Whether you're about to start a new business, buy an established business or turn your hobby into a business, you’ll need to prepare yourself for any challenges you may face.

Before you start to work in your new venture, we recommend you take some time to consider the following key areas to help develop your business.

1. Analyse your business idea

The very first step of the process is to do some research and analysis to determine whether your business idea has potential and if you’re the best person to build it.

Some questions to consider include:

  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Is there a desire for your product or service?
  • Who will buy the product or service?
  • How hard will it be to develop your idea?
  • Is your idea financially viable?
  • How will you protect your idea?
  • Who are your competitors?

Consider yourself

Operating a business is not just about working for yourself. It also means having the necessary skills to grow and succeed.

It’s important to consider whether you really understand what’s involved and whether you’re suited to running a business. Ask yourself:

  • Why do you want to start a business?
  • Do you have the skills to set-up and run your business or will you need to outsource?
  • What are your business and personal goals?
  • What income do you need to generate for your business to be successful?
  • Do you have the financial capacity and time to start and run your business?

2. Define your customers and competitors

Conduct market research to help you understand your customers, your competition and your market. Research your customer’s habits, needs and where they’re located. Analyse who your competitors are, where they’re located and what they do better than you.

Through this research you’ll understand:

  • who your customers are, their needs and buying patterns
  • who your competitors are, what they sell and for what price
  • how you can improve your business, product or service to become more competitive

When you conduct your research, you may want to consider:

  • What your customer demands and expectations are?
  • Where your customers are located?
  • How and where they receive marketing?
  • Who your competitors are?
  • What are they selling and for what price?
  • How they market their business?

Learn how to create a customer profile or persona to help understand who your customers are.

3. Develop your business plan

An essential part of starting your business is developing your business plan. This will include the operational, financial and marketing aspects of your business.

A business plan is important if you are looking for a loan, applying for a business grant or pitching to investors. Lenders and investors want to see the true potential of your business idea. The plan can also help you identify your goals and develop strategies for achieving them.

Use our business planning templates to help prepare your plan. to help prepare your plan.

Remember a business plan is a living document. You should review it regularly to remind yourself of your goals and modify it when plans change.

4. Recognise risk

While setting up your business can be an exciting time you should also think about how you can protect your future business in times of crisis or change. Create an emergency management and succession plan, to prepare and protect yourself against potential risks.

Consider what you would do:

  • during a natural disaster
  • if you could no longer run your business
  • if you retire
  • during technological disruption

5. Determine your business structure

Now that you have a more of an understanding of your business, your product and your customers, you need to register your business and decide on your business structure.

Pick a business structure that best suits your needs. Your business structure refers to the way you will operate your business. You can also change your business structure as your business grows.

Types of business structures include:

  • Sole trader: an individual trading on their own.
  • Partnership: a group or association of people running a business together and distribute income or losses between themselves.
  • Company: a legal entity run by its directors and owned by shareholders.
  • Trust: an entity that holds property or income for the benefit of others.

Not sure if you're ready?

Starting a business isn't easy. If you get to this point and feel overwhelmed, reconsider if running a business is for you talk to a business adviser.

6. Confirm your business name is available

Your business name is a name under which you operate your business.

To find out if your business name is available search the business names register on the the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) Connect website.

If your name isn’t available, try altering your choice or keep searching until you find a suitable name that is available.

7. Apply for an ABN and register your business name

Australian business number (ABN)

Your ABN is a unique number that allows you to identify your business to government and other businesses. ABNs are free.

To complete the online form, you need to provide:

  • your personal details
  • your business information
  • your associate details
  • reasons for your application
  • what you do in your business

Business name

Your business name is only your identification. Registering your business name doesn't give you full rights over the name. If you want exclusive rights, you need to apply for a trade mark. Find out the difference between a business name and a trade mark.

ASIC requires payment to register your business name.

You can apply for a business name, an ABN and other key business registrations through the Business Registration Service.

8. Register your website domain

Your domain name is your website address on the internet. Your domain gives your business an online identity for your customers.

When you pick a website name, remember to pick a name that:

  • represents your business
  • is easy to remember, pronounce and spell
  • is 3 syllables or less

If you want to buy a .com.au or .net.au web address you will need to have an Australian company name (ACN) or an Australian business number (ABN).

9. Find advice and support

Each state or territory has individual advice to start a business. Nationally, you can access:

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Read next

Discover how to choose the right location for your business.

Learn how to calculate the costs to set up a business.

Find out what taxes you'll need to register for when starting your business.