Starting a Business in Fort McMurray: Contractor Edition

Starting a business in Fort McMurray is pretty exciting. There are lots of niches to fill and opportunities to be had. But before you open for business, you need to “check all the boxes.”

Build a solid legal foundation
Build a solid financial foundation
Get the proper insurance
Start marketing

Here’s what getting your contractor business up and running in Fort McMurray is going to require:

Step 1 of Starting a Business in Fort McMurray: Financial Matters

Open a Separate Account for your Business Money

Before you spend a penny on anything business related, set up a business account.

You need to make sure to keep your personal and business money separate.

Hire an Accountant

Seek out an accountant in Fort McMurray.

He or she will know about the laws and taxes that apply to businesses in Fort McMurray. Hire one that specializes in working with your type businesses (construction, oil and gas, retail, etc.).

Check YellowPages for listings of local Fort McMurray accountants.

Meet up with your accountant regularly, especially when you’re first starting up. You want to learn the language of accounting, the terms and jargon they use.

Accounting is often referred to as “the language of business,” and terms like “accounts receivable” and “equity” and “profit and loss statements” are going to become part of your daily life as a business owner.

Related – 30 Basic Accounting Terms, Acronyms, and Abbreviations

Register your Business with Revenue Canada and Get a Business License.

According to Revenue Canada, “You may need to register with several different levels of government for many different reasons.”

Again, this is all about protecting yourself and running a legitimate business.

Related – 5 Reasons Why you Should Register your Business Now!

Go to the Registering your Business page on the government’s website to find out more and get started.

Set up Some Accounting Software and Learn How to Use it!

It’s all about the money, right? So your new favourite thing is going to be your accounting software.

With it, you can handle and keep track of all your business’s financials.

You need to choose software that suits your needs because not all accounting programs will give you the same abilities.

A platform like Freshbooks will help you pay bills, create invoices, and track your revenue, expenses, and cash flow.

Higher-end software like Zoho Books gives you the ability to payroll, inventory control, sales analysis, and have reporting features.

You’ll need to do some research to figure out which one does everything you need it to do.

This article should make the choice a bit easier: Best Accounting Software for Small Business of 2017

Step 2: Legal

Find an Attorney

Get one who specializes in setting up businesses. You’ll work with them to figure out which corporate structure is best for you.

In Fort McMurray, the oil and gas industry almost always requires contractors to be incorporated. Setting your business up right will save you time and money in the long run.

Corporate structure? What’s that all about? Here are a few articles to get you thinking about how you want to set up your business:

Go over your corporate structure with your lawyer to make sure you don’t leave yourself open to liability.

Protect yourself, your family, your assets, and your employees with a solid legal foundation.

Get Licenses and Permits

Find out which licenses and you need as a contractor in Fort McMurray by searching it up on Google.

Type in “Drywalling Contractor License Fort McMurray,” “Scaffolding Contractor Fort McMurray,” “General Contractor License Fort McMurray,” etc. into Google and it will brings up the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) Licensing and Permits web page.

If you click through to the Business Licensing page, you’ll see an overview of process.

How much is that going to cost? Use the BizPal tool on the Service Alberta website to find out which permits and licenses you’ll need in Fort McMurray.

*Choose Wood Buffalo as your city/municipality.

Step 3: Get Business Insurance

As with thinking up a great business name and buying tools to do your job, getting insurance is another necessary step. It’s one you’re going to have to research and discuss what kind of coverage you need with your insurance agent or broker when you find one.

It may or may not surprise you that a lot of contractors don’t have insurance. They may get by for a while, but then disaster strikes the contractor is personally liable.

Avoid ending up with serious financial consequences by getting proper insurance coverage.

Business Insurance Info from The Insurance Bureau of Canada

Related – Fort McMurray Small Businesses and Insurance Coverage: Here is What you Need to Know

Step 4: Marketing

Once you’re registered, insured, and full of legal and financial knowledge, you’re ready to start marketing.

Online Marketing

You can start with a website and build from there, or you can hit the ground running by taking advantage of 5 online marketing tools:

Related – Different Types of Online Marketing (explains all five of the above)

Nyche Marketing offers services for all 5 of the elements above. Interested in building a website? Setting up and running social media? Pay per click ads?

Get in touch with us today!

Build your credibility

Take advantage of Fort McMurray Construction Association.

You’ll find current info on “construction procurement opportunities and industry activities for a membership of General Contractors, Trade Contractors, Manufacturers and Suppliers of Goods and Services to the Construction Industry.”

