Ontario provides more opportunity for retail businesses than any other province in Canada. With the highest provincial population and retail sales, starting a retail business in Ontario can be extremely rewarding. However, like all other businesses, there are a number of factors you must consider before starting a retail business in Canada’s most populated province.

Things You Will Need
  • Business number

  • Retail location

  • Applicable licenses and permits

Choose the type of retail business you will start. There are many different types of retail businesses in Ontario. From clothing and convenience stores to video rental businesses and hobby shops, retail is a vast industry. Choose an area that you know well and feel comfortable competing in.

Research the retail industry in Ontario and create a business plan. The retail industry in Ontario has many government-imposed rules and procedures that regulate how retail businesses must operate, industry guidelines they must abide by, and legal restrictions that must be adhered to. Rules, regulations and procedures for Ontario retailers can be found on the Ontario business website. Once you have researched and understood the regulations in Ontario, create a business plan for your retail business.

Incorporate your retail business. Once a business plan has been created, you must incorporate your business. Incorporating your business registers it as a legal entity with the government and allows you to legally operate in the province of Ontario and, should you choose, all other Canadian provinces. The incorporating process requires that you complete an application and pay an incorporating fee. Applications and more information about incorporating in Ontario can be downloaded and completed on the Ontario Businesses website.

Apply for a business number. After your application has been approved and your business has been incorporated, you must apply for a business number. Your business number acts as a corporate tax identification. The Canadian Revenue Agency require that you have a business number to assist in the monitoring of GST and HST sales taxes, import and export taxes, payroll deductions and your corporate income tax.

Obtain applicable licenses and permits. The Ontario Ministry of Revenue issues a vendor license allowing you to charge tax on the goods and services you provide. The vendor license can be applied for online by visiting the Ontario.ca or Ontario Ministry of Revenue websites and is required. Depending on the products you sell, you may need to apply for other permits or licenses. For example, if you sell video games, music or videos, you must have a license to do so. Selling tobacco requires a permit, as does the sale of lottery tickets.

Create your retail identity and open your location. Your retail identity includes your signage, price points, products, retail environment and corporate culture. In addition, the location of your retail business will be a determining factor of your success. Choose a location that is near your target market with high traffic and the potential to reach a broad audience.