30 Online Business Ideas to Start in Canada [2020 Update]
Thinking of throwing in the towel for your usual 9 to 5 job and starting up some interesting online business?
Well, that’s great and exciting. However, without complete clarity on the business you want to start, it can be one gigantic mess.
Even if you are considering to open some online business on the side and earn some extra cash, you need a clear-cut master plan and strategy to start with. Online businesses in Canada can be extremely fruitful and help in creating a continuous income stream if you are prudent enough from the very beginning.
In this article, we will look at some of the practical online business ideas in Canada that you can start either as a full-time or a part-time job and make some good money. We will weigh in the pros and cons of each of the online businesses. It will also give you a great deal of clarity on what’s best for you, depending on your business goals and objectives.
What Is Online Business?
Typically, Wikipedia defines online business as “any kind of business or commercial transaction that includes sharing information across the internet.” It further goes on saying that the exchange of products and services between individuals and businesses is also considered as an online business.
Online business typically involves working on the internet, conducting customer communications online and practically having an online space where you can showcase and sell your products.
A lot of us dream of making some extra money or having complete control over how much we want to earn. Online business is a great way to get away from the mundane routines and realize our personal dreams. So, it’s time to stop wishing and start working!
What’s Important in an Online Business?
Canada is a great place to start your online business due to the increasing needs of several affordable online services. No matter what kind of online business ideas you have in your mind, the basics remain the same. To start any online business in Canada, you should know a few essential things.
• You should have a business name – something with which your prospects can identify your business.
• You should register your business name once you have decided it. It will protect your business name to a certain extent and give you the right to conduct business under that name. You can use Ownr for online registration and I do have a detailed list of registration options online here.
• You should be able to create a separate online space, an online landing area, if you may, where all your leads and customers can come to know more about your business. It can be a website, a social media profile or any other online space that is entirely in your control and provides every information about your business and its products or services.
• Set up a specific banking account that is linked to your business. It can be tempting to skip this step and use your personal bank account, but that just leads to complications in the end. I recommend using a completely free eBanking account like BMO ebusiness.
• If you are implementing your business idea in Canada, then you need to obtain a business license. Have a look at this link here to know more about the permits and licenses to start one of your online business ideas in Canada.
• Register for the specific company taxes that you may have to pay. In Canada, you need to register for Goods and Services Tax (GST)/Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) if your online business fetches you more than $30,000 a year. According to the province you are working out of, you may have to pay for Provincial Tax too. Try using a bookkeeping software like QuickBooks from day one. Here is my list on all bookkeeping options you have.
These are some of the must-do things when you are starting an online business in Canada.
So now that you are aware of the fundamental responsibilities while starting an online business in Canada, let’s jump into the different online business ideas.
30 Top Online Business Ideas in Canada
The list of online business ideas in Canada, I have collated here, may vary widely in terms of the industries and the methods of execution. Before you start reading the list, I recommend you to be clear about some of the specifics about the online business idea like:
- How much money are you planning to make in the first year?
- Will you run this online business as a part-time gig or as a full-time business?
- How much time can you dedicate to it every week?
- How much money are you ready to invest in this online business?
- What kind of lifestyle change do you expect?
With these questions imbibed in your mind, let’s visit some of the best online business ideas that you can implement in Canada, in no particular order.
1. Start an Online Marketing Agency
According to a report by McKinley on Marketing Hiring Trends conducted in the year 2017, Canada is one of the top countries where there is a high demand for digital marketers in comparison to other parts of the globe.
Starting an online marketing agency is a great online business, especially when you are already working in this field. If you are a digital marketer, an SEO specialist or an AdWords expert, you can start an online marketing agency specially dedicated to your core area of expertise. You can start it as a part-time business and expand it to full-time when you have enough customers.
You can even earn a very handsome amount with the skills you already possess. Most of your communication with the clients will be strictly online or through calls and very rarely you have meet face to face. Check out my list of Communication tools you may choose from.
