Location, Location, Location!
Deciding where to settle when moving to Canada is always important, but especially so if you are planning on opening a business. Whether you are immigrating as an entrepreneur or are planning to start a business after working in Canada for a few years, choosing the right location may be a crucial factor for your success. This article is intended to provide suggestions about which information to seek when deciding where to settle, and does not take financing and business planning into account.
Credentials and Regulations
If the type of business you want to start involves regulated professions, you will require more than just a business license. The regulations are different from province to province. A good place to start your research is the Foreign Credentials Referral Office - http://www.credentials.gc.ca/ - as well as the governing authority for your type of occupation (e.g. if you are a gas fitter and want to settle in BC, you would need to check with the BC Safety Authority). If you’re opening a restaurant, you will need to go through health inspections, and your staff may need one or more certifications (eg: Ontario’s SmartServe certificate).
Narrowing it down
After choosing the province or territory where you would like to settle, you should consider the following:
Employment potential – how high is the unemployment rate in the area you are considering? Will you be able to find qualified and reliable employees there? Have a look at online issues of the local newspapers and determine what kinds of employment ads are featured on a regular basis. Chances are that if ads for the same type of job in your business come up again and again, you will have as hard a time finding employees as the people placing those help-wanted ads.
Trade area – how big is the trade area you are planning to settle in? Do your customers live in that area? How many similar businesses are in competition with you? Is the area big enough to sustain your business? Google Maps, Statistics Canada, Wikipedia and municipal websites can help you with this information.
Support network – is there a Chamber of Commerce - an organization of local businesses in the municipality - that you can join? How about organizations with support for business development, like Community Futures in Western Canada ( http://www.communityfutures.ca/ )?
Tax incentives – does your chosen community offer any tax incentives? For example: a lot of places offer a break on property taxes for business owners who invest in the community. Towns, cities and municipalities usually have an EDO (economic development officer), who would be the person to ask about this.
(a good place to research “hard facts” is always Statistics Canada – http://www.statcan.gc.ca/ )
Quality of life – you will most likely want to put your business first until it is established, but you cannot neglect your own quality of life. Will your prospective area allow you to get away from thoughts of work and follow some of your hobbies and passions? Do you get a good feeling when you visit the area? Does it seem like a place where you and your family will be happy? Do not underestimate the importance of this factor; make sure you are likely to feel at home where you settle.
Business owners need to think strategically – and the best time to start is when deciding on location!