If you’re up for adventure, starting a business in Canada’s Far North may be a fit for you. While the climate and geography pose some challenges, many people find them exciting. Because many entrepreneurs ignore this large region, you may find the locals welcoming and happy to embrace the products and services you provide. Yes, challenges include higher-than-average costs in some areas, shipping challenges, and a customer base spread across a wide geographic area. However, if the balance works out for you, you may want to weigh the challenges against the opportunities inherent in starting your small business in the Far North.
Population in the Far North
Many folks used to busy city life are surprised to realize how sparsely populated the northern areas of Canada are. While the terrain combined with fewer people and shipping challenges provide a unique challenge, people up here are more than ready to reach out online, which opens new possibilities for networking. If you add a virtual component to your business or base your business model on an online setup, you can live in the Far North without being cut off from the world.
Living and working in the Far North is often much higher than other areas of Canada. Even expensive cities in the south are usually cheaper than areas in the north. High rent and expensive energy costs present a challenge for both running a business and living. Because relocation to the area can be expensive, you may want to seek employees who are already living in the area. Factor the higher costs of living and working into your calculations when deciding if you should start a business there, and determine ahead of time what you need to charge for products and services to turn a profit.
Limited Resources and Customers
Because the population in areas of the Far North is smaller and more spread out geographically, you should plan your local business targeting local consumers accordingly. The limited resources here may make it possible for you to establish the only business of your kind in the area, letting you corner the market for your products and services. Ascertain in advance what the resources you need locally to make sure you can attain them efficiently. Doing your research first lets you develop a business with high demand even in the smaller market area, which increases your chances of success.
Because the population is sparse in the Far North, you don’t have as many other companies competing for sales. You can establish yourself as the expert and go-to company for your products or services. That doesn’t mean you can get away with offering inferior items, especially if what you offer isn’t a necessity. Take the lack of competition as your chance to show how amazing your offerings are. As you build a loyal local following, you may have the option to expand to other areas or take your business online.
Sense of Community
Because you’re part of a smaller community, you get to know your fellow residents much better than you would in a larger city in southern Canada. Not only do those relationships make living in the Far North more enjoyable, but they also help strengthen your business. As a valued part of the community, your fellow northern Canadians want to support your business.
Living in a close-knit community also gives you insight into what that community needs. You can tailor your business to fill a pain point or gap in the community. Getting fresh, locally grown produce is challenging in many areas because of challenging growing conditions. You might fill that gap by starting a small farm or greenhouse. A farm-to-table restaurant gives you an option for expanding your business.
Look to your community to decide on business ideas. Being aware of what the community needs is a great way to come up with a niche for your business. The longer you live in the community, the more needs you may uncover.
Potential for Free Resources
Heading north to do business can benefit you financially if you can take advantage of programs available. The Yukon government offers free farming land to people who qualify. The offer extends to Canadian citizens or permanent residents who live in Yukon for one year or longer. Recipients pay for surveying the land and other development costs. The agreement states you have to farm the land for seven years before selling it.
An Aboriginal living in the Far North may qualify for funding to start or grow a business. The Entrepreneurship and Business Development Fund provides the financing, but restrictions apply. Recipients need to also bring money to the table and have experience in that type of business. You also have to manage the business yourself.
If you qualify, these programs offer another incentive to move your business north. Whether you get a little help from a program or do it on your own, starting a business in the Far North comes with distinct advantages and disadvantages. Make sure you fully understand both before starting your new business in northern Canada.