Newfoundland & Labrador is well known for its mining and petroleum industries. For entrepreneurs here, though, those aren’t the only successful potential business opportunities.
Agriculture, tourism, fishery, and forestry are also key industries in Newfoundland & Labrador. Understanding both the traditionally successful and emerging industries can be a key component to developing a successful business venture in this eastern Canadian province.
When you want some help with finding just the right business idea in Newfoundland & Labrador, check out our advice and tips.
Why Start a Business in Newfoundland & Labrador? Key Stats
After a dip during COVID-19, Newfoundland & Labrador’s GDP reached a record $37.9 billion in 2021, continuing a steady climb that began in 2015 with only a brief interruption from the pandemic.
With such a heavy reliance on natural resources in Newfoundland & Labrador, exports are a significant part of the province’s economy. In the month of January 2021 alone, Newfoundland & Labrador had more than $1 billion in export value.
NL reported more than 15,200 businesses province-wide as of December 2021. Of those, more than 13,300 had fewer than 20 employees. More than 8,200 of those had fewer than five employees, showing the strength of the province as it relates to extremely small businesses.
When starting a business in Newfoundland & Labrador, many people focus on the city of St. John’s, as the city has almost 22% of the entire 525,000 population in the NL province.
Biggest Industries in Newfoundland & Labrador
Certainly, those looking to start a business are free to work inside any NL industry area they choose. However, when entrepreneurs focus on the largest industries in Newfoundland & Labrador, they may have a better chance of success.
Focusing your new business in an area where numerous existing businesses are already having success may give you access to more potential customers. Traditional Newfoundland & Labrador industries – such as mining, petroleum, fishery, agriculture, exporting, and manufacturing – all continue to show strength.
The NL provincial government is also targeting investment and expansion into other industries. Such efforts aim to diversify Newfoundland & Labrador’s economy and to modernize traditional industries, meaning entrepreneurs may want to consider these options as well.
According to Statista, the industries in Newfoundland & Labrador that generate the largest percentage of the province’s GDP include:
What Kind of Business Should I Start in Newfoundland & Labrador?
When preparing to start a business in Newfoundland & Labrador, it’s important to understand there’s no guarantee of success. Finding a successful business venture is hard work, but the financial and professional rewards are almost impossible to match.
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to take the time to study the needs of various industries and to use that information to find something that matches your skills. Figure out what problems exist in a particular industry. Then decide how you can solve those problems in a way that competitors cannot match.
To take this advice a step farther, think about using the acronym NOC to help you brainstorm to find a workable business idea. NOC is short for Niche, Offer, and Channel.
Niche refers to the industry in which you want to work. Many small businesses choose to work in a niche area of an industry, rather than competing against larger businesses working in the industry in a general manner. When you start in a niche area, you always can expand later as you learn more about the market.
Offer refers to whether you will offer goods, services, or both goods and services to your customers. You could choose to make and sell your own goods, or you could source goods from elsewhere to sell. You could hire someone to perform a service on behalf of your business, or you could perform the service yourself.
Channel refers to how you will present your business to customers. Will you have a physical location that customers can visit? Do you prefer an online-only store based out of your home where you never interact face to face with customers? Or will you travel to your customers to provide services?
Best Businesses to Start in Newfoundland & Labrador
Beyond the primary industries that we mentioned earlier, the Newfoundland & Labrador provincial government has listed six emerging industries that are poised for growth, modernization, and investment.
Focusing on a niche area of these NL emerging industries or of the traditional NL industries may give you a better chance at success. Those industries have established companies, which could lead to trustworthy customers for you.
Manufacturing Business Ideas for Newfoundland & Labrador
Home-Based Business Ideas Newfoundland & Labrador
How to Start a Business on Newfoundland & Labrador - 8 Steps
Preparing to start a business in Newfoundland & Labrador takes quite a bit of work on your part. If you aren’t sure where to start, try these steps to give you the best chance of getting your NL business off on the right foot.
Determining what kind of business you would like to run is simultaneously the most exciting and terrifying aspect of starting a Newfoundland & Labrador business. Taking the time to study the business market and to determine whether there’s a problem out there that you can solve is key to finding a workable business idea.
If you want to try to obtain business grants, a business bank account, or business loans in Newfoundland & Labrador, having a detailed business plan is vital. Your business plan is your opportunity to show others, including potential investors, that your idea is realistic and that a path to profitability exists for you.
You need to perform market research to come up with statistics and proof that your business idea will work in the local market. You can use the plan to create projections for financial gains down the road as well.
No business can get off the ground without funding. Beyond the startup money, entrepreneurs in NL will want some money available for the first several months while they work to generate income.
The Newfoundland & Labrador Business Development Support Program has a list of funding sources available to entrepreneurs. As mentioned earlier, business grants and loans are good funding sources, too. Business owners often will put up some of their own savings as well.
Some people prefer the idea of starting an NL business from scratch. This gives you full control over the direction of the business, making every choice from what industry to focus on to finding the ideal location for the business.
Other people prefer to purchase an existing business in Newfoundland & Labrador. Taking over an existing business means you have to live with the decisions of the previous owner for a while, but it also allows you to be up and running faster.
Location is a key aspect of starting your Newfoundland & Labrador business. You want to find a spot that’s convenient for your customers.
If you are providing support services to rural business customers, you may want to locate closer to them. If you need employees with certain skill sets, you may want to remain close to St. John’s, giving you a larger potential pool of employees.
Other people may prefer to run an online-only business that they can run from home.
As part of the business registration process in Newfoundland & Labrador, you need to select a business name that is unique in the province. The name should reflect what your business does, but it should also be different enough from other businesses to prevent confusion among customers.
You then will select a business structure to use, such as sole proprietorship, corporation, co-operative, or partnership. The business structure determines your taxation rate and what types of forms you need to complete to register with the NL Registry of Companies.
With this information in hand, you’re ready to register your business with the province.
You may need certain licences and permits to run your business in Newfoundland & Labrador, including provincial and federal licences and permits. BizPaL is the best way to search for the regulations that affect you, based on the industry in which your business is operating.
If your business is operating in St. John’s, you also may need local business licences, as well as permits for special events.
With all the provincial government regulations completed, you’re ready to open your doors and start serving customers. Be sure to display any licences or permits prominently, so your customers know that you are operating legally. (If you are running an online-only business, show off your licences on the website.)
Once you are feeling comfortable with the direction of your business, Newfoundland & Labrador has multiple programs to help you grow your business.