This is a very profitable and in-demand business to start in Canada and does not really need too much of an investment. Just spend a few bucks on the website development and you’re good to go!
Additionally, check out all my resources to start an online business.
2. Become a Blogger and an Affiliate Marketer
Blogging is one of the simplest, risk-free and cost-effective ways to start your online business. To begin your online business as a blogger, all you need is a platform where you can write.
The best part about blogging is that you can blog about practically anything on the face of this planet! However, when you want to make money out of blogging, there are a few ways to do it.
• You can start ghost blogging for others and earn a handsome amount regularly.
• You can blog for publications in exchange for some money.
• You can run your own blogging platform, use Google Ads and earn money from it.
• You can blog on certain topics and earn money through affiliate marketing. According to a survey by Rakuten, more than 80% of advertisers run an affiliate marketing program and so and you can easily find a few companies in the industry you are interested to blog about. For every purchase made through your affiliate link, companies will give you a percentage of that purchase cost.
If you are confused about what topic you can blog about, here are a few to pick your brain.
• Dating and relationships
• Software products
• Fitness and technology
• Beauty tips and products
• Finance and investments
• Clothes, shoes and accessories
Start by choosing a specific topic on which you need to blog about and use a combination of the above-given strategies to create a continuous stream of income through blogging.
Additionally, check out my detailed guide on “How to make money blogging in Canada”
3. Start Freelancing in Any Domain
There are so many vast opportunities for freelancing. The best part about freelancing is that you can work from anywhere at any time you want and earn money.
To start your freelancing career online, you need to have a credible online presence. So, if you can freelance in the field that you are already working in, then it would be a great advantage. If not, no worries, you can slowly build your online presence from the beginning to get more clients and once it’s off to a good start, there is no stopping you!
Several people start freelancing as a part-time job and made extra bucks. Some have even left their jobs after their freelancing career skyrocketed and have started earning lots of money happily from any place they wish.
Here are some of the freelancing careers that you can pursue:
• Freelance content writer
• Freelance copywriter
• Freelance social media expert
• Freelance social media advisor
• Freelance website maintenance
• Freelance SEO expert
• Freelance online ad expert
• Freelance graphic designer
• Freelance creative consultant
• Freelance PR specialist
• Freelance admin support
• Freelance translator
4. Start Selling Online and Digital Products
There are several businesses that can be converted from offline to online. For example, if you are a teacher at school, you can start coaching class online for students for a fair price. Similarly, if you are a yoga expert, you can conduct classes online from the comfort of your home to a selected group of people regularly. Some even conduct online meditation sessions and even therapy sessions nowadays.
Many other classes can be conducted entirely online during your spare time and help you make some money. It can be online consultation sessions on the topics of your expertise, one-to-one online trainings, publishing e-books and so on.
The downfall of starting an online career by selling online services and products is that you need to have a strong base of followers who are ready to buy the digital products you sell. You should be able to establish your expertise and credibility in the field to start seeing some money.
5. Start an Online Business on IT Outsourcing Services
Do you work in the IT field and know how this global industry works?
If you do, then you probably know that many western countries outsource their IT jobs to companies and individuals at lower costs. However, there are high chances of getting below-par results when outsourcing to such countries, which is a major problem for some of the people who outsource.
You can bridge this gap and take advantage of the 62 billion USD industry of IT outsourcing. As an IT outsourcing specialist, you gather the outsourcing requirements of these companies and match it to vetted companies and individuals in other countries who charge less. You can work in partnership with the outsourcing companies and take a percentage of the total job worth as a commission.
One main criterion is that you need to have a vast network of proven specialists who are good at what they do as well as companies who are ready to trust you to pick the right person for the job.
6. Become a Software Developer
It is very common to see many companies putting in efforts to improve their company’s efficiency with the help of technology. That’s where the unarguable use of a software developer comes in.
