Getting Started Guides

Finding Your Industry

Finding Your Industry

Every business belongs to a “family” of other businesses, which offer similar products or services to similar customers. This family of businesses is known as an industry. Conducting industry research is a task you’ll need to undertake in order to complete a proper business plan.  Your knowledge of your industry will be important for you to demonstrate to potential investors, lenders, suppliers and others.

As an entrepreneur, you need to know if you’re “starting-up” in a viable industry and if so, then how so?  Understanding your industry will help you evaluate and take advantage of trends, growth patterns, decline issues, forecasts, cyclicality, dominant players, level of innovation, and legal and regulatory issues. You’ll find data related to industry productivity and performance, inputs and outputs, unit labour costs and employment stats…all very important when conducting research for your business. 

The best place to start your research is with your NAICS code. Say what? NAICS stands for North American Industry Classification System…kind of a mouthful, but a pretty important one.  The purpose of NAICS - used in Canada, Mexico and the United States - is to provide statistical information for various industries throughout North America.  Having your NAICS code will let you search online and print directories to find companies and statistics in the same industry.

Let GoForth show you how to get started now…


Step 1:  Visit

Step 2:  Select your language preference. Now you’re on the StatCan homepage.

Step 3:  Click on the Browse By Key Resource tab on the navigation bar near the top of the page.

Step 4:  Next, select Definitions, data sources and methods from the drop down menu.

Step 5:  Under Standard Classifications on the right, click on Industry.

Step 6:   A list of industry classifications will appear under “Canada.”  Select the most recent one – with in .html format (web-based) or .pdf (print-based).  We suggest .html.

Step 7:  Under HTML format,  select Classification Structure and Definitions.

Step 8:  A list of industries will appear with a two-digit number to the left of each.  Select the number/code that best describes the industry of your business. Once you’ve selected a code, a new list of businesses will appear.  Select the one that best describes your business.  If this list does not appear to include your business, proceed with Step 8. Clicking on Display Definitions will display information about each industry, including example businesses, to help you determine in which industry your business will fall.

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Step 9:  Select Search NAICS at the top of the chart and type in your specific business to determine the industry classification.  You may have to try a few keywords to find your correct code.  The search will reveal a list of six-digit numbers accompanying more specific kinds of businesses related to your search.  Select the most appropriate code.

Step 10:  Once you’ve selected the six-digit code for your business, be sure that the description given matches your business exactly.  If it doesn’t, keep scanning through the lists until your find the accurate code.  By clicking on Example Activities below the classification code, you can determine if you’ve selected the right one based on the activities listed.

Step 11:  With your 6-digit code determined, you can now begin researching industry data. Check out GoForth’s Getting Started Guides – Researching Your Industry to help you do your industry research.


There now. Wasn’t that easy? Actually, industry research is one of the more challenging activities you’ll undertake to complete a business plan. But who said running a small business was going to be easy!  That’s why we offer Canada’s leading online small business training. Make the investment in your future today – get started now



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