Every month we seem to find more and more great events available to support entrepreneurs and small business owners in BC! See below for our round up of favourites for May, most of which are free to attend. 

We also recommend visiting smallbusinessbc.ca and reviewing their full event calendar and seminar line up.

Please note details are accurate at time of publication, all summaries have been reproduced from host descriptions.


Build Grow Thrive
Host: Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 1 May 2019
Time: 8.30am – 3pm
Location: Surrey City Hall
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Discover resources and programs available to help build and maintain a strong and resilient small business.


Starting a Business Information Session
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 2 & 16 May 2019
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Free phone-in for those thinking of starting a business.The session is broken into 2 parts. In Part 1, we explain how to write an effective business plan. We cover each section of the business plan and provide strategies and resources to ensure your plan is well organized and consistent. In Part 2 we uncover how to make your business official.


Build Your Business Success – 5 Part Webinar Series
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: Various, throughout May
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Location: Phone in session
Cost: $100 for all five webinars, or $25 per webinar
Register
Summary: 
May 1 – Stepping Up: Uncover Your True Leadership Potential.
May 8 – The Power of one: How small Changes Can Increase Sales
May 15 – Financial Understanding
May 22 – Setting New Goal Posts: Growing Your Business from a Tactical Perspective
May 29 – 6 Keys to Common Sense Marketing


Startup Basics: Accounting & Legal 
Host: Kamloops Innovation
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 2 2019
Time: Accounting 5.00-6.00pm; Legal 6.30-7.30pm
Location: Kamloops
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: In this workshop, mentors will give you the tools and knowledge you need to prepare yourself as an entrepreneur for the accounting and legal side of the business.


Startup Basics: Resources 
Host: Kamloops Innovation
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 3 May 2019
Time: 5-6pm
Location: Kamloops
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: This session will provide you with an overview of the tools, resources, mentorship, workshops, events, and support available to you through Kamloops Innovation, the TRU Generator, and other organizations in our network.


Writing a Business Plan for Permanent Residents
Host: Vancouver Public Library
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 4 2019
Time: 10.30am  - 12.30pm
Location: Central Library, Vancouver
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Are you a Permanent Resident interested in starting a small business? Want some tips on how to produce a clear and effective business plan? This hands-on workshop helps you map out your business idea in a well-structured plan that will put you one step closer to small business success!


2019 ThriveNorth Business Challenge Finals and Awards Ceremony
Host: Futurpreneur Canada
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 7 2019
Time: 5.00-8.30pm
Location: Terrace
Cost: $5
Register
Summary: Hosted by the incredible Carolina de Ryk of CBC Daybreak North, you'll hear from current and aspiring business owners in your community as 12 finalists pitch their business ideas and compete for up to $10,000. Be a part of the action by casting your vote in person for the People's Choice Award - an additional $5,000 prize up for grabs!


Early Stage Financing and Resources for Entrepreneurs
Host: Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 9 2019
Time: 1.00-2.30pm
Location: Vancouver or online
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: In this seminar, representatives from Vancity Microfinance and Futurpreneur Canada will walk you through the steps of accessing early stage financing.


Tech Vancouver May Edition
Host: Tech Vancouver
Target audience: Vancouver tech community 
Date: May 14 2019
Time: 6.00-9.00pm
Location: Yaletown, Vancouver
Cost: $25
Register  
Summary: TechVancouver helps the city’s technologists expand their knowledge and network in the community.  Every month a set of highly curated leaders & innovators come together to share their expertise & experiences through panels and presentations.


How to Apply for a Business Loan with Women’s Enterprise Centre 
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 14 May 2019
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Learn how to apply for a loan from Women’s Enterprise Centre. In this FREE session, the facilitator will review our lending criteria, answer your questions, advise you on how to apply and provide you with a resource package. At the end of the session, your Advisor will work with you to determine if you are eligible for a loan with us and ensure that you receive an application.


Kamloops Small Business Information Expo
Host: Office of Small and Medium Enterprises – Pacific Region
Target audience: All welcome
Date: 15 May 2019
Time: 10.00am – 2.30pm
Location: Kamloops
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: The 2019 Kamloops SBIE will feature face-to-face opportunities to interact with experts from government and not-for-profit support programs who provide valuable resources to small businesses.


Kelowna Small Business Information Expo
Host: Office of Small and Medium Enterprises – Pacific Region
Target audience: All welcome
Date: 16 May 2019
Time: 10.00am – 2.30pm
Location: Kelowna
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: The 2019 Kamloops SBIE will feature face-to-face opportunities to interact with experts from government and not-for-profit support programs who provide valuable resources to small businesses.


Start Smart Series
Host: Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 22 2019
Time: 9am – 4pm
Location: Vancouver or online
Cost: $49+GST
Register 
Summary: The Start Smart Series provides a step-by-step guide to starting your business right. This series includes two seminars where five industry experts provide their knowledge and tips to help you start your business smart.    


Market Research for Your Business
Host: Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 22 2019
Time: 9.00am – 4.00pm
Location: Vancouver or online
Cost: $119+GST
Register
Summary: This package is designed for new and existing business owners who want to develop their business strategy by gathering information about current and potential customers, industry trends and competition. 


Small Business Tour
Host: Vancouver Public Library
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 25 2019
Time: 10.30am  - 12.00pm
Location: Central Library, Vancouver
Cost: Free
Details  
Summary: Thinking of starting a small business? Already running a business, but need more information? Drop in to this free workshop and learn where to find help with small business planning, market research, financial assistance and more.


Langley Popup
Host:  Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 27 2019
Time: 10.00am – 2.00pm
Location: Langley
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Our free Popups give you the opportunity to learn the key steps in the business startup and growth process and introduce the support services available to you. Come on by and chat with us about the key steps in the business start-up and growth process, while learning about the support services available to you at every step of the way. If that’s not enough, there’s also the opportunity to book a FREE 15-20-minute consultation with one of our business advisors (subject to availability).


Nanaimo Business Resource Forum
Host: City of Nanaimo
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date:  30 May 2019
Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Location: Nanaimo
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Whether you’re a new start-up or looking to grow, this event is for you! This unique gathering offers small to medium sized business owners the opportunity to learn valuable tips, access many resources and network with professionals with similar goals of growing successful businesses.

 

Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

Events

Every month we seem to find more and more great events available to support entrepreneurs and small business owners in BC! See below for our round up of favourites for May, most of which are free to attend. 

We also recommend visiting smallbusinessbc.ca and reviewing their full event calendar and seminar line up.

Please note details are accurate at time of publication, all summaries have been reproduced from host descriptions.


Build Grow Thrive
Host: Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 1 May 2019
Time: 8.30am – 3pm
Location: Surrey City Hall
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Discover resources and programs available to help build and maintain a strong and resilient small business.


