What do you need to be successful when starting a small business?
If you’ve got a great idea for commencing a new small business, you’re probably pretty excited. But before you rush out and get started, there are some things you need to consider first.
Do your research
While you may think your new product or service is such a brilliant idea everyone will want to buy it, it pays to do some research beyond your immediate family and friends. You might want to conduct surveys or provide free samples to see if there is demand for what you want to offer. No matter how great your idea is, if it doesn’t satisfy a need of your target market, you’re just wasting your time. This may mean making adjustments along the way or even scrapping a concept and starting again. You should also have a look at your projected cash flow to see if your small business is a viable concept. Your bookkeeper or accountant can help you crunch the numbers.
Do have a plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail, and to ensure your business is a success you need to develop a business plan. Using the information gleaned during your research, put together a plan for what your business will look like in one year and 5 years’ time. Your business plan should include your marketing strategy (how you will promote your business), your operational plan (how you’ll run your business) and your financial plan (e.g. costs and cash flow projections) among others. You can download a free business planning app to help you.
Do the paperwork
Once you’ve decided there’s a market for your offering and you can turn a profit, the next step is to do all the relevant paperwork to get your business up and running. This includes getting a Tax File Number (TFN) and/or Australian Business Number (ABN), registering for BAS/GST, checking what licenses or permits you need and registering your business name. You’ll also need to consider what structure your business will take. There are advantages and disadvantages for each type so consider which one best suits the needs of your business, and seek advice from your accountant.
Do the books
Setting up your accounting system right from the start will ensure fewer headaches down the track. Cloud-based apps such as Xero, Recon and MYOB will ensure you receive real-time data on what’s happening in your business. We’re accredited in all the major software brands and can advise you on the most suitable ones for your business.
Do get help
Going into business can be lonely, even if you have staff, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Have a team of trusted advisors such as your lawyer, accountant, bookkeeper, bank manager and others, whom you can turn to for ideas, guidance and to act as a sounding board.
There are also some things you should definitely avoid, especially in the early days when you’re not quite sure what you’re doing.
Don’t try to do it all
You’ll have your own areas of expertise which won’t cover every aspect of your business so aim to make yourself redundant as soon as possible. Ensure you include a budget and plan for hiring staff as soon as you can to avoid overdoing things and burning yourself out.
Don’t go it alone
Surround yourself with a network of like-minded people who can provide support and advice, and reassure you that there’s no such thing as a silly question. These people are not just staff and business advisors; it’s important to get support from other business owners who are going through the same experiences you are to help you gain insights and sometimes even provide a shoulder to lean on.
Don’t ignore your vision
The vision you have for your business will help guide you and determine what you need to do to achieve your ultimate goal. Not having a vision is like walking around blindfolded – you won’t know where you’re going or how you’ll get there.
There will inevitably be times when you’re not certain what your next move should be and it can be tempting to try to analyse the situation from every angle. However, this can lead you to not making any decision and being paralysed by the fear of making the wrong one. Making a bad decision is better than not making one at all as at least you can learn from your mistakes and move on.
Going into business can be a daunting but exciting prospect. These tips will help get you started and we’re always happy to help you on your way with getting the right software and systems in place – just ask.
The Author - Rouli van der Linde
After studying at QUT whilst running a mobile bookkeeping business, Rouli headed over to the UK where she worked for a national car rental fleet. On returning she oversaw the accounting department of national construction equipment retailer before once again launching her own bookkeeping business in 2010.
She has a passion for cloud solutions & systemising business processes.