Ever thought about leaving behind the traditional 9-to-5 and making that business dream come true? You’re not alone. In fact, almost 98% of all Australian businesses are small businesses, and 62% are sole traders – people just like you. If you’re considering starting a small business of your own, you’ll be in the best position to succeed by planning ahead. This quick guide covers off all the basics for getting a business off the ground.
Decide on a business structure
In Australia, there are three common types of business structure you can choose from:
- Sole trader: You’re considered the sole owner of the business and accept responsibility for all legal liabilities (such as business debt). This is the most common type of business.
- Company: The business is a separate legal entity, which limits your legal liability. With this type of business, you file a separate tax return for the business and pay a company tax rate.
- Partnership: You run a business with one or more people, but not in the form of a company. With this type of business, you decide on a partnership agreement about how you’ll share profits, debt and work.
If you’re not sure which structure is right for you, it’s a good idea to talk to a financial adviser with experience in setting up businesses for clients. Keep in mind you can change your structure as your business evolves.
Apply for an ABN
Your Australian Business Number (ABN) helps the government and other businesses identify you for tax and invoicing purposes. You can apply for an ABN for free at register.business.gov.au.
Create a business plan
Think of your business plan as a guidebook for starting and running your business. Don’t worry too much about the formalities of a business plan to begin with, as it will take shape as you go along. As a starting point, write down your overall business concept, mission and goals. From there, you should also include:
- Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – what gives your business a competitive edge
- An overview of your target market and your key competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
- Your business and marketing strategy and how you will implement it
- Your financing needs
Define your branding
Your branding is a representation of your business’ values, ethos and personality. It’s important to get this sorted early on, because it helps keep your messaging and visual elements consistent wherever your business appears, online or offline.
To figure out your branding, it’s helpful to consider questions like:
- How would I describe my business in three adjectives?
- What kind of personality does my business have?
- What makes my business unique?
- What problems does my business solve?
Also think about the colours, fonts and themes that would best represent your business. You can take inspiration from other businesses (being mindful not to use the same designs), or a designer or branding agency can provide guidance.
Set up your website
A well-designed, easy-to-navigate website is crucial when starting a business. Fortunately, website builders like Squarespace and WordPress are easy to use even if you have no web design experience. Or if you’re after a more customised website, a professional web design company can help.
You’ll also need to purchase and register a domain name for your website. Find out how to register a domain name here.
Set up your social media pages
Social media is a key business marketing tool to boost your online visibility, engage with customers and bring more visitors to your website. There are lots of social media platforms out there, but you don’t need to be on all of them. Focus on the platforms that your target customers are most likely to be on, and the ones that best showcase your products or services.
List your business in online directories
Using a complete tool such as White Pages Connect allows you to create and update your directory listings, as well as quickly and easily update your details across the major search engines, social media sites, apps and maps. Find out more here.