Starting a Business Information Session
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 2 & 16 May 2019
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Free phone-in for those thinking of starting a business.The session is broken into 2 parts. In Part 1, we explain how to write an effective business plan. We cover each section of the business plan and provide strategies and resources to ensure your plan is well organized and consistent. In Part 2 we uncover how to make your business official.


Build Your Business Success – 5 Part Webinar Series
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: Various, throughout May
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Location: Phone in session
Cost: $100 for all five webinars, or $25 per webinar
Register
Summary: 
May 1 – Stepping Up: Uncover Your True Leadership Potential.
May 8 – The Power of one: How small Changes Can Increase Sales
May 15 – Financial Understanding
May 22 – Setting New Goal Posts: Growing Your Business from a Tactical Perspective
May 29 – 6 Keys to Common Sense Marketing


Startup Basics: Accounting & Legal 
Host: Kamloops Innovation
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 2 2019
Time: Accounting 5.00-6.00pm; Legal 6.30-7.30pm
Location: Kamloops
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: In this workshop, mentors will give you the tools and knowledge you need to prepare yourself as an entrepreneur for the accounting and legal side of the business.


Startup Basics: Resources 
Host: Kamloops Innovation
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 3 May 2019
Time: 5-6pm
Location: Kamloops
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: This session will provide you with an overview of the tools, resources, mentorship, workshops, events, and support available to you through Kamloops Innovation, the TRU Generator, and other organizations in our network.


Writing a Business Plan for Permanent Residents
Host: Vancouver Public Library
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 4 2019
Time: 10.30am  - 12.30pm
Location: Central Library, Vancouver
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Are you a Permanent Resident interested in starting a small business? Want some tips on how to produce a clear and effective business plan? This hands-on workshop helps you map out your business idea in a well-structured plan that will put you one step closer to small business success!


2019 ThriveNorth Business Challenge Finals and Awards Ceremony
Host: Futurpreneur Canada
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 7 2019
Time: 5.00-8.30pm
Location: Terrace
Cost: $5
Register
Summary: Hosted by the incredible Carolina de Ryk of CBC Daybreak North, you'll hear from current and aspiring business owners in your community as 12 finalists pitch their business ideas and compete for up to $10,000. Be a part of the action by casting your vote in person for the People's Choice Award - an additional $5,000 prize up for grabs!


Early Stage Financing and Resources for Entrepreneurs
Host: Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 9 2019
Time: 1.00-2.30pm
Location: Vancouver or online
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: In this seminar, representatives from Vancity Microfinance and Futurpreneur Canada will walk you through the steps of accessing early stage financing.


Tech Vancouver May Edition
Host: Tech Vancouver
Target audience: Vancouver tech community 
Date: May 14 2019
Time: 6.00-9.00pm
Location: Yaletown, Vancouver
Cost: $25
Register  
Summary: TechVancouver helps the city’s technologists expand their knowledge and network in the community.  Every month a set of highly curated leaders & innovators come together to share their expertise & experiences through panels and presentations.


How to Apply for a Business Loan with Women’s Enterprise Centre 
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 14 May 2019
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Learn how to apply for a loan from Women’s Enterprise Centre. In this FREE session, the facilitator will review our lending criteria, answer your questions, advise you on how to apply and provide you with a resource package. At the end of the session, your Advisor will work with you to determine if you are eligible for a loan with us and ensure that you receive an application.


Kamloops Small Business Information Expo
Host: Office of Small and Medium Enterprises – Pacific Region
Target audience: All welcome
Date: 15 May 2019
Time: 10.00am – 2.30pm
Location: Kamloops
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: The 2019 Kamloops SBIE will feature face-to-face opportunities to interact with experts from government and not-for-profit support programs who provide valuable resources to small businesses.


Kelowna Small Business Information Expo
Host: Office of Small and Medium Enterprises – Pacific Region
Target audience: All welcome
Date: 16 May 2019
Time: 10.00am – 2.30pm
Location: Kelowna
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: The 2019 Kamloops SBIE will feature face-to-face opportunities to interact with experts from government and not-for-profit support programs who provide valuable resources to small businesses.


Start Smart Series
Host: Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 22 2019
Time: 9am – 4pm
Location: Vancouver or online
Cost: $49+GST
Register 
Summary: The Start Smart Series provides a step-by-step guide to starting your business right. This series includes two seminars where five industry experts provide their knowledge and tips to help you start your business smart.    


Market Research for Your Business
Host: Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 22 2019
Time: 9.00am – 4.00pm
Location: Vancouver or online
Cost: $119+GST
Register
Summary: This package is designed for new and existing business owners who want to develop their business strategy by gathering information about current and potential customers, industry trends and competition. 


Small Business Tour
Host: Vancouver Public Library
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 25 2019
Time: 10.30am  - 12.00pm
Location: Central Library, Vancouver
Cost: Free
Details  
Summary: Thinking of starting a small business? Already running a business, but need more information? Drop in to this free workshop and learn where to find help with small business planning, market research, financial assistance and more.


Langley Popup
Host:  Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: May 27 2019
Time: 10.00am – 2.00pm
Location: Langley
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Our free Popups give you the opportunity to learn the key steps in the business startup and growth process and introduce the support services available to you. Come on by and chat with us about the key steps in the business start-up and growth process, while learning about the support services available to you at every step of the way. If that’s not enough, there’s also the opportunity to book a FREE 15-20-minute consultation with one of our business advisors (subject to availability).


Nanaimo Business Resource Forum
Host: City of Nanaimo
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date:  30 May 2019
Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Location: Nanaimo
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: Whether you’re a new start-up or looking to grow, this event is for you! This unique gathering offers small to medium sized business owners the opportunity to learn valuable tips, access many resources and network with professionals with similar goals of growing successful businesses.

 

Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

Events

Starting a new business requires a lot of research from the outset. What is happening in the industry? Who will my competitors be and what are they doing? What is the demand like for my product or service? Knowing how and where to search for this information is vital to the success of a new venture.

To help entrepreneurs and small business owners tackle the business research cycle, the Small Business Accelerator program created a series of five video modules which explain the process. Each tutorial contains a short video, a worksheet and a quiz and takes approximately 20 minutes to work through.  

In April 2019, these videos evolved into the “Introduction to Business Research” email series, an initiative which invites entrepreneurs to receive the modules by email to complete over five days. By the end of the series, participants should be familiar with market research basics and understand how they apply them to their situation. The emails also direct to further resources and support available from the Small Business Accelerator program.

Taking part in this educational series is completely free and you can sign up to get started right away. Submitting your details does not add you to any mailing lists – so no need to worry about spam. If you would prefer to browse the tutorials at your own pace, the materials are also freely available on the website.

