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Ten essential tips to start a new business

Transforming your idea for a business into a commercial reality can be both an exhilarating and stressful experience.

If you want your dream to materialise, it pays to adopt the right practices from day one. It is also important to research your idea and gather as much information as you can about your competitors and try to establish if your business is sustainable.

Before you get started, it’s important to identify your target market, establish a unique selling proposition, determine your brand identity and ensure your business model can compete in the market place.

If your idea is credible and scalable, then you’re ready to set up your organisation correctly and fulfill your legal requirements.

1. Devise a good business name

Your business name can accomplish a lot of things. First, it can communicate your branding and marketing messages to customers and investors. Research your competitors and see how they’ve tackled the branding issue. To be successful, your brand should differentiate your company, be noticeable and memorable. Check the Organisations & Business Names search to make sure your chosen name hasn’t been taken, and then register it.

2. Are you an individual, partnership or company?

If you’re responsible for everything relating to your business, you can be classed as a sole trader. If you’re starting a business with one or more others who share responsibility according to an agreement, you could qualify as a partnership. Becoming a company makes your business a legal entity that is separate from the owners or shareholders and entails stricter regulations. Ask for legal advice to determine the best structure for you.

3. Set up your ABN

The Australian Business Register issues an Australian Business Number (ABN). This is not an absolute requirement but you need an ABN to create purchase orders and invoices. If you’re a company, you have to register with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) before you get an ABN

4. Register trademarks and patents where required

Simply registering your business name is not enough to protect it. Registering trademarks with IP Australia can help you protect names, slogans, designs or logos that apply your business. If you have an invention or a new process, a patent can protect it. It is also wise to register your Australian (.au) and other domain names (.com, .net) and use your company name on all social media outlets.

5. Ensure you meet any legal requirements.

The Government has an online guide for small businesses to help with legal issues. Read it through and make sure you comply.

6. Tax requirements and Business Activity Statements.

A number of taxes apply to businesses. It’s vital to learn about Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT), Goods and Services Tax (GST), payroll tax, debits tax, Pay as you Go withholdings tax and others. The Government provides a detailed guide with helpful information. Most tax requirements are dealt with on your quarterly Business Activity Statements (BAS) which can be filed online. If you employ staff, you’ll also need to make superannuation payments for them each quarter.

7. Get insured

Insurance is important for new businesses for a number of reasons. Company premises should be covered against fire and accidental damage. Life and income protection insurance can cover key individuals. Business interruption insurance covers your revenue if you can’t trade because of an insurable event. Public liability insurance is vital in case you’re sued for personal injuries or damaging property through your business or product.

8. Obtain required licenses and permits

Visit the Australian Business License and Information Service (ABLIS) to see if you will need any licences to operate. Keeping your finances in order is essential for every business. Consider hiring an accountant to help with your financial records.

9. The right software

Day to day operations can be simplified with software for tasks such as payroll, timesheets, HR and accounting. There are many types of business software tools available online including Frontier Software for HR, Quick Timesheets, Kwik-Pay Payroll and Attaché for accounting.

10. Advice and Support:

When starting a business, there are many support services available to help you with setting up your business including business.gov.au, Business Enterprise Centres and Small Business Support Line. There are also many events taking place throughout the year in most area of Australia on all issues relating to starting a business, you can find a calendar of many of these events at business.gov.au/events.


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Greg Butler

Greg Butler

Greg Butler is a Communications Advisor with <a href="http://www.aami.com.au/business-insurance">Commercial Insurance at Suncorp</a>. He has a long history in the advertising industry, heading the creative departments of local and international agencies, including Clemenger, AdPartners and Leo Burnett. He is <a href="http://www.gio.com.au/business-insurance">experienced in insurance</a> and financial services having worked on accounts including AMP, Standard &amp; Chartered Bank, AGC/Westpac and Sun Alliance.

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