Starting a small business? Consider these things first

Starting any business takes a lot of preparation. If a new business venture is on the cards for you, the best way to start is with the right advice. Sydney-based career management coach Jane Jackson has literally written the book on kicking off new business ventures. In her bestseller Navigating Career Crossroads, she shares her tips on what all new startups need to know. 

Is starting a business right for you?

The most important question to ask yourself is why you want to start a business in the first place. What’s your motivation? Is it a matter of getting out of the corporate rat race? Or wanting the freedom to make money without a boss?

While valid, these reasons still focus on your needs as the business owner rather than the needs of your potential customers. For your business to be successful, the product or service offered needs to solve a problem.

Remember: your job isn’t to make money but to provide value.

Have you done market research?

Before starting out, you need to zero in on your unique offering. Yes, you need a solid business idea, but an idea is only as good as the market demand for it.

Ideally, there should already be an existing demand for your service or product. It’s important to test the viability of your idea. Market research will help you determine if there is demand for your product or service. It will also tell you if your business idea is one that generates interest and whether people will pay for what you plan to offer.

Luckily, gauging interest is simple. Conduct simple online surveys using services like Survey Monkey. Even more valuable is talking to others who have run successful businesses themselves and ask them about challenges they’ve faced.

Do you know your business structure?

After you’ve decided whether you’re starting your own business, buying a business, buying a franchise or starting a consultancy, you’ll need to decide on your business structure. Will you be a sole trader, partnership, a trust or a company? Talk to your tax accountant to find out what will be the best structure for your personal circumstances and visit the Australian Taxation Office for more information.

Building a small business plan


Do you need licenses, registrations, insurance?

At minimum, you’ll need to get an ABN number or an ACN number. This can be done through the Australian Business Register. You’ll need to register a business name after checking that it’s available. Visit the Business Names Register on the ASIC website.

Insurance is a good idea and setting up yearly coverage when you’re starting out won’t break the bank. Keep your finances in check by setting up a relationship with a good accountant. You might also want to trademark your business name. For the steps to protect your business name, visit IP Australia.

“Be prepared to put in the hard work and long hours, but remember building a business is an exciting and rewarding time”.

Do you have a business plan?

If you’re unsure about how to create a business plan, using a free business template is a good place to start. It will let you organise your strategy over the short and long term. You don’t have to stick to it religiously, but the more comprehensive your plan is, the more prepared you’ll be.

Do you have a website?

To harness the power of online marketing opportunities, you’ll need an online presence from day one. Register a domain name for your website through website domain registration sites such as Crazy Domains or NetRegistry.

Find a web designer to create your website and a graphic designer to design the logo for your business. You may be able to find affordable design work using online resources like Upwork (formerly Elance). And you might also need to hire a writer to communicate your message in the best way.

Do you have a mentor or business coach?

This is especially important if you’re new to business territory. A business coach or mentor can guide you with a wealth of wisdom and street smarts that will come in handy starting out.

If you’re lucky enough to have older and wiser contacts in business who are willing to help, ask for advice. If not, invest in coaching if you can afford it, or join a small business network in your local area. There’s may be some costs initially but they’ll pay off in the long run.

Once your plans are in place, it’s time to take that leap of faith. Be prepared to put in the hard work and long hours, but remember building a business is an exciting and rewarding time and will create a lasting legacy of your drive and passion.