Starting a business by yourself is no easy feat. Depending on where you live in Canada, some new business ventures might do better than others.
In Alberta, small business owners have an advantage, as they are currently eligible to receive business and industry support, including business capital and investing resources, information on corporate tax incentives or rebates, and support with everything you need for starting a business in Alberta, including how to apply for a business license, how to register or incorporate your business, employee training programs, and even how to change or cancel a business name.
Is starting a business in Alberta right for you?
It takes a certain type of person to start a business. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial mindset and are willing to put in the work to bring your business idea to life, your business plan could be a major success in Alberta and across North America.
Heavily influenced by the industrial sector, the province of Alberta is great for launching your small business plan, as it’s growing at a rapid rate. Alberta also offers small and medium enterprise re-launch grants, which are funding for small- and medium-sized businesses, co-ops and non-profits impacted by COVID-19 to offset a portion of their costs.
10 of the best business ideas to start in Alberta
With significantly lower tax rates than the rest of Canada, entrepreneurs have an advantage when starting a small business in Canada.
Here are 10 business opportunities to consider across multiple industries that could be a solid business venture in Alberta.
1. Pet daycare
If you love animals, starting an animal care business could be a smart move.
Opening a doggy daycare and spa is a great business idea, and there is a wide range of services you can offer to pet parents. These kinds of facilities are a home away from home for pets while their owners spend upwards of eight to 12 hours at the office, who want their pets to be entertained, but simply don’t have the time.
While opening a doggy daycare sounds like the ultimate dream job, it’s a lot of hard work, and some degree of animal knowledge and behaviour should be key hiring traits in any employees you choose to bring on, whether part or full time.
2. Home cleaning solutions
The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many small business owners to adopt a higher standard of cleaning and sanitization methods. With new virus cases still climbing across the country, starting a home cleaning business is a relatively simple concept that has the potential to earn big.
If you’re looking to start a cleaning business in Alberta, you’ll need to do the following:
- Consider what kinds of services you will be offering
- Establish a customer base
- Apply for a business license
- Register your business
- Find a supplier to source your cleaning products
3. Delivery driver/moving business
Starting a delivery business is fairly easy. First, you’ll need to make sure you have access to a reliable work vehicle. If you’re the only person working at the company, one vehicle will suffice, but if you’re considering hiring multiple employees, you’ll likely need access to a vehicle fleet.
Delivery driving isn’t just limited to furniture and fast food. There are all kinds of products that are now being offered via home delivery, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once you establish what kinds of products you’ll offer through your delivery business, it’s also a good idea to apply for insurance, both for your business and for any vehicles used on behalf of the business. Also, make sure you purchase any moving equipment that you might need to ensure smooth and successful delivery for your customers, like a moving dolly and bungee cords.
Starting a moving or hauling business is largely the same. Ensure that you have access to a working vehicle, like a moving truck, as well as the human resources required to complete the service.
4. Lawn care/snow removal
Alberta is no stranger to snow. Starting a snow removal business has several startup costs to be aware of, including purchasing a snowplow, spraying salts, and the ongoing fuel costs for your vehicle (which should be a truck). If you don’t have access to your own truck, you’ll need to factor in the costs of purchasing one. First, conduct your own market research to determine whether buying a used truck is an option, which could help offset the initial start-up costs.
Starting a snow removal business also involves some strategic thinking. In order to make the most profit, you’ll need access to multiple clients in a relatively short time frame. Therefore, starting a business in a booming metropolitan city, like Calgary, would be ideal, as it would allow you to serve a mix of commercial and residential properties.
Lawn care maintenance is another smart business idea. Much like snow removal, landscaping is a seasonal business. Depending on your business plan, starting a company that takes care of lawn maintenance during the spring and summer months and snow removal in the fall and winter months could be an excellent business venture. In order to do this, you’ll need to ensure you have access to any tools and equipment necessary for the jobs, as well as a reliable vehicle in each scenario.
As landscaping and snow removal involve intensive physical labour, make sure you are comfortable carrying out the required tasks or consider hiring a team to share the workload.
5. Dairy/beef farming
Alberta’s cattle and beef sector is a multi-billion dollar industry. If you grew up on a farm in Alberta or have recently inherited farmland, starting a beef or dairy farm could turn a substantial profit.
