31 Online Business Ideas in Canada PLUS 6 CA Specific Steps To Get Started

October 3, 2023

The best online business ideas in Canada are:

  • Local lead generation (CA$600 to CA$4,000/month per website)
  • Affiliate marketing (CA$5,000/month on average)
  • Blogging (CA$3,000/month on average)
  • Email marketing agency (CA$5,000/month on average)
  • Web design agency (CA$500 to CA$6,000/month on average per client)

You can make money online in Canada. In fact, Canada is one of the best countries in the world to make online income because of its stable business environment and relatively high wealth. The average take home pay of an online small business owner in Canada is around CA$77K/year, according to Glassdoor. You can start many online businesses in Canada, such as businesses around digital marketing, Ecommerce, content creation, and even trading and finance-related businesses. There are so many small business ideas for Canada, it's just a matter of choosing one and getting started. In the following article, you'll find dozens of the best online business ideas and the specific steps you need to get started with a Canadian online business. 

1. Local lead generation

Local lead generation is an online business model that generates income by ranking websites on Google to attract potential customers for local service businesses and then selling those leads to actual local service businesses for a profit. For example, a local lead generation business can set up a website to attract customers for the bathroom remodeling service niche in Nova Scotia. You would then monetize that site by finding a local bathroom remodeling business in Nova Scotia that is looking for more business or just wants to improve their marketing. A local lead generation website typically brings in anywhere from CA$600 to CA$4,000 per month, depending on factors like the location and specific service niche. Local lead generation agencies can operate multiple of these sites, potentially bringing in 5-figures of residual income each month. The startup costs for a local lead generation website are relatively low, costing around CA$100 or less to get started with a website and hosting service. 

2. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of digital marketing where businesses leverage the skills and connections of third-party marketers to promote their products in exchange for a commission. For example, Canadian Ecommerce platform Shopify pays its affiliates a $150 commission for each qualified referral. As an affiliate marketer, you can promote brands through a range of online traffic channels, including:

  • Blogs
  • Niche websites
  • Social media
  • PPC advertising
  • Email marketing

An affiliate marketer in Canada can expect to make around CA$60,000 on average, according to Glassdoor.

3. Blogging

Blogging is generating an online audience by providing informal information through a website. Blogs typically deliver content for a targeted niche. For example, this blog you're reading now is geared towards online business. Bloggers can generate online income through a variety of monetization methods, such as:

  • Google AdSense
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Sponsored posts
  • Selling merchandise, like blog themed t-shirts
  • Selling a digital product, like an online course

Successful bloggers boast digital marketing skills like copywriting and SEO. Canadian bloggers can expect to make around CA$18.69/hour on average, according to Indeed. 

4. Email marketing agency

Email marketing is a digital marketing method that reaches audiences through email outreach. Email marketing agencies serve clients by helping to develop effective email campaigns and strategies that generate more awareness for the business’s offerings and sales. With over 4 billion active daily email users, email marketing remains one of the most effective channels for online marketing. As such, businesses are continuing to increase email marketing budgets. In fact, global email marketing revenue is expected to increase from just $7.5 billion in 2020 up to $17.9 billion by 2027, according to Statista. Email marketing specialists in Canada typically make around CA$57K/year on average, according to PayScale.

5. Web design agency

Web design is the process of creating websites that are both aesthetically attractive and functional in order to provide a positive user experience. A web design agency leverages a team of web designers and web developers to create and maintain client websites, and ensures the look and function of the website is appropriate for the client's needs. According to GoDaddy, web design projects in Canada typically cost between CA$500 and CA$6,000, with some enterprise projects charging as high as CA$30,000.

6. SEO agency

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing a website to improve its visibility on search engines like Google or Yahoo. SEO can also be applied to social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube as well. An SEO agency takes on clients and assists them with their SEO strategies and implementation so they can attract their target audience that would be most interested in their products and services. SEO projects typically take 6 to 12 months to start generating results, according to Ahrefs. As such, SEO agencies can secure longer term contracts from their clients. According to Toronto-based digital marketing agency 23e2 Digital Marketing, monthly SEO retainers in Canada typically range between CA$700 to CA$2,000, while one-time projects can range from CA$5,000 to CA$30,000.