Software developer is a pretty generic term as there are several sub-domains in which individual software developers establish their expertise. Many specializations come under software development and you can take up any and become an expert in it. Here are a few types of developers:
• Full-stack developer
• Front-end developer
• Back-end developer
• Mobile developer
• Desktop developer
• Web developer
• DevOps developer
• Embedded developer
• WordPress developer
7. Become a Website Developer
Website development differs from software development. The website developer works on the websites of the companies instead of the tools and standalone platforms.
If you don’t have any knowledge of a developer but would like to start an online business in this field, then I would suggest starting as a web developer as it requires less learning time and less investment in terms of the software you need to purchase to kickstart your development process. Check out the list of web hosting options that might come handy to get a right plan and start your journey as a web developer.
Keep in mind that no matter if you are a software developer or a website developer, you need to establish your presence online to gain some good clients or to create an income stream.
8. Buy an Existing Online Business
There are many online businesses that you can buy and take control. These are mostly businesses that have gained great traction and the founders will look to sell it at a nominal price that covers the investment they put in as well as the current market value of the business.
Instead of trying to establish your own business in the market, you will be handed over a business that already has a decent name and some good customers. So, it is easy to work with such businesses and start generating profits from the very first day. You can find such businesses on “Business Sell Canada” or forums like “Business for Sale” for instance.
However, to buy an existing online business, you need to make a considerable research and investment. As these are businesses that are in the industry for many years and have a good online presence, you should be in a position to spend money, buy a right fit business and grow to make money fast.
However, to buy an existing online business, you need to make a considerable research and investment. As these are businesses that are in the industry for many years and have a good online presence, you should be in a position to spend money, buy a right fit business and grow to make money fast.
9. Start a Video Production Business
If you are someone who has excellent skills at video shooting and have all the right equipment and software for editing and producing Video content, you can make your foray into video production this very minute!
As a freelance video producer, you will take up projects from other businesses to create videos according to their specific requirements. They can either send you short videos and expect you to collate them together and create a beautiful video or can also ask you to shoot and create the video from scratch. There is an army of new YouTubers everyday who might need your support.
You can earn a fair amount for every video you produce and edit. Again, like many other online businesses we saw earlier, it benefits you greatly if you have a significant online presence in making videos. For example, Primal Video is a great YouTube channel with lot of engagements and the whole channel is dedicated to making great videos.
10. Become a Certified Consultant
There are many certification courses available in the market to make you an expert. On the other hand, there is a constant demand for consultants in many fields.
So, if you can invest in a reliable certification course, you can become a consultant in that field. Once you have become a certified consultant, all you need to provide to your clients is your time! Many companies pay a huge amount of money to consultants to take a look at their problems and provide solutions, guide the employees to adapt to specific practices or help employees with the skill-building process and so on.
Here are a few examples of the fields you can expertise in and become a certified consultant:
• IT security
• Project Management
• Website Content
• Employee Management
• Employee Skills Development
• Technology (like Apache Sparks, Google Analytics, Adobe Cloud, etc.)
• Digital Marketing
Pick one of the fields and become a certified consultant in a specific course and establish your base.
11. Provide Remote Working Solutions
Many full-time employees prefer location-independent jobs and nowadays, a lot of jobs don’t require the employees to work from a single location. This also means lower operational costs for the company and better revenue. However, employees working from different parts of the world need a proper system and a secure channel to stay connected with the central organization. All of this points to the need for remote working solutions. Sprout social for instance is a company that learned and excelled in remote working culture by self-learning and often listed in Best Places to Work.
As a remote working solutions provider, you will help the company to set up cloud and network platforms for the employees to work from home. You will also be in-charge of creating secure channels of file sharing and communication, developing policies and managing user access to certain levels of information, and providing consultation to create a strong working system of a remote workforce.
To achieve all that, you need to have extensive knowledge of the IT infrastructure, cloud platforms, networking systems, IT security and a lot more. You can also hire a few other employees who are experts in these fields and work together to provide remote working solutions. You will need to put down a considerable investment to buy software, develop your online presence and give salaries to the employees you hire though!
