SMALL BUSINESS...

The Small Business Start-Up Checklist

25 min read
The Small Business Start-Up Checklist

Have you been dreaming of starting your own business? Have people told you your idea is great and is a winner? Well now is the time to give it a go!    Being your own boss and charting your own course in life is empowering.

The Small Business Start Up Checklist | Stay at Home Mum

It is wise to check all the points listed below and you will see that points cross over to other areas, this because your business name will affect your domain name, your name impacts the name of your social media channels and also can determine your logo and brand. So don’t worry if you see some points that have been mentioned elsewhere, I wanted to make sure that you know that they can have an impact in other areas of the business too.

And now to create your empire and be your own boss!

1. Create a Business Plan

Having a plan for your new business adventure is essential. I know you are keen to start but spending a little time understanding the idea, the market, and doing research will help you do well in your new business. A plan also gives you direction and gives you strategies to achieve goals and survive hard times.

So what do you need to do to create a business plan?

Are You Really Ready to Start a Business?

Before you start planning your new venture you need to think about yourself. Are you ready to start a business? It is a lot of hard work and as a sole trader there is no downtime, you don’t get holidays or time out. Maybe you can get holidays once you are super successful and can employ staff, but when you are starting out it is a lot of hard work. However, this hard work can lead to great things and build a hugely popular, profitable, and successful business so don’t be afraid of some hard work in the short term for long term gain.

Is Your Small Business Idea Viable?

What other businesses are doing the same idea? Is there a lot of competition? Will yours be different and unique?

Do Your Small Business Market Research

Do market research to understand if your idea will be successful. Understand your ideal customer – what are their ages, where do they live, what is their occupation, and what type of things would they purchase? How does your ideal customer buy their products/services, do they do all their purchases online or face to face? You need to think about companies that are the same size, businesses that serve the same areas, and also new startups. The more you research the better idea will be and also the more successful the business too.

How Will Your New Business be Structured

What type of structure will your business have? Will you have staff? Will it be something that you are doing on your own until you can employ staff?

How Will You Fund Your New Business?

Finances – If you need funding for your new business adventure it is a good idea to get all your finances up to date and organised. Lenders will not want to deal with you if they cannot see that you have some funds available, you are up to date with all your paperwork and able to showcase your current financial position easily.

Summary

A business plan always has a summary and its a good idea to write this last. The summary needs to be a short breakdown of your idea, business, a bit about yourself, goals, where you are selling to, and how much money you’re seeking if you need funding.

Get help from professionals

You can engage professionals to help you create your business plan. “There are a number of government services available to help you plan, start, or grow your business. These services can provide general advice, workshops, seminars, and networking events, and can even match you with a mentor or business coach.”

Creating a business plan is essential

2. Decide on How Much Money to Invest

Your business idea might need a huge injection of money and it is dependent on investors. If this is the case you need to decide how much you need to start trading and get going. Also if you don’t get the investors right away are you able to get loans to allow you to start the business and then later seek the investments from others?

This is where the business plan comes in handy as you can investigate what costs are needed, and understand what funds are essential to start running your dream business.

Your idea might not require massive overheads and just starting small with you and possibly one other person, however, you still need money to invest in your business registrations, creating your website, setting up your home office, business cards, advertising and so much more. This start to business life is cheaper but there are still costs and therefore you will need to understand what they are and how much they will be.

Understanding your costs will allow you to see if you are able to start your business now or if you need to wait, or if you cannot wait you might need to cut back on some things and do more yourself and wait for staff.

If you do decide to seek funding or loans for the business, you need to be organised. Having your business plan all done, know how much funding you need and back up your requests with data, be prepared and ready to answer any questions that you might get asked

Remember you can also seek funding from friends, crowdfunding and just starting small if it is something you wish to build upon.

Make sure you approve all purchases

3. Choose a Business Name

Choosing a business name is an important thing to do and picking a catchy name is HUGELY important, but making sure it aligns with what your business does is also essential as well. Before you fall in love with your business name it is a good idea to check if some else already has it – Just do a quick search the Business Name Registry

So as you can imagine picking a name is sometimes a very hard task indeed.

