Young entrepreneurs in Canada

Young entrepreneurs face challenges such as stress, financial issues, lack of experience, and difficulties attracting customers. At the same time, there are plenty of good business ideas that can bring steady income and increase one’s customer reach.


Access to financing is one of the main challenges that young entrepreneurs face, especially if they are new to credit. Established businesses have a good credit history and networking experience that allows them to find financing through networking groups. Startup businesses rarely have access to resources and in many cases, young entrepreneurs have student loans and other types of debt. This means that they are often under stress while trying to make their business profitable. Startups may also find it difficult to attract customers due to more limited marketing budgets, and they have to focus on quality as a way of increasing their customer reach. Offering competitive prices is also a way to gain a competitive edge.

Sources of Financing

There are different sources of financing such as private and government-sponsored loans, grants, business lines of credit, angel investors, and peer-to-peer networks. Low-cost loans are offered under the Canada Small Business Loan Program to help businesses cover the costs of equipment, land, and buildings. Funding is also available through different funds, agencies, and foundations, including the Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, Northern Industries Innovation Fund, and Business Development Project Fund. The Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster offers a partial reimbursement of up to 44.4 percent to startups implementing projects of up to $20 million, provided that they are working together with multiple partners. Eligible projects include projects with a focus on 3D printing, machine learning, and advanced robotics. The Business Development Project Fund offers financing for expansion and startup projects implemented in the Northwest Territories. Businesses receive up to $10,000 for projects implemented in Inuvik, Fort Smith, Hay River, and Yellowknife and up to $20,000 for projects in the rest of the Northwest Territories. Financing is available to implement projects that create jobs and to purchase raw materials and cover expansion and startup costs.

Loans are also available through the Entrepreneur Start-Up Program, and successful applicants are offered up to $60,000. Applicants are asked to submit documents such as their cash flow, business plan, and other financial information. Qualifying businesses work with mentors who help them to build a business network, identify risks and opportunities, and develop strategies to achieve their goals. Qualifying applicants are all residents and Canadian citizens aged 18 – 39 years who have related experience and training.

Business Ideas

There are plenty of good ideas to start a successful business without spending a fortune, from opening an online store or bed and breakfast to becoming a career or life couch, financial counselor, or travel planner. One idea is to open an online store and feature trendy products and services . Examples include LED lighting, subscription boxes, baby clothes, detox juices and teas, and cruelty-free products. Focusing on one category makes it easier to optimize a drop shipping or e-commerce store for organic search. Check products in different categories such as food and beverage, software subscription, mobile phones, rings and jewelry, clothing products, etc. Another option is to become a financial counselor and offer advice and guidance to help customers to reach their short- and long-term financial goals. Counselors help clients to identify their objectives, outline and prioritize actions, review financial information, and measure results. They also help clients to assess their financial situation by reviewing documents such as credit reports and tax returns. In addition, counselors assist customers in developing budgets and financial plans by looking at credit scores, types of debt, assets, and income. A third option is to become a travel planner and help customers with their travel arrangements, including tours, landmarks and attractions, hotel accommodation, modes of transportation, and destinations. Travel planners also offer advice and information about currency exchange rates, hotels and restaurants, local customs, weather conditions, required documents, and other important details.

Related financing posts on Credit in Canada available: Canadian Housing Market


Entrepreneur awards

Canadian entrepreneurs are awarded different startup and business awards for achievements, leadership, and business growth.

Entrepreneur of the Year

Award recipients are successful managers or owners of public or private companies operating across sectors. The information required to nominate an entrepreneur includes company description, personal information, and financial data such as total equity and assets, EBITDA, income before taxes, and annual sales. Additional information includes total employees, fiscal year-end, and company mergers. Essays are also submitted with a focus on the company culture or an initiative, future plans and innovations, type of business activity, and the nominee himself. Nominees are judged based on criteria such as influence and integrity, social responsibility, financial performance, and achievement and leadership. The Entrepreneur of the Year award has been awarded since 1994, and former recipients include Ronald Joyce (1999), Geoff Smith (2013), and Louis Roy (2017).

Startup Canada Awards

The Startup Canada Awards are awarded to organizations, businesses, and individuals for achievement, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The ceremonies are held across Canada, in cities such as Fredericton, Montreal, Mississauga, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Whitehorse. Sponsors of the event include contributing, regional, national, and co-presenting sponsors such as Sovereign Insurance, Cold Climate Innovation, the Newfoundland Chocolate Company, and MasterCard. The program also partners with organizations that support entrepreneurship, and regional hosts include ONB, Start Up Whitehorse, and Start Up Winnipeg. First organized in 2017, the Startup Canada Awards offer alumni the chance to participate in the alumni program and to connect and communicate through virtual platforms and exclusive events.

A number of awards are awarded by entities such as the Business Development Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, Rogers, and others. These include the Startup Canada Community of the Year, Startup Canada Innovation Award, and Startup Canada Entrepreneur Promotion Award. The Atlantic Regional Awards gathered more than 200 participants from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. In 2018, the event was organized in cooperation with Startup Miramichi and Opportunities New Brunswick. The Quebec Regional Awards also gathered more than 200 attendees in 2018 and were organized with the help of Ubisoft Montreal and La Gare. Among the winners were the presidents, owners, and co-owners of companies such as What’s Up World, Transit, and the International Black Economic Forum. Hosted by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation and Startup Sault Ste. Marie, the Ontario Regional Awards gathered over 150 attendees who celebrated entrepreneurship across Ontario. Regional winners included the founders, co-founders, and CEOs of companies such as Wealth Simple, Ripple Farms, and Canada Learning Code. The Grand Finale event was held at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa and gathered entrepreneurs, government officials, key partners, and national winners. The event was attended by more than 250 participants.

Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

This is a national awards program run by the Royal Bank of Canada that recognizes women’s achievements across different fields. Eligible candidates own company shares, run profitable businesses, or are senior executives. Awards fall in different categories and include the Social Change Award, RBC Momentum Award, Start-up Award, and Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award. Applicants are asked to answer questions such as whether they hold a senior executive title, how many employees they have, and whether their business is profitable. Sponsors of the program include companies and institutions such as Telus, the Royal Bank of Canada, KPMG, and Magnet.

Related: Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards