How to start setting up a small business in Australia
6 March 2020
Australia is a nation of small businesses. The dynamic and flexible nature in which they operate is one of many reasons this sector continues to grow and as of July 2019 small business (classified as businesses with less than 20 employees) accounts for almost 98 per cent of all Australian businesses. But how do you get that great idea off the ground and become your own boss?
Here are a few steps that can help you to start making your dream a reality.
1. Test your business idea
You’ve got your business idea. Now it’s time to do some market research to see if your idea could become a successful business. Start by researching the industry, local area, competitors and customers, and do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.
Analysing this research will indicate whether you’re onto a good thing, or if it’s best not to proceed.
2. Create a plan
Next up, create a business plan. A business plan is designed to define your goals and objectives, and is vital if you’ll be applying for finance (more on this soon). There are no set rules to follow when creating your plan, but it might include things like your marketing plan, financial strategy, vision, mission and goals.
Business plans take time and a lot of preparation so it’s best not to leave it to the last minute, especially if it’s going to be viewed by external parties. There are a ton of templates online if you’re not sure where to start. It might also be worthwhile talking to a Business Advisor and enlisting their help.
3. Determine core business components
Next, time to decide on a business structure. The four most common structures in Australia are sole trader, partnership, company and trust. Each will have different implications on other parts of your business, so some research is needed to determine which is best for you. You may want to discuss your options with your lawyer, accountant or Business Advisor for further insight.
Then the fun part – choosing a name. Perhaps not as easy as you may think, your business name should portray the right image, distinguish you from competitors and describe your product or service in some way – all while being easy to say, spell and remember. Once you’ve come up with something you like, check whether it’s available. If it is, you can register your business name and apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) online.
4. Know the legalities
There are legal obligations associated with setting up a small business in Australia, such as licences, contracts, insurance and tax. Before you start trading, it’s important you understand these to avoid any fines or penalties down the track. It can be a good idea to consult a legal professional for advice on which obligations will apply to your business.
5. Set up your business banking
6. Organise finance
Any business venture will cost money before it makes money. You’ll need to estimate your start-up costs (licences, equipment, insurance, branding etc.) as well as the amount needed to keep your business running for at least 12 months. These figures combined can give you a rough idea of how much you might need for the first year.
Launching a business on the side while still working part-time or full-time in another role is one way people fund their start-up. If this isn’t possible, you may choose to seek funding from family, friends or a bank. If you plan on getting a bank loan to fund your business here are a few options you might consider:
A business loan can use your personal assets, credit rating and business information to secure funding for your business. Potential lenders will likely need business projections and plans. Depending on how much detail they require, a business loan may be easier to secure after you’ve been operating for a while and can provide more concrete data.
A personal loan may be easier to obtain than a business loan as only your personal credit history will be used, instead of your business information. Personal loans also allow you the freedom to use the money for non-business-related purchases if need be.
If your initial costs are quite small you may be able to use a credit card to fund your start-up. This may be a viable option if you’re confident you’ll have the cashflow to make repayments on time, but keep in mind credit cards may have a higher rate of interest than other types of loans.
Depending on your business, you may be eligible for government grants to help you. These grants are generally not lump sum payments for starting up a business, but may be able to help you access advisors, receive tax concessions, grow your business or get started in exporting (depending on the grants available at the time).
7. Next Steps
Depending on your business idea, what happens next is up to you! This might involve signing a lease, website creation, marketing your product or service and maybe even employing staff. And don’t forget to organise business insurance – it’s important you have the right level of cover to protect your hard work.
Starting a business isn’t always easy and success doesn’t happen overnight. But with plenty of planning and the right support network you’ll be off to a great start.
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