Personally, you want to have a name that can be used as a brand, look at the likes of Apple, Amazon, LEGO, and Nike. All of these examples have a cool logo, simple story and of course use storytelling to sell their products. People buy into the why of what they do and not what they are or what they sell.

So when you are picking a name think of your ideal customer, what you are doing, what is your story, what do you want to convey and the most important thing is to pick a name that can be brandable like Apple.

You also need to make sure that your business name is not your own name and is scalable, plus any name you decide upon you need to see if the domain name (URL or otherwise known as website address is available too). When making your decisions on names it is wise to check domain name availability at the same time, you can do this with GoDaddy.Simply put your choice of name in the search engine and see what is available, you will instantly see if something is taken and if something is available.

It is advisable to check with the .com.au and the .com and you will be surprised to note that the .com websites are more saleable than the .com.au so this might help you for knowing what names to purchase.

While looking at business name ideas it is also wise to see what names are available across all social media platforms. One website I love to use showcases what domain names are available and social sites for my keywords or name that I enter in the search bar. This tool is called, Namechk.com

Namechk.com is super easy to use and allows you to instantly see what is available and what isn’t. If the fields go a different colour they are not available. You are able to click on each area and see who has what and this is also a good way to see what else there is in the same market as your business idea. Once you have registered your domain names it is advisable to instantly register all social sites to make sure that you have secured the name, you can populate the pages with data, pictures, and sales products afterwards.
Don’t copy anyone else and please make sure to have a name that allows you to scale your business. You don’t want to name your venture one thing to have it not include other things you want to do in the future. The name you decide upon needs to be something that allows your business to grow.

Make sure you pick a good name that you can grow your business with

3. Buy a Domain Name

Being online is essential and if you don’t have a website then in business it is like you don’t exist. Sad but true, think about it as a way to get to know your products and services before your customers buy. It is a way to woo people to become lifelong lovers of your products and share stories and information with your supporters.

So now that we have established a website is necessary how do you get one?

  • Visit Godaddy and search for the name you wish to register
  • Make sure the name is not too long and able to be spelt by customers, you don’t want a URL that is confusing and people get wrong
  • Your URL needs to align with your business name and brand – remember that it needs to be something you can grow with and develop
  • Don’t use your name as the business URL name as this might not be scalable and in future, if you wish to sell the business having a different name that is a brand can get you more money in the long run
  • So once you have narrowed down your name, you have seen it is available, you’ve checked that the name is not used for any other similar business, the name is also available for all social media and is unique you can now register it.
  • If you decide to register a .com.au you will need to show your ABN and declare it is for business – this is done by a pull-down box declaring what entity it is and then showing proof in another field for Australian Business purposes. If your business is selling and trading in Australia it is wise to have a .com.au as this gives consumers peace of mind that you do indeed ship and trade in Australia. If you wish you can also register a .net.au if your business is a tech and networking company. You can get a whole package of URL’s if they are available and if you have the money. In the one transaction, you can purchase the .com, the .com.au and also the .net.au domains to your business name.
  • Once selected you can move on through the purchasing process. It is wise to pay a little extra for the privacy option on domains. The reason for this is if you don’t opt for your details to be private they are freely available online, therefore this means that companies can spam you with requests about development and more website requests. Once you have the privacy switched on you don’t get spammed with anything like this.
  • Finalise your purchase, and pay. You can pay with a credit card or via PayPal
  • You can also add a website and email to your purchases as well, however, if you have someone helping you set up your website they can transfer the domain to their servers and set you up to create your own website without the help of GoDaddy.

Picking the right domain name that aligns with your business name helps your business

4. Decide on a Legal Structure (Sole Trader, Partnership or Company)

The legal structure of your business will depend on the size of the business and how you wish to run it.  Depending on what structure you pick it has an effect on how much tax you will pay, how much things cost to set up and also any asset protection that is needed.