12. Start an Online News Reporting Website
To start a new website, you don’t need to be a reporter or have secret contacts to give you juicy news. All you need to do is to keep tabs on some of the top news publications regularly, gather information from it and publish it on your news website in your own words in an attractive package. Timing is crucial in this business and in my experience being on Facebook is very important. In fact, there is a whole new generation of “Digital Journalist” who are office based and just do secondary research to write articles. Social media today for instance is all about social media news and insights which publishes social news almost daily.
Revenue wise, you can place ads on your website, or even sell your ad spaces for specific businesses looking to reach out to a follower base like your news readers and earn good revenue from it. Based on the number of people clicking on these ads, your income will keep increasing. It is very important to start growing your news readers or subscribers from day one. Consider using an email marketing software like HubSpot, Converkit or AWeber from day one itself.
13. Start a Podcasting Business
Podcasting is basically talking about a specific topic and publishing it in the form of audios. You can create series and episodes as podcasts with innovative ideas to keep it interesting. You can even place ads on your podcast pages and earn money from it. Voice America Business is a great podcast and radio channel for example.
However, one point to note is that quality content and more audience you have for your podcasts, the more money you will earn. Therefore, having a strong base of audience or at least the ability to attract an audience is one essential trait for starting a podcast.
14. Start an Accounting and Bookkeeping Firm
There are several start-ups and SMBs that outsource a part of their work to another firm at nominal rates and accounting is one of such evergreen jobs. If you already have experience with accounting and are good with numbers, then you can start an accounting and a bookkeeping firm.
As the name denotes, you will be maintaining the accounts on behalf of the company, help them out in times of bookkeeping, audits and create reports. Consider gettings hands-on to QuickBooks before getting started.
15. Become a Travel Planner
Love travelling, exploring and planning? Well, here is a perfect job for you!
As a travel planner, you will be expected to:
• Research and study about various destinations,
• The local attractions and the undiscovered spots,
• Chalk out a travel plan within the said time,
• Plan the travel by factoring in the client’s requests,
• Book travel tickets and accommodations, and
• Ensure that the client has a great time.
You can do all of this from any place you want. If you are a traveller yourself, then it becomes a great advantage to plan the travel to places that you have already been to! Tourism Industry association of Canada is a great resource to learn about this industry.
Keep in mind that a travel planner should be great at interactions. You need to communicate with the clients, get the information you require from them, understand what they expect of you and provide a fool-proof travel plan that goes off without a hitch.
16. Start Online Stock Trading
There are two ways to do it. The first way is to trade on stocks for yourself, which is not a business per se, but you can start earning lots of money once you know how to do it right. Many people trade online as a full-time job and make income only from it. Tim Sykes for example, is a well-known stock trader who teaches trading strategies while making money from it.
The second way is to trade on behalf of other people. You will be creating a stock portfolio for them, manage their stock trades and earn handsome profits for them. In exchange for all these, you will be getting a percentage of the profits you made.
This second kind of job possesses a bit more risk as you are dealing with someone else’s money. Though you will be signing contracts with the clients that you are in no way responsible for any losses, there can be issues with clients when you lose a large portion of their money.
17. Start Trading Domain Names
Buying and selling domain names is a fairly straightforward business and doesn’t need you to learn any new idea or gather any customer base. All you need to do is to buy some domain names that you believe will be in demand in the future and sell them after some time.
If you are wondering what a domain name is, it is the URL in the website name that everyone has to buy when creating a new website. However, in the present time, most of the common domain names are already occupied. There are still a few innovative ones left and it all depends on your creativity to predict the demand of specific domain names in the future and buy them. You can buy the domain names from Bluehost or FastComet, and many other online platforms.
One thing to note is that you cannot forecast how this market will change in the future and therefore, it is best to involve in this business as part-time and not depend on it for your total income.
18. Start a YouTube Channel
Haven’t you seen all those YouTube stars walking around in pricey clothes, cars and jewellery and wondering where they got all their money to buy it? Well, from YouTube, duh!