You can access essential resources through their website:

Get a listing on the BBB Accredited Business Directory

Accreditation with the BBB means a lot to potential customers because it protects buyers from unethical businesses.

It’s also a means of promoting your business because you’ll have a BBB listing that anyone can check. Take advantage of anything that will set you apart from your competition.

Learn more about BBB accreditation requirements and why you should pursue it here.

List your Business on Fort McMurray Online

There are plenty of places to list your business online for Fort McMurray. No matter what kind of business you have, you can get listed on Fort McMurray Online.

It may seem simple and old-fashioned looking, but anything that helps customers find you is worth a try.

A basic listing costs $350 and looks like this.

Email for more information on listing your business on Fort McMurray Online.

Get listed on contractor-specific directories

Download this free Top 5 Must-Have Contractor Directories to get listed on today!

Top 5 Directories

You can use it as a checklist: check them off once you’re listed on each one.

Some Last Words on Starting a Business in Fort McMurray

Of course there are so many more things you can do when you’re starting a business in Fort McMurray, but hopefully now you have a better idea at the steps involved.

My personal advice for anyone starting a business is to never let off the gas. You may be tempted to coast once things get up and running, but you need to stay hungry.

Always look for the best opportunities, the ideal customers, and keep an eye on the competition.

You’ll get out of your business what you put into it, so keep at it!

Know someone who’s starting or running a business in Fort McMurray? Share this article with them!

Looking for an online marketing expert? Try Nyche Marketing!

Different Types of Online Marketing

Different Types of Online Marketing

This guide explains the different types of online marketing and includes resources to expand your knowledge and get started using them!

Inbound and Outbound Marketing

Marketing efforts are often divided into the two categories of “inbound” and “outbound.”

Outbound marketing is the traditional way to market your business and includes print advertising, cold-calling, TV commercials, junk mail, trade show attendance, etc.

Also called “interruption marketing, outbound is all about putting your brand in front of people. It’s kind of like casting a huge net and hoping that you’ll catch the fish you want.

traditional marketing methods

Traditional marketing is like casting a huge net and hoping you’ll bring in the right fish.

Online marketing is mostly concerned with inbound marketing where businesses create websites, content, and social media properties for people to find when they search for your products and services online.

Companies will employ both inbound and outbound marketing techniques together in order to maximize the chances of attracting customers, but no matter what type of marketing you have, it all leads back to your website.

Are you currently using outbound marketing techniques and wary about inbound marketing strategies? Read through some of the following articles to get an idea of just how effective inbound marketing can be:

Search Engine Optimization

The technical definition of Search Engine Optimization is “the process of improving rankings of a website or web page in the unpaid “organic” search results.” This is very important in online marketing because the goal is to make it easy for your customers to find you.

Imagine how frustrating it can be to get a recommendation from someone and not be able to find the place you’re looking for online. You know it exists, but you just can’t find it no matter what you type into the search bar. Grr!

You want to make it easy for search engines to bring up your business when people type in general search terms.

If you’re the only interior designer in the area, you don’t have to try as hard to get found in organic search, but if you’re one of 30 interior designers, Search Engine Optimization will give your website a boost, making it appear on top of your competition.

The higher a page ranks, the more visible it is, and so it will receive more traffic.
Search Engine Optimization involves Technical SEO, On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Local SEO.

Want to know more about SEO? Check out the links below:

Off-Page SEO Resources:

Technical SEO Resources:

Local SEO Resources:

PPC Advertising

Search Engine Optimization of your website is essential to the success of your online marketing efforts because searchers trust organic, unpaid search results over paid ads.

94% of all the clicks in search results go to organic listings – not PPC.

That said, Pay Per Click advertising is a great way to boost traffic in a short amount of time.

By Pay Per Click ads, we’re talking about the sponsored links that appear on top of search results. Price varies, but it’s based on the quality of your website AND ad, so make sure you’re website is top notch before investing in PPC.

These ads work. Some businesses make most of their money because of pay per click ads. Google makes 96% of its billions from Google Adwords and Google Adsense. (More on how Google makes money here.)

Personal results are going to vary depending on your target market, but some companies do very well with PPC advertising.

Interested in Pay Per Click services? Nyche Marketing does campaign audits, recommendations, and campaign management.

For best results, study up on PPC and create high-quality, targeted ads that convert:

Resources from a top authority on paid search, Search Engine Land:

Social Media Marketing

online marketing with social media

Social media is a form of online marketing

The importance of social media varies for each business. Some business owners want nothing to do with it, while others may only have a Facebook page and no website at all!

