Starting & Growing Your Own Business

Would you like to start your own business?

The following is a guide to help you discover what is necessary and directs you to several useful websites.

Research

The single most important thing you can do before starting your own business is research to understand your customers, competitors and industry.

Small Business Victoria will provide greater information on how and what to research before continuing with the process of starting your own business.

Business Plan

A business plan is a useful tool to help you understand what you must do to make your business a success. It will give you an accurate picture of how your business will operate and cover areas such as:

  • How you will structure your product and/or service so it sells
  • Market and competitors
  • Marketing strategy
  • Financial objectives
  • Business structure, management and ownership
  • Action plan

Small Business Victoria offers numerous templates and guides for business plans.

Business Structure - Sole Trader, Partnership, Company?

To pay your business taxes, claim deductions for business expenses, open accounts and trade legally, you need to choose the business structure that will be right for you.

For new businesses the three most popular structures are:

  • Sole Trader (only one business owner)
  • Partnership (more than one business owner)
  • Proprietary Limited Company (a separate legal body with its own tax return).

For more detailed information visit the ATO - Choosing your business structure.

Register for your Australian Business Number (ABN)

All businesses need an Australian Business Number (ABN), which can be obtained through the Australian Business Register.

Businesses can register for GST, PAYG withholding, AUSkey and a business name in the same online session as their ABN application.

Register your Business or Company Name

Business names are registered with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission

When you start a new business you should consider protecting your Intellectual Property.

For an overview of what constitutes Intellectual Property, visit IP Australia.

Register for taxation

The Australian Taxation Office website has a range of free resources to help you with your tax obligations and calculations, including a free checklist for new businesses.  

Find out about licences, permits and registrations

The licences, permits and registrations you need will mainly depend on what sort of business you are running and what activities your business will be undertaking.

Choose the right premises and insure your business

When choosing your business premises you need to ensure whether your business:

  • Is it in the right zone?
  • Will require a planning permit?
  • Should be run from home?

The Planning Department at Council can provide you with the information you need.

Insuring your Business

Insuring your premises and contents is essential. To investigate the insurance needs of your business, you should consider using the services of an insurance broker.

For more information and to find a broker in your area, visit the National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA).

As a business owner, you are probably aware of where your business could improve. However sometimes owners are not sure how to start growing their business.

This checklist provides an overview of some of the key steps you can take to start improving your business.

 

Growing Your Business

Assess your situation

Before you start making changes to your business, it's a good idea to check you have a full understanding of the factors that are impacting on the success of your business. These may include your current business practices, market trends or changes to the wider environment in which you operate.

A number of tools can help you assess the health of your business.  These include:

  • SWOT analysis: helps to identify your business' strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Benchmarking: measures performance against similar-sized businesses in your industry
  • Market research: investigates your market and industry to identify trends, changes and customer or client demands
  • Trend analysis: uses business data collected over time to identify consistent results or trends.

Set clear goals

Business goals can be as broad or as specific as you want. Writing down your goals clearly will make it easier for you to achieve them. Make sure your goals are:

  • Specific: state clearly what you want to achieve
  • Measurable: make sure you can evaluate success
  • Achievable: check your objective is something you have the time and resources to meet
  • Relevant: make sure your objectives improve profit drivers and improve some part of your business
  • Timely: set a specific date for completion.

Once you have written down your goals, prioritise them to decide which ones to focus on first.

It's also important to recognise that some goals will need a long-term strategy because they can’t be achieved immediately.

Identify strategies for achieving your goals

Review your goals and list the factors that you think are creating your current circumstances. Think about what strategy you could use to improve the situation.

Depending on the goals you're trying to meet, you may want to think about using the services of a business professional, such as a professional trainer, a consultant or a business mentor.

Think realistically about what you can do yourself and where you may benefit from some support.

Develop a plan for implementing your longer-term goals or strategies

Longer-term goals or strategies often include several specific actions or tasks. It's a good idea to develop a plan of how you will do this.

Write your plan in a format that suits you. It should include:

  • Time frame: how long a task will take to complete, including start and finish dates
  • Actions: state the individual actions as precisely as you can
  • Responsibilities: assign accountability for each action so everyone knows precisely what you expect of them and who is responsible for ensuring the work is done
  • Resources: list budget, staff or supplies needed to complete each action
  • Desired outcome: state how you will be satisfied the action has been completed.