So many entrepreneurs began their journeys in the halls of academia, much like where many of you find yourselves today. Have you ever dreamt of following in the footsteps of legendary college entrepreneurs like Michael Dell and Evan Spiegel, or Canada’s own Tara Bosch? While in her junior year at the University of British Columbia, Tara launched a candy business that has grown into a $55 million enterprise.
This rise of the side hustle in recent years has shown that entrepreneurial success is no longer confined to those with extensive resources or vast networks. The accessibility of tools and customers has significantly dropped the barrier to entry for starting a business, regardless of age or experience. And this is fantastic news for our next generation of student entrepreneurs.
Whether it’s a tech startup, a wellness brand, or a unique product, the opportunity to innovate and make an impact is now at your fingertips.
In this blog, we talk about:
- Benefits of starting a business as a student
- Types of businesses that students can start
- Tools to help you start a business
- How Canada supports student entrepreneurs
- Industries that are thriving in Canada for student entrepreneurs
Benefits of Starting a Business as a Student
Starting a business as a student can be a rich journey of personal and professional development. Here are five key benefits to embarking on this adventure:
Practical Business Experience:
Launching your own business during your student years gets you a hands-on learning experience that’s hard to match in a classroom setting. You are forced to grapple with real-world business challenges, from crafting a business plan to convincing customers and managing funds. Even if your venture doesn’t take off as hoped, the experience can teach you resilience and the value of learning from failure.
Enhanced Resume & Skill Development:
Starting a business adds a unique and impressive achievement to your resume, proving that you possess qualities like initiative, innovation, and leadership. This can set you apart in job interviews or graduate school applications. Also, the suite of skills that come with being an entrepreneur are all transferable skills – critical thinking, problem-solving, effective communication, and time management – are highly valued in any professional field.
Building a Professional Network:
Entrepreneurship opens doors to a lot of new connections. You’ll have the chance to meet and get to know mentors, industry professionals, fellow entrepreneurs, and clients. These connections can be invaluable, offering advice, support, and opportunities for future collaborations.
Early Taste of Financial Independence:
Running a business, of course at its core, is a pursuit of generating a source of income, granting a degree of financial independence to you. This can be particularly empowering, because it offers you unparalleled exposure to understanding how to save, invest in your business, and make tough financial decisions.
Cultivating Creativity and Innovation:
Starting a business encourages you to think creatively and innovate. Whether you’re solving a problem, designing a product, or marketing your service, entrepreneurship really pushes you to think outside the box. This intense training to be creative and be a problem solver can forever impact the way you approach life.
8 Types of Businesses That Students Can Start in Canada
The types of businesses you can start as a student are as diverse and limitless as your own interests and skills. But here is a list that brings together some of the most relevant business ideas for students living in Canada:
- Cultural Immersion Experiences:
Canada’s population reached 40 million on July 1st, 2023, and this population growth marks the highest population growth rate recorded for a 12-month period since 1957. Start a service to host workshops or tours that showcase Canadian customs, indigenous heritage, or local tourism. This not only promotes cultural awareness but also supports local communities.
2. Elderly Tech Assistance:
By 2026, one Canadian in five will have reached age 65. With this, there’s a growing need for tech assistance for the elderly. Offer services to set up and troubleshoot electronic devices, teach digital skills, and assist with online platforms.
3. Local Organic Farming:
Students passionate about farming can start a small-scale organic farm focusing on local, sustainable produce. You can then sell your products to health-conscious consumers at farmers’ markets or through a subscription-based model.
4. Pet Care Services:
Over 58% of Canadians own a pet. There’s sufficient demand for pet care services. Offer services such as dog walking, pet sitting, or mobile pet grooming to cater to the needs of busy pet owners.
5. Language Coaching Services:
Canada is bilingual, and language learning services can be in demand. Offering tutoring or language exchange services for individuals looking to improve their proficiency in English or French could be very lucrative!
6. Cottage Rental Management:
Cottaging is huge in Canada – if you are living in an area popular for cottage getaways, you should consider starting a cottage rental management service. Through this business, you can assist cottage owners with property management, bookings, and maintenance.
7. Sustainable Fashion Line:
Start a sustainable fashion brand using locally sourced and eco-friendly materials. 76% of Canadian adults would be more likely to trust and be loyal to a company that works to address environmental issues. This taps into the growing demand for sustainable brands and supports local industries.
8. Tech Repair and Upcycling Services:
With a focus on sustainability, offer services to repair or upcycle tech gadgets. This not only addresses the issue of electronic waste but also serves a practical need.
Tools to Help You Start a Business as a Student in Canada
Starting a business as a student can be challenging, but thanks to technological advancements, there are several tools and resources freely available to help streamline the process that makes starting and running a business easier. Here’s your ultimate cheat sheet with tools to help you start a business right away:
1. Business Model Canvas
Create and iterate your business model using a visual tool like the Business Model Canvas. Canvanizer allows you to collaborate and share your canvas with others.
2. Market Research
Access comprehensive market research data to understand industry trends, consumer behaviour, and market forecasts. Statista provides statistics and studies across various sectors from around the world.