The four most common business structures in Australia are:

Sole Trader

This is the easiest structure and gives you the business owner full control. It also means that you can start small from a home office and grow to be a company later. This form of business is the easiest and is low cost – A great start to your business and you can grow it from there.

Company

This is a more complex structure. A company is a separate legal entity, this new entity can be sued and incur debt so it is something to mindful of when setting up a company. One thing to note is that you are not liable for the companies debts, however, if you are the director you are legally liable for what your company does. Companies are expensive to set up and complicated – it is wise to discuss all the implications of being a company with your accountant before you start.

Trust

This setup is for a person (a trustee) that holds property and business assets for the benefit of others (beneficiaries). This structure is expensive and complicated and requires the trustee to do a formally yearly administrative tasks for the Trust. Also, the trustee is legally responsible for all the businesses operations.

Partnership

There are 3 types of partnerships: General Partnership (GP) all partners are equally responsible, Incorporated Limited Partnership (ILP) – all partners have limited liability for all debts however one partner needs to have unlimited liability. If for any reason the partnership cannot pay their debts, then all become responsible for the debt. Limited Partnership (LP) – Partners liability is limited by the amount each partner invested in the business.

Business motivation from cats

5. Get an ABN

An ABN is an 11 digit number that helps Australian Businesses keep track of business transactions for tax purposes. You also need an ABN to claim for GST.

It is an easy process to get an ABN and it only takes about 10-15 minutes online to register.

Once successful you will get an 11 digit number that will help you with any online purchases for your businesses, tax purposes and tracking for your business.

You don’t need to be a company to have an ABN, sole traders and contractors can have an ABN so it is a good idea to get one.

6. Register your Business Name

You need to legally register your business name and before you do so it is a wise idea to check if the name you want has already been taken.

If your name is indeed available then you need to now register it to make it your own.

You can register your name for 1 year or for 3 years, and you will need an ABN to do so.

Designing your brand for your business

7. Have a Logo Designed

A logo for your business is essential, this logo is going to be your brand. It will be an image that will be instantly recognisable at a glance and will tell people who you are and what you do.

I for one like interesting logos that display quickly the idea and the brand, ones that are timeless and can grow with your business. You don’t want a logo that is limited to images and colours that are not in the demographic and will not be easily seen.

If you have a good contact for a graphic designer or artist this is a good place to start. If you are not a designer don’t worry, you can find some very talented people online.

I’ve had some great logos designed from artists on Fiverr, and also bad ones too. You need to give the artist a lot of detail and make sure you pick from the best-rated designers, if you are not fully happy with the result you can always tell them and ask for a refund. The way Fiverr works is that you pay a minimum $5 for a job or sometimes a little bit more. I think I only paid about $35 for my logo on my blog and it is such a classic and fabulous logo that I’m impressed with and very happy to have had done.  You get the Photoshop and Indesign files as well as jpg versions too.

One thing that helped me describe the style I wanted was to look at logos online and figure out what I liked and didn’t. I saved the ones into a folder and used them as examples to the designer who created my blog logo.

Freelancer works a little bit differently to Fiverr. You list your job and detail exactly what you need, in the job description you post the amount you are willing to pay and multiple people bid on the job. You can browse the portfolio of artists, view the bids and then pick the best fit for the job.

You can also search online and use some free sites to help you design something or do it yourself via Canva.

If you are wanting something more professional and unique – try 99 Designs.

Setting up your website with WordPress

8. Set Up a Website

Now you have your domain name registered you can set up your online presence. Your site is super important as this is peoples first impression of you and what you can offer them.

You don’t need a fancy site to start off with and you can build ones from existing templates from WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace.

One thing to remember is that you can also get access to free templates and this might be a good starting point, once your business has been going for a while you can then upgrade to a bigger and better site. If you don’t want to wait for some premium templates only cost about $70, however, can go for more or less.

Your site needs to be 100% responsive and 100% mobile-friendly.   Mobile here is key as more people are using their smartphones and iPad on the go and if your site is not mobile-friendly you will lose customers that cannot use your site.

