Solutions for Home Businesses

Canada boasts thousands of home-based businesses, and these busy entrepreneurs have to contend with all the complexities of running a successful business, plus the idiosyncrasies of doing so from their home. It’s fair to say that operating a home business poses no small challenge, but luckily there are countless tools and third parties available to help make it a little easier.

Here we’re going to take a close look at some of these tools, to understand the various options and see how they can help you run your business more efficiently. Let’s start with a comprehensive list of home business solution providers, shown in the table below. These companies help in a range of ways, for varying cost. More information can be found on each company by clicking on their name.

Best Solutions For Home Businesses

Company
Product
Pricing
Reviews
Availability
Business Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, Renters Insurance
Pricing varies by product
All of Canada excluding Quebec
Business Insurance Online, Home & Auto Insurance
Pricing varies by coverage needs
Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario
Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance
Pricing varies by coverage needs
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Accounting Solutions for Businesses, Freelancers and Accountants
3 different plans ranging from: $10/month - $25/month (Save 50% Offer)
Worldwide
CRM, Marketing, Sales, Service, CMS Hubs
FREE CRM. Other Tools Starting at $40/month USD
Worldwide
CRM, Sales, Customer Service, Marketing,
FREE CRM Option. Paid packages ranging from: $12 USD/Month - $45 USD/Month
Worldwide
Personal and Business International Money Transfers. Over 8M Customers Served.
Variable % of transfer amount + flat fees. Enter transfer details for a quote
Worldwide
Global Money Transfers to Over 200 Countries. Send and Receive with Bank Accounts or Mobile Wallet.
Fee starting at $4.99 CAD
200+ Countries
Ecommerce software, POS, Website Builder
Membership: Free - $85/month. Per transaction: 2.6% - 2.9% + 30¢
Worldwide
Custom Boxes, Mailers, Tape, PPE, Masks, Moving Supplies, Bubble Wrap and more
Pricing varies by product. Over 12,000 items to match your packaging needs.
All of Canada
Ecommerce software, POS, Website Builder, Shipping, Payments
$29 - $299 USD per month
Worldwide
Digital Marketing, SEO, PPC, Content, Video, Social & More
Retainer Fees, Custom Quoted Solutions
Worldwide
Business Cards, Facemasks, Signs and Banners, Marketing Materials, Stationary & more
Prices vary by product. Thousands of products available online
Worldwide
Online personal tax software
4 price packages ranging from Free - $44.99/return
All of Canada
CRM, Track Communication, Automation, Lead & Deal Management
4 plans ranging from $12.50 USD/month - $99 USD/month
Worldwide
Accounting Solutions for Businesses, Freelancers, Self Employed and Accountants
3 different plans ranging from: $148.50/year - $495/year
All over Canada
Online Market Place for Freelance Services
Pricing varies by product and freelancer chosn
Worldwide

Canada boasts thousands of home-based businesses, and these busy entrepreneurs have to contend with all the complexities of running a successful business, plus the idiosyncrasies of doing so from their home. It’s fair to say that operating a home business poses no small challenge, but luckily there are countless tools and third parties available to help make it a little easier.

Here we’re going to take a close look at some of these tools, to understand the various options and see how they can help you run your business more efficiently. Let’s start with a comprehensive list of home business solution providers, shown in the table below. These companies help in a range of ways, for varying cost. More information can be found on each company by clicking on their name.

Home Business Regulations in Canada


For legal and tax reasons it’s important to distinguish exactly what we mean by a “home business” - as it’s not the same as working as a freelancer, or performing gig work. A home business is a registered business whose primary office is in the business owner’s principal residence. You don’t have to own the property you’re running your business out of, but you do have to live there.

Licenses

Most home businesses focus on service or ecommerce and so do not require much by way of legal set-up, but some do. If your business is in agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining, energy, broadcasting, telecommunications, textiles, financial services, cultural trade or health, you must make sure you have the appropriate licenses (federal, provincial or municipal) and are following federal regulations. In addition, each municipality has their own zoning restrictions which may impact whether you are permitted to run a home business, so always check your local laws.