That’s because social is so versatile. There are literally hundreds of social media sites where you can create a profile, join, a group, make a page, or contribute to forums as a business.

But before you jump onto one of these sites, consider what your goals are:

  • Do you want to use social to promote your brand?
  • Do you want to provide customer service over social media?
  • Would you like to establish yourself as a trusted expert in your field?

Your goals will help you figure out which platforms to be on and what you do on them.

As a type of digital marketing, social media is the one that will help you to grow relationships with your audience. Letting people get to know and trust you is ultimately the best way to make sales and create brand advocates.

Want to learn more about social media marketing? Click on through the links below:

Content Marketing

Don’t believe them when they tell you people these days don’t read.

On the contrary!

It’s true that people won’t read something if they’re not interested, maybe a word or two of a catchy headline or slogan.

But if people are interested in buying something you’re selling, they’ll. read. every. Word.

That’s where content marketing comes in.

Content marketing is a form of online marketing where businesses produce content for their customers.

It can be videos, podcasts, infographics, white papers, case studies, and most often, blogs that you can use to bring traffic to your website, increase your credibility, showcase your work/products, and convince people that you’re the business they’ve been looking for.

The key to content marketing is not just doing it, but doing it well. Use professional blogging services for best results. 

See the articles below for more info on content marketing and how you can use it for your business.

Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation is when businesses use a software system to capture and track data about leads (potential customers), automate manual marketing activities (such as follow-up), and generate in-depth reports to track your marketing and advertising efforts.

Email Marketing

What types of Online Marketing is Right for Your Business?

When deciding on which types of online marketing are right for your business, ask yourself, “What are my goals?”

Then go with the online marketing method that will help you accomplish your goals:

SEO will bring you long-term traffic increases from search engines.
PPC will bring instant traffic and boost your visibility in search engines, as long as you keep paying for it.
Social Media Marketing for building relationships with your target market
Content Marketing for long-term, steady traffic from search engines, shares on social media. Will help build customers’ trust in your business.

Does your website need optimization? Are you ready to start doing some online marketing?

Get in touch with expert digital marketers at Nyche Marketing: 587-409-3000

What to do in Fort McMurray

Here’s something a little different. Normally this blog is all about what we specialize in: SEO, content marketing, marketing automation, and web design.

But we’re not always working. Believe it or not, sometimes we step away from the computer, put down the phone, and do something fun! Fort McMurray is home for one of Nyche’s writers, so she put together a guide of fun things to do in Fort McMurray that you might find useful.

Fort McMurray Restaurants

Looking for somewhere to eat in Fort McMurray? There are over 40 restaurants, including the usual fast food fare like Wendy’s and KFC and fine dining establishments like Atmosfere, which is a lovely place to bring the spouse on a special.

If you check out the restaurant listings on Zomato, you’ll find that the restaurant scene is dominated by pubs, donair shops, and pizza places.

For pizza and donairs, the local favourites are Jomaa’s, Cosmo’s, and Hu’s Pizza and Donairs.

And if you’re looking for east coast style pizza (cheap, tasty, and huge) grab a slice from the PetroCan gas station in Gregoire.

For crowdsourced recommendations, check out the Top 10 Places to Eat in Fort McMurray from Trip Advisor  or Yelp.

Here are a few highlights:

Wood Buffalo Brewing Company

This place is a gem. It nails the microbrew restaurant niche. They’ve created a warm space with a casual atmosphere, which makes it a great place to unwind after work or on a date.

They take risks with the food by taking average pub food up a level. You’ll see things like “Rustic Elk Meatloaf,” and charcuterie boards on the menu.

Oh, and the beer is delicious!

Kozy Korner

This place is such a local hotspot, they don’t even have a website! If you’re looking for a classic diner food, stop in at the Kozy Korner.

East Village Pub

The EVP up in Timberlea is an incredibly popular place to be in Fort McMurray. The menu is full of delicious comfort food favourites like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, steaks, and nachos, and they have live music pretty often.

If you’re looking for a tasty place to eat dinner, go on a weeknight. If you’re looking for a party, hit up the EVP on the weekend!

The Newfoundlander Club

Don’t worry, they let you in even if you’re not from Newfoundland! In addition to being a restaurant, they host events and live music. The menu features classic Canadian pub food with East Coast favourites like poutine with dressing, jigs dinner, and fish cakes.

