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How to start a business from scratch



Advice | Funding | Investment | Investing | Opinion | Raising capital | Startup | Tips | Advice

By Cliff Ho

Taking the leap of faith to establish a small business can be incredibly daunting. By no means an easy task, the myriad of formal loops to jump through, combined with business plans, prospective employees and the like, can be overwhelming.

There are currently 2.25 million small businesses in Australia with that number growing each year. With many of these born from passions or hobbies, business know-how may not come easily to some and no doubt many wish there was a simple step-by-step guide to help them in the beginning.

While establishing a business is not that simple, there are a few straightforward steps to take in the early days.

Research the market

Knowing your industry like the back of your hand is key. Beyond this, research is imperative. Understanding everything that is happening in your world, and doing everything you need to, plus some will ensure you stay ahead of the game.

Competition is good, but aiming to always do that little bit more is what will get cut through.

Preparation is key

One of the simplest ways to ensure you have all your ducks in a row is by visiting the Australian government business website. Everything you need to consider from an administrative perspective is laid out simply and plainly, because let’s face it, it can get complicated.

This preparation includes everything from registering for an ABN, choosing a business name, compiling a business plan, knowing whether you need any licences or permits, and the list goes on.

By being prepared there is less margin for error and more scope for success. This makes the business journey slightly less nerve wracking and reduces overall stress.

Plan your finances

A necessary evil, one of the most important components of starting a business is the financials. It’s imperative that you consider and implement a budget, know your cash flow situation, work out your method of paying employees (if you have people on the books) and so on.

If numbers aren’t your thing, it might be worth outsourcing this task to a bookkeeper to ensure it is completed properly.

Finally, be realistic and know you probably won’t be bringing in millions initially. But if you have everything in place and your offering is strong, it shouldn’t be too long before your bank account reaps the benefits.

Set goals

It is important to remember your purpose as a business owner and ensure all actions have an end game. Whether this be financial or based on client satisfaction, setting yourself measurable targets helps keep you on track and gives you something to aim to.

However, be realistic with yourself. Never set goals that aren’t feasible, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Invest in marketing

If you can, it is worth ensuring you have a marketing budget set aside to invest into things such as a good website, branding, digital marketing and public relations. By ensuring that you have a cohesive brand and strong messaging in place, it is going to be a lot easier to penetrate your intended market than simply hoping for the best.

Investments into Google Ads and social media advertising is also a strong tactic, allowing you to hit the exact audience you need to be a successful business.

While the beginning stages of opening a business can seem incredibly daunting, by remaining organised and practical it can reduce the stress load on you as an owner and ensure greater long term success – which is ultimately everyone’s end goal.

Cliff Ho is the co-founder and CEO of leading Australian coworking operator, The Commons.

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