How to Start an Online Business in Canada

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Online businesses are on a steady rise ever since the global pandemic hit the whole world. Since more people were affected by the lockdowns, with some losing their jobs due to businesses closing down, they focused on selling goods and services online.

Online selling offers many convenient advantages, which is why many Canadians are interested in venturing into starting an online business.

However, starting a business, in general, is not easy. Online companies are also hit with ups and downs. So if you really want to start an online business, always be prepared both in resources and knowledge before diving straight into the online business pool.

Steps to Start an Online Business in Canada

Here are some of the things you need to know about starting an online business in Canada.

1. Explore Your Niche and Interests

You cannot just wake up one day and declare you’ll be opening an online business. You have to figure out a few things before starting your online business.

You have to figure out what kind of business you want to start, how your business can help the community’s needs, how you will provide the people with those products and services, and how the rest of your business will be moving.

Because the online marketplace is so competitive, it’s critical to have these answers ready ahead of time. Remember that nowadays, anyone can start an online business. That’s wonderful for you, but it also implies you’ll have a lot more competition.

Your business concept must be distinct from the competition. You can attract more customers by making your brand’s name memorable and exciting.

It is also a good tip that your online business is connected to your interests and passions. For example, if you are good at drawing stuff, you can open an apparel business to draw your designs and put them on shirts, bags, caps, and more. If you’re great with baking, try to sell some pastries and cookies. Whenever you are passionate about something, you won’t give up easily.

Not everyone can compete with Amazon’s “everything store.” On the internet, it is much more common for a company to target a much smaller niche. Limiting your business to a specific niche makes it so much easier to market to that audience.

If it makes sense, you can expand your niche as you grow, and most marketing experts agree that you must be hyper-focused on a small niche when you first start. Before expanding, Amazon began as a bookstore aimed at avid readers.

2. Launch Your Online Business Website

Launching a website is very important to your online business since you are starting an online business.

Sellers can usually open an account on any shopping platform, be it Amazon, Etsy, or eBay. Setting up shop there is much easier. You just have to open an account, submit requirements such as IDs for verification, and then upload all your products or services there for your prospective customers to see.

Otherwise, you can build your own website and gain more control over your products and website content.

3. Buying and Registering a Domain

The first step in creating your own website is to buy a domain name, which is the web address in which your site will “live.” You can select from a large number of “top-level domains” (TLDs), but the most popular are .com, .org, and .ca in Canada.

The cost of a domain varies, usually depending on the TLD, but you can usually get a .com for less than $15. However, it is advisable to register a local TLD, that is .ca, if you’re selling primarily in Canada.

4. Hosting Your Website

Once you’ve purchased a domain, you’ll need a location to host your website, and this is where the files that run your website are saved.

Most hosting companies and many website builders (listed below) provide domain registration, allowing you to keep both services with the same company. Hosting expenses can be as low as $100 per year, depending on your needs. Greengeeks, Bluehost, and HostGator are some of the most popular hosts.

But if you’re looking to open an eCommerce store, you might want to go with Shopify. Shopify makes it very easy to set up shop online.

5. Choose how your website operates

There are different ways on how to operate your website, depending on a free and paid system. You need software to create and handle your website. You can choose between CMS, free CMS, website builders, or e-commerce platforms. This depends on the type of online business you will run.

A content management system (CMS) is simply software that assists you in adding and managing content to your website. It is where you create and manage your pages and change the look and feel of your website.

On the other hand, WordPress seems to be the most popular CMS for building a website because it is free as open-source software. Drupal and Joomla are two other free CMSs. Most hosts have the option to install WordPress and other CMSs with a few clicks of a button.

You can also opt for website builders for your online business. Even though WordPress is free and relatively straightforward to use, many first-time people find it too complicated for their necessities. Instead, they use website builders with a visual interface to create a website.

While website builders are typically inexpensive, there is usually a recurring cost associated with them. Two of the most popular website builders out there are Squarespace and Wix. Many hosts also provide a proprietary builder.

Lastly, e-commerce platforms offer a place for online business owners to sell their goods to many people using their platforms as buyers. You can use an e-commerce platform to display your products and take orders on your website.

Shopify has grown exponentially to be one of the most popular, especially for online businesses, particularly small businesses. It allows the user to manage their inventory, display it on your website, and accept and process orders online.

Another alternative for accepting payments on your website is PayPal. BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and PrestaShop, an open-source, freemium e-commerce software, are examples of other e-commerce platforms. Squarespace and Wix both have e-commerce options.

6. Sell Your Goods Now

After setting up your online shop, you can now launch your online business and start selling your goods and services to customers.

At some point, you would also have to register your business. Different provinces have different business registration processes so you might want to check with your process. If you live in Ontario, you can learn more about registering your business here, and if you live in Alberta, here.

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.