Although tourism and natural resources-based industries like agriculture and fishing traditionally have been the primary sources of business in Prince Edward Island, this rural province is poised for growth in new, modernized industries, too.
When you are preparing to start a business in Prince Edward Island, you have several options to consider. PEI has a business-friendly environment, but it’s up to you to find the right option to fit your skills and the needs of local customers.
We have several ideas designed to help you find just the right business to start in Prince Edward Island.
Why Start a Business in Prince Edward Island? Key Stats
Prince Edward Island’s GDP reached the highest amount in the history of the province in 2021, surpassing $6.27 billion. In 2011, PEI’s GDP was $5.04 billion, showing the steady growth in the past decade.
Although almost 10% of PEI businesses closed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province had recovered all that growth by mid-2021. Nearly 4,000 business operate in the province, according to CBC.
A strong and growing aspect of Prince Edward Island’s economy is international exports. In the first 10 months of 2021 versus 2022, the value of international exports from PEI grew from $1.38 billion to $1.65 billion, an increase of almost 20%.
PEI has a large rural population, as about 57,000 of the province’s approximately 154,000 residents live in a rural area. This is a good indication that rural-based businesses have a chance at a larger-than-average number of potential customers.
Biggest Industries in Prince Edward Island
Part of the process of starting a business involves doing a lot of research. Figuring out which industries in PEI are the strongest and are growing the fastest can be an important piece of knowledge. You may want to focus on building a business in those industries to improve your chance at success.
Traditional parts of Prince Edward Island’s economy that contribute strongly to the province’s GDP include agriculture, fishery, and tourism. PEI earns its moniker of “Canada’s Food Island” with multiple manufacturing businesses that make use of the province’s natural resources. Culinary businesses and restaurants are also popular in Prince Edward Island.
According to Statista, the largest PEI industries, based on the percentage of the province’s GDP that they generate, include:
Not only does PEI’s GDP rely significantly on traditional industries, but it also has several emerging industries that may give entrepreneurs a chance at success. PEI also has businesses that are contributing to modernization efforts and diversification in the traditional industries.
What Kind of Business Should I Start in Prince Edward Island?
Deciding to start a business in Prince Edward Island is an important first step, but it’s only the first step. That next step – deciding which kind of business to start – is a doozy.
Finding the type of business that fits your skills and that can help you reach your goals is a challenge. However, it’s a challenge you can overcome through research and through giving the process some thoughtful consideration.
One of the best ways to zero in on a business idea that fits you well is through thinking about it through the lens of Niche, Offer, and Channel, or NOC for short. These areas are important building blocks in developing a business idea.
The niche represents the overall industry where you want the business to operate in PEI. It also can represent a specific segment of that industry. Rather than challenging a giant, general retailer, for example, you might open a retail business with a niche that caters to tourists primarily.
The offer is the goods or services (or both) that you will want to provide for your customers. You could create the goods yourself, or you could source them from someone else. Similarly, you could perform the services yourself, or you could hire a third party to provide the services.
The channel is the type of store you will operate in PEI. You may want to have a physical store where customers will visit. You may want an online-only business, where customers can place orders. You could operate a mobile or home-based business, visiting customers at their locations as needed.
As you are thinking about NOC, pay attention to the problems that the niche area of the industry has. Then think about how you can solve those problems better than anyone else, including potential competitors in the space. Determine what your customers need, and then figure out how to fulfill those needs.
Best Businesses to Start in Prince Edward Island
The provincial government at Prince Edward Island has identified nine industry sectors that it believes are especially strong or are growing. You may want to focus on these industries or on niches within these industries as you try to come up with a business idea. The industry sectors include:
By focusing your business ideas on areas of industry in Prince Edward Island that already are showing strength or signs of growth, you have a better chance at finding ready-made customers. Tapping into a niche area of an established industry helps you get your foot in the door, and you may be able to expand into general areas of the industry later.
Manufacturing Business Ideas for Prince Edward Island
Home-Based Business Ideas Prince Edward Island
How to Start a Business in Prince Edward Island - 10 Steps
Starting your business in PEI has quite a few challenging aspects, but you can simplify the process by following these steps.
Coming up with a successful business in PEI idea doesn’t mean you have to invent a new product or a new way of doing things. Sometimes, a great business idea can simply improve on a product or service that already exists. Think about skills that you have and areas that interest you when developing a business idea.
Developing a business idea that will be fun or that fits your skills well is important. But it also needs to be an idea that can become profitable. If you can’t make money with your business, you aren’t going to keep the doors open very long.
The PEI provincial government provides a checklist to help you with your business plan. The plan should show your projections for income, expenses, and profits at various intervals over the next several years. It should show the market research you’ve done and how your business idea fits in the market.
Use your business plan to showcase your vision for the business. This is your opportunity to sell your idea to potential investors.
Every business needs startup financing to get the business off the ground and to help you as an entrepreneur survive the first several months, when income may be sparse.
Financing is something that’s important to your business before you officially open the business and after it opens. Grants and financial incentives in PEI for small businesses can be a good first step.
Some people prefer to start a business in PEI from scratch, allowing them to make all the decisions. Others prefer to purchase an existing business, which can be helpful in making the process of being up and running go faster. Prince Edward Island has resources for those looking to buy or sell a business.
If you plan to operate a brick-and-mortar business, you need to find a location. Having access to customers, suppliers, and the market in general is an important aspect of selecting a location. (If you purchase an existing business, you probably already have a location.)
For online-only businesses, you may be able to run everything from your home, as long as you have the space available and a reliable internet connection.
When you register your business with the PEI provincial government, you must select the business’ legal structure. You have four options in PEI, including:
Prince Edward Island has resources for helping you find the best business structure, but you probably will want to seek advice from an attorney, too.
Pick a name for your business that accurately describes what you do and that is different from other business names in the province. The PEI provincial government has naming rules and guidelines to help.
Once you have a unique name approved and a legal structure in mind, you are ready to register the business with PEI.
Some businesses in Prince Edward Island need provincial, local, or federal permits and licences to operate. Check out BizPaL for additional information.
Once you have your licences and permits, you are ready to open up to customers. PEI has multiple resources to help with moving your business from the planning stage to the operational stage through the PEI Business Navigator.