Doing Research

Starting a new business requires a lot of research from the outset. What is happening in the industry? Who will my competitors be and what are they doing? What is the demand like for my product or service? Knowing how and where to search for this information is vital to the success of a new venture.

To help entrepreneurs and small business owners tackle the business research cycle, the Small Business Accelerator program created a series of five video modules which explain the process. Each tutorial contains a short video, a worksheet and a quiz and takes approximately 20 minutes to work through.  

In April 2019, these videos evolved into the “Introduction to Business Research” email series, an initiative which invites entrepreneurs to receive the modules by email to complete over five days. By the end of the series, participants should be familiar with market research basics and understand how they apply them to their situation. The emails also direct to further resources and support available from the Small Business Accelerator program.

Taking part in this educational series is completely free and you can sign up to get started right away. Submitting your details does not add you to any mailing lists – so no need to worry about spam. If you would prefer to browse the tutorials at your own pace, the materials are also freely available on the website.

Doing Research

Starting a new business requires a lot of research from the outset. What is happening in the industry? Who will my competitors be and what are they doing? What is the demand like for my product or service? Knowing how and where to search for this information is vital to the success of a new venture.

To help entrepreneurs and small business owners tackle the business research cycle, the Small Business Accelerator program created a series of five video modules which explain the process. Each tutorial contains a short video, a worksheet and a quiz and takes approximately 20 minutes to work through.  

In April 2019, these videos evolved into the “Introduction to Business Research” email series, an initiative which invites entrepreneurs to receive the modules by email to complete over five days. By the end of the series, participants should be familiar with market research basics and understand how they apply them to their situation. The emails also direct to further resources and support available from the Small Business Accelerator program.

Taking part in this educational series is completely free and you can sign up to get started right away. Submitting your details does not add you to any mailing lists – so no need to worry about spam. If you would prefer to browse the tutorials at your own pace, the materials are also freely available on the website.

Doing Research

Starting a new business requires a lot of research from the outset. What is happening in the industry? Who will my competitors be and what are they doing? What is the demand like for my product or service? Knowing how and where to search for this information is vital to the success of a new venture.

To help entrepreneurs and small business owners tackle the business research cycle, the Small Business Accelerator program created a series of five video modules which explain the process. Each tutorial contains a short video, a worksheet and a quiz and takes approximately 20 minutes to work through.  

In April 2019, these videos evolved into the “Introduction to Business Research” email series, an initiative which invites entrepreneurs to receive the modules by email to complete over five days. By the end of the series, participants should be familiar with market research basics and understand how they apply them to their situation. The emails also direct to further resources and support available from the Small Business Accelerator program.

Taking part in this educational series is completely free and you can sign up to get started right away. Submitting your details does not add you to any mailing lists – so no need to worry about spam. If you would prefer to browse the tutorials at your own pace, the materials are also freely available on the website.

Doing Research

Online retail refers to the purchase of goods over the internet. Some retailers may operate both brick and mortar stores as well as offering an online retail service. Online retail can also include the sale of goods via online auction houses, or third party merchants who sell their products via sites such as Amazon and eBay. Online retail can also be referred to as ecommerce, internet shopping, online retail and electronic shopping.  

For more specific information on researching the online retail industry please see our Online Retail Accelerator Guide.

For more specific information about related industries please see our industry guides for clothing retailer, grocery store, and wholesale retail.

A note on statistics: it is important to note that online retail statistics vary widely depending on whether they include purchases from only online domestic providers, or all online purchases. This overview will focus mainly on domestic providers to domestic purchasers. Total online retail figures would be considerably higher if overseas providers were included. 


Content


Industry Status

Industry phase: Growth            

Barriers to entry: Low

Concentration: Medium        

Regulation: Medium

Competition: High

(Ozelkan, 2018)


Industry performance summary

Canada has been much slower to adopt online retail than many other nations, most noticeably the US (KPMG, 2018). This has been attributed to a number of causes, firstly that majority of the population live in urban areas where access to stores is relatively easy, compared to a more suburban US population (Ozelkan, 2018). Secondly, that Canadian retailers have been relatively slower to adopt and invest in online sales channels. This means there is still substantial room for growth within the industry.

Although online retailers do not require a physical shopfront, British Columbia and particularly Vancouver – is still a prime location for online retail business. Major provinces for online shopping include Ontario, which accounts for 46.8% of establishments, British Columbia, which accounts for 19.8% and Quebec, 16.4%.  (Ozelkan, 2018)

The graph below shows both all retail ecommerce sales (including companies who also have brick and mortar stores) and sales from exclusively electronic and mail order houses from January 2016 - December 2018. 

Source: Statistics Canada. June 2018. Table  20-10-0072-01. Retail E-commerce sales, unadjusted (x 1,000). CANSIM (database). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=2010007201 (accessed March 14, 2019)


Positive industry indicators

Market Growth
Retail ecommerce sales in Canada have risen sharply in recent years and this growth is set to continue 

  • Annual Growth 2013 – 2018       20.5%
  • Annual Growth 2018 – 2023         8.5%

(Ozelakan 2018)

High demand for domestic products

62% of Canadians prefer to buy on Canadian websites over American websites. This is primarily due to: benefiting the Canadian economy (44%); offering cheaper and more predictable delivery (19%); the low Canadian dollar compared with the US dollar (17%); and not having to worry about paying customs charges (16%) (CIRA, 2018). According to eMarketer the share of domestically sourced goods being bought by online shoppers is increasing because of better local options, currency exchange and international shipping costs.

Technological advances

There are a number of technological advances that have benefited the online retail industry. As more people have reliable connections (CTRC, 2017) and devices become cheaper, the potential purchasing population has grown. As of 2017, 92.7% of Canadian’s use the internet, compared to 73.2% a decade earlier (International Telecommunication Union). This is set to continue in BC with significant government investment  in expanding and improving internet connectivity in rural communities. As people have become more familiar with the technology involved, security concerns have decreased and comfort levels have risen (CIRA, 2018). Convenience has also grown with the rise of one-click purchasing either built into websites or available via third parties such as Paypal. Having said that, online retailers must continue to invest in order to stay on top of technological changes. 


Demographics 

eMarketer estimates 60.9% of the population in Canada made at least one purchase via a digital channel in 2017. For younger millennials, aged 18 to 24, the penetration rate was 75.0% - well above the total average - as it was for residents ages 35 to 44 (74.3%). But providers shouldn’t discount other generations, with 35% of Canadian shoppers aged 50-69. When considering demographics it’s important to consider both the number of shoppers and their spending power. 


