Business starters checklist

1. Your first step

If you are in a regional area our outreach service Business Local can assist you, however we suggest using the resources below to prepare yourself first.

If you are in the Perth metropolitan area our free Business Basics workshop will guide you through the steps involved with starting and running your own business. It’ll also help you to quickly figure out:

2. Will it work?

Research your business idea to make sure there’s a demand for your products and/or services. For example:

3. Choose your business structure

The best structure for your business will depend on several factors including number of owners, risk, liability and tax rate. Learn about these different business structures:

sole trader

Learn more about business structures
One of the key decisions you’ll make when starting a business is which legal structure to use. Because it’s such an important decision, you should get advice from a qualified independent business, financial or legal advisor.

The ATO shows how different structures will affect the way business income is taxed
For example, the structure you choose may affect:

– the tax you are liable to pay
– asset protection
– ongoing costs
– your clients.

4. Regulations and protections

To operate without the worry of being fined, shut down or prosecuted:

Register a trading name
The business name registration service operates under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), replacing previous state and territory services so that all businesses in Australia only need to register once. ASIC helps with:
steps to register your business name; and
the ASIC small business hub.

If you’re planning to register a domain name and get a website, learn about Website Basics at our practical workshop.

Get an Australian Business Number (ABN)
Find out about the four most common registrations required by small businesses (including an ABN).

Identify the business licences and permits that you will need
Go to the Business Licence Finder or contact us on 13 12 49 or by email to get business licensing help.

You can also visit us and make the most of our one-stop service, while getting help with business licensing.

The insurance that’s right for you and your business will depend on many things, such as the nature of your business and whether you employ people.

Insurance can be divided into protection for three main categories:
– assets and revenue
– liability
– employees (workers’ compensation is compulsory).

Many insurance providers will offer several types of insurance bundled in a package, but insurance is a complex area, so make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of the insurance contract and get independent advice before you sign.

Refer to the insurance section on this website for a detailed guide on insurance and your options.

5. Employing staff?

Read more about employing staff and find out which industrial relations system applies to your business structure.

Western Australian industrial relations system
The Department of Commerce website and Wageline 1300 655 266 provides information on wage rates, award conditions, enterprise bargaining agreements, minimum conditions, unfair dismissal and other employment related matters under the state industrial relations system.

The national workplace relations system
If you are a national system employer (for example, a Pty Ltd company) you can call the FairWork Ombudsman Small Business Helpline for quick access to workplace relations advice. Call 13 13 94 and select option 3. The FairWork Ombudsman website also provides links to pay tools, calculators, templates and guides - and the portal for small business owners includes:

6. Location and leasing

When it comes to locating your business, there are generally three choices available to you. You can either operate from home, a business incubator, or from a commercial premises.

Make sure you get professional advice before committing to leasing commercial premises, because the cost in time and money to get advice about negotiating an acceptable lease for your business is likely to be many times less than what a poorly negotiated lease could eventually cost you.

When you are ready to enter into a lease agreement, call us on 13 12 49 or email to make an appointment with a leasing expert. You can also download our free eBook guides to leasing commercial property.

7. Money matters

Analyse your current financial situation. Can you afford to start this business?

Don’t be baffled by profit and loss statements, balance sheets or cash flow statements. Make them work for you and book into an Understanding Your Business Financials workshop

Even though you can always get help from bookkeepers and accountants, the financial responsibility for your business is ultimately up to you. Use the money matters section on this website as a learning resource and download templates for: also provides practical information about business finances, as well as financial templates for:

  • Start-up costing
    If you’re thinking of starting a business, a start-up costing sheet can help determine how much money you need to start.
  • Cash flow statement
    A cash flow statement tracks all the money flowing in and out of your business and can reveal payment cycles or seasonal trends that require additional cash to cover payments.
  • Profit and loss statement
    A profit and loss or income statement lists your sales and expenses and helps you work out how much real profit you’re making or losing.
  • Balance sheet
    A balance sheet is a snapshot of your business on a particular date. It lists all of your business’ assets and liabilities and works out your net assets.
  • Financial calculators
    Use this template to calculate your key financial ratios and help you analyse the financial health of your business.

8. Marketing

Make it easy for yourself and book into a Spreading the word – marketing your business workshop and use the marketing section on this website.

When it comes to digital marketing, we’ve got you covered with and two workshops:

The Marketing tips and tricks section of our Tourism BOOST online guide offers a variety of adaptable examples and templates for:

– traditional advertising
– brochures
– how to write a media release
– email marketing
– websites
– search engine optimisation
– social media
– the mobile revolution
– a marketing action plan.

9. Building your support team

10. What’s next?

Business planning – use all the information gathered from this checklist to prepare a practical, workable business plan. We even make this easy for you with a 12 Step Business Plan workshop.


You’re not alone and we’re here to help you start your business. Call 13 12 49 or email us to speak with a specialist small business adviser – or visit us and make the most of our one-stop service.

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Related Information

Top Tips

  1. Call 13 12 49 or email us to speak with a specialist small business adviser.

  2. Visit us and make the most of our one-stop service for all the business information you need for the right start, as well as IBISWorld – an excellent industry and market research resource that covers more than 500 industries in Australia’s economy.

  3. From free Business Basics workshops to more specialised workshops and one-to-one advisory sessions, we can provide support – directly and through our partner organisations.

  4. Small business briefs and also step-by-step business guides that make it easier to deal with the complexity of starting and operating a small business.

  5. Sign up for our monthly e-news, which brings you all the latest from the SBDC and the West Australian small business sector.


Business Licence Finder helps you find the licences and registrations your business needs to operate in Western Australia.


Business Basics will provide you with an overview of all the key points you need to consider, along with hints and tips on where to find more detailed information and advice.

As part of the session you will also receive a practical resource book which can be used as the foundation of your business plan.