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A start-up is a business in the earliest stages of getting established. Companies may stay in start-up mode for as long as three years.

Start-ups take many forms. They may:

  • Be sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited partnerships or corporations
  • Sell an established product or service, or a new product or service
  • Sell to an established market or a new one
  • Operate domestically or internationally
  • Meet new market needs
  • Answer an existing market need created by the departure of a company that previously met that need
  • Arise in any industry, existing or new
  • Be launched by someone with or without prior business experience
  • Be fully funded or require investor funding

If a first-time entrepreneur buys an existing business, the business is not considered a start-up.

More about start-ups

Canada produces the same number of start-ups annually as other countries with similar success rates. However, fewer Canadian start-ups grow into “mid-market companies,” that is, larger, more mature businesses. This is mainly because Canadian entrepreneurs often sell their start-ups to foreign investors, who then take on the risk associated with growing to a mid-market size and beyond.