Organizational challenges

Consumer expectations

Consumer expectations are high and continue to grow and experiences are not living up to expectation. A recent Retail Council of Canada report states that 55% of people experience a problem purchasing online, compared to 31% purchasing in store. Key considerations when meeting consumer expectations include:

  • Rapid shipping speeds 
  • Excellent customer service 
  • Generous returns policy

According to research from Radial,  49.3% Canadians avoid buying from online retailers who do not offer free returns, while another survey from Canada Post reported that 34% of Canadian millennials would not shop with a retailer again if they had a bad delivery experience.  

Barriers to success

Barriers to entry into the industry are relatively low, with the rise of services such as Shopify, eBay and Amazon making it increasingly easy for anyone to start selling online. However, barriers to success (i.e. the ability to stay profitable and in operation for more than a few initial years) are relatively high. Larger players will benefit from economies of scale and pre-existing relationships with suppliers (Marketline, 2016).  

Increasing competition

Attracted by growing demand, over the five years to 2023, the number of operators in this industry is predicted to grow at an annualized rate of 10.9% to 5,901 companies. (Ozelakan 2018). 

Traditional brick and mortar retailers are also expected to catch up with demand for online retail. Online operators should ensure that their product range is as extensive, if not more extensive, as those found in traditional stores. This will entice consumers to turn to online retailers for hard to find items (Ozelkan 2018)


Cost breakdown 

Source: Statistics Canada. (2016). Report for: NAICS 4511 - Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses - Financial Performance Data (Revenue Range $30K - $5M). Retrieved from: https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/sme-pme/bnchmrkngtl/rprt-flw.pub?execution=e1s1


Employment 

As illustrated below, the majority of companies in the industry have no employees. Going forward, the number of workers is set to reduce but wages will increase as companies seek skilled employees to grow their businesses, leading to an increase in average salaries.  (Ozelkan 2018).

Source: Statistics Canada. June 2018. Table 33-10-0092-01 Canadian Business Counts, with employees, June 2018 , Semi-annual (table). CANSIM (database). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3310009201 (accessed January 21, 2019)


Trends & changes

Showrooming vs Webrooming

Showrooming is the practice of browsing goods in bricks and mortar stores and then purchasing them online, typically at a reduced price. Canada is unusual in that the reverse – webrooming – appears to be more popular. This is the practice of browsing online and then travel to a store to purchase the goods in person. 

CIRA report that 45% of shoppers 'always or often' browse online and purchase in store, while only 17% 'always or often' browse in store and then shop online. In response, some original online retailers have been going full circle and setting up physical store fronts or pop-ups. 

Desktop to mobile

Although desktop purchases still dominate, the percentage of Canadians who use a mobile phone to make an online purchase has risen from 12% in 2014 to 40% in 2018  (CIRA, 2018). Global mobile commerce sales topped $1.3 trillion in 2017, representing 59% of digital sales, up from 40% in 2015 (eMarketer, 2018). Retailers are seeking to reach the rapidly growing number of consumers who shop via smartphones and tablets, with a better mobile experience and app development.

Personalized, multichannel marketing

Personalized marketing, driven by effective use of customer data, is particularly useful to online retailers. Based on demographics and behaviour, online ads can be delivered to attract new customers and also to increase purchase rates, for example targeting users who abandon their carts prior to purchase. Multichannel marketing also allows companies to interact with customers across a variety of platforms. 

Loyalty Programs

Loyalty counts when it is so easy to switch online shopping allegiance, and there are suggestions that loyalty programs need to go beyond merely collecting points and develop into a multichannel experience.  


Resources

If you would like to access more resources, the Online Retail Accelerator Guide is designed to help prospective and existing online retail business owners gather information for their secondary market research. The guide is broken down into four main sections that cover how to start your research, industry information, competitive information and customer information. Depending on your needs you can spend as much or as little time as necessary in each section.

If you find that you need more guidance before starting your secondary research, check out our Business Research Basics, it will help you focus on what types of information you will need to gather and why it is important.

Associations

Retail Council of Canada Trade
National Retail Federation (US)
Canadian Internet Registration Authority

Reports

Canadian Internet Registration Authority. (2018). Canada’s Internet Factbook 2018
PWC. (2016). Total Retail Report 2016: Canadian Insights – Personalizing the retail experience.
Retail Council of Canada. (2018). The Blended Commerce Imperative: Insights on today’s consumer with advice and tips for retailers 
Canada Post. (2016). Growing E-Commerce in Canada 2016 

Industry News 

Chain Store Age
Digital Commerce 360
Retail Insider

Webinar

Business Development Bank of Canada How to succeed with e-commerce webinar


Bibliography   

Briggs, P., Creaker, S. & Kim, a. (2018) Ecommerce in Canada 2018: eMarketer’s Latest Forecast, with a Focus on Grocery. eMarketer

Hemmadi, M. (Nov 27, 2014). Why Canada has a serious e-commerce problem, in one infographic. Canadian Business.  Retrieved from https://www.canadianbusiness.com/innovation/canada-serious-e-commerce-problem-infographic

KPMG. (2018). Canadian Retailers Stepping up to Disruption, but feeling the pressure of the new "normal". Retrieved from: https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/ca/pdf/2018/12/tom-2018-canadian-viewpoint.pdf 

Marketline Industry Profile. (2016). Online Retail Industry Profile: Canada. Marketline: London

Mohammad, Q. (July 10, 2018). Canada’s e-commerce ecosystem continues its rise. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-canadas-e-commerce-ecosystem-continues-its-rise

Ozelkan, E. (2018). Industry Report 45411aCA, E-Commerce & Online Auctions in Canada. IBISWorld Inc.

eMarketer. (2018). Retail ecommerce performance metrics, Canada Q3 2018.

International Telecommunications Union. (2018). Percentage of Individuals Using the Internet. Retrieved from https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx

Passport GMID. (2018). Internet Retailing in Canada Country Report.

Radial Inc. (2018). Cracking the Code: What Online Shoppers Value Most. Retrieved from: https://www.radial.com/insights/study-reveals-what-consumers-value-most?download_authorized=1 

Statistics Canada. (June 2018). Table 33-10-0092-01 Canadian Business Counts, with employees, June 2018 , Semi-annual (table). CANSIM (database). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3310009201 (accessed January 21, 2019)

Statistics Canada. (2016). Report for: NAICS 454110 - Electronic shopping and mail-order houses - Financial Performance Data (Revenue Range $30K - $5M). Small business profiles, 2016. Last Updated 13 April 2018. https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/sme-pme/bnchmrkngtl/rprt-flw.pub?execution=e1s1&lang=eng (accessed February 28, 2019)

Statistics Canada. (2018). Table  20-10-0072-01. Retail E-commerce sales, unadjusted (x 1,000). CANSIM (database). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=2010007201 (accessed 14 March, 2019)

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. (2017).  Communications Monitoring Report 2017: Canada’s Communication System: An Overview for Canadians. Retrieved from: https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/publications/reports/policymonitoring/2017/cmr2.htm

 


 

Industry Trends

Online retail refers to the purchase of goods over the internet. Some retailers may operate both brick and mortar stores as well as offering an online retail service. Online retail can also include the sale of goods via online auction houses, or third party merchants who sell their products via sites such as Amazon and eBay. Online retail can also be referred to as ecommerce, internet shopping, online retail and electronic shopping.  

