You’ve decided to wear that most lucrative title of all: an entrepreneur!
Good on you!
We wish you the best of luck and hope to give you some insider information on starting a business in Australia. Here are 43 great tips to consider before you get started.
1. Know your industry’s red tape
Your big advantage is that it takes (on average) 3 days to finish the formal processes required for starting a business in Australia. That is astonishingly quick compared to other developed countries.
However, be warned: registering your business may be a breeze but ensuring you meet all the legal requirements can be tricky. But hey, we don’t mean to put you down right off the bat! What we mean is that you should dig into the rules, regulations & requirements that your business should meet. Legal essentials for business.
2. Do the math: startup or conventional?
Is your idea a technology-based scalable one, or is it a regular service? Do you need investment from venture capitalists or will procedural loans from banks do? These are important factors that will impact the destiny of your business.
That’s why you must first have clarity about the amounts you need to get your business up and running. Innovative startup ideas are inherently risky: you might not want to tie up your life’s savings in the hope of sky-high returns. Safe bets on businesses like a Subway franchise will yield lower returns on investment but are likely to give steady returns.
3. Short- & long-term vision: have both
Envision where you see your business in both the short-term (6-12 months) & the long-term (3-5 years). The outlook of business has changed considerably due to COVID-19. You have to take this pandemic and its fallout into consideration, before starting a business in Australia.
Another advantage of this dual vision is that it saves you from getting blindsided, so to speak. If (and when) uncertainty or unpredictability strikes, make immediate changes to your short-term vision and tweak your long-term vision according to what the new future of your chosen industry looks like.
4. Sole owner, partnership, or company?
One of the earliest decisions you must make about your business in Australia is whether you will be the only owner, run the company in collaboration with others, or open up financing to shareholders to whom you will be answerable as executive. This is quite dependent on the scope of your business, too, so be wary.
5. Look for funding in the right places
Not everyone will be on board with your ambitions. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine! You don’t need everyone to agree with your plans – you just need to find the ones who do. Family, friends, crowdfunding are well and good, but a far cry from actual professional financial assistance and – more importantly – advice.
Practically, this means searching online for the venture capital firms, investment funds and startup incubators who are already established in your idea’s domain (industry), especially if you have ideas for the tech industry. If you can rustle up collateral, you can approach banks to get your business up and running. Here is a list of the top 12 venture capital firms in Australia.
6. Plan out your cash flow
Some time ago, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed data that said 60% of businesses close down by the end of their third year – and a majority of them were forced to close due to cash flow problems. Again, don’t take this the wrong way: look at the silver lining.
What this data tells you is that you have an advance warning about a major red flag – cash flow. When you (and your investors) plan how you are going to run the business, focus on generating and maintaining cash flow.
7. Know who you are selling to- when starting a business in Australia
One easy to remember – and understand – marketing truism comes from the renowned marketing guru, Philip Kotler: “CUSTOMER IS KING.”
It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Regular customers are the ones who keep your business afloat when times are hard, when bringing in new customers becomes difficult. So think of how you can build long-term friendships with your customers right from the time you start selling your product or service – no matter what it is.
8. Passion does not (necessarily) equal success
Now you obviously are passionate about your business idea, aren’t you? However, what you think is an awesome idea might not necessarily be one.
So do your research – and do it well – before starting your business in Australia. Almost everything you need is online: read up articles & news, meet up people who are in that industry, register your business & take advice from experts! Passion is great – back it up with knowledgeable actions.
9. Compare domestic & foreign resources
Depending on the industry you are starting your business in, you will have to establish professional contacts with your suppliers of raw materials, manpower, soft skills, customer support – a business does not survive in a vacuum.
So, our metaphorical advice is: before you start exploring the sparkling sea of business, try and figure out where you will dock your ships and restock them. Will they be local producers and people or offshore factories and outsourced workers? Where in this world will your business find the best partners in terms of cost and quality?
10. Don’t be afraid to set huge goals when starting a business
Australia is a vast market with lots of opportunities. Aim high so that you work towards achieving the goals you have set for yourself. Use the goals as motivation to overcome obstacles, because the way of the entrepreneur is not paved with gold – but only at the beginning!
A huge goal ensures that you keep working hard and you keep moving forward.
11. Get a hold of your name
There is something satisfying about running your business under a name that you chose. To do that, you need to first check its validity and availability.
Ever wonder why some businesses spell their names a little weirdly? They probably had to do so because the name they wanted was already in use by another business. Check that the name you want to register your business under is not already taken by searching the registers of the ASIC.
If you need some inspiration for coming up with a great name for your App idea, then have a look at this 7 step guide on how to pick a great name for your App.
12. Expand your online presence
Remember, if people can’t find you on google, then you don’t exist.
