Choosing the path of entrepreneurship is no easy feat. You’re often met with critics, dubious looks, and parents inquiring about how you’ll pay your bills (I can live off ramen, mom!). But you know when you’ve got a solid business idea and plan in mind – so take the leap! The most challenging tasks are often the most rewarding, and in the case of being your own boss and building something you’re passionate about, nothing can be more true. Despite the challenges faced by deciding to go it alone, there are ample opportunities provided to entrepreneurs in this great city of Toronto. So, give it a go!
Toronto is full of awesome co-working and shared office spaces – each with their own unique services and setting. On nearly every street in the core you can find a great shared office space to rent a desk, an office, or a meeting space, with minimal fees. We absolutely love the innovation and sense of community that comes out of entrepreneurs brainstorming together. If you’re a University of Toronto student or grad looking for a place to work on your business, U of T offers a large facility called ONRamp right at University and College. The wi-fi is fast, the coffee is free (and so is the facility, but the coffee matters most, let’s be honest), and there is typically always a seat available.
Psst… Hover will be partnering up with some really awesome co-working spots downtown to show you how they push you to succeed and how they promote the entrepreneur community. Keep an eye on our social media and blogs to see our features. We want to find the perfect place for you! Got an awesome co-working hub we just need to check out? Post it in the comments below.
While this specific education is online and can technically be absorbed anywhere, it comes right from Toronto’s own MarsDD. Mars Discovery District, best known for being a non-profit innovation hub, launched their Entrepreneurship 101 course to help set you on the right path towards achieving your goals. You can’t beat the stellar continuing education courses available at University of Toronto, Humber, and Ryerson – their certificate majors are always growing to offer courses applicable to emerging fields. However, certificates are not always within an entrepreneur’s budget. If that’s the case, check out the Canada Business Network or TD Bank’s small business online workshops to cover your basics and the hot topics.
Grants & Pitches
You have to know where to look, but once you’ve made note of the yearly grants and prizes available to individuals with new business ideas, you’ll be kicking yourself for not finding them sooner. If you’re a University of Toronto student or a new grad with a start-up you’re looking to launch, apply for RBC’s Prize Competition. Go to a hackathon, such as Hackernest’s Fishackathon and spend the weekend innovating and winning prizes. Ignite Capital, a Toronto non-profit helping Ontario entrepreneurs, has an annual competition that has you compete in one of four categories (women, immigrants, youth, and Start Me Up) to win up to $25,000 in funding. TELUS Pitch is another annual competition, offering $100,000 and a chance to have your idea judged by some brilliant Canadian business minds. Wrack up the nerve to take your awesome pitch to the big leagues and present it to people who want to invest in you!
Toronto is full of events, and professional networking ones can be found nearly every night of the week. Search through Meetup or Eventbrite to find free or inexpensive events near you – some even have food and drinks included. The sense of community found in these is astounding – it’s always important to hear others’ triumphs and struggles as they navigate the uncertain world of launching their own business. One of our monthly favourites? Tech Toronto. Not a techy? No worries! There are professional events specific to all verticals, or even general social ones. At networking events you have the incredible opportunity of connecting with potential clients, business partners, and investors. Spice up your boring Wednesday nights and put yourself out there!
You’ve got the idea, you’ve got the guts – now get out there and build your business. You can find a place to work and to collaborate with your team or other entrepreneurs, you’ve got the ability and know-how to source contests and funding, and you’ve got a year of networking events to plan. You can launch your business idea – and Toronto is one of the greatest cities in the world to do it!