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Running a business

Which Canadian Province Has the Most Businesses?

As of the end of 2017, there were 1.2 million businesses in Canada, that had at least one employee. But there are over double that number (2.8 million) businesses that are just a one-person show. If you’re thinking about opening a business, looking for expansion possibilities, or just feeling curious about the country’s business landscape, you may want to keep tabs on numbers like these.

Provinces with the Most Businesses

Not surprisingly, the province with the most businesses in Canada is also the most populated, and that trend continues for the next three provinces. In the lead, with an approximate population of 15 million, Ontario has 494,107 businesses. Quebec is next in line. Its population of 8.7 million people hosts just over a 274,296 businesses. Finally, British Columbia (population 5.3 million) has 212,186 businesses while Alberta (population 4.6 million) has 172,594 businesses. Note that these numbers all refer to businesses with employees, and they don’t take into account the country’s many independent contractors.

The Top Industries in Canada

Canadian businesses do everything from selling toques and poutine to providing plumbing and marketing services and all points in between. But certain industries are more popular throughout the country. The country’s three most popular industries are manufacturing, services, and natural resources. Of course, these categories all contain a number of different subsections. For instance, manufacturing includes everything from the aerospace and the automotive sectors to medical devices. This is important to keep in mind if you’re doing market research. Rather than just looking at your overall industry, you may need to dig deeper into the subsections of that industry.

Many industries don’t have an even presence in Canada. Instead, they’re often clustered in specific areas. Southwestern Ontario, for example, has more manufacturing companies than anywhere else in the country. The chemical industry, in contrast, tends to be concentrated in Alberta and Quebec. If you’re starting a business, you may want to head to a place where that sector is already popular. That can be great for networking and access to suppliers. However, in some cases, you may want to take a different approach and go somewhere completely different. That way, you don’t have to worry about over saturation and how it may affect your customer base.

Learning More

Statistics Canada collects a host of information on businesses in the country, and in fact, the agency breaks down a lot of information by industry. These stats can be really helpful if you’re thinking about starting a business in a certain sector or in a certain area of the country. To give you an example of how you can use this type of information, let’s look at flower and chocolate shops.

As of 2021, there are 2,781 florists and 982 chocolate or candy stores based in the country. That works out to be 8.94 florists and 2.79 candy stores for every 100,000 residents. Armed with numbers like that, you can start to assess the density of businesses in your own area. For instance, if you live in a town with 100,000 people, and there’s only one candy shop, you know that your area is below the national average. That’s potentially a sign that there may be room for another candy shop in your area.

Market research is essential, and ideally, you should do as much research as possible before launching your business. Luckily, the Canadian government has your back. You may want to consider starting your research on some of the government’s sites.

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