Starting a business is the beginning of an exciting – and sometimes challenging period in your life. Suddenly you find yourself immersed in a whole new world of licensing, insurance, marketing and leasing – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
We have created a checklist to help guide you through the early stages of establishing your business. Follow the steps below to help you decide if you are ready to go into business, how to get started and where to seek help along the way.
TIP: Download and print a copy of the checklist and tick off as you complete each section.
Steps to start your business
Determine if you are ready
Going into business for yourself for the first time will change your lifestyle, professionally and personally, and can involve a significant financial commitment.
Whether your business succeeds or fails depends on many things including your abilities, initiative and capacity to work, as well as the economic and business environment.
Assess your business idea
The only way you can know if your business idea is going to work is by undertaking market research. This could involve researching information on the industry, undertaking competitor analysis and surveying potential customers. Determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) of your business idea.
Analyse your market research with an open and unbiased mind. If your research shows that a proposed business venture has a high probability of failure it would be unwise for you to proceed.
Read our section on the feasibility of your business idea for more detailed information. IBISWorld reports covering more than 500 industries can be viewed at our business information centre. You can also request industry benchmarks by contacting one of our business advisers.
Build your business plan
Although initially it may seem like a lot of work, a well prepared business plan can save time and money in the long run and help you secure funding and major contracts.
Learn more about business planning and use our template to complete your plan.
Choose your business structure
Once you have established the viability of your business idea, you will need to decide on the structure that best suits your business and its particular circumstances.
Learn more about business structures and their tax implications.
Check your legal obligations
There are legal obligations associated with starting a business including licences, registrations, taxation and insurance.
Before your start trading make sure that you understand your legal obligations in order to avoid any fines or penalties.
Build your support team
It is advisable to surround yourself with trusted and reliable advisers who can help you with start-up issues and then assist you as your business develops.
Your support team may include an accountant, lawyer or industry association. Our building your support team series has more information to help you get started.
Figure out your finances
An important part of running a small business is understanding how to set up and manage your finances. You will need to work out whether you can afford to start the business and how much money you will need. It’s not just your start-up costs, you will also need to assess how you will access the money to fund your future plans.
If you are considering obtaining finance you will need to complete some financial forecasts beforehand to provide to your financial institution or investors.
Market your business
Many small businesses come up with a great business idea and then fail to market it successfully. You need to get out and spread the word about your product or service to the right people to generate business. Advertising and selling are part of the process but there is much more involved.
Our marketing section has some useful resources and information to assist you.