For more specific information on researching the online retail industry please see our Online Retail Accelerator Guide.

For more specific information about related industries please see our industry guides for clothing retailer, grocery store, and wholesale retail.

A note on statistics: it is important to note that online retail statistics vary widely depending on whether they include purchases from only online domestic providers, or all online purchases. This overview will focus mainly on domestic providers to domestic purchasers. Total online retail figures would be considerably higher if overseas providers were included. 


Content


Industry Status

Industry phase: Growth            

Barriers to entry: Low

Concentration: Medium        

Regulation: Medium

Competition: High

(Ozelkan, 2018)


Industry performance summary

Canada has been much slower to adopt online retail than many other nations, most noticeably the US (KPMG, 2018). This has been attributed to a number of causes, firstly that majority of the population live in urban areas where access to stores is relatively easy, compared to a more suburban US population (Ozelkan, 2018). Secondly, that Canadian retailers have been relatively slower to adopt and invest in online sales channels. This means there is still substantial room for growth within the industry.

Although online retailers do not require a physical shopfront, British Columbia and particularly Vancouver – is still a prime location for online retail business. Major provinces for online shopping include Ontario, which accounts for 46.8% of establishments, British Columbia, which accounts for 19.8% and Quebec, 16.4%.  (Ozelkan, 2018)

The graph below shows both all retail ecommerce sales (including companies who also have brick and mortar stores) and sales from exclusively electronic and mail order houses from January 2016 - December 2018. 

Source: Statistics Canada. June 2018. Table  20-10-0072-01. Retail E-commerce sales, unadjusted (x 1,000). CANSIM (database). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=2010007201 (accessed March 14, 2019)


Positive industry indicators

Market Growth
Retail ecommerce sales in Canada have risen sharply in recent years and this growth is set to continue 

  • Annual Growth 2013 – 2018       20.5%
  • Annual Growth 2018 – 2023         8.5%

(Ozelakan 2018)

High demand for domestic products

62% of Canadians prefer to buy on Canadian websites over American websites. This is primarily due to: benefiting the Canadian economy (44%); offering cheaper and more predictable delivery (19%); the low Canadian dollar compared with the US dollar (17%); and not having to worry about paying customs charges (16%) (CIRA, 2018). According to eMarketer the share of domestically sourced goods being bought by online shoppers is increasing because of better local options, currency exchange and international shipping costs.

Technological advances

There are a number of technological advances that have benefited the online retail industry. As more people have reliable connections (CTRC, 2017) and devices become cheaper, the potential purchasing population has grown. As of 2017, 92.7% of Canadian’s use the internet, compared to 73.2% a decade earlier (International Telecommunication Union). This is set to continue in BC with significant government investment  in expanding and improving internet connectivity in rural communities. As people have become more familiar with the technology involved, security concerns have decreased and comfort levels have risen (CIRA, 2018). Convenience has also grown with the rise of one-click purchasing either built into websites or available via third parties such as Paypal. Having said that, online retailers must continue to invest in order to stay on top of technological changes. 


Demographics 

eMarketer estimates 60.9% of the population in Canada made at least one purchase via a digital channel in 2017. For younger millennials, aged 18 to 24, the penetration rate was 75.0% - well above the total average - as it was for residents ages 35 to 44 (74.3%). But providers shouldn’t discount other generations, with 35% of Canadian shoppers aged 50-69. When considering demographics it’s important to consider both the number of shoppers and their spending power. 


Organizational challenges

Consumer expectations

Consumer expectations are high and continue to grow and experiences are not living up to expectation. A recent Retail Council of Canada report states that 55% of people experience a problem purchasing online, compared to 31% purchasing in store. Key considerations when meeting consumer expectations include:

  • Rapid shipping speeds 
  • Excellent customer service 
  • Generous returns policy

According to research from Radial,  49.3% Canadians avoid buying from online retailers who do not offer free returns, while another survey from Canada Post reported that 34% of Canadian millennials would not shop with a retailer again if they had a bad delivery experience.  

Barriers to success

Barriers to entry into the industry are relatively low, with the rise of services such as Shopify, eBay and Amazon making it increasingly easy for anyone to start selling online. However, barriers to success (i.e. the ability to stay profitable and in operation for more than a few initial years) are relatively high. Larger players will benefit from economies of scale and pre-existing relationships with suppliers (Marketline, 2016).  

Increasing competition

Attracted by growing demand, over the five years to 2023, the number of operators in this industry is predicted to grow at an annualized rate of 10.9% to 5,901 companies. (Ozelakan 2018). 

Traditional brick and mortar retailers are also expected to catch up with demand for online retail. Online operators should ensure that their product range is as extensive, if not more extensive, as those found in traditional stores. This will entice consumers to turn to online retailers for hard to find items (Ozelkan 2018)


Cost breakdown 

Source: Statistics Canada. (2016). Report for: NAICS 4511 - Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses - Financial Performance Data (Revenue Range $30K - $5M). Retrieved from: https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/sme-pme/bnchmrkngtl/rprt-flw.pub?execution=e1s1


Employment 

As illustrated below, the majority of companies in the industry have no employees. Going forward, the number of workers is set to reduce but wages will increase as companies seek skilled employees to grow their businesses, leading to an increase in average salaries.  (Ozelkan 2018).

Source: Statistics Canada. June 2018. Table 33-10-0092-01 Canadian Business Counts, with employees, June 2018 , Semi-annual (table). CANSIM (database). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3310009201 (accessed January 21, 2019)


Trends & changes

Showrooming vs Webrooming

Showrooming is the practice of browsing goods in bricks and mortar stores and then purchasing them online, typically at a reduced price. Canada is unusual in that the reverse – webrooming – appears to be more popular. This is the practice of browsing online and then travel to a store to purchase the goods in person. 

CIRA report that 45% of shoppers 'always or often' browse online and purchase in store, while only 17% 'always or often' browse in store and then shop online. In response, some original online retailers have been going full circle and setting up physical store fronts or pop-ups. 

Desktop to mobile

Although desktop purchases still dominate, the percentage of Canadians who use a mobile phone to make an online purchase has risen from 12% in 2014 to 40% in 2018  (CIRA, 2018). Global mobile commerce sales topped $1.3 trillion in 2017, representing 59% of digital sales, up from 40% in 2015 (eMarketer, 2018). Retailers are seeking to reach the rapidly growing number of consumers who shop via smartphones and tablets, with a better mobile experience and app development.

