Start a small business

How to start a small business?

by Angus Jones

To start a small business is most likely a labour of love. Sometimes it is turning a hobby or passion into a business. Unfortunately, in some cases, some decisions are made with the heart rather than the head. Poor planning or operational choices made for the wrong reasons can easily see a business end all too quickly.

We certainly do not want to talk you out of this amazing journey, as many successful millionaires grew from a small business. The most important thing you can do here is plan well, understand the effect it will have on you and your family, and understand the implications if it does not work. This guide will give you a process to work through to maximise your chance of success.

There are more than two million small businesses in Australia, most with a turnover of less than $10 million per year and less than 20 staff. The average small business has three staff or fewer.

WHAT is important to consider before you start a small business?

Here at Small Business answers, we want to bring you the best-unbiased advice. To save you visiting many different websites, we have assembled easy-to-read guides on the most common questions and processes you must follow to start a small business. This information is broken down into easy categories, as seen at the top of this page. You can quickly find information on the subject you are looking for by using the quick search box to the right.

The basic steps to start a small business:

  1. Consider if you are really ready
    2. Evaluate your business idea
    3. Build a business plan
    4. Choose how you want your business structured
    5. Check your government/legal obligations
    6. Consider what support you will need from others
    7. Figure out your finances
    8. Promote your business

As part of your research you should visit a handy guide produced by the Australian government. Here you will find information to help you work through the steps such as being ready, making decisions, planning, etc. You can even find information on government grants, events, and training that may help you get started.

A checklist is also available that will guide you through the most important factors you need to consider. This includes checking your rationale for starting the business, determining the right business structure, tax implications, and insurance. There are tick boxes for you to check off, which will put you in a much better and safer position in the long run.
Read our essential guides on business structure, tax, GST, record keeping, marketing, building a website, and insurance, or just explore our many guides designed to make your decision-making easier.

HOW do you write a business plan to help start a business:

What is a business plan?

Starting a business is so much more than a good idea and a business plan is a document that makes you go through the entire process including financials. In many cases, a bank, investor, or maybe your partner will require a business plan to justify supporting you in this new endeavour.

A business plan will normally include the following:
  • A summary of what your business will do
  • Where will it be located
  • If it will employ staff, what will that structure look like?
  • What products and services will you offer, where and for how much?
  • How will you manage risk including insurances?
  • Are there legal considerations?
  • What do you need to buy in the way of fixed equipment like a computer or inventory to sell or make something?
  • What hours will you be open and how will you collect payment?
  • How big is the market potential and do you have competitors?
  • Who is your customer and where are they?
  • A list of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of your business (SWOT).
  • What is your Sales and Marketing Strategy?
  • What is your vision and what objectives need to be met to get there?
  • How much money do you need to start your business?
  • How much revenue do you believe you can make?
  • Will you make a profit or a loss?
  • At what point will you actually pay yourself
  • When do you plan to break even?
  • What information have you used to back up these other questions?

It all sounds a bit daunting! But if you work through these points, you will have a much clearer picture rather than starting a business on a gut reaction. Downloading this government business plan how to guide will really make the whole process that much easier.


Another great place to consider learning more is via a TAFE course, where you will benefit from a face-to-face discussion on the subject.

The great feature of the Small Business Answers website is we are pulling together the most frequently asked questions in starting or running a small business. Please continue to visit this site as we continually update with new information to help you succeed.

SUMMARY – Gather templates and checklists

Make sure you a ready to start a small business and have done your homework on the opportunity. Use some of the fantastic templates and checklists available to help you build out a business plan.

Starting a business is just the beginning of your journey, and you should be prepared to work hard and deal with the unexpected. There is lots to learn and a high level of responsibility, especially if you hire staff. Owning your own business is not easy, but being your own boss will also bring many rewards and flexibility.

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Jane Ruljancich July 29, 2020 - 1:56 PM

Hi there! I am a small business person (sole trader) (I’m a good friend of Holly’s)

My question is, is there a suggested average percentage of turnover that is an ideal percentage to spend on leasing premises? So, I’m guess I’m wondering if there’s a ‘golden rule’ regarding how much to budget for the expense of your premises?

Kind Regards,

Angus Jones July 29, 2020 - 3:53 PM

Hi Jane
I suggest you speak to an accountant about this. There are so many factors involved including a cheap lease in a retail environment may mean no business versus an expensive lease that may drive more business. There is a link on how to start a business to a checklist that has some financial modelling which you could play around with.


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