Starting a business from scratch is both rewarding and nerve-wracking.
When taking the entrepreneurship route, you’re in complete control of your own destiny.
Your chances of success depend entirely on your resilience, adaptability, ability to manage finances and many other skills you need to furnish yourself with to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive business world, which certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
That also means you’re responsible for all decisions and navigating the challenges that may arise along the way – especially during the bumpy first 12 months.
That’s why it is important to build a strong foundation for your new business. From your market research and website to your brand identity and marketing efforts, you need to have all of these elements in place early on.
So, rather than spinning your wheels and hitting a speed bump, follow my advice to transform your business from a lightbulb above your head to a real entity.
In this post, I’ll help you take the guesswork out of starting a business by providing you with an overview of 7 essential steps to follow to smooth your path to success.
Table of contents:
1. How to Start a Successful Business in 7 Steps
You may already have an idea of the legal requirements for starting a business in Australia, but a quick refresher never hurts.
So, before I provide you with a 7-step checklist for starting your own business I want to remind you that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) regulates all companies in Australia, including foreign-owned businesses, and manages the registration of business names.
This means you will need to deal with ASIC in situations such as registering your business name, complying with legal obligations, renewing your company’s registration, and much more.
ASIC’s official website provides comprehensive information concerning the requirements your business must comply with under Australian law, so it is essential that you check it out to understand exactly your legal obligations.
With that being said, let’s have a look at the 7 steps to get your business up and running.
1.1. Conduct Market Research
Extensive and accurate market research will tell you if there’s an opportunity to turn your idea into a thriving business. So, before taking the plunge and launching your startup, it is important that you analyse your market and target audience.
Start by having a look at your competitors – who they are, what products they offer, how their products and services are priced.
By studying your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can effectively understand your market and see what works and what doesn’t without going through the process of trial and error yourself.
You may also want to conduct online surveys to find out what your potential customers would think about your products or services.
Potentially, you can buy industry reports and market research data or hire a research firm to analyse your market.
Whatever you choose when getting the research ball rolling, be sure to base your decisions on real consumer behaviours so that you can get your business off on the right foot.
1.2. Create a Business Plan
Once you have identified your target market and consumer problems your product can solve, it’s time to focus on the specific steps necessary for you to make your business idea succeed.
While some business owners may be tempted to rush a product to market, creating a business plan is a crucial first step you need to take to set your goals and track your progress as your business starts growing.
Ask yourself, “Why do I want to start a business?”, “What are my end goals?”, “Do I have the funds to start a business?” (plus other questions you can find here).
All of these questions can be answered in a well-rounded business plan. Use it as a roadmap for how to run and grow your small business to ensure you increase your chances of success.
For example, the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software, Tim Berry, has revealed that a business plan doubles your chances for success.
Small Business Trends has highlighted that Palo Alto asked thousands of its software users questions concerning their businesses. The responses showed that businesses with a plan were twice more successful than businesses without a plan.
1.3. Fund Your Startup
Now that you have crafted the best business plan possible, it’s time to consider your funding options.
For many budding entrepreneurs, funding is almost always the sticking point. This is because no matter how brilliant your idea is, your startup success depends massively on your ability to find the money to start your business.
While many startup owners bootstrap their businesses by using their own capital or borrowing money from family or friends, there are other funding options available, depending on creditworthiness and the amount needed.
The three most popular options to acquire funding in the Australian Startup Ecosystem are:
- Angel investors – Angel investors are individuals who typically invest in the pre-revenue stage of a promising startup while also bringing their previous startup expertise and a wide network of connections.
- Venture capital (VC) – In Australia, venture capital is one of the most popular methods of funding a startup. Venture capital is provided by venture funds that typically invest in high growth potential startups in return for equity stakes.
- Government grants – Depending on the nature of your startup, you may be eligible for a wide array of government grants. Some of the best government grants in Australia are the R&D Tax Incentive, Accelerating Commercialisation, and Export Market Development Grant.
1.4. Choose a Business Structure
Once you have decided how to finance your startup, you need to determine your legal business structure based on the size and type of your business and how much you plan to grow and expand it.
Be sure to take stock of all available information and make an informed decision as each business structure has a direct impact on how much you pay in taxes, volume of required paperwork, startup costs, and asset protection.