7. Social media marketing agency

Social media users in Canada average 2 hours and 5 minutes per day, according to Made in Canada, making social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest an especially attractive marketing channel for Canadian businesses. Social media marketing agencies support businesses with a range of social media marketing-related tasks, like:

  • Content creation
  • Content scheduling
  • Community management
  • Social listening
  • Influencer management
  • PPC advertising

Social media marketing is meant to develop and expand a brand’s online reputation, while driving business results like generating leads and sales. Social media marketing services in Canada can range between CA$1,500 to CA$10,000/month for most clients, according to Asset Digital Communications.

8. Social media influencer

A social media presence can be extremely valuable, with Canadian social media influencers like Audrey Rivet earning millions through their collaborations with major companies and other income channels. In fact, a social media influencer can generate online income through a variety of monetization strategies, like:

  • Advertising revenue
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Brand partnerships
  • Direct donations
  • Selling custom merchandise

Through these methods, social media influencers in Canada make around CA$97K on average, according to Indeed. 

9. Amazon FBA

Amazon is the largest online marketplace in the world. Amazon accounts for approximately 41.5% of total Ecommerce sales in Canada, according to Insider Intelligence. Therefore, selling on Amazon is a great opportunity to reach the Canadian market. Ecommerce sellers that sell through Amazon can also access the Amazon FBA program to simplify their online selling efforts and improve their efficiency. Amazon FBA, or Fulfillment by Amazon, is an Ecommerce order fulfillment service that leverages Amazon’s advanced systems to store, pack, and ship products to the customer. An Amazon FBA seller in Canada just needs to send their Amazon inventory to one of Amazon’s 40+ Canada-based fulfillment centers, and Amazon will handle getting their order to the customer when it sells. These fulfillment centers are placed strategically across the country in major centers like Ottawa and Montreal to maximize efficiency.

According to a 2021 report by Ecom crew, over half of Canadian Amazon sellers were able to reach over CA$50K in annual revenue from their business. The startup cost for an Amazon FBA business can vary dramatically depending on the business model chosen. For example, the startup cost when using the retail arbitrage business model is just around a few hundred dollars, while Amazon FBA sellers who choose private label can expect to spend $10,000 or more on their business. 

10. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is an Ecommerce business model where you leverage your product supplier to ship orders directly to your customer. A dropshipping business sources products from special supplier marketplaces like AliExpress where products can be obtained for near wholesale price without the need for purchasing a wholesale quantity. These products are then marketed online, through online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, or through custom online stores created with Ecommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce. When dropshipping items sell, a dropshipping business simply buys the product from their supplier and sends them the customer’s shipping detail to complete the order. Therefore, although profit margins are much lower than other Ecommerce opportunities, dropshipping is a relatively low investment, minimal risk opportunity to make money online. Canadian dropship specialists make around CA$54K on average, according to Glassdoor. 

11. Sell handmade products

Unlike many other Ecommerce selling methods, selling handmade products enables you to deliver unique and sometimes custom products to customers. There are many places to sell handmade products online in Canada, including:

  • Etsy
  • Amazon Handmade Canada
  • IndieMade
  • Storenvy

To get an idea of what kind of handmade items you should sell, you can check the Best Selling Items Handmade page on Etsy Canada.

12. Subscription box business

A subscription box business packages and sends members a set of niche products on a regular basis, typically weekly or monthly, for an ongoing subscription fee. For example, the Canadian subscription box service, Fresh Prep, is a weekly meal prep subscription service that starts at $27.98 and ships to Western Canadian cities like Vancouver and Calgary. Starting a subscription box service can enable you to generate more consistent Ecommerce revenue because you’re orders are subscription-based, making your online income more predictable.

13. Print-on-demand

Print-on-demand (POD) is an Ecommerce business model that entails printing custom designs onto generic goods, like T-shirts and coffee mugs, and having the supplier ship the orders directly to customers. POD is similar to dropshipping, but requires you to provide custom graphic designs for the supplier to print onto merchandise, as opposed to just selling what’s already available stock from the supplier, like a dropshipper does. The profit margin for a print on demand business is typically slim, ranging between 15% to 20%, according to Tee In Blue. The best print-on-demand services in Canada are:

  • Sellfy
  • Gelato
  • Printful

14. Sell online courses

The online education industry in Canada is expanding rapidly, expected to grow from $5.13 billion in 2023 to $8.25 billion by 2027, according to Statista. You can take advantage of this trend by creating and selling online courses yourself. The most popular online courses are typically geared towards teaching digital skills, like digital marketing. However, you can create and sell online courses on a variety of topics not related to digital skills, such as foreign language, cosmology, or even woodworking. Some of the best platforms for selling online courses in Canada include:

  • Skillshare
  • Thinkific
  • Udemy
  • Teachable
  • LearningCart

15. Business coaching

Business coaching is the process of helping to guide businesses and professionals in pursuit of their operational goals. A business coach can help their clients improve their mindset, create effective businesses strategies to follow, and expand their leadership abilities. In order to command the respect and business of clients, a business coach typically needs to come from business background and boast a track record of success. The average business coach in Canada makes around CA$68K/year, according to Talent.