Starting a farm from scratch isn’t easy, but it can be done with the right materials. If you haven’t inherited an existing working farm, first, you’ll need to set aside some money for a land surveyor to ensure that the land you intend to farm on isn’t compromised (for example, from a natural gas pipeline or other underground materials). Depending on your long-term business goals, renting farmland is also a viable option. However, investing in capital upfront (purchasing an existing farm) makes the task at hand much easier, as all of the existing equipment is already secured.
Once you have ensured that the land can support livestock, you’ll need housing for all of the animals. This might include building a barn or other insulated shelter for the cattle. Second, you’ll need to source a food supplier to set up a steady stream of feed for your cattle. Livestock eats approximately four per cent of their weight each day by grazing, but they also need a balanced diet.
If you don’t purchase an existing farm, you’ll need to be prepared to spend quite a bit of money upfront on new materials.
6. Funeral home
Starting a funeral home business requires a business license, much like any other small business venture. Funeral homes require specific equipment used to support embalming and cremation. This includes refrigerated storage. Other resources, like a computer and designated filing system, must be taken into account.
To get started, you will need to first select a location for your funeral home. You can contact a real estate agent to help you find a large enough property to support your business and provide an accessible location for prospective clients. Funeral homes make their money from the services they offer, which includes the sale of caskets and burial blots, cremation services, floral arrangements, and other items.
Consider partnering with local suppliers in the area to offset some of your start-up costs. In the long run, those interested in running a funeral home must be prepared to cover expenses including property rent, transportation services related to funerals, upgrading equipment, and any salaries for additional staff.
7. Garbage disposal/junk removal
Have you always had great organizational skills? Junk removal can be a very profitable small business idea, especially if you conduct market research and go after clients who are downsizing or retiring and relocating to a smaller home.
Before you get started, you’ll need to find out if there are any specific provincial or federal laws around junk disposal. Not everything can be hauled off to the local landfill, and there are various rates to dispose of different kinds of garbage.
Junk removal is also sometimes considered a seasonal job, most prominently carried out in the spring and summer months. This is something you should factor into your business plan.
8. Daycare centre
If you’ve always loved working with children, starting your own daycare centre could be the perfect business opportunity. Daycare centres can be public or privatized, but whichever path you choose, both require specific licensing and permits. Starting a child care business will only be successful if you have enough clients. Statistics Canada can provide demographics for the area you’re considering operating in, which should give you a better idea of the market, and whether or not you’re likely to have enough business.
Daycare centres are among some of the most heavily regulated businesses in the country, and new business owners need to ensure that they meet all federal and provincial operating guidelines, including adhering to strict employment regulations and obtaining all facility licenses. You must register as either a home-based business or a facility-based business. While home-based facilities do not require a license, there are restrictions on the number of children permitted under your care, so always double-check provincial and federal guidelines before opening your doors.
9. Tour guide
Alberta is home to some of the world’s most famous attractions, including Banff National Park (home to Lake Louise), the Calgary Stampede, and the town of Drumheller, where you can still find dinosaur fossils. Starting a tour guide operation requires a passion for the city you operate in, as well as a great deal of knowledge on the attractions people would be most interested in.
Some towns and cities in Alberta are strictly known as tourist destinations because they’re home to major attractions—do your research to find out how many other tour operators currently exist in the area, but consider opening your tour business in a city that has something visitors would find interesting. Once you narrow down the location, you’ll need to come up with a great name for your business. Be clever, and come up with something that’s easy to remember!
Starting a tour business doesn’t have to revolve around travel—it could be anything, including leading ghost walks through some of Alberta’s most haunted places or even museum tours. Customer service skills go a long way in this industry, so this is a great business to start if you’re a people person. Much of your repeat business will stem from referrals. After you’ve led a tour, always remember to follow up with your clients and ask for a review on your website.
10. Construction services
There’s an old joke that says Alberta has two seasons: winter and construction. Construction services will always be a necessity in any province, and Alberta is no exception. The construction industry has specific licensing requirements that depend on the type of trade or construction work being done.
Before you hire a crew and purchase all of your tools, ensure that you possess all of the permits. There are also many health and safety obligations to follow to ensure that you and your crew are protected.
This article offers general information only, is current as of the date of publication, and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.