First things first: to register a .com.au domain, you need to be a registered Australian business (Pty Ltd company, sole trader, partnership or trust) with an ABN (Australian business number).
Remember, the first tip was to know your industry’s red tape inside out. Use the knowledge you have to speed up the registration process of your website if you are raring to get your business started!
13. Be aware of government fees when starting a business in Australia
Registering and running a business is subject to approval from the Australian government, and you know what that means – money!
Check out these document lodgement and annual review fees that you will encounter every time you complete another year on your entrepreneur journey. It may be just a minor chore in the bigger scheme of things – in fact, we hope that you will be able to hire people to take care of such things for you – but it is vital.
14. Find out if you need GST– when starting your business in Australia
Many businesses in Australia need to register themselves for the Goods & Services Tax. Go through the website and find out whether you need to be registered, and do so at the earliest to avoid any complications later on.
15. Seek the advice of experts – for free!
That’s right, (some of) the best things in life are free! Don’t be afraid to reach out to industry experts, if you ask nicely, most of them will be happy to help. Linkedin is a great platform for such outreach.
Check out some great sites like this one that is specifically focused on providing advice about finances, day-to-day operations, obligations and every facet of keeping a business going.
Join Reddit (the front page of the internet!) and find communities that discuss things related to your industry. You will see that the subreddits are quite varied and there exists a subreddit for most topics you may need advice about – and if there isn’t, just start one.
16. Get some testimonials & reviews
You’re new to the scene and going up against established competitors, some of whom will be more experienced at price wars and business tactics. So how do you convince people that they should give your product or service a try?
One of the most effective ways to do this is to showcase glowing reviews and stories of satisfied customers. You can do this through an expensive but far-reaching ad campaign or through cheap but intensive word-of-mouth marketing.
17. Understand your T&Cs in & out
When you sell something, you enter into a legal contract with the people you are selling to. The terms and conditions cover all the legal aspects of this contract, so take care and invest time and effort into making them clear and precise.
Go through business legalities with a sharp eye, covering refunds, obligations and standards that must be met to do business in Australia. Consumer laws are pretty stringent and attract heavy penalties if not abided to. Always err on the side of caution.
18. Decide your sphere: local, global, or glocal
It goes without saying that your product or service decides this factor for you. You can’t expect to be a global hairdresser (just as an example). However, starting local should not stop you from having global ambitions.
This was the case with many small businesses that scaled up once they hit the ceiling of their scope in the domestic Australian market. Food export, IT outsourcing, and the energy sector are good examples of businesses being able to cover both local and offshore markets once they reach that level.
19. Hire people who believe in you
Out-of-the-box ideas may be a cliche, but there is no doubt that when they DO work, they work fantastically. What you need most to make your idea work, whether it’s inside the box or outside it, is a committed team.
Businesses are rarely one-person operations. Even if you start off alone as the sole executive, the success of your business will necessitate hiring partners, employees and staff. Choose those people who believe in your idea and take ownership for the success of your business.
20. Inculcate a ‘company culture’
“We’ll be honest – we love our company culture.” Now THAT is what your employees should say when someone asks them how they feel working at your new business! It is entirely in your hands to create a company culture from day one that rewards your employees for showing qualities you find beneficial for business.
In effect, what this means is that you have to fine-tune your hiring process so that you are selecting those people who are already aligned at a deep level with what you as a business do.
21. Practice being an employer, not an employee
Being an employer is vastly different from being an employee. When you are starting your business, you will have to learn the skills and temperament needed to be a fair and effective boss. You will have to make some hard decisions at times and you will have to look at things differently, this will take time and practice. So be open to learning and you will eventually grow into the role of an employer.
22. Be ready to pivot, pivot, pivot
There are fewer truer quotes than the famous line from ‘To A Mouse’ by Robert Burns: “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” It’s not something you expect, it’s just the randomness of the world interfering with your ambitions. The Coivd19 pandemic being one such random act.
What do you do when faced with such a dilemma? Pivot!
This is an edge you will have over your bigger competitors, as a new company, you will be able to pivot more freely and quickly.
23. Take COVID-19 into account before starting your business
There may be increased regulations as well as area-specific Standard Operating Procedures in place for businesses (both old & new) due to the global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. Ensure you adhere to all safety precautions as you go about starting a business in Australia.
24. Understand employers’ responsibilities
There is a fair number of requirements that need to be fulfilled if you are going to
be employing people to work for you. The Fair Work Ombudsman is the place to check so that you can be sure you aren’t missing out on any of them.
25. Engage an accountant/accounting firm
Finances can be a mess, especially when you are just starting a business in Australia. To get a set of best practices established as soon as possible, take the help of experienced accountants who will save you from future troubles as far as your bookkeeping and money records are concerned.