Believe it or not, you can actually make a living out of YouTube! Ryan ToyReview is one of the highest earning YouTube channels where a 7-year-old boy, Ryan, reviews toys for other kids and is making more than $11 million per month!
You can also start a YouTube channel about a specific topic that you are passionate about and start earning money. Make sure to post videos regularly that are useful for the viewers and something that sets you apart from the other million who are already doing it.
It is very simple to start a YouTube channel and you don’t need to pay any money for it. You just have to link the AdSense account to your YouTube channel and get paid for the videos!
Please note that though it is not compulsory to have hi-tech video recording equipment for YouTube videos. But, it is best to start investing in it when you initially earn some money. A good video with high clarity will fetch you more subscribers and viewers, which will automatically increase your earnings from the videos.
19. Sell Stock Photography
Stock photos are those that you see on websites like Shutterstock, Unsplash, Pixabay and so on. These are generic photographs that can be downloaded and used by people for free or for some money.
If you are interested in photography, then you can make a side hustle out of it by selling your stock photos to such websites or even have your own image gallery with monthly or yearly subscriptions. All you need are some interesting photographs of nature, children, people around you, etc
20. Become a WordPress Theme Developer
When you are already familiar with WordPress working as a developer, why not create some themes and make money out of it?
You can create and sell WordPress themes on websites like Themeforest, Creative Market, Mojo Marketplace or even from your own website. You can create a broad range of themes, right from the simple themes for single-page website to complex, multi-page website themes specific to the domains.
Once you have started creating WordPress themes, you may even get offers from clients to develop a particular WordPress theme that fits in their requirements. You can charge more money when you are working with clients compared to selling on these platforms easier.
21. Become a Resume Writer
This is one of the most underrated yet in-demand jobs with low investment. Many people are highly skilled, but putting their talents and life achievements into a two-page resume is a challenging task.
This is where a resume writer shines. They get all the information about the person, their academic achievements, their work experience, their skills, their experience, their accomplishments and create an attractive and easy-to-read resume.
22. Become a Voice-Over Artist
If you have a great voice, then you can make it a side-hustle and earn money as a voice-over artist. You don’t need any investment for it at all!
You can find many requirements for voice-over artists in online forums or you can partner with some agency and get a continuous flow of work. Though you may start it as a side-hustle, be prepared to travel around your city for long distances and work for long hours to make money.
23. Start a Chatbot Building Business
Chatbots are the automatic intelligent software that converses with customers on behalf of the business. It is becoming one of the vital tools that enable a business to provide good customer service. As a lot of customers may message the business at the same time, there will be a long waiting time until a person can converse with the customer and solve the issue.
Chatbots cuts the clutter out by providing simple pre-defined solutions for customers immediately without the need for interacting with humans. Most businesses have started using the chatbots, but it is still in the development stage. If you are already working in the field of Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning, then you can start a chatbot building company. Sounds familiar? Larry Kim started a successful chatbot business called “MobileMonkey” for instance.
You may have to think about the amount of money you need to invest in terms of the software and tools you need to buy to start this business on your own though !
24. Start an Online Consumer Research Business
Consumer research is a vast industry that is gaining traction day by day. In the times when companies compete with each other to bag new customers, the understanding of their audience becomes their top priority.
As a consumer research business, it is your responsibility to research the company, understand their audience and create a wholesome persona that can be practically used in their marketing. Sometimes, companies will have specific requests to know more about a particular character of their ideal customer and you will be responsible for gathering the Buyer Persona.
To start this online business, you need to know how to collect information from various sources – directly from customers, from social media, from website information, online and offline surveys and so on. You cannot just present this raw data to the companies. They require the conclusion derived from this research in the form of facts and actionable insights. Therefore, you should be able to work with algorithms and tools like Boolean Query Writing to get a sense of what the data means.
This business needs dedication and lots of time and, therefore, can be started as a part-time job and branched out later into a full-time business. Make sure to have sufficient seed money to spend on the research, buying the tools and data analytics platforms to help with consumer research.