South Street Burger

The South St. Burger is new in town, but they’re proving to be a delicious addition. Nothing beats a big, juicy burger after a long shift.

Those are just a couple recommendations from us. For a complete list of restaurants, check out Yelp or Zomato.

Dancing in Fort McMurray

If you’re really in the mood, many of the bars in Fort Mac have dance floors, but there are a few places where you can really let loose.

One is Club NV, which plays EDM and caters to the younger crowd. You’ll find a different, slightly more mature crowd shakin their booties at the Casino when live bands play.

If you’re into the East Coast scene, you’ll probably enjoy dancing at The Newfoundlander’s Club, which holds dances. Check their Facebook page for details.

The Fort McMurray Bar Scene

There are a lot of bars in Fort McMurray, but a few stand out as local favourites:

The Black Horse

The Black Horse reminds me of Cheers: the neighbourhood pub where regulars hang out, playing darts, watching the game, shooting pool, and drinking beer.

They even have weekly karaoke and the occasional band. It’s a great choice for a low-key drink with the buddies.


Caters to a variety of scenes. They’ll have metal shows, folk music, and edm music on a regular basis.

Try the wings!

Jag’s (AKA the Jaguar Lounge)

Small, hole-in-the wall bar with popular music choices. Great place to relax with friends.

Fort Mac Fishing

There’s great fishing around Fort McMurray. You can pick up a fishing license at Chow’s Variety Store or Canadian Tire, load up on bait and tackle, and drive out to one of the many local fishin’ holes.

You can look forward to seeing Pike, Walleye, Goldeye, Burbot, Mountain Whitefish, Arctic Grayling, Trout, Yellow Perch, and Sucker on your hook. Click here for the 2017 Alberta Guide to Sportfishing Regulations to see what you can keep.

Places to Fish in Fort Mac

Gregoire Lake is the big, family friendly, full-amenities place to go fishing because there’s a provincial park and campground. Keep up on what anglers are reeling in from Gregoire Lake by reading the ifish forum.

You can also fish the Athabasca River. A popular place to fish from shore is at The Bridge to Nowhere: Head north from Fort McMurray for about 30 minutes and take your first right just after the Peter Lougheed Bridge.

fishing fort mac

The famous bridge to nowhere in Fort McMurray. Great place to fish.

For more places to fish in Fort Mcmurray, check out ifishAlberta. It has a directory of Alberta’s lakes with forums where people can share the conditions and their catches.

If you’re looking for a full-on fishing adventure, you might be interested in the Fly-in lodges, fishing tours, and wilderness adventures. Visit Fort McMurray Tourism’s Wood Buffalo Fishing page for more details.

Go on an ATV adventure in Fort Mac

Quading is a popular summer pastime in Fort McMurray. As soon as the weather starts getting warm, the ATV’s come out of storage and people head for the trails to get dirty!

The Richardson River Sand Dunes are a special treat for ATV enthusiasts, because you can actually ride on the dunes and ride to remote campsites for a truly wild experience (read up on bear and cougar safety here!).

Fort McMurray Tours and Museums

Fort McMurray has an incredibly rich and interesting history. You can learn about important discoveries and technology at the Oilsands Discovery Centre, or take a tour of Suncor.

The Heritage Village is that special type of museum that’s like a living time capsule of how things were back in the day. It hasn’t opened since the fire, but expect it to be up and running again soon.

Fort McMurray has five rivers that flow through it, which made it a shipping hub in the past. Tour the Heritage Shipyard to see the ships and shops that used to service the Fort McMurray area.

Swimming in Fort McMurray

The Syncrude Aquatic Centre is amazing as far as pools go. It has everything! Hot tub with reclining bubble chairs, sauna, steam room, three kids pools, two slides, and a lazy river.

In the summer, you can also swim in Gregoire Lake, just south of town.

World Class Golfing in Fort McMurray

For the golf enthusiast, The Miskanaw Golf Course is in the heart of town on Mac Island. The course was designed by a golfing legend. It’s a high-quality, well maintained course that will challenge you.

Book a green time, join a tournament, or whack a few balls at their driving range. See their website for more details.

Go to the Movies

Unlike the massive, modern recreation facilities at Mac Island, the theatre in Fort Mac is … “quaint.” Modest looks aside, the Landmark Cinemas is still the only place in town to catch a flick.

Click here for showtimes.

Shopping in Fort Mac

For specific stores like organic food stores, supplement stores, jewelers, butchers, and the like, I would suggest Googling up whatever you’re trying to buy because there are niche stores that will probably sell what you want.

