business trends

10 high-growth business ideas

Most small businesses start with a great idea. However, at GoForth, we know that sometimes a great small business idea can be coaxed out with a bit of help.

We’ve scanned trends in society, our economy, technology, and government regulations and came up with a list of businesses expected to grow in the next 10 years – from nanotechnology to machine learning to augmented reality and more. Click here to read the list – your next great small business idea could be there!

And if you’re ready to take the plunge into one of these high-growth industries, get prepared with our 100 Essential Small Business SkillsTM training!

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creativity in small business

Tips to build your business creativity

To us, creativity is combining ideas or concepts to discover unique or new connections. It means merging previously discrete ideas, concepts or forms of thought, and coming up with something new. Creativity is an important thing for entrepreneurs to develop – it can help you to see everyday things in new and useful ways. It’s the basis of innovation! Creativity can help you come up with new products and services, new industries, new ways of doing business, and new business opportunities.

Here are some ways you can encourage creativity and inspire great things for your small business.

Think in opposites

Sometimes, thinking about opposites can help you come up with a great business idea. When you’re able to hold two conflicting thoughts or outcomes in your head at once, you can often come up with creative ways to bridge the gap between the two – even if there doesn’t seem to be a connection. For example, clothing company Everlane could be said to think in opposites: What if clothing could be both ethically-made and affordable? To connect the two opposites, they adopted a strict e-commerce business model, reducing retail markups and cutting out the overhead necessary to run a brick-and-mortar store.

Have “think time” every day

For at least a few minute per day, unplug. Put your phone in the other room. Read, garden, go for a walk, go for a run, or sit and let your mind wander. Get into a routine of letting your brain loose every day — just not while you’re driving, please!

Be a kid again

When was the last time you played with Lego? Did a jigsaw puzzle? Looked for shapes in clouds? Built a sandcastle? Kids are masters at creativity because of how they play, losing themselves in imagination and coming up with amazing stories and ideas. They also can’t be dissuaded by “That’s not how it’s done” or “That won’t work” – they try anyway.

Write down all your business-related ideas

Don’t worry about how good, bad or strange your ideas might be. The key here is to set your mind free to develop a stockpile of ideas that might one day develop into something new or useful. Perfectionists, practice makes perfect here!


Spending time each day in quiet contemplation may seem challenging or even counterproductive at first, but the more you practice, the easier it’ll be to draw upon your creativity when you need it. Try to “free associate” as much as possible.

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types of canadian entrepeneurs

All about the six types of entrepreneurs

There are many kinds of entrepreneurs in Canada, but these are six of the more common types. Which one (or combination of several) are you?

Home-based Entrepreneur

Home-based entrepreneurs are usually self-employed, working by themselves or with only a few employees. As the name suggests, their businesses are based out of their own home or in a home office. These entrepreneurs love flexibility and autonomy, and having the freedom to do things like arrange a child’s dentist appointment or take the family dog for a walk at lunchtime. These companies typically don’t have a storefront, street advertising signs or customer parking.

Examples of home-based businesses: Bookkeepers, event planners, and freelance writers

Online Store and Marketplace Entrepreneur

Online or e-commerce entrepreneurs run their business online. They use IT and communication technologies to support their business activities. Their businesses can provide a service or sell a product through a website.

Examples of internet-based businesses: Etsy, eBay, and travel bloggers

Lifestyle Freedom Entrepreneur

Lifestyle entrepreneurs create a business to further personal goals instead of make a lot of money. These entrepreneurs may pursue a cash-generating hobby during their spare time or create a business around one of their interests. Their businesses simply help their founders support a lifestyle they enjoy. These businesses can be run full- or part-time. Lifestyle freedom entrepreneurs are usually not concerned about high growth, and usually have only a few employees.

Examples of lifestyle businesses: Starting a home-based business to be closer to family, or building a coaching business off an existing photography skill

Mountain Climber Entrepreneur

Mountain climber entrepreneurs usually run large companies employing somewhere between 20 and 500 people. These companies are often very fast-paced and experience high growth rates. These ventures often develop and produce the latest technologies and innovations. Most start-up activity involving high potential entrepreneurs is technology and internet related. Access to funding is often easier for high potential companies.

Examples of mountain climber businesses: Quickly growing technology companies and large internet technology businesses

Venture Capitalist

Venture capitalists invest in ventures, through managerial and technical expertise as well as with actual money. Venture capitalists are very selective about which companies to invest in, and as much as 98% of firms seeking funds are rejected. Aside from individual angels and venture capitalists, venture capital firms also exist.

Social Entrepreneur

A social entrepreneur measures success by the impact that he or she has on society. Highly passionate, the greater good of the community is their primary interest and they create a business to provide solutions to social issues. These entrepreneurs are also called non-profit or philanthropist entrepreneurs. Funding for social entrepreneurship typically comes from non-profit organizations, foundations, governments and non-governmental organizations.

