10 things you need to start a business

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Thinking about starting a business?

Being your own boss and making your idea a reality can be the most exciting thing you’ve done.

There is a lot to consider when thinking about setting up your own business – but the good news is you’re not alone in the process.

Which is where resources like the Self-Employment Assistance program come in.

On 1 July 2022, the Self-Employment Assistance replaced the NEIS program.

Any time, any age, is a good time to start.


What you need to consider

business.gov.au and Forbes Advisor have 10 great suggestions to give you a rounded start on what might become your business journey.

Self Employment Assistance: employee looking at product designs

1. Determine your concept

Great businesses don’t happen overnight. There is more to it than just having an idea, your idea needs be profitable and something you’re good at.

Brainstorm what you enjoy, what you could make easier, or taking something existing and improving upon it. You can start by looking at popular business ideas for some inspiration.

For example, a digital product – like Canva - may give you less overhead costs.

Part of Merryn’s concept was to create physical artworks as part of legacy for her family and loved ones.

2. Do your research

This is a step that will benefit you in the long run.

While many business owners and entrepreneurs can give great attention to their product/service itself – this alone does not justify the need for it.

Doing your research looks like finding out if your idea already exists, who your competitors are, what consumers want, how they use something, if they’d buy something or how they think about something.

Make a SWOT analysis part of your process – identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

This process will empower you with the knowledge of what sets your product/service apart, or, what will become your unique selling point (USP).

Self Employment Assistance: business support call
Self Employment Assistance: business owner signing paperwork

3.  Make key decisions

Now that you have a concept, you need to make a series of important decisions.

How you will structure your business - will you be a sole trader? Do you plan to hire people? Where are your business premises?

As part of your research, you will need to research any business names you are considering before you register it.

Acquire any licenses or permits or registrations you will need.

4. Plan your business

Now you can start doing even more in-depth research, plan how you’ll market your product/service and set up your digital presence.

At this point, you will need to know who your competitors are, and what sets your product/service apart from theirs – what problem does it solve for the customer?

George’s idea for plastic-free hair washing is saving the beaches he loves so much, one customer at a time.

Your digital presence is not just setting up a few social media accounts, either.

Consider if you’ll sell through a website (your own or third party), setting up a business website and how you’ll connect with your customers online.

Consistency is key, so only select platforms you can maintain at this stage.

Self-Employment Assistance: woman sitting at her desk reviewing paperwork

5. Do your business plan

Your business plan is the cornerstone of your business, and it is important to do it well.

It includes things such as business description, market analysis, mission and goals, business structure, product/service description, background summary, your marketing plan and your financial plan.

Through the Self Employment Assistance Program delivered by APM Employment Services, this is one of the first things you and your business mentor will work on together.

You can always refer back to this plan, and as your business grows your plan will grow and change with you.

6. Set up your finances

Business finances are vastly different form managing your own personal finances.

You’ll need to know about cash flow – how you fund your business, what revenue you have coming in, and what your expenses are.

Tax is an essential area you will need to understand or seek professional advice for.

As a starting resource, there are usually a number of resources available from the Australian Government to help you do so.

There are also resources from state and territory governments and even some local councils.

Eliza had already started her business journey, and support from the program helped her launch into national and international markets.

Self-Employment Assistance: man smiling while leaning over a work desk

7. Protect your business

Know the phrase about being prepared for a rainy day?

You need some protections for your business.

It could be something small like anti-virus software. But there are a few bigger considerations, too.

Familiarise yourself with your state or territory’s work health and safety laws, so you can take any necessary measures to protect the health and safety of your employees, customers, visitors, and suppliers.

Secondly, protect your business’ intellectual property (IP) – it can be a name, creation, or idea – find out what legal protections are best suited for you.

Lastly, some forms of insurance are required by law for Australian businesses, find out what protections you need for third party injury, public liability and worker’s compensation (if you have or plan to have employees).

8. Know the law

As said above, there are things required by law for Australian businesses.

And there’s a range of laws which affect and influence how your business will trade.

These include, but are not limited to business registrations, fair trading, contracts, privacy, employment, contractors, franchising, intellectual property, importing and exporting, environmental protections, marketing along with terms and conditions.

It is best to seek professional advice, seek out a business consultant so you can learn what you need to know.

Self-Employment Assistance: Plant and horticulture business

9. Know how to hire and be hired

Whether having employees as part of your business is part of your plan or not, you will need to know how to hire people.

Someone becoming an employee is not the only way to hire someone.

There are different steps for hiring an employee, a contractor and even an apprentice.

Moreover, knowing in what capacity you are hired by another business and what your rights are is also essential.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Fair Work Ombudsman have some excellent, easy to read content on these topics.

10. Keep required records

Know where your important information is when you need it.

This can be business registration, your financial information, records for your tax return or employee information.

Keeping your records organised can help you understand how your business is tracking, manage your cash flow and meet your legal obligations.

Though you can keep records electronically or as hard copies, the ATO recommends electronic record keeping if possible.

Digital business or accounting software can make record keeping easier. If you decide to use it, make sure it complies with Standard Business Reporting.

Man smiling on laptop

Get the best start in business

Access professional mentorship, accredited training through the Self-Employment Assistance program.

As part of Workforce Australia, Self-Employment Assistance provides more support to more people, more businesses in even more places across Australia.

Self-Employment Assistance can help you:

  • Workshop a business idea
  • Create a business plan and develop your business skills
  • Provide you with accredited training in small business
  • Connect you with business coaching from experienced and local experts in a range of industries

Existing small business owners can also use Self-Employment Assistance to develop their business plan, access accredited training, undertake a business health check and access business advice sessions.

To find out more, visit apm.net.au/sea or contact the SEA team at selfemployment@apm.net.au or on 1300 006 347.