Starting a Business Checklist

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Starting a business can be an exciting time, especially for those that are doing what they love.

But we understand for many first time business owners that it can get quite overwhelming with what seems like a never-ending lists of tasks to do before they even open.

This is where we come in!

If you’re ready to take that big step from talking about your brilliant business idea at the dinner table, to actually launching a company, it helps to know where to start and what boxes need to be ticked.

There are plenty of free resources out there that provide a guide of what needs to be done. As advisors who have walked countless clients through this process over the years, we wanted to put our spin on a business start up checklist, to help new business owners foresee some of the essential items that need to be ticked off to start your business venture and stay compliant.

While a checklist can be a great general guide to signpost what’s ahead, we definitely believe the best way to start on the right track when jumping into a business is to engage a business advisor who not only knows their stuff, but is passionate about making your goals come to fruition.

Come up with your business idea and/or your product or service

Before you begin anything else, you need to come up with your unique business idea – what sets you apart from the rest.

Alongside this, you will decide if you’ll be offering a product or service as this can change what needs to be ticked off in your checklist.

You don’t start a business for the sake of having a business, there needs to be a demand for your product or service. So, if you’re still waiting for inspiration to strike, consider:

  • Is there a gap in the market that you’ve noticed?
  • What problems or roadblocks do you encounter that you have a solution for?
  • Is there a service area that you’re really passionate about?
  • What product would make your life easier that others would also benefit from?

Talk to an accountant and financial advisor

You should always speak to your accountant and financial advisor before you start a business as they can assist you with the whole process, from planning a business to running it successfully into the future, and give you great business advice to inform your decisions.

Your accountant can help with strategic planning, business set up, banking and finance assessments, business valuations, debtor management, succession planning, bookkeeping, tax and superannuation matters, and so much more.

Your financial advisor can help you with investment advice, financial planning, superannuation, insurance and more.

Both your accountant and financial advisor act as business advisors and can help guide you through the important stages of starting a business. If you’d like to speak to an experienced accountant or financial advisor, contact our team today.

Conduct market research

This is where you research your audience and competitors to gain a better understanding of your customers needs and wants, and what your competitors are already doing well and not so well.

You should also research suppliers you may need, potential business locations and industry trends.

When beginning, you can either conduct primary research yourself by creating surveys and focus groups, or getting direct feedback, or search for secondary information from sources such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), social media, business groups, traditional and digital advertising, websites and blogs.

Learn more about conducting market research for a new business here.

Create a business plan

business plan is a documented overview of your business and its strategy including its goals, financial objectives and operations.

It is important to have a business plan so that you have a written outline of your business, its purpose and what you want to achieve with it. This gives you accountability to achieve your business objectives, provides direction and clarity to inform decision-making, and ensures all key people within the business are working towards a common goal, using consistent strategies and processes. 

Click here to learn more about creating a plan and access our Business Plan template.

Select an appropriate business name and legal structure

You should choose a business name that will help market your product/service and stand out from competitors.

When choosing your business name, you should consider:

You will also need to choose the legal structure of your business – sole trader, partnership, company, trust, corporation, etc. This dictates how you run your business and what your legal and tax obligations are.

Your business advisor will be able to provide advice on what structure will suit you best to start with, based on your industry, your personal circumstances, any collaborators and investors, your growth goals, and tax opportunities. They’ll also be able to structure everything to protect your assets and financial security.

Get funding and organise start-up costs

Identify your start-up costs that you’ll either fund yourself or borrow from others, and create a budget so you know where your money is coming from and what it will fund. This will help show an estimate of your costs and income.

Not everyone has money in their savings to start a business, so if you need a commercial loan to get startup capital, our Aintree Group Finance team can help! Contact us today to discuss your commercial loan needs.

Apply for an ABN and TFN

To run a business, you’ll need an Australian Business Number (ABN) and a Tax File Number (TFN). However, if you’re a sole trader, you can use your personal TFN.

Note: This will need to be obtained before you register your business or company name.

To apply for a business or company TFN, click here.

To apply for an ABN, click here.

In good news, your business advisor will be able to take care of this for you – we’ve done it a thousand times before and know exactly how the process works!

Register your business name and/or company through ASIC

If you are starting a company or business, you will need to register them through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Registering a company will make it a separate legal entity and a separate registration is required for a company over a business name. To register a company, click here.

If you’re starting a business, you will need to register its name through ASIC. Click here to register your business name. And, if you have a business accountant, they can take care of the paperwork for you!

Important note: Registering a business name does NOT trademark the name for your own use. This has to be done separately (see step below).

Protect your Intellectual Property

Your Intellectual Property (IP) is any creation of your own, such as a new product or service, your unique business idea, a logo or branding, even written content.

