Guide to starting your business

So, you want to start your own business? We have worked with hundreds of Australian business owners and entrepreneurs since 2012. Some businesses were established and looking to expand. Others were just starting up.

Every business story is unique. But there are some recurring themes. We have compiled a few things to consider before starting your business.

Starting your business means getting out of your comfort zone.

Coming up with an idea

Start your ideation journey with a concept that you are passionate about, or in a field that you have experience with. Then explore a product or service that you believe can improve people’s lives.

What can you get for free?

There are countless grants and business advice provided by Australian government departments and state-based business groups. Be sure to research what is currently available in your state and in your industry. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is a good place to start.

Get the basics right

Register your business name with ASIC, get a good accountant, understand your tax obligations, secure any permits or licences required to operate your business. Set up your books – understand where your cash will be coming from. Have a good record-keeping system. And keep it current. If your business is office-based, consider working from home to start with, it will reduce your expenses.

New becomes the norm

Innovation never stops. Your business idea was great 3 years ago, and your product or service was leading-edge. But the competition is catching up.  How much time are you spending on developing and innovating your offerings? Be sure to launch new products and services often. And promote them as much as possible.

Do you have a documented business plan?

Do you have an intimate knowledge of your market, your customers and your competition? When you write your business plan, research your market, and document your target audience. How will your business be different from others? How will you promote your business? Where is your capital coming from to set up your business? What expenses will you have? Is your business seasonal? There are many templates available from Australian government, banking or accounting web sites (e.g. Small Business Hub). The hard part is completing the plan, including an realistic revenue and expense forecast.

Network often

Don’t forget to spend time on your business rather than in your business. Take the time to network. Get out of your comfort zone. You will be surprised what you learn and who you might meet. Join local business groups, a meet-up, or attend industry conferences. Get an industry membership, be sure to get involved and contribute to your industry.

Be customer-obsessed

A few years ago, experts agree that we entered the age of the customer. Customers are king and they expect outstanding service. Understand what your customers want and what matters to them. Track and measure customer feedback and be sure to develop your product and services using the voice of your customers. It is priceless, and they will reward you with loyalty and repeat business.

Get digital

Do you have a professional online presence? Web site browsing, Google searches, product review sites and chatter on social media channels are the digital ways your future customers will discover you and assess your brand. Get professional help if you don’t know where to start.

Keep the cash coming in

Are you getting paid on your terms? According to Xero’s Small Business Insights, Australian small businesses are chasing late invoices every months. Be sure your creditors are reliable – your can use sites like CreditorWatch to check a company’s credit history. You can also invest in invoice collection software to make the process of chasing payment easier and automated.
[See related article: 7 Tips to Manage Cash Flow]

Hire the best employees you can afford

You don’t have to be good at everything. Hire people who have the right qualifications for your business. Do they represent your business values? Will they fit in your business? Don’t be afraid to instill diversity in your workforce. It can bring new perspectives and different talent can definitely enrich your business.

Be patient and stay positive

Starting a new business takes a lot of energy and investment before experiencing positive returns. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on your business. Ask yourself what is success for you? It might not necessarily be to become a millionaire. Accept the fact that there will be tough times ahead. Fail fast, learn and move forward.

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