16. Tutoring

If you don’t have the qualifications to be a business coach, tutoring is an alternative online small business idea to consider where you exchange your relative knowledge for a fee. The average tutor in Canada earns around CA$21.62/hour, according to Indeed. As a tutor, you help students and eager learners to master a topic that you excel at but they’re struggling with. Some of the most common topics to tutor on include:

  • Foreign language
  • Math
  • Economics
  • Computer science

17. Publish eBooks

Platforms like Google Play Books and Amazon KDP enable you to self publish eBooks online and earn royalties on the sales. For example, publishing and selling eBooks on Amazon will earn you between 35% to 70% royalties. Considering that the average salary for a writer in Canada hovers around CA$62K/year, there’s certainly an opportunity to make a decent living, and even some passive income, by publishing eBooks.

18. Podcasting

Podcasting is creating and uploading informational or entertaining audio recordings for mass listening. Podcasters typically focus their show on a specific niche and use high quality audio equipment to capture their dialogue on the topic. A podcast can have a single person talking or feature multiple people to provide more of a discussion or interview style of show. Some of the most popular podcast niches in Canada are comedy, health, business, and news. According to Chartable, the most popular Spotify podcast in Canada is Hot Mess with Alix Earle. A podcaster in Canada can expect to make around CA$84K/year on average, according to Glassdoor. 

19. Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is the process of tracking and organizing a business's financial transactions, including how money flows into and out of a business. Although bookkeeping certainly requires skills like basic math and attention to detail, you do not need a professional license or degree to become a bookkeeper in Canada. Even so, receiving an official designation, such as becoming a Registered Professional Bookkeeper through the Canadian Bookkeepers Association, can enhance your profit potential by giving business owners the confidence that you can effectively manage their books. The average salary for a bookkeeper in Canada is approximately CA$25.61/hour, according to data from Indeed.

20. Accounting

Unlike bookkeeping, accounting does typically require a formal certification to work in Canada. That’s because accountants go beyond simply recording transactions by providing consultations and advising businesses on tax matters, which require advanced expertise. Accountants in Canada usually earn a higher rate than bookkeepers, ranging from CA$23/hour to upwards of CA$62.50/hour, according to Job Bank Canada. This can be a great home based business idea for those who have studied accounting and spent time working in an accounting-related role at a major financial institution, like working as an auditor at Deloitte. 

21. Stock trading

Stock trading is the short term buying and selling of the shares of publicly traded companies to try to earn a profit by estimating price movements in the equities. For example, a stock trader would buy Shopify if they believe that Shopify’s stock will go up in value. A Canadian stock trader can access stocks to trade by going through an online brokerage firm. Some of the top brokerages for Canadian stock traders include Scotia iTRADE, IFC Markets, and National Bank of Canada. Through these brokerages, you can gain access to equities listed on both the Toronto Stock Exchange as well as international stocks, such as those listed on the NASDAQ in the United States. Canadian stock traders can expect to earn CA$68K/year on average, according to Glassdoor. 

22. Forex trading

Forex trading is the buying and selling of currency pairs to try to realize a profit when one currency goes up or down in value against another currency. For example, you would buy the currency pair USD/CAD if you believe that the US dollar is going to go up relative to the Canadian dollar. Some of the best online forex brokerages to trade currencies in Canada include CMC Markets, AvaTrade, and Saxo. One of the major benefits that forex trading has over stock trading is that the markets are open 24 hours a day during the week instead of being limited to a strict window during the standard working day. Therefore, you have more flexibility as to when you work. The average forex trader in Canada makes CA$65,000/year, according to PayScale.

23. Crypto trading

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that are not regulated through a central authority, such as government-backed currency like the Canadian dollar is. Cryptocurrency trading is trying to realize a profit through the selling and buying of cryptocurrencies in relation to other cryptocurrencies and country currencies. For example, you could use Canadian dollars to buy Bitcoin if you think bitcoin will go up in value relative to the Canadian dollar. Then, you could use that Bitcoin to buy Ethereum if you believe that Ethereum will go up in value relative to Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency is legal in Canada, and you can trade these digital currencies through platforms like Binance, Coinbase, and Kraken. The average salary for a crypto trader in Canada is around $97K/year on average, according to Glassdoor.

24. Sell NFTs

An NFT, or non-fungible token, is a digital asset that exists on the blockchain, the same technology that cryptocurrency is based on. NFTs can be anything digital, such as artwork or music. These digital assets can be bought and sold to generate profit. In fact, during the height of the NFT craze in 2021, “The Merge” by Pak’s sold for a staggering $91.8 million! However, the value of NFTs has fallen dramatically since that time. Even so, there’s still likely some potential for NFTs in the future, and another bull market for the assets at some point isn’t an impossibility. Just remember that if you do make money by selling NFTs in Canada, you will be subject to capital gains tax according to the Canadian Revenue Agency. 

25. Transcription services

Transcription is the process of taking audio information and converting it into written format. Therefore, this is a relatively simple online business idea that can enable you to make money online without too many digital skills. You just need good hearing and the ability to type quickly. According to Indeed, the average salary for a transcriptionist in Canada is CA$20.11 per hour.

26. Translation services

Translation is taking one language and converting it into another language, while maintaining its meaning and message. For example, converting a legal document written in Chinese into English. Some of the most common industries that often use translation services are legal services, financial services, manufacturing companies, Ecommerce stores, and tourism-related companies. English is the most common native language spoken in Canada, with 55.9% of the population speaking the language, followed by French at 20% and Chinese at 3.5% of the total population, according to Babbel. Therefore, translation services are especially valuable in Canada given that the country is multilingual. A translator in Canada can expect to make CA$28/hour on average, according to Indeed.

27. Data entry

Data entry is the process of entering information into digital formats, typically spreadsheets and softwares that convert the data into actionable insights. Data entry doesn’t require any education or formal skill other than typing, so the potential earnings are relatively low. The average data entry position in Canada earns just CA$18.48/hour, according to Talent. Even so, data entry can be an easy starting point to start earning money online. 

28. Develop mobile apps

Mobile apps are software that run specifically on mobile devices, like iPhone or Android. Mobile apps can generate online income in a variety of ways, including:

  • Paid downloads
  • Subscriptions
  • In-app purchases
  • Paid advertising revenue

According to data from Statista, mobile apps in Canada generate just over $9 billion in revenue as of 2023. The data shows that mobile games are by far the most profitable category, followed by social networking, shopping, and entertainment apps. Therefore, there is some serious online income potential for a mobile app developer or project managers who can coordinate these types of projects. The income potential of a mobile app is highly variable depending on the success of the app, but it’s worth noting that the average salary for a mobile app developer in Canada is CA$92K/year, according to Glassdoor.

29. Virtual assistant business

A virtual assistant is a remote professional who provides administrative support to businesses and individuals. Virtual assistants can also specialize in specific digital skills, like writing, editing, and design. You can operate a virtual assistant business by taking on your own clients and performing the work, or finding qualified virtual assistants and connecting them with clients seeking their specific services. For reference, virtual assistants typically make CA$23.72/hour on average in Canada, according to Indeed.

30. Freelancing

Freelancing is a type of self-employment where you use your specialized skills to take on temporary projects for different clients. Freelancers are responsible for finding these clients, managing them, collecting payments, and paying the appropriate taxes for their business. Canadian freelancers can find freelance opportunities for their skill set through freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. Some popular freelance jobs include freelance writing and graphic design. For example, a freelance writer makes online income by completing writing tasks for many clients. Freelancing income can vary dramatically depending on the skill that your offering to clients, but the average salary for freelancers in Canada is around CA$81K. 

31. Dropservicing

Dropservicing is an online business model that entails getting clients for major digital projects, such as website design, and leveraging freelancers to complete the work for you. The dropservicing business model generates profit by charging the client a higher rate than the freelancers charge to perform the service. Dropshipping businesses can even generate up to 70% in profit through this model, according to Flash Hub.