To check if the template you are lusting after is mobile friendly you can check out the preview on your mobile devices and make a decision then, also check reviews online and scan the forums for people who have purchased the same template from the same company.

If you have the skills to build your own website then all you need to do is to have a domain name, have it hosted on a dedicated server, or if you wish GoDaddy or Wix or Squarespace can host your website.

You can have your website hosted on a dedicated server that will allow you to do more and some of these services that can do this are HostGator, Bluehost, & Amazon Lightsail. Setting up a dedicated server means that you will need to hire a professional to help set this up for you unless you have the skills to do so already. Your web site development specialist will be able to point your domain to the new server, make sure that it has all right applications installed and then have WordPress run on your website to allow you to have your choice of template uploaded and an easy to use and understand CMS (Content Management System) for you to easily update your own website whenever you wish to. Having a dedicated server might be a good idea to think about for the long term but it is not something you need instantly, however, if you do pick the Amazon Lightsail option plans to start at $3.50 per month and this means that your site will have access to all the cutting edge tools that Amazon has access to as well, not to mention that it will allow you to scale your business.

Registering and setting up all your social media profiles is key to having a good online presence

9. Set Up Your Business Social Media Profiles

You might have already registered the names for your social media profiles, as this is a good idea to do once you register your domain name to allow you to have the names secured. You would not want to register the domain and then leave the social names for later to then find out that they are taken.

If you have already registered them that is great, if not you can check what is available for the names you want here: Namechk.com

Now you have all the names for your business the next task is to set up your social media pages so that it looks like there is a business or at least someone owns it.

This is where the logo comes in handy if you have already got the logo designed you can use this as your profile picture. Knowing your logo and brand story means that you can now have some meaningful and fun cover pictures that will help tell your business story.

Once you have filled out the name, added your pictures for the profile picture and cover picture you will then need to tell everyone a bit more about the business and the story behind the business. Make sure to list all domains and links that are relevant and share other social media profiles on all other sites so that will help drive engagement.

Make sure to add a welcome to the page, explain what you are doing and if you have any sales or openings at a physical shop make sure to showcase this via a social media campaign for a few weeks leading up to the open date. If you don’t have a physical shop you can still drive interest with a website launching and its a good idea to have people go to a website to collect email addresses that also tells them a bit about what is planned without giving too much away. This will drive interest and then you can promote the opening of the website and have an online opening!

10. Order Business Cards

Business cards are essential when you meet a new contact or anyone that you wish to partner with. Business cards make you look professional and it is an easy way to have all your key contact details in one spot that you can easily give someone quickly.

Vistaprint is a great company that does great work with business cards and at very good prices (Some are super cheap). Standard business cards start from $9.90 and you can pick from their templates, design your with your own logo or have an expert from Vistaprint help you. They also do flyers, labels and stickers, clothing, bags and promo materials, tradeshow banners and loads more. Check them out and save yourself time and trouble and get it done the right way the first time, you will be so impressed they will be your go-to printers for your business.

If you wish to do something more creative you can design your own business cards with a template from Microsoft Word or use Canva to make something more unique.

More Reading: Best Places to Get Business Cards Printed

11. Open a Business Bank Account

When you start a business it is advisable to have a separate bank account. One main reason for having a different account is so that it is easy to account for payments and purchases for your business. If you do pay for anything personal from or to this account it is advisable to reference this so that you can mention this to your accountant.

I personally have a super saver account that is dedicated for anything to do with my blogging business and this way it is different from my personal account. It is so much easier to search through statements from a dedicated account rather than a personal one that has payments for everything under the sun. It is also nicer for your peace of mind if you have to declare anything to the ATO as you have one account that needs to be looked rather than several.

Plus having a business bank account means that you look more professional to clients and future customers. Any invoice or payments will have this dedicated listed and will then be on file with these suppliers or customers.

Have a good accountant in your business is key to being successful

12. Get a Good Accountant

Starting a business is exciting and fun, but if you are not into paperwork and the accounts it is ESSENTIAL to employ a good or great accountant.