Personalized, multichannel marketing

Personalized marketing, driven by effective use of customer data, is particularly useful to online retailers. Based on demographics and behaviour, online ads can be delivered to attract new customers and also to increase purchase rates, for example targeting users who abandon their carts prior to purchase. Multichannel marketing also allows companies to interact with customers across a variety of platforms. 

Loyalty Programs

Loyalty counts when it is so easy to switch online shopping allegiance, and there are suggestions that loyalty programs need to go beyond merely collecting points and develop into a multichannel experience.  


Resources

If you would like to access more resources, the Online Retail Accelerator Guide is designed to help prospective and existing online retail business owners gather information for their secondary market research. The guide is broken down into four main sections that cover how to start your research, industry information, competitive information and customer information. Depending on your needs you can spend as much or as little time as necessary in each section.

If you find that you need more guidance before starting your secondary research, check out our Business Research Basics, it will help you focus on what types of information you will need to gather and why it is important.

Associations

Retail Council of Canada Trade
National Retail Federation (US)
Canadian Internet Registration Authority

Reports

Canadian Internet Registration Authority. (2018). Canada’s Internet Factbook 2018
PWC. (2016). Total Retail Report 2016: Canadian Insights – Personalizing the retail experience.
Retail Council of Canada. (2018). The Blended Commerce Imperative: Insights on today’s consumer with advice and tips for retailers 
Canada Post. (2016). Growing E-Commerce in Canada 2016 

Industry News 

Chain Store Age
Digital Commerce 360
Retail Insider

Webinar

Business Development Bank of Canada How to succeed with e-commerce webinar


Bibliography   

Briggs, P., Creaker, S. & Kim, a. (2018) Ecommerce in Canada 2018: eMarketer’s Latest Forecast, with a Focus on Grocery. eMarketer

Hemmadi, M. (Nov 27, 2014). Why Canada has a serious e-commerce problem, in one infographic. Canadian Business.  Retrieved from https://www.canadianbusiness.com/innovation/canada-serious-e-commerce-problem-infographic

KPMG. (2018). Canadian Retailers Stepping up to Disruption, but feeling the pressure of the new "normal". Retrieved from: https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/ca/pdf/2018/12/tom-2018-canadian-viewpoint.pdf 

Marketline Industry Profile. (2016). Online Retail Industry Profile: Canada. Marketline: London

Mohammad, Q. (July 10, 2018). Canada’s e-commerce ecosystem continues its rise. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-canadas-e-commerce-ecosystem-continues-its-rise

Ozelkan, E. (2018). Industry Report 45411aCA, E-Commerce & Online Auctions in Canada. IBISWorld Inc.

eMarketer. (2018). Retail ecommerce performance metrics, Canada Q3 2018.

International Telecommunications Union. (2018). Percentage of Individuals Using the Internet. Retrieved from https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx

Passport GMID. (2018). Internet Retailing in Canada Country Report.

Radial Inc. (2018). Cracking the Code: What Online Shoppers Value Most. Retrieved from: https://www.radial.com/insights/study-reveals-what-consumers-value-most?download_authorized=1 

Statistics Canada. (June 2018). Table 33-10-0092-01 Canadian Business Counts, with employees, June 2018 , Semi-annual (table). CANSIM (database). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3310009201 (accessed January 21, 2019)

Statistics Canada. (2016). Report for: NAICS 454110 - Electronic shopping and mail-order houses - Financial Performance Data (Revenue Range $30K - $5M). Small business profiles, 2016. Last Updated 13 April 2018. https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/sme-pme/bnchmrkngtl/rprt-flw.pub?execution=e1s1&lang=eng (accessed February 28, 2019)

Statistics Canada. (2018). Table  20-10-0072-01. Retail E-commerce sales, unadjusted (x 1,000). CANSIM (database). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=2010007201 (accessed 14 March, 2019)

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. (2017).  Communications Monitoring Report 2017: Canada’s Communication System: An Overview for Canadians. Retrieved from: https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/publications/reports/policymonitoring/2017/cmr2.htm

 


 

Industry Trends

Whether you're just getting started or are ready to grow your team, you should find something that meets your needs among this selection of free and low costs events for entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

We also recommend visiting smallbusinessbc.caand reviewing their full event calendar and seminar line up.

Please note details are accurate at time of publication, all summaries have been reproduced from host descriptions.


How to Apply for a Business Loan with Women’s Enterprise Centre 
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 5 & 19 March 2019
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Learn how to apply for a loan from Women’s Enterprise Centre. In this FREE session, the facilitator will review our lending criteria, answer your questions, advise you on how to apply and provide you with a resource package. At the end of the session, your Advisor will work with you to determine if you are eligible for a loan with us and ensure that you receive an application."


Me Inc. Workshops
Host: Basin Business Advisors Program
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Dates & Locations: ​Creston: March 5; Golden: March 6; Castlegar: March 19; New Denver: March 21; Nelson: March 26; Fernie: March 26​
Time: Various
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Have you ever wondered about becoming an entrepreneur? Taking your training or skills to a new level and running your own show? Launching a start-up? Maybe buying a business and running it? The Me Inc. workshop is designed to answer your questions. In just 2 hours we will review critical decision points for making the transition, support resources and other details."


2019 New West Innovation Forum
Host: Public Services and Procurement Canada and the City of New Westminster
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 6 March 2019
Time: 9.00am - 4.00pm
Location: Anvil Centre, New Westminster
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "As a part of Innovation Week 2019, organized by the city of New Westminster, Public Services and Procurement Canada is partnering with the city to present to you the 2019 New West Innovation Forum! The morning will showcase various government support programs that are available to Canadian companies in the R&D and innovation space, and a Keynote speaker will help transition to an afternoon of small group speed Q&A sessions with business experts."


Rock my Business Plan - workshop series
Host: Futurepreneur Canada
Target audience: Aspiring business owners aged 18-39 who have recently launched a business or could be ready within the next few months
Date: 6 & 13 March 
Location: Cranbrook
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Join the next wave of entrepreneurs from your local area at the free Rock My Business Plan workshop series! Learn the steps to get your business plan started, confidently talk about your business idea and connect you to a cohort of like-minded entrepreneurs."


Starting a Business Information Session
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 7 & 21 March 2019
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Free phone-in for those thinking of starting a business.The session is broken into 2 parts. In Part 1, we explain how to write an effective business plan. We cover each section of the business plan and provide strategies and resources to ensure your plan is well organized and consistent. In Part 2 we uncover how to make your business official."


