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Starting an online business in Ontario is no different than starting a small business anywhere across Canada.

In Ontario, as a small business you’ll save on some of your biggest business costs, this is money that you can use to further invest into your business’s innovation and growth.

The government of Ontario has many funding programs that also help individuals starting a business in Ontario be it an online business or a brick and mortar – or both.

If you’ve decided on the business location to be Ontario, starting an online business in Ontario is fairly simple.

There are a lot of helpful resources that will take you through the registration process and that’s typically the first step to take when starting your small business – to register it.

We highly recommend you register your online business in Ontario with Ontario Business Central.

Starting an Online Business in Ontario

Other than registering your small business, to be able to start an online business in Ontario, the below are the few steps to take to ensure you are successful at starting an online business.

Step 1: Determine the type of online business you want to start.

When starting an online business in Ontario you have to know what kind of online business you want to have. Will this business be strictly online, or will it be a mix of offline and online? Are you planning on selling a product, or a service, are you shipping a product? What is it that you want to do?

These are important questions as it will determine the kind of online business structure to set up. There are many different types of “online business structures” you can go with.

  • eCommerce (if you’re selling stuff online)
  • Blog (if you’re just talking about stuff in order to become a brand)
  • Business Website (if you’re selling a service or a product mix)
  • Combo Business (if you’re doing a combination of the above)
  • 3rd Party Business (if you’re a reseller, affiliate or a social media promoter)

The structure really depends on your idea and what you want to do.

Step 2: Develop a business plan for your online business

Developing a business plan for your online business in Ontario is the next step to take once you’ve figured out what you want to do. By creating a business plan for your online business, you will be able to “make it work on paper”, which is very important to ensure that your plan will work.

Other than creating a website, online presence and getting visitors to come to your website, you have to ensure that you’ve got all aspects of the business covered and that you know what to expect when starting an online business.

While it’s not much different than running a brick and mortar business, online businesses have a lot of factors at play that can determine the success of your business.

When it comes to an online business, visitors don’t just walk by your store and enter just because it’s there. The competition on the web is enormous, so you really have to have a business plan that will set you apart and prepare you for it all.

Step 3: Register a domain name and create a logo

Once you’ve created your business plan you should know exactly the next steps to take to get your online business going. What do you need, what do you lack – if anything?

The next step is to register a domain name for your small business so that you can secure your business name on the web.

A lot of business owners opt to have the same name as the name that appears on their business registration – however it is not always the best.

Keep in mind that when starting an online business, people need to remember your domain name or be familiar with it and know what you do simply by looking at your name.

For example: If you are starting an online store selling pet supplies but your company is registered as John Doe (your name); you probably don’t want to have a website called, right? Instead you could come up with a name related to what you are trying to do: for example.

A lot of domain names are already taken so it may be a challenge to get what you want unless you look for something very specific.

Be sure to check out to register a domain name. One of the most trusted domain registrars out there.

Once you’ve done that, your logo comes next. Remember, keep it simple, clean and memorable.

Step 4: Develop your website and get hosting

The next step to starting an online business in Ontario is to actually develop your website and make it ready for the people of Ontario or Canada or the world to see.

Developing a website can be expensive, so having a website “business plan” before you start is also recommended – especially if you intend on hiring help to get your website developed.

While a website can cost between $2,500 to $15,000 to make or more, it’s recommended to know exactly what you want initially so that you keep the costs low and limit the chances until you’ve started to prove the model and made some money.

There are many free website options such as WordPress, Wix, GoDaddy’s Wesbite Builder, Shopify and more. You can always consider one of those and try it on your own, they are made very simple.

Need funding for your small business?

    Once you’ve created your website and connected your domain name, you will need hosting. A hosting provider such as GoDaddy is great to start with, but may be a bit slow once you start getting traction, so consider getting a better hosting server down the road.

    Sounds complicated? It’s not – we can help if you have any questions.

    Step 5: Get online presence (social media)

    The fun part of starting an online business is getting the online presence right. The simplest and a lot of times the most effective these days is being present on social media. So think of all of the social media sites the public uses – think about your audience. Do they use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or something else – that’s where you start and create your profile and start promoting your business.

    Remember don’t over promote – but make it natural so that people will have their attention pulled to you versus just trying to nail down your offer.

    Step 6: Start promoting your online business

    Once you’ve got your website up and running, there are a million things you can do in order to effectively promote your online business. Consider all of the following:

    • Social media
    • Search engine optimization
    • E-mail marketing
    • Paid search marketing
    • and more.

    Take your time and develop your online business slowly. Sometimes outside factors can play a role in how fast or how slow you get attention online so be sure to develop a plan beforehand and follow it. There are a lot of website marketing and startup tips available on the web, read them, get educated and learn more about starting an online business.

    That being said, there are a lot of funding programs available from the Ontario government that can help you as an online small business so be sure to take advantage of what may be available in the form of government grants, loans and tax breaks to help you get started, to build your website, to promote your products/services, to hire and train staff and more. Learn more about the help through Ontario Startups!

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