The casual shopper will find clothing chains at Peter Pond Mall Shopping Centre, but if you’re looking for furniture, electronics… or maybe just a good deal, join the [Controversial Humor] Fort McMurray Everything Goes Facebook group, which has tens of thousands of members.

Fort McMurray Parks

Fort McMurray is full of parks! There are all kinds of places to get outside and play:

  • Playgrounds
  • Spray parks
  • Soccer fields
  • Skateboard parks
  • Running tracks
  • Baseball diamonds
  • Football/Rugby fields

Find out which parks are near you by checking the full park listings and maps.

Bring your dogs to one of Fort McMurray’s dog parks:

Visit the Vista Ridge All Seasons Park for snow sports (skiing and snowboarding) in the winter and for aerial adventures in the summer.

WildPlay (in Vista Ridge) is an obstacle course in the forest where you can balance on tightropes, swing in the trees, and glide down ziplines!

Definitely one for the bucket list!

Outdoor Skating in Fort McMurray

Slap on those skates this winter and head to one of Fort McMurray’s five boarded outdoor skating rinks.

Here are their locations:

  • Abasand: Next to Father Beauregard School on Athabasca Ave
  • Waterways: Bulyea Ave
  • Thickwood: On Signal Road across from the medical centre
  • Timberlea – Brett Drive next to Timberlea School
  • Timberlea – In the Timberlea Syncrude Athletic Park

Hike the Trails in Fort Mac

Hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors: you choose the pace that’s comfortable for you and make your way through nature; exploring as you earn your lunch. In Fort McMurray there are trails that wind through boreal forest land in the Timberlea area, called Birchwood Trails.

Pick your path by consulting the Birchwood Trail map.


Go Camping near Fort McMurray

Love camping? Enjoy the wilderness, go fishing, explore trails, and experience the outdoors at one of the campgrounds in the area.

For typical tent and backpack campgrounds, these three are popular:

Gregoire Lake
Hanging Stone Provincial Rec Area
Tower Road Campground

Other camping.

*Remember: Overnight camping and open fires in the wild are strictly forbidden!

Paint Nite in Fort McMurray

With so many Paint Nites around these days, it’s clear that this type of event isn’t just a fad. Paint Nite is here to stay!

Find out where the next Paint Nite in Fort McMurray is by checking out the official website.

Fort McMurray Events

Every municipality has its yearly events that the community can look forward to seeing every year. Fort McMurray is no exception.

Conditions permitting, you can expect to see these events:

  • Home and Leisure Trade Shows
  • Santa Claus Parade
  • Canada Day Parade
  • New Year’s Eve Fireworks

For current events, visit the Fort McMurray Community Calendar.

Festivals in the Fort McMurray Area

The 2017 festival season hasn’t started yet, but here are some of the festivals you can attend this year:


Sustainival is a completely green-powered festival. Trade your cash for tickets to get onto rides, play games for prizes, and eat greasy (though potentially organic?) carnival food!

Wild West Country Music Festival

If you ever find yourself at karaoke night in a Fort Mac pub, you’ll quickly find out that the people here LOVE country. Take in some live country with fellow fans this year at the annual Wild West Country Music Festival.

East Coast Garden Party

It’s no secret that half the population of the maritimes (or more?) live here in Fort Mac. That’s probably why the biggest festival of the year is the East Coast Garden Party!

You’ll see live music, ride carnival rides and eat traditional east coast food and beer.

These folks know how to have a good time!

The Comedy Scene in Fort Mac

You might catch the odd comedy act at an open mic at one of Fort McMurray’s bars, but the more reliable option for good laughs is Bailey’s Yuk Yuks. Care for a wager?

Gambling in Fort McMurray

Got some extra money burning a hole in your pocket? Try your luck at the Boomtown Casino. The staff is friendly and their live bands usually bring in their own crowd.

You can bet on horse racing at Tavern on Main while you eat some tasty pub food and mingle with the locals.

I can’t quite recommend Bingo at the Legion because it hasn’t been happening for a few years now. But if it ever does start up again, the Legion is where it’ll be.

Have Fun in Fort McMurray!

Hopefully now you have a couple of ideas for what to do this weekend in Fort McMurray. Or at least a list of resources for the future. (It’s not winter yet, so you might want to bookmark this article for skating rink locations.)

Did we miss anything?

Tell us what like to do for fun in Fort Mac in the comments!