Waterfront Chats: Meetup Presents Showcasing Women in Business
Host: Small Business BC & Meetup
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 7 March 2019
Time: 5.00 - 7.00pm
Location: Downtown Vancouver
Cost: $10 online, $12 at the door
Register
Summary: "Our Waterfront Chats meetup series is geared at start-up businesses and provides an opportunity to hear from and network with local entrepreneurs and organizations. In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we are celebrating successful women entrepreneurs. Hear about their journeys and how they’re pushing the boundaries for women in business."


BC Tech Summit
Host: Government of British Columbia & Innovate BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 11-13 March 2019
Time: Various
Location: Vancouver
Cost: Start up tickets available for $199 (register by 6 March). Full price tickets $999+GST
Register
Summary: "The world is changing at an unprecedented rate, with new realities introduced every day. How will we use emerging technologies - from AI to Robotics, Quantum to Clean-tech, Blockchain to AR/VR – to solve the biggest challenges facing BC and the world today?...Western Canada's largest annual innovation event, the 2019 #BCTECHSummit."


Tax Return Help and Tips for Small Business Owners and Self-Employed Individuals
Host: DIVERSEcity Immigrant Entrepreneur Program
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 14 March 2019
Time: 1.00 - 3.00pm
Location: Surrey City Central Library
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Liaison Officers from the Canada Revenue Agency will talk about: Small Business and Self-Employment tax deductions; common tax errors; general bookkeeping concepts and best practices; helpful tools and services offered by the CRA."


ThriveNorth Business Planning Workshops
Host: ThriveNorth by Futrepreneur Canada
Target audience: Entrepreneurs 18 - 39 who want to get their business idea off the ground
Date: 19 March 2019
Time: 10.00am - 2.30pm
Location: Smithers
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "ThriveNorth mentors will provide guidance on effectively building and communicating a business plan, improving a launch and leveraging networks of people to further a business. This free crash course is designed to help entrepreneurs create a killer business plan in record time."


Mentor Advisory Forum: From Solopreneur to Boss: Creating Your Processes
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 20 March 2019
Time: 10.00 – 11.00am
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "You’ve built your business out of passion and hard work, so you know it inside and out. But how can you boil it down to a set of processes that is easy for a new employee to understand? Join us on March 20 for the first in a two-part teleconference series to help you address the first stages of hiring for your business: creating processes and systems."


Start Up Learning Series: Building a Strong Employee Culture
Host: SFU Venture Labs in partnership with Freedom 55 Financial and Riipen
Target audience: Founders and senior leadership of growing startups with 5+ employees
Date: 20 March 2019
Time: 11.30am - 1.30pm
Location: Vancouver
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Learn how to take care of your team so they can focus on taking care of your business. How do you attract talent, how do you compensate and perhaps most importantly how do you retain talent once hired?"


Market Research for Your Business
Host: Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 21 & 28 March 2019 (sessions can also be bought separately)
Time: 10.30am - 4.30pm
Location: Online webinar or Small Business BC Office Vancouver
Cost: $119+ GST 
Register
Summary: "This package is designed for new and existing business owners who want to develop their business strategy by gathering information about current and potential customers, industry trends and competition."


Techstars Startup Weekend Kelowna
Host: Techstars
Target audience: Entrepreneurs with an idea they have not previously worked on
Date: 22 - 24 March 2019
Location: Kelowna
Cost: $99
Register
Summary: "Do you have an idea you'd like to pursue or a problem you'd like to solve but don't know where to start or who to start with? Techstars Startup Weekend is the place to look for a team, create a prototype of your idea, validate your business idea, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend."


Entrepreneurship Hub Presents: RBC Get Seeded
Host: AMS eHub
Target audience: UBC Students interested in entrepreneurship
Date: 23 March 2019
Time: 6.00 - 9.00pm
Location: UBC Vancouver Campus
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "RBC Get Seeded is an event put on by the AMS of UBC's service Entrepreneurship Hub. In conjunction with RBC on campus, we are awarding seed funding to students at the university who have ideas for start-ups or initiatives! 15 teams will compete for the top 8, where the top 8 teams win $500 to jumpstart their idea. The teams are chosen by audience voting through the UBC student venture, HyperVote."


Funding & Support for Startups (Tech Companies)
Host: Accelerate Okanagan
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 27 March 2019
Time: 8.30 - 9.30am
Location: Kelowna
Cost: Free 
Register
Summary: "There are many funding and support programs and initiatives in Canada that can help startup entrepreneurs and small and medium businesses. Join Alex Goodhew for this one-hour informative session, where she will discuss the programs most relevant to technology companies."


Mentor Advisory Forum: All Systems Grow: Building Your Team
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs who are starting to grow their team
Date: 27 March 2019
Time: 10.00 – 11.00am
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "So, you’ve added a new member to your team. Now what? Many business owners have some initial systems in place, but they need some guidance on where to further develop their systems in order to grow. Join us on March 27 to zero in on the areas where you can bulk up your processes and procedures and set yourself up for growth."


e@UBC Innovator Meetup
Host: Entrepreneurship@UBC
Target audience: UBC Students interested in entrepreneurship or involved in a startup
Date: 28 March 2019
Time: 5.00 - 7.00pm
Location: UBC Vancouver Campus
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Join us for a casual night of socializing and idea-sharing at our next Innovator Meetup! This meetup will give you a chance to socialize with other innovators, discuss your startup or idea, get support from peers at UBC and learn from experts in the field."

Events

Whether you're just getting started or are ready to grow your team, you should find something that meets your needs among this selection of free and low costs events for entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

We also recommend visiting smallbusinessbc.caand reviewing their full event calendar and seminar line up.

Please note details are accurate at time of publication, all summaries have been reproduced from host descriptions.


How to Apply for a Business Loan with Women’s Enterprise Centre 
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 5 & 19 March 2019
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Learn how to apply for a loan from Women’s Enterprise Centre. In this FREE session, the facilitator will review our lending criteria, answer your questions, advise you on how to apply and provide you with a resource package. At the end of the session, your Advisor will work with you to determine if you are eligible for a loan with us and ensure that you receive an application."


Me Inc. Workshops
Host: Basin Business Advisors Program
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Dates & Locations: ​Creston: March 5; Golden: March 6; Castlegar: March 19; New Denver: March 21; Nelson: March 26; Fernie: March 26​
Time: Various
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Have you ever wondered about becoming an entrepreneur? Taking your training or skills to a new level and running your own show? Launching a start-up? Maybe buying a business and running it? The Me Inc. workshop is designed to answer your questions. In just 2 hours we will review critical decision points for making the transition, support resources and other details."


