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Settlement Guide: How to start your own business in Australia

Portrait of man working in restaurant kitchen Source: MOODBOARD

Starting your own business rather than working for an employer is becoming more and more popular in Australia. Business ownership has grown 2.4 per cent in the last year, according to the latest numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Having your own business can be very rewarding, but it’s also a lot of work. To increase your chance of succeeding, it’s important to start with a solid foundation. Here are a few tips on how to do that.

Pick the right business idea

When looking for a business idea, look for the sweet spot between something that there is a need for, that you can make money out of, that you’re good at and that you love.

Making money is important, but business strategist Juergen Schmechtel says a good business is driven by enthusiasm:

“Don’t start a business because it looks like there is a lot of money in there because in the long run, you need to be enthusiastic every day and if it’s just for the money, that enthusiasm runs out at a certain point.”  

Make a business plan

You’ll need to decide on the structure of your business and make a business plan. It’s a good idea to study the market and look at similar businesses to see what they do right and wrong. Estimate your costs and set goals.

The Australian Government has created a free Business Plan Template and Guide which is a good place to start.

Man taking notes
CC0 Public Domain

Register your business

Once you decide on a business name, submit it to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). You can do this here. If a website is an important part of your business, you’ll want to check if the URL you want is available and buy it when ASIC approve the name of your business.

You’ll also need to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN. Certain businesses also require licenses.

Get an accountant

Hiring an accountant early in the process will be very helpful. They can help you with licensing, trademarking, legal requirements, taxation and financing.

Portrait of young woman working in diner
Portrait of young woman working in diner

Get financial backing

There are several ways to get financing when you start your business. If you don’t have all the money necessary, investors might be ready to provide capital. The Australian government offers grants and assistance for businesses.

You could also use a crowd-funding system like Kickstarter or Pozible.

Start small, within your means, and build from there. If you want to open a restaurant, but don’t have the financial backing, you could start by selling your wares at markets for example - or from a food truck. You can then save money to eventually open the restaurant of your dreams.

Make a marketing plan

On top of the business plan, you’ll need a marketing plan. Who are your customers? Who are your competitors? How will you get the word out there about your business? You need to have a strategy. You can use this marketing plan template to start with.

Take a short course

Business, marketing, accounting, law and MORE. There's much to learn when starting a business. If you feel a bit lost, but want to learn, there are thousands of short courses available that could help you get more comfortable with these topics.

The Australian government provides opportunities for webinars, training and events which include seminars and workshops on how to start a business.

This is however only one option of hundreds of different small business courses available at educational institutions around the country, from free online courses, to community colleges, technical colleges and universities. 


Small business owner using a credit card reader
Getty Images

Find a mentor

Try to find another business owner you trust who is ready to help you, give you advice and answer your questions. The Australian government provides a list of mentoring services and advisory boards that are available around the country. Many of these are free or low cost advisory services.

Be patient and ready to put in the work

Owning your business is risky and means working long hours, at least until things get off the ground. There’s no guarantee of success, but you can put all the chances on your side by being well prepared.

Useful links

The Australian Government also provides useful information for:

Starting an Indigenous Business

Starting a business as a young person

Small Business Secrets 

Information for businesses from the Australian government

Business Plan Template

Starting your business checklist 

How to start up a startup 

How to start a cafe