnership or the corporation. So, you must also decide on the management structure before zeroing in on one name.
Once you have chosen the name, you need to register with the Canadian government.
5. Register Your Business
After deciding the business name and structure, you need to register your business in your province or at the federal level.
The registration links differ based on the province you’re in. But you can have a look at the Canadian government website to get more details. Once you register the business, you’ll get a business number and program accounts for paying taxes and other legal stuff.
6. Get on Top of Your Financial Planning
This is the most crucial aspect of your business that will decide how you market and sell your product.
You should calculate how much funds you would need to set up your business and run it for the next 3 to 6 months. It can take several weeks to breakeven for many online businesses and bring profits on top of the initial investment. So, you need to know exactly how much money you would need to start your business.
Once you have a good estimate of the initial costs, think about funding the initial startup costs. Do you plan to fund them entirely by yourself? Are you looking to crowdfund? Planning to take loans? Or roping in some investors?
Whatever your plans are, you need to figure out early on in your business to properly allocate the funds.
7. Secure a Business License
Based on the type of industry and business you’re starting; you would need to get a business license. Although not all businesses would need a license, it’s best to check about yours.
You can take a look at the Permits section of the Government of Canada to see if your business in Canada would require a license or not.
While you’re at it, you can check about the GST details for collecting the taxes and how you have to factor this in with your costs and business operations.
8. Choose a Domain Name
Now that you’ve completed all the legalities for starting the online business let’s get down to the major task – creating your online business.
To do that, you first need to procure a domain name. A domain name is an online identity for your website, which becomes your URL as you know.
You don’t essentially need to have the .com extension. You can go for .ca if your business is only for Canadian people, or .co, .to, .me, or any other extension that you see fit.
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It’s always best to choose a domain name that’s the same as your business name. So, if you’re going for some generic business name, you need to verify if the domain name is available before registering it!
We, at StepToInbound can do it all from here onwards and you can skip steps below. Check out our plans or continue reading…
9. Choose a Hosting Provider
A hosting provider is a company or organization that allows you to run your website on their server space and storage.
Think of it as the land you need to buy to build your house. Instead of buying, you’ll be paying monthly or yearly rents to the hosting provider to allow you to build your business with it.
There are several ecommerce platforms available online that you can use to start your online business. Some of the top ones are:
Here is our experience showcase for design and development work with open source, WordPress and WooCommerce based websites.
10. Build Your Online Store
This is one of the most challenging and critical tasks of all. It would generally take a newbie several days to complete building the store.
To start with, you need a store template to customize. You can find lots of free and paid templates from the platforms we’ve seen.
Depending on how you want the online store to look, you can choose a template of your choice.
The alternative to choosing a template is designing and coding the website on your own and if this is something you’re experienced in, you should definitely give it a shot.
Apart from the designs, you should keep a few things in mind:
● Having a common color scheme
● Make the website mobile friendly.
● Use the same fonts and typography all around the online store.
● Provide easy and minimal navigation.
● Create an intuitive interface.
● Connect relevant internal links.
● Have clear Call to Actions (The Call to Actions, CTAs, are typically the buttons you see on the website that leads to another page or website)
Here’s a short website checklist in case you need to revamp your website.
We do this for our customers in StepToPro and StepToGrowth Plans. Entrepreneurs love our work as they can focus their time and energy on their business and delegate everything related to website and inbound marketing to us.
11. Add Your Product Details
You can focus on selling one major product or several products from a particular niche. Once you’ve finalized the design, the next step is to add the details of the product.
Focus more on giving enough information that’s relevant to the users without sounding boring. Add high-quality images and videos to support your product and include features for the customers to leave reviews.
Make sure that the product pages are SEO-friendly. SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization consisting of several best practices that ensure good ranking on the search engines and you get a decent number of leads from them regularly.
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12. Create an Email Marketing Funnel
As an online business, it’s crucial to keep in touch with your users through emails. You must create an email marketing funnel with the basics like:
● A welcome email for new sign-ups
● Order confirmation messages and tracking details.
● An email for shipping details and delivered orders.
● An email a few days after delivery asking the customer to leave reviews.
● An email to leads who have abandoned carts.
You can automate all such emails through different pipelines to keep in touch with your leads and customers. Apart from these, you can also send emails about new product launches, offers and any features.
13. Start Marketing Your Online Store
By now, you must have everything set to run your online business. All that’s left to do is to get the customers coming.
You can use various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest based on your target audience. Market your product, talk about its features and benefits to the customers. Interact with your audience, find out their pain points and connect your products as the answers to them.
Be active on a few selected social media platforms regularly to direct a whole bunch of leads to your website and convert them into paying customers. Ride on the good testimonials from the initial customers to build your online brand.
When you’re starting your new online business, it can be both scary and exciting. But it’s crucial to push the fear behind and power through the steps of the checklist to get your online business up and running. Once you get the hang of running a business and get the basics right, you’ll soon be able to get some regular leads and customers.