2019 New West Innovation Forum
Host: Public Services and Procurement Canada and the City of New Westminster
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 6 March 2019
Time: 9.00am - 4.00pm
Location: Anvil Centre, New Westminster
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "As a part of Innovation Week 2019, organized by the city of New Westminster, Public Services and Procurement Canada is partnering with the city to present to you the 2019 New West Innovation Forum! The morning will showcase various government support programs that are available to Canadian companies in the R&D and innovation space, and a Keynote speaker will help transition to an afternoon of small group speed Q&A sessions with business experts."


Rock my Business Plan - workshop series
Host: Futurepreneur Canada
Target audience: Aspiring business owners aged 18-39 who have recently launched a business or could be ready within the next few months
Date: 6 & 13 March 
Location: Cranbrook
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Join the next wave of entrepreneurs from your local area at the free Rock My Business Plan workshop series! Learn the steps to get your business plan started, confidently talk about your business idea and connect you to a cohort of like-minded entrepreneurs."


Starting a Business Information Session
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 7 & 21 March 2019
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Free phone-in for those thinking of starting a business.The session is broken into 2 parts. In Part 1, we explain how to write an effective business plan. We cover each section of the business plan and provide strategies and resources to ensure your plan is well organized and consistent. In Part 2 we uncover how to make your business official."


Waterfront Chats: Meetup Presents Showcasing Women in Business
Host: Small Business BC & Meetup
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 7 March 2019
Time: 5.00 - 7.00pm
Location: Downtown Vancouver
Cost: $10 online, $12 at the door
Register
Summary: "Our Waterfront Chats meetup series is geared at start-up businesses and provides an opportunity to hear from and network with local entrepreneurs and organizations. In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we are celebrating successful women entrepreneurs. Hear about their journeys and how they’re pushing the boundaries for women in business."


BC Tech Summit
Host: Government of British Columbia & Innovate BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 11-13 March 2019
Time: Various
Location: Vancouver
Cost: Start up tickets available for $199 (register by 6 March). Full price tickets $999+GST
Register
Summary: "The world is changing at an unprecedented rate, with new realities introduced every day. How will we use emerging technologies - from AI to Robotics, Quantum to Clean-tech, Blockchain to AR/VR – to solve the biggest challenges facing BC and the world today?...Western Canada's largest annual innovation event, the 2019 #BCTECHSummit."


Tax Return Help and Tips for Small Business Owners and Self-Employed Individuals
Host: DIVERSEcity Immigrant Entrepreneur Program
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 14 March 2019
Time: 1.00 - 3.00pm
Location: Surrey City Central Library
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Liaison Officers from the Canada Revenue Agency will talk about: Small Business and Self-Employment tax deductions; common tax errors; general bookkeeping concepts and best practices; helpful tools and services offered by the CRA."


ThriveNorth Business Planning Workshops
Host: ThriveNorth by Futrepreneur Canada
Target audience: Entrepreneurs 18 - 39 who want to get their business idea off the ground
Date: 19 March 2019
Time: 10.00am - 2.30pm
Location: Smithers
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "ThriveNorth mentors will provide guidance on effectively building and communicating a business plan, improving a launch and leveraging networks of people to further a business. This free crash course is designed to help entrepreneurs create a killer business plan in record time."


Mentor Advisory Forum: From Solopreneur to Boss: Creating Your Processes
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs
Date: 20 March 2019
Time: 10.00 – 11.00am
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "You’ve built your business out of passion and hard work, so you know it inside and out. But how can you boil it down to a set of processes that is easy for a new employee to understand? Join us on March 20 for the first in a two-part teleconference series to help you address the first stages of hiring for your business: creating processes and systems."


Start Up Learning Series: Building a Strong Employee Culture
Host: SFU Venture Labs in partnership with Freedom 55 Financial and Riipen
Target audience: Founders and senior leadership of growing startups with 5+ employees
Date: 20 March 2019
Time: 11.30am - 1.30pm
Location: Vancouver
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Learn how to take care of your team so they can focus on taking care of your business. How do you attract talent, how do you compensate and perhaps most importantly how do you retain talent once hired?"


Market Research for Your Business
Host: Small Business BC
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 21 & 28 March 2019 (sessions can also be bought separately)
Time: 10.30am - 4.30pm
Location: Online webinar or Small Business BC Office Vancouver
Cost: $119+ GST 
Register
Summary: "This package is designed for new and existing business owners who want to develop their business strategy by gathering information about current and potential customers, industry trends and competition."


Techstars Startup Weekend Kelowna
Host: Techstars
Target audience: Entrepreneurs with an idea they have not previously worked on
Date: 22 - 24 March 2019
Location: Kelowna
Cost: $99
Register
Summary: "Do you have an idea you'd like to pursue or a problem you'd like to solve but don't know where to start or who to start with? Techstars Startup Weekend is the place to look for a team, create a prototype of your idea, validate your business idea, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend."


Entrepreneurship Hub Presents: RBC Get Seeded
Host: AMS eHub
Target audience: UBC Students interested in entrepreneurship
Date: 23 March 2019
Time: 6.00 - 9.00pm
Location: UBC Vancouver Campus
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "RBC Get Seeded is an event put on by the AMS of UBC's service Entrepreneurship Hub. In conjunction with RBC on campus, we are awarding seed funding to students at the university who have ideas for start-ups or initiatives! 15 teams will compete for the top 8, where the top 8 teams win $500 to jumpstart their idea. The teams are chosen by audience voting through the UBC student venture, HyperVote."


Funding & Support for Startups (Tech Companies)
Host: Accelerate Okanagan
Target audience: Anyone can attend
Date: 27 March 2019
Time: 8.30 - 9.30am
Location: Kelowna
Cost: Free 
Register
Summary: "There are many funding and support programs and initiatives in Canada that can help startup entrepreneurs and small and medium businesses. Join Alex Goodhew for this one-hour informative session, where she will discuss the programs most relevant to technology companies."


Mentor Advisory Forum: All Systems Grow: Building Your Team
Host: Women’s Enterprise Centre
Target audience: Female entrepreneurs who are starting to grow their team
Date: 27 March 2019
Time: 10.00 – 11.00am
Location: Phone in session
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "So, you’ve added a new member to your team. Now what? Many business owners have some initial systems in place, but they need some guidance on where to further develop their systems in order to grow. Join us on March 27 to zero in on the areas where you can bulk up your processes and procedures and set yourself up for growth."


e@UBC Innovator Meetup
Host: Entrepreneurship@UBC
Target audience: UBC Students interested in entrepreneurship or involved in a startup
Date: 28 March 2019
Time: 5.00 - 7.00pm
Location: UBC Vancouver Campus
Cost: Free
Register
Summary: "Join us for a casual night of socializing and idea-sharing at our next Innovator Meetup! This meetup will give you a chance to socialize with other innovators, discuss your startup or idea, get support from peers at UBC and learn from experts in the field."

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