Most profitable online business in Canada

  1. 1
    Local lead generation - Profit margins for a local lead generation business can reach upwards of 90% or more. The business model is so profitable because it has low overhead costs of around CA$100/month per website for web hosting and call tracking software, while being able to generate up to CA$4,000/month in revenue per website. 
  2. 2
    Online courses - Profit margins for an online course can reach 90% or more. Online Course Host lists the average cost to create an online course between CA$275 to around CA$14,000. According to Learn Worlds, successful course creators make between CA$1,400 and CA$14,000/month on average. 
  3. 3
    Business coaching - Business coaches can achieve profit margins of 60% to 80%, according to accounting firm Grow Factor. Although business coaches have a range of expenses like advertising, legal, and accounting fees, the high hourly rate with comes with coaching enables great profit margins. According to ExpertBox.io, business coaches can charge between CA$100 to CA$550. 
  4. 4
    eBooks - Profit margins on eBooks can reach up 70%. For those that complete all the work required to publish the eBook themself, including writing, editing, and cover image, 70% profit is possible when self publishing through a service like Amazon KDP and accounting for the revenue split.
  5. 5
    Dropservicing - A dropservicing business can accomplish a profit margin of up to 70%. Dropservicing businesses can command these high margins by selling projects at a premium cost in expensive markets like Canada or the US and then hire freelancers for cheap from countries with more affordable labor like India or the Philippines. 

Top 5 Business Ideas for Stay At Home Moms in Canada

  1. Local lead generation
  2. Blogging
  3. Amazon FBA
  4. Sell handmade products
  5. Virtual assistant business

These are some of the best business ideas for stay at home moms in Canada because they allow for a flexible schedule while still providing great income potential. 

How to start an online business in Canada?

  1. Create a business plan - A business plan forces you to put your ideas and goals for your home based business on paper. This helps you achieve a clearer understanding of your business as an entrepreneur and the steps you need to take in order to make your small business a successful one. 
  2. Choose a business name - Once you know what kind of business you want to start, choose a suitable business name. You can verify that your intended business name is available by checking the Government of Canada’s business name and trademark search tool, Nuans
  3. Decide on a business structure - Businesses operating in Canada can choose between 4 business structures, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, or cooperatives. Depending on your preference and specific business operations, you may want to create a formal business structure to protect personal assets. 
  4. Register the business - Most businesses in Canada will need to register with their local provinces and territories to legally operate. However, some sole proprietorships are not obligated to register when operating under the name of the business owner, according to the Government of Canada. Any business that has employees needs to register with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), according to the Business Development Bank of Canada. 
  5. Create a business website - Buy an appropriate website domain name for your business operations and set up a website to showcase your products or services, if necessary. 
  6. Set up legal notices - Your business website needs legal disclaimers, a privacy policy, and terms and conditions. According to Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), you must obtain meaningful consent from website users to collect their data. 

Can you start a business in Canada as a foreigner?

You can start a business in Canada as a foreigner. Non-residents are eligible to start businesses in Canada. However, if the foreigner business owner wants to run the business while living in Canada, they will need to go through the formal business immigration process, according to Sobirovs Law Firm.

Related Articles on Online Business and Canada

  • Is Affiliate Marketing Legal in Canada? - Although affiliate marketing is legal in Canada, here are some rules you should be aware of before you start promoting brands in the land of maple syrup.
  • Money Press Method Review - For Canadians considering starting a trading business, this online trading course introduces a potential method to consider in options trading.
  • Stupid Simple SEO Review - If you're keen to start an SEO-based business in Canada, such as a blog or SEO agency, this course may just be the education you need to learn the skills to be successful in making websites visible online. 

Conclusion: Which online business should you start in Canada?

Canada offers an online business owner many great opportunities. Canada has one of the highest GDP per capitals in the world at just over $52K, according to the International Monetary Fund, indicating just how lucrative operating a business from the country could be. Canada also ranks a respectable 16th on the Index of Economic Freedom, showing that running a business in this economy is better than most of the world in terms of freedom to operate. As such there are many online business opportunities in Canada to choose from, depending on your business goals, skills, and startup capital. 

However, I believe the best business opportunity in Canada is starting a local lead generation business. Local lead generation is a relatively low risk business model because setting up websites is relatively affordable compared to other options, like buying products in bulk to sell on Amazon or funding a forex trading account. Even though the risk is relatively low, the income potential is still massive. With just a handful of local lead generation sites, you can generate 5 figures in revenue per month from your business. In fact, I typically earn around $52K/month from all of my local lead generation websites, many of which have been set up for years already. 

That leads me to perhaps the biggest reason you should choose local lead generation. With local lead generation, you can make passive income online. Once you get a local lead generation website to rank on Google and partner with a local service business to pay you for the leads each month, the site requires very little maintenance as you can automate most aspects of the business, like getting the leads to your client. If you want to learn more about starting a local lead generation business in Canada, check out this lead gen course with over 7,000 students. 

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses

Ippei.com is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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