Business Number

Businesses should be registered with CRA and have a unique business number; this helps in multiple accounting and tax issues. Not every business is required to do this, but certain industries and provinces do mandate it - take a look here for more info. This step also means you need to properly structure your business as a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation.

Regulations

One of the difficulties of running a home business is that, even if you are the sole employee, the business still has to meet all manner of regulations, including accessibility, health and safety, privacy, environmental, tax, human resources, labelling and advertising. To stay on the safe side of the law, always check these requirements before starting operations.

Types of Home Business Solutions


As if the set-up wasn’t challenging enough, once your home business is operational there are countless processes and tasks that need to be addressed professionally, but that you may not have the resources or expertise to manage yourself. This is where external providers come in, and luckily there are so many small and home businesses in Canada that there are plenty to choose from. Let’s take a look at the major areas home businesses can access help in:

Accounting

Getting paid on time and keeping accurate accounts is crucial, and accounting software can be enormously valuable in managing this. These tools allow you to perform all aspects of your bookkeeping, including sending out professional invoices and payment reminders, managing cash flow, accepting multiple forms of payment, reconciliation, inventory management, taxes and much more. Most of the popular tools rely on simple data entry from the user, and then automate the internal calculations, so you don’t need accounting expertise to keep your business’s finances in order.

Popular providers in this space include:

  • FreshBooks
  • Wave
  • QuickBooks
  • FreeAgent
  • Expensify
  • ZipBooks
  • Xero
  • Zoho Books
  • AND CO
  • Shoeboxed
  • SlickPie
  • Bonsai
  • Momenteo

Your choice of accounting software will have a huge impact on your business for years to come. Here's the top accounting and invoicing software options available on the market today.

Website and Online Services

Basically all modern businesses need a functional website, and website building and hosting tools can significantly streamline your website development and management efforts. These online tools guide you through building a custom website (often using templates and basic drag-and-drop methods), host the website for you, and often provide marketing, sales and customer support services too. For anyone who is not a developer themselves, there is no better way to cost-effectively manage your online presence.

Popular providers in this space include:

  • GoDaddy
  • Wix
  • Wordpress
  • Squarespace
  • Site123
  • HostGator
  • Network Solutions
  • Weebly

If you want to reduce your website bounce rate and make navigation easier, check out these all-important website improvement tips.

Time Management

Time is money, and properly tracking your hours on individual projects may become a surprisingly important task in your home business. There are many (often free) time tracking and management tools available, with some even integratable with accounting software.

Popular options in this field include:

  • Calendar
  • Due Time Tracking
  • TopTracker
  • RescueTime
  • Tick
  • Harvest
  • Toggl
  • Klok
  • actiTIME
  • HourStack
  • Timely
  • Hubstaff
  • Clockify

Marketing

Attracting customers is a major concern for most small businesses, and this requires a marketing strategy. Marketing is a lot more complex than it used to be, and to properly exploit both digital and traditional methods, a good marketing provider can be very impactful. Marketing providers can help with search engine optimization, graphic design, content generation, ad placement and marketing analytics. These methods can professionalize your marketing message, making your business more successful and building your brand.

Popular providers in this field include:

  • HubSpot
  • Zoho
  • Vistaprint
  • Semrush
  • Weebly
  • Shopify
  • Simplee Digital
  • Wix

Printing

Not every home business needs professional printing solutions, but those that do will rarely be able to afford the apparatus needed to manage printing tasks themselves. Printing services cover such vital business items as business cards, marketing materials, personalized stationery, accessories, banners, signs, labels, promotional products, and more. Simple online tools allow for full product customization, including the use of your own graphics, so all your printed products share the same professionalism and quality.