3. Business Planning
LivePlan helps you create professional business plans. It guides you through the planning process, and financial forecasting, and provides templates for a polished presentation.
4. Project Management
Trello is an easy-to-use, versatile project management tool that helps you organize tasks, set deadlines, and collaborate with team members. It is particularly useful for to-do lists.
5. Website Building
Don’t know programming? Create a super professional website for your business without having to code using Wix. Wix is a no-code website development platform that offers templates, a user-friendly interface, and hosting services.
6. Financial Management
Wave is a completely free accounting and financial management tool that you can use for your business’s financial needs. It helps with invoicing, expense tracking, and generating financial reports.
7. Social Media Management
Seamlessly manage and schedule your social media posts across different platforms for your business using Hootsuite. The tool provides analytics to measure the performance of your social media efforts as well!
8. Graphic Design
Create eye-catching graphics, social media posts, and marketing materials for your business with Canva. It’s an intuitive design tool that doesn’t require advanced graphic design skills.
9. Collaboration and Communication
Facilitate communication and collaboration among team members with Slack. It offers channels for organized discussions and integrates with various apps.
10. Legal Support
GoodLawyer provides legal services for businesses, including assistance with business formation, trademarks, and other legal documents. Reach out to them online to get basic legal help when you start your business.
11. E-commerce Platforms
If you’re running an online store, Shopify simplifies the process of setting up and managing your e-commerce business.
12. Time Management
Track your time efficiently with Toggl. It helps you analyze how you’re spending your time and identify areas for improvement.
13. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Freshworks offers a free CRM that helps you manage and organize your interactions with customers. It includes features for email marketing, lead generation, and analytics.
Build your professional network, connect with potential clients, and join relevant groups on LinkedIn for free to stay informed about industry trends and make new connections.
15. Learning and Skill Development
Tool: LinkedIn Learning
Continue to enhance your skills and knowledge with LinkedIn Learning, which offers a wide range of courses on business, marketing, technology, and more.
How Canada Supports Student Entrepreneurs
Canada offers a variety of programs on a Federal and Provincial level to support student entrepreneurs, each tailored to specific needs and stages of business development:
- Futurpreneur Canada Start-up Program: This program offers up to $60,000 in financing and mentoring for young entrepreneurs aged 18-39. Applicants need to develop a full-time business plan and agree to work with a mentor for two years, owning at least 51% of the business.
- BDC – Young Entrepreneur: BDC provides funding and services for young entrepreneurs, including start-up financing, small business lending, business coaching, and advice on sales, marketing, and business expansion.
- Summer Company: Geared towards current students returning to school in the fall, this program offers up to $3,000 to help start and run a summer business. Eligibility criteria include being a resident of Ontario, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and committed to working an average of 35 hours per week, among others.
- Junior Achievement Canada: This program is designed for high school students interested in starting a business or improving financial education. It provides real-world skills and mentorship through local business partnerships and offers programs in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship.
- Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer’s Program: Aimed at young farm operators or those pursuing agricultural education, this program offers mentoring, scholarships, and other resources. It’s designed for individuals aged 18 to 39 earning at least two-thirds of their income from farming.
- OUT for Business Youth Entrepreneur program: This program supports 2SLGBTQI+ youth entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39 with a registered business in Canada. It provides one-on-one and team mentoring, networking opportunities, and other support.
- Rise: Tailored for youth entrepreneurs facing mental health or addiction challenges, Rise offers funding between $300 to $10,000, along with mentoring and business development support. Eligible participants are Canadian citizens or permanent residents aged 16 to 29 who face mental health or addiction challenges and cannot obtain traditional bank financing.
Industries That are Thriving in Canada for Student Entrepreneurs
Canada is gearing up for a major population boost in the coming two decades, a change that’s set to rev up the economy, particularly in sectors like healthcare, technology, and agriculture. This demographic shift is bringing along with it a lot of opportunities, especially for student entrepreneurs eager to dive into these growing markets early:
- Healthcare: Amid an aging population, Canada’s healthcare sector is in need of innovation. The demand for new healthcare solutions and workforce support is soaring, offering students a chance to contribute through medtech innovations, healthcare staffing solutions, or technology that aids in efficient healthcare delivery.
- Technology in Ontario: Canada is a tech powerhouse, particularly, Ontario is home to giants like Amazon and Google and thriving startups like Wealthsimple and Wattpad. Key sub-sectors like IT, AI, Cleantech, and Fintech are booming, with IT contributing $48.3B annually to the GDP. This bustling tech landscape offers students a myriad of opportunities in software development, AI applications, sustainable technology solutions, and financial technology innovations.
- Agriculture: Canada’s focus on Agritech and Sustainable Agriculture, coupled with its food and beverage manufacturing prowess, provides fertile ground for students to explore innovations in farming technology, sustainable practices, and food processing and production.
These industries represent Canada’s economic pillars of the future. We are excited to see the next generation of student entrepreneurs apply their creativity, technological know-how, and passion for innovation to these areas and create a better tomorrow.
Want to Start a Business in Canada?
TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here