How to start a consulting business in Ontario
Table of contents
A consultant is a professional who provides specialized advice and knowledge to clients for a fee. Many consulting businesses focus on a specific industry or area of expertise such as education, accounting, law, management, human resources or marketing.
In many types of consulting there may be no specific qualification requirements. Make sure you are knowledgeable about the industry you will be working in. Some industries may require a degree or professional designation, such as accounting or legal consulting. For others, a long and successful career running a business may be your main credential.
As a consultant, your clients will rely on your experience and recommendations. You may also be asked to provide services related to your area of expertise such as developing and delivering training sessions or managing projects. Be clear about what services you will offer.
Note: If you are consulting exclusively for one organization or are unsure about your employment status, contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for a ruling on whether you are legally considered an employee or a self-employed individual. The ruling may have tax implications for you and your business.
RC4110 Employee or Self-employed?
The difference between an employee and independent contractor (Ontario)
When you start a business there are several things to consider before you can sell your product or service. Most businesses in Ontario need to complete a minimum of three basic steps:
- Find out what licences and regulations apply to your type of business
- Choose a business structure and register or incorporate your business
- Determine if you will need to collect and remit HST
Our Starting a Business guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.
Starting a Business
Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.
In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use the Canada Business Permits and Licences Search, powered by BizPaL, to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact us to speak to someone about starting your business.
Permits and licences search
You can contact Pro Bono Ontario’s free legal advice hotline to enquire about getting help with your everyday civil legal needs (no family law or criminal law). The service is generally aimed at those who cannot afford a lawyer.
Note that service is not guaranteed and you will be asked questions as part of the qualifying process, such as the amount of personal income earned by your household, your name, postal code and age range.
Contact Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline:
You can also contact the Law Society of Ontario's Law Society Referral Service if you have legal questions of a business nature. The service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.
Law Society Referral Service
Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.
If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12-month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.
Canada Revenue Agency
Government departments and agencies provide financing such as grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees. Find out what type of government financing may be available for your business. Use the program search tool or browse by type of financing.
Government grants and financing
From day-to-day operations to long-term planning, learn how to manage your business efficiently.
If you are interested in finding an association, use our secondary market research service request and have us search for one based on your needs.
You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Canada Business Ontario (CBO) community partner, contact us at 1-888-576-4444.