Popular providers in this space include:

  • Vistaprint
  • TPH
  • Moo
  • Smartpress
  • Staples
  • UPS
  • Clubcard

Customer Management

A range of software solutions are available to help you more effectively connect with your customer base, boosting sales and customer retention - a key factor in sustaining a home business. These solutions allow you to interact with your customers, log issues and manage them through to completion, and some even offer live chat options for instantaneous customer help.

Popular providers in the space include:

  • Zoho Desk
  • Zendesk
  • HubSpot
  • LiveAgent
  • Salesforce
  • Freshdesk

As your business grows, so do the number of sales conversations, customer relationships, and communication between you and your audience. Here's a list of the top CRM software tools available on the market today.

Financing

Accessing business financing can mean the difference between success and failure for many businesses, but most home businesses do not qualify for traditional business loans. So it’s important to have accessible, affordable financing options on your radar if you should ever need an injection of cash, for any reason. Luckily there are plenty of alternative and online lenders who cater to small and home businesses, even those without a long financial history, and loans up to $500,000 may be available in some cases.

Popular providers in this alternative financing space include:

  • OnDeck
  • Company Capital
  • Lending Loop
  • EFSA
  • Merchant Growth
  • Accord Financial

Insurance

Every business needs insurance, regardless of size, and home businesses are no exception. Many people believe that if you run a business from your home, your home insurance will cover it, but this isn’t the case. Home businesses are exempt from home insurance policies, and a separate, dedicated line of insurance is needed. This can only cost a few dollars a month, but will protect you against liability, property or equipment losses, and business interruption.

Common business insurance providers in Canada include:

  • Zensurance
  • Manulife
  • Sunlife
  • Foxquilt
  • Cooperators

Communication and Project Management Tools

Lastly, staying in touch with clients, discussing projects and working within a larger team all require access to reliable, cost-effective communication platforms.

Useful tools in this domain include:

  • Zoom
  • Stride
  • Redbooth
  • Flowdock
  • Podio
  • Ryver
  • Azendoo
  • Uberconference

Frequently Asked Questions About Solutions for Home Businesses


How do I choose the right solutions for my home business?

With so many solutions to choose from, narrowing down your options is important. Consider the following to discover which providers will serve you best:

  1. What specific area(s) do I need help with?
  2. How much am I prepared to pay?
  3. Is there a combination solution that serves my purposes better?

Do I need to file taxes for my home business?

Yes, all home businesses will need to file taxes with the CRA. See here for more information. Many accounting tools will simplify this task for you.

Do I need a business number for my home business?

Not necessarily, although many home businesses will require one. Take a look here for more information.

Do I need a license for my home business?

That depends on your industry, and whether it is federally, provincially or municipally regulated. In addition to general licenses, check your local zoning restrictions to see if you are allowed to run a home business.

Does my home business need insurance?

Yes. Home insurance does not cover a home-based business, so you should get a separate policy for your business. While this is not a legal requirement, it is common sense.

Do I need to hire an accountant for my home business?

Not necessarily; there are many accounting tools and software options that can help even novices manage their accounts, with minimal knowledge and effort. If you find these tools don’t cater to your specific needs, or if you struggle to use them, then you might consider an accountant.

What’s the best way to get a working website for my home business?

The simplest and often most cost-effective way of establishing an online presence for your business is by using a website builder to create and host your website for you. This removes much of the legwork while still allowing you to have a customized, professional-looking site.

Written By Smarter Loans Staff


The Smarter Loans Staff is made up of writers, researchers, journalists, business leaders and industry experts who carefully research, analyze and produce Canada's highest quality content when it comes to money matters, on behalf of Smarter Loans. While we cannot possibly name every person involved in the process, we collectively credit them as Smarter Loans Writing Staff. Our work has been featured in the Toronto Star, National Post and many other publications. Today, Smarter Loans is recognized in Canada as the go-to destination for financial education, and was named the "GPS of Fintech Lending" by the Toronto Star.