There are four common types of business structures in Australia:
- Sole trader – This is the simplest and most affordable business structure. Put simply, a sole trader is a self-employed individual running a business who is legally responsible for every aspect of the business operation. Some examples of individuals who choose this business structure include business consultants, freelance writers, and tradespeople.
- Partnership – A partnership is made up of two or more individuals who decide to set up a business together and share income. Each of them is legally liable for the businesses’ debts. Just like the sole trade business structure, a partnership follows a simple registration process and is relatively inexpensive to set up.
- Company – A company is a separate legal entity that is owned by its shareholders. Unlike a sole trader and partnership, a company is a complex business structure that has higher set-up and operating expenses. A company’s directors and shareholders must comply with legal obligations that are outlined in the Corporations Act 2001.
- Trust – A trust is a business structure where a trustee is legally responsible for running the business on behalf of the trust’s members. A trustee can be either an individual or a company. A trust is a business structure that is especially common for businesses with more than one family member running the company. It requires high set-up expenses as the trustee and trust’s members must sign a formal deed outlining how the trust will operate.
1.5. Find the Right Location
Your business location is a crucial factor to consider and it’s not something that can be chosen on a whim.
Your decision can massively impact your business reputation, brand perception and, ultimately, your business’s chance of survival.
That’s why you must do your homework and set your startup up for success by choosing the right spot to plant your business.
Ask yourself, “How much can I afford to spend on overhead?”, “What type of space do I need?”, “Can I grow with the location?”, “How easy is the location to access?”, and “Do I have the money to take over a permanent brick-and-mortar location?”.
If your new business is not flush with cash, paying expensive overhead and signing a 5 to 10-year lease is a financial burden and risk you might not be able to afford. While on the other hand, running your business from home with no physical office can damage your company’s perception and put your personal information at risk.
If you are able to successfully run your operations remotely, the easiest way for you to enhance your business’s reputation while keeping overhead costs low is by getting a virtual office.
A virtual office includes a professional business address that helps you build a stronger brand image for your company while also keeping your business and family details separate.
In addition, premium virtual offices such as those provided by B2B HQ allow you to scale up with no downtime meaning that your registered company address never changes. We have flexible options for no lock-in contracts that enable you to instantly grow to larger virtual office packages and access more services as you scale up.
1.6. Register Your Business with ASIC
Once you have found the right location for your future but not yet hugely successful startup, it’s time to register your business with ASIC.
Do note that this step depends on the business structure you have chosen (see step no. 4).
For example, if you operate as a sole trader, you are not required to register with ASIC unless you are running your business under a name other than your personal name.
Please also note that ASIC does not register business structures, they only register business names.
Before registering your business name with ASIC, be sure to choose a memorable, catchy, attention-grabbing name that sets you apart from your competitors (to get some great tips on how to choose the right business name, spare a few minutes and read this post all the way to the end).
For more details on how to register your business, please check out the steps to register a company shared by ASIC.
1.7. Build a Powerful Brand
Have you registered with ASIC an impactful and memorable business name?
Congratulations! Now you’re one step closer to success.
However, before you start capturing leads and selling your product or service, it is important that you define and build a powerful brand that attracts customers and keeps them loyal.
There are many steps involved in the brand-building process, such as developing an identity and voice, creating content your audience wants, designing a visual identity, writing a mission statement, determining your brand values, and much more.
Remember, any aspect of your business that creates a connection between you and your customers is part of your brand identity and brand building process.
That’s why you need to be sure you put your best foot forward and resonate with your target audience by leveraging emotion in your branding efforts.
Check out my post on how to define and build a powerful brand for more inspiration. You’ll learn the best underrated tips on how to go beyond a catchy logo and slogan and create a successful, long-lasting brand.
Conclusion: Now that you’ve made it to the end, hopefully, you’re well on your way to building the thriving business you’ve always dreamed of.
If you need a helping hand to turn your business idea into reality, B2B HQ can get your new startup and business completely set up in under a week and provide you with amazing features and benefits, such as a permanent business address, secure mailbox, professional office space, Google Apps, and much more. Get your New Business Creation Package today and get everything your new business needs to be operational in one place…for less than $5 a day!