26. Dive deep into your market
If you have a good business idea, it stands to reason that you have thought about its market potential. Don’t be satisfied with rudimentary market research, dive deep into your market. Remember, your competition will be gunning for you from the moment you try to take away their customers.
27. Begin advertising as soon as you can
Being new, one of your biggest hurdles in marketing your product will be that no one knows you, and the most effective of all marketing strategies ‘word of mouth’ will not be available to you in the beginning. Your best friend then will be advertising, so don’t delay it.
28. Research if your idea is eligible for government grants
That’s right, you might be eligible for grants to start a business in Australia! Begin your research at the government’s Australian business department by clicking on this link right here. Here is a list of 12 government grants for Australian startups.
29. Summarize your business idea
When you approach organizations or people for funding, support and any other process related to starting a business, they may want to look over your proposal in their own time. In these scenarios, it helps a lot to have a summary of your business plan on-hand.
30. Look up business licenses & insurances
Every industry has its own licensing and red tape that you must overcome, no matter how tedious (or ridiculous) it may be. For example, drone pilots (for video recordings & aerial photography) need remote pilot licenses and associated insurance.
31. Get heaps of positive reinforcement when starting your business
Your family, friends and relatives can be a great source of positivity when things seem tough. Maintain strong relationships with those who understand what you are aiming for, and they will be your biggest source of inspiration in the moments when it may seem like things are going against you.
32. Understand tax brackets & breaks
Once you register your company, you will fall under a tax cap of 27.5% if your revenue is under ten million dollars. There are some exceptions to this rule depending on the nature of your business and the tax breaks available will also be impacted by what you business does. Check out there government links for more details: Company tax rates/Tax deductions.
33. Set yourself apart – find your USP
The Unique Selling Point is the blanket term that describes what makes your offering different for your target consumers – the reason WHY they would choose you over your competition. It will play an important role in your advertising and marketing, too!
34. Network – then network some more
The more people you interact with, the better your chances of finding more ways to make your business in Australia successful. From venture capitalists down to street vendors, if your business idea is going to become a reality, it needs people (other than yourself) to make that happen!
35. Explore multiple avenues for capital
As an Australian business you have multiple avenues that you can explore for raising capital. Government grants, venture capital firms, loans, to name a few. Don’t be deterred if your initial attempts are not successful or if you fail to raise enough funds, keep exploring.
36. Don’t ignore mentorship & advice
Right from governmental advice to private startup incubators in Australia, there is heaps of good advice available for you to consider. If you have a seasoned business person or a serial entrepreneur watching your back as you ride the rough surf of new business, you can paddle out that much more confidently.
37. Access New Business Assistance
Head over to this site and find out if you are eligible for the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme. It has new directives for COVID-19, and has been going strong for 35 years, making a huge difference to lots of budding entrepreneurs like yourself.
38. Leverage technology to the max
It is nearly impossible to run a business without technology, but we are assuming you are aware of that. We want to egg you on to find out the best way to use tech to suit your business in ways you may not have thought of. Most tech is cheap (and hence, cost-effective) – starting with Google’s suite of business tools!
Even building your own App might be easier and more profitable for your business than you had imagined.
39. Don’t skimp on insurance
Nobody wants to think about the negative outcomes that are possible when you go about starting your business in Australia. It throws a wet blanket on the entire enterprise, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, it is best to be prepared for the worst. Choose insurance carefully and hope that you never need it!
40. Set your sights on lands beyond Oz
If we haven’t said this before, we will say it now: dream big! Aim to be so successful in Australia that you can expand your business to other countries. This is especially true for tech startups. There are many recent examples of Australian companies making it big globally. I.e Canva, Afterpay.
41. You’re not alone – join the community
The Rounded blog for entrepreneurs says that 98%, you read that right – of Australian businesses are small businesses. That means you are becoming part of a well-established community of like-minded people, and you might relate to many of them at an intellectual level! Seek and you shall find, said Matthew, but perhaps he didn’t have entrepreneur communities in mind.
42. Forge your own path
You are embarking on a unique journey that is bound to be full of challenges, happiness and hopefully, money. But no two entrepreneur journeys are the same, everyone has their own path to greatness. Heed good advice, learn from mistakes, and most importantly don’t be afraid to forge your own path.
43. Don’t forget why you started a business
It is easy to lose sight of why you started your business. When success or failure comes your way, and they will, you can easily get carried away with the momentum that comes with them. Do not let success or failure change your view of the world, regularly remind yourself why you started in the first place.
Get to it – no better place than Oz, no better time than now!
If you have an idea and are considering starting a business in Australia, just start with some of our tips here. There is a lot of planning and work that goes in before you actually start your business.
The Covid19 pandemic has completely transformed the world of business, which means there is room for new innovations and new companies to take root.