25. Create an E-Commerce Store
There are many ways by which you can earn money from setting up an e-commerce store.
• You can procure products in bulk and sell them on your e-commerce store. Many purchase clothes, accessories and other small items in bulk from the manufacturers and sell them individually at higher margins through their e-commerce store.
• You can sell your services through your online store like consultancy, coaching, therapy and many more.
• You can sell books on your e-commerce store. It can be both e-books as well as paperbacks and hard bounds.
This is a competitive market that requires you to invest considerable time every week in understanding and marketing the products. If you are setting up an e-commerce store, then you need some initial investment to hire a developer to build a secure e-store.
26. Conduct Digital Events
Many organizations do not have the time or the resources to spare in conducting a physical on-ground event. Or, sometimes companies or individuals will take online courses, classes, seminars, and get-togethers online. During such times, they outsource the complete management of the digital event to another firm or individual.
When you have excellent event management skills, then this is going to be a cakewalk for you! You will be given the responsibility of conducting the event, managing the guest list, advertising about the events, bagging the speakers and ensuring that the event runs without any technical issue. The idea is to create a unique experience online that sells. SEMrush for instance conducted a “Global Marketing Day” recently which was a 24 hour long event and completely online.
You don’t need much investment to start your digital event management business online. Just a website about your services and a good contact list is sufficient to start this online business idea in Canada.
27. Sell on eBay
Haven’t you heard of people selling crazy stuff on eBay and earning so much money from it?
Well, you can be one of such crazy people too!
You can sell practically any item on eBay. You can start by selling the unused stuff lying around the house and make some money out of it. Once you get the hang of how it works, you can procure some things from the local store and sell it for a higher cost on eBay.
It is difficult to do it as a full-time job, but it’s a great way to make some extra money without much investment and risk.
28. Become an Online Wedding Planner
Marriage is one of the biggest money-making markets in the world and you can get a dip in it if you become a wedding planner.
A wedding requires extensive planning like booking the venue, photographer, caterer, videographers, performers and many other businesses. So, a wedding planner is given charge of all this work to make the wedding happen without a single incident.
It is an engaging job that requires you to dedicate considerable time and energy. You can become an online wedding planner and make all of that stuff happen from wherever you are. Some online wedding planners may attend the wedding to ensure that everything goes smoothly, but it’s entirely your call. I live in Ontarion and I can tell you that Canada is a multicultural nation especially Toronto being most multicultural city in the world and therefore, every marriage will require specialized customs, rituals and unique experiences, opportunities are just enormous.
29. Create an Online Course
If you are an expert on a subject and have the right qualification or experience to support it, then you can create a digital course.
This courses can be sold on your website or through third-party sites like Thinkific, and many such e-learning platforms.
Else, if you already have some good audience base who are ready to spend money to gain from your knowledge, then you can go ahead and create courses and make it available on your website for a small fee. If you are planning to sell the online courses on your website, then you should make some initial investment in setting up an intuitive and easy-to-access website with a secure payment channel.
30. Start a Dropshipping Business
In dropshipping, the seller sets up an online store that sells the products of third-parties. As a seller, you don’t need to maintain any warehouses. The product will be directly shipped to the customers once they buy it from your store. For every sale you make through your store, you will get a percentage of the total sale cost.
You can use websites like Oberlo to find products to sell on your online store. You don’t need to make any investment apart from the creation of the online store. You can set up the website, market it widely and make money for every product bought through your store.
Summary and Next Steps
Choose a few ideas from the list of online business ideas in Canada that matches with the skillset you already have. Run a quick check with the investment and time you can afford and start your online business now!
Creating an online business either as a full-time or part-time is a great way to have control over how much money you can make. It creates financial independence and lets you be in control of how you want to progress. Most of the online business ideas in Canada that we saw above are location-independent and therefore, you can work from your home in pyjamas, sit on the beach sipping cocktails as you work or work from some hotel in Asia. So, do your research, be patient, spend considerable time on it and you’ll start seeing the results. Remember, there is no shortcut to success.