Examples of social entrepreneur businesses: KickStart International, or a business that tutors at-risk children.

Want to learn more about how these entrepreneurs can succeed in small business in Canada? Check out our online HD video Canadian entrepreneurship training!

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small business skills

How to research your business’ industry

Researching your small business’ industry involves gathering large amounts of data, as well as talking to members of the industry – the ones who know most about it. Some important questions to ask about your industry are:

  • Is the industry growing?
  • Where are the opportunities in the industry?
  • What are the typical financial results for businesses in this industry?
  • How is new technology being used in the industry?
  • Who are the key players in the industry?
  • Are there young, successful businesses in the industry?

Do primary and secondary market research to learn more about your industry before you start or expand your business.

What is primary market research?

Primary market research is collected by you, from your target audience. Here are the four types of primary market research:

  1. Observation – This means – without interacting – watching customers buying products or services similar to yours, listening to what they say as they shop, noticing what they buy and how much they paid. This type of market research works best if your business caters to customers, not to other businesses.
  2. Focus Groups – Focus group market research means assembling a small group of eight to 12 potential customers to gather information and opinions about your product or service. These groups are led by an objective discussion moderator. Focus groups are a great way to get feedback on a product or service idea directly from several potential customers.
  3. Interview – Interviews are 1:1, with a participant speaking to one researcher. Interviews are well-suited for product or service ideas that could be too personal or private for group discussion.
  4. Survey/Questionnaire – This method of market research involves getting feedback from potential customers through a structured, multi-question survey. Market research surveys or questionnaires can be done over the phone, through mail/email or in person. You may need to conduct several surveys to several groups in order to get feedback from all possible types of customers. If you don’t have the resources to conduct a large amount of them, small sample groups are okay, but be wary of making major business decisions based on this small amount of feedback.

What is secondary market research?

Secondary market research is information that’s collected by another person or organization that entrepreneurs can use, often for a fee. If you’re interested in opening a book shop, you may access statistical information collected by the Canadian government on things like income levels in your desired area, spending patterns and neighbourhood development. This data was collected by someone other than you or your business, and you don’t own it.

Unlike primary market research, data from other sources isn’t gathered with your specific business in mind. This means you may need to access several sources of secondary data, or you may not be able to find information that covers exactly what you need to know. Look out for when the research was undertaken – in our opinion, a study older than three years is too old, given how fast the business world moves. Relying on old, inaccurate or irrelevant information can cost your small business a lot of time, money and stress. Analyze everything carefully and trust your instincts.

It’s also important to consider the source of your primary market research. Look for legitimate sources that wouldn’t have been influenced by a different agenda. Good sources of secondary market research are government organizations, research institutions, universities and academic journals.

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why is it important to know your NAICS code

Why is it important to know your NAICS code?

It’s important to know and analyze your business’ industry. For example, if you’re starting a hairstyling business, you’re a member of the services industry. If you’re starting a tiling business, you’re a member of the construction industry. Having a good understanding of how an industry works, who the big players are, and who the major suppliers are can help you find strategic partners, venture capital and customers.

Six industry health questions to ask

To help you find out the health of your industry, do some research to get answers to the following six industry health questions:

  • Is my industry growing?
  • Where are the opportunities in my industry?
  • How is new technology being used in my industry?
  • Are there young, successful businesses in my industry?
  • Who are the key players in my industry?
  • What are the typical financial results for businesses in my industry?

As a starting point, we recommend searching for secondary data sources using your NAICS code. Also known as the North American Industry Classification System, NAICS is used to classify companies, to collect, analyze and publish statistics, and to provide collective industry definitions across Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Finding your NAICS code

To find which NAICS code matches your company’s industry, visit Statistics Canada’s website to figure out which sector, subsector, industry group and industry your business falls under. Here, you can either browse through industries or search for example activities that these businesses perform.

Here are the two-digit NAICS codes for sectors of the Canadian economy.

  • 11 Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
  • 21 Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction
  • 22 Utilities
  • 23 Construction
  • 31-33 Manufacturing
  • 41 Wholesale trade
  • 44-45 Retail trade
  • 48-49 Transportation and warehousing
  • 51 Information and cultural industries
  • 52 Finance and insurance
  • 53 Real estate and rental and leasing
  • 54 Professional, scientific and technical services
  • 55 Management of companies and enterprises
  • 56 Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services
  • 61 Educational services
  • 62 Health care and social assistance
  • 71 Arts, entertainment and recreation
  • 72 Accommodation and food services
  • 81 Other services (except public administration)
  • 91 Public administration

Researching your industry using your NAICS code will help you find data about your industry’s past and current growth; expected growth; key players in the industry; trends impacting the health of the industry and other unique aspects. So get to know your code!

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