Accountants can help your business with the following:

  • Setting up the legal structure of our business. They can assist you with understanding if you should be a company, partnership, sole trader, or corporation.
  • Liaising with the ATO on your behalf
  • Setting up bookkeeping software and accounting for your business
  • Forecasting profit and loss
  • Paying staff and any contractors

It is a good idea to ask people for recommendations regarding good accountants, testimonials from friends and family are the best referrals.

If you don’t know anyone you can check that the accountant is a member of a professional body such as:

  • Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)
  • Certified Practising Accountants Australia (CPA Australia)
  • Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA)

All members of the above organisations must comply with professional standards and have accredited tertiary qualifications.

One key thing to remember is your accountant should be someone that you get on with and can understand what they say. If you don’t understand what they are telling you, they make you feel silly or stupid or don’t give you good information you really shouldn’t go with them and at the end of the day, it is not a good fit.

Your accountant is a partner in your business and this new person needs to be someone that you like, get on with and can help you with what you want to do.

13. Look for Space to Rent or Set up a Home Office

You might not need to rent a space for your new business and if not a home office might just be what you need to get up and running.

If you do require some dedicated space for your new venture it might be wise to look into shared office space, this will give you a physical address and you will only be paying for the space you use. In the shared space you generally have access to a meeting room and other facilities so check out what is on offer before signing on the dotted line.

Remember as this is a new business it is a good idea to keep your costs low to start with, so if you don’t need to have a physical office it might be best to avoid it for now. If you wait until you’ve been trading for a while you have a reputation, cash flow and customers, this will help you with with the costs of being at a physical location rather than a home office.

Check out all the places around Australia that you can co-work 

You can simply Google the terms, ‘coworking’  or ‘shared office’ and enter the suburb or city to see what is available near you.

Investing in a co-working space is a great idea for your business

14. Arrange any Business Insurances Required

The 2 most essential insurances that are required by small business are:

  • General liability insurance – covers you and your company for the damage to property, injuries to peoples bodies, & damage from products/services
  • Professional liability insurance – helps cover you for misrepresentation, inaccurate advice, negligence, and any violation of good faith and fair dealing.

There is also compulsory insurance which is: Worker’s compensation insurance (if you have staff this is a must-have), Third-party personal injury insurance if you own a motor vehicle and public liability insurance (this is essential for some types of companies)

Insurance is helpful to protect things like Assets, earnings, business owners, customers and employees.

It is recommended you seek advice on what insurances are needed. You can find an insurance broker  and make sure they are licenced from the Australian Securities & Investments Commission

The cost of the payment of insurance is a tax-deductible as it is a cost of running your business (so if the cost of insurance is expensive think about the fact that it is a deduction and it is a necessity so it will make you feel better about the cost)

Working away at my new business

If you need further information you can go to Business.gov.au and they will have everything you need to start your new adventures in business.

Starting a business is exciting, scary and also a huge challenge. Stick to your goals, passions and desire to succeed. I know you can do it, it is a lot of hard work but the hard work now will lead to success later, so do it now and reap the rewards.

Good Luck!

About Author

Suzanne Robinson

Suzanne Robinson founded her blog in 2008 after her identical twins were born, and it was originally called, "Mummy to Twins", In 2016 the birth of Su...Read Morezanne's third child (a boy) meant that the website needed a name change and now it is known as "Mummy to Twins Plus One". Suzanne is a mum to three children, eleven-year-old twin girls and a four-year-old boy. Yes, she had another child after twins! The blog focuses on some of Suzanne's passions, healthy activities for kids and parents, fun things for kids to do, family holiday ideas and great places to stay, tips and tricks that can help other parents, funny stories that have happened as a mum (you can learn from my failures and successes), and ideas for mums to recharge and get some time out. There is everything from parenthood, ideas for dinners, giveaways, competitions, and some great craft and DIY ideas. Website: http://mummytotwinsplusone.com/ Read Less

Ask a Question

Close sidebar