A common way of protecting your IP is by registering a trademark. Trademarking gives you inbuilt exclusive rights if you produce or come up with something new so that others cannot infringe or use a it in an identical manner.

It can affect your business value and, your brand and business name. For example, if you don’t protect your IP, someone else can trademark the same or a similar business name or logo and they will gain exclusive rights to use it, even though you had the business first. This means you could be infringing on them by using your name. Other scenarios can occur outside of your control such as the creation of a new suburb or place name, which cannot be trademarked.

For more on Intellectual Property and Trademarking, and to hear about Aintree Group’s experience, read our blog here.

You can also contact our Aintree Group Legal team for a free trademark consultation.

Get a Director ID if you are starting a company

A Director Identification Number (ID) is a unique identification number that a Director will keep for life to identify them amongst others.

From 5 April 2022, all Company Directors will need a Director ID before they’re appointed. If you’re starting a company, you should apply for one as soon as possible.

To learn more about Director ID’s and how to apply for one, click here.

Make sure you have all the required registrations, licences, insurances and permits to run your business

Aside from registering your company and business name, obtaining a Director ID and applying for a TFN and ABN, there are many other registrations, licences, insurances and permits needed to run a business.

The items you’ll need depend heavily on the type of business, location, industry and business activities.

For example, businesses may need insurance such as Workers’ Compensation Insurance, Public Liability Insurance and insurance for business assets.

Find out what licences, permits and registrations you’ll need here.

Open a business bank account

When starting a business, you should always open a dedicated business bank account so that your business finances are separate to your private funds and expenses.

If you are getting a loan to help fund the launch of your business, you may already have a good business relationship with your bank or lender. We recommend talking to a Finance Broker (like Aintree Group Finance) to discuss which bank is offering the best rate on business loans or will suit your circumstances best.

Forecast cash flow and choose pricing strategies

Getting your pricing and finances right is crucial to your business success as it can affect the sales and profit you gain, as well as if you can afford to keep the business running.

To do so, you should forecast your cashflow so you know where your money will come from and where it needs to go, and track how well your business is doing financially.

You will also need to choose your pricing strategies. These pricing strategies can be based on costs, competition, perceived value and/or product.

Learn more about pricing and how to choose your strategy here.

Ensure you’re meeting health and safety requirements

All business owners need to implement Work Health and Safety measures to create a safe work environment for all involved.

This ensures businesses can minimise accidents, injuries or illness in their workplace, and therefore have more productive and satisfied employees.

Learn more about your Work Health and Safety requirements as a business owner here.

Change your Will with your lawyer

When you start a business, it will become one of your biggest assets and therefore, it is important that it is included in your Will and Estate Plan.

Our team at Aintree Group Legal can help with all your Will and Estate Planning needs. Contact us today for assistance.

Market your product or service, and build a customer base

Marketing is a big part of starting a new business and many small businesses don’t utilise it well because they think it’ll be too expensive or they think they don’t need it.

Some key ways to market your business include getting a logo, creating a website, creating an email address, getting on social media, having an online shop and advertising (whether that be traditional or digital).

When you create a website for your business, you will need to register a domain name (the internet address (URL) used to access your website). This ensures you appear more legitimate to your customers.

If you want to market your product or service, but are worried about the costs or level of difficulty, learn more about the most cost-effective marketing tools for small business.

Hire employees

Many small businesses often start out with just the business owner(s) and often it’s not financially viable to have employees to begin with. But, if you decide you’d like to hire employees (even if it’s just one or two), you’ll need to be aware of your new requirements.

Hiring employees will drastically change how your business operates and there are many obligations and laws that employers need to adhere to such as super contributions and pay as you go (PAYG) tax payments. You will also need to consider whether you have the time to train your employees and the funds to pay them a fair wage (as well as super, admin and equipment costs).

If bringing on employees is not something your business needs or can afford, you can look at getting contractors in to assist with particular projects or outsource specific roles. However, if you hire contractors, you’ll need to be wary of the difference between contractors and employees.

To understand the difference between employees and contractors, read our blog here.

Keep records

As a business owner, it is important that you understand your record-keeping requirements. Keeping your records on hand can help you meet your tax and super obligations, and have the information ready if an Australian Taxation Office (ATO) audit was to occur.

For more on record-keeping for businesses, read our blog.

If you’d like a fillable template of our ‘Starting a business’ checklist, you can download it below!

Disclaimer: This is general advice only. You should seek out proper professional advice when diving into a new business venture as there are significant financial, legal, tax and compliance implications. Our checklist is only a guide and shouldn’t be the “be all and end all” of someone’s business preparations.

If you’re ready to begin the process of starting a business, contact our team at Aintree Group.

We offer expert support and advice for all areas of your professional and personal life, under the one roof. Our integrated professional services of accounting, legal, wealth, finance and business can transform the way you do business and set you up for success.