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  • Ashin Wilfy


A brief guide for international students who are new to Cape Breton and want to set up their businesses.

International students are an asset to Cape Breton's economy, as they bring diversity and talent to the local business community. Many students come to the region with entrepreneurial aspirations, seeking to start their businesses in fields such as personal grooming, haircutting, house renovation, and the like. As the employment opportunities in the municipality are limited some get into these to make quick cash. While these ambitions are commendable, there have been suggestions that international students must follow certain steps before setting up their own business, including obtaining a license and liability insurance, if required.

While not all businesses are required to obtain a formal "business license," certain professions and types of businesses are regulated by provincial or federal organizations establishing rules and requirements for businesses in that field. In some fields, obtaining a specific license or registration is mandatory. The Government of Nova Scotia has compiled a list of all the regulatory bodies in the province, including those for beauticians and barbers, making it easier for students and self-made entrepreneurs to get their licenses. It is important to note that the legal requirements for starting a business can vary depending on the type of business. For international students, navigating the licensing process may be challenging, given the language barrier and unfamiliarity with the local laws. However, it is crucial to seek help from a professional or a mentor who can guide them through the process. Furthermore, obtaining a business license has other benefits for international students. A license provides legitimacy to the business and instills trust in customers. It also allows the business to be listed in local directories, increasing its visibility and exposure to potential customers.

Another critical aspect that international students should consider when starting a business is having liability insurance coverage. Liability insurance protects a business owner from monetary loss due to lawsuits or claims against the business. Accidents can happen, which can lead to customers and/or employees suffering injuries or damages that require compensation. Without liability insurance, business owners will be personally liable for the costs, which can be financially devastating. Liability insurance provides peace of mind and safeguards the business owner's assets. Moreover, liability insurance can enhance a business's reputation and could attract more customers. It shows that the business takes responsibility for its actions and is committed to providing a safe and professional service. Customers are more likely to trust and choose a business that has liability insurance, especially in fields such as personal grooming and house renovation, where accidents can cause significant harm.

Starting a business as an international student can be challenging, but with the right support and preparation, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. It is essential to research the local laws and regulations and seek guidance from professionals or mentors. The Nova Scotia Government’s Business Navigator program is one such opportunity that provides step-by-step guidance to new entrepreneurs to help them set up their businesses. Obtaining a business license and liability insurance should be a priority, as they provide legal compliance, credibility, and protection for the business owner.

In conclusion, international students are an integral part of Cape Breton's business community and should be encouraged to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. However, they must be aware of the legal obligations and risks associated with starting a business. This benefits both the students and their potential customers, reducing the risks and liabilities associated with the trade to a considerable extent. Obtaining a trade license and liability insurance is a crucial step in setting up a successful and sustainable business. With proper preparation and support, international students can make significant contributions to Cape Breton's economy and society.

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