How to Start a Business in Western Australia: A Step-by-step Guide

How to Start a Business in Western Australia: A Step-by-step Guide
Looking to start a business in Western Australia? Here's a step by step guide to help you start your business in WA. Find out more with Square.
by Square Jan 27, 2022 — 5 min read
How to Start a Business in Western Australia: A Step-by-step Guide

Starting a business in any location is not an easy feat, it involves courage and drives. Being passionate about the industry and the goods/services you sell is crucial to forming the foundational success of any new business.

Regardless of the type of business, you are seeking to open, whether it be a physical location in Western Australia or an online eCommerce store, there are standard steps and considerations that must be given.

With the pandemic forcing many traditional retailers to trade online, the competition for customers and market share has increased. Building solid business foundations and operating principles will aid you in scaling your business – planning ahead for the future and having an open mind.

The following article will talk through some processes you can consider if you are contemplating starting a business in Western Australia.

Choosing your business structure

When starting a small business in WA there are 3 business structures available to you.

The most common structure for new businesses is a sole trader. A sole trader, the business owner conducts all activities with limited external help. Sole traders are legally and financially responsible for all aspects of the business, including debts and losses. Setting up your business as a sole trader involves limited paperwork and you can begin operating in a short time frame. As a sole trader, you will have an Australian Business Number (ABN) which will identify your business and the structure you operate under.

The second business structure available to you is a partnership. This is a legally binding business structure that involves 2-20 business owners who are all under contractual obligations within the enterprise. If you decide to pursue a partnership, then an agreement must be put into place outlining everyone’s roles and responsibilities. Within this structure, all partners are equally responsible for the legal and financial shortfalls of the business – a partnership is not a separate legal entity and you may be personally liable for any business debts.

A far less common structure for new businesses is to become a company through the process of incorporation. Companies are separate legal entities that are considered their own ‘person’ under Australian law. Directors of a company are not legally and financially responsible for any shortfalls of the company. If you choose to incorporate your business, then you are placing significantly less risk on your personal financial circumstances. Companies can be complicated and involve the appointment of directors and a designated management team. It is not recommended for new businesses to immediately pursue this path, but rather carefully consider all options to understand if becoming a company is in the businesses best interest.

Create a business plan

Once you have chosen your desired business structure it is important you formulate an effective business plan outlining your goals for the future and how you will profitably operate. Business plans don’t have to be lengthy documents that detail every aspect of the business – however, it is important that the fundamentals of your operations are outlined in an easy-to-understand way.

When applying for a business loan, a bank or lender may ask to see your business plan to help determine the quality of your operations – this will directly impact the amount of credit you receive. Furthermore, if you are seeking to expand through external investors, they may want to understand the intricacies of your business – a business plan will outline all of this and avail apprehensions for investors.

Conduct market research

Once you have created a business plan it is important to conduct market research to understand where your business will sit in relation to others in your industry. Market research will allow you to determine how to successfully market your business and position it in the public eye.

Analyse similar businesses strengths and weaknesses whilst also interviewing members of your target audience to gain insight into what they want from a business like yours. These valuable insights will provide a solid base of information from which you can start your business.

Square Marketing provides direct insights for online stores and can help you critically analyse your market to determine the best way to reach your audience.

Choose a business location

Are you going to be a brick-and-mortar retailer or an exclusively online operation?

This is a consideration that must be given before you start operating. There are benefits and disadvantages to both business locations, and it is important that you research what is most suitable for your business.

If a physical location is the right decision for you, then it is important to determine whether a metropolitan location, such as Perth, or a regional location such as Margaret River, is the most appropriate location for success. There are various grants and support packages available to regionally based businesses, however, you must operate where your customers are located – your market research will help you determine this.

Western Australia business licenses and registration

Western Australian businesses must register their operations and may be required to gain licenses to sell their products to consumers. For instance, if you are seeking to open a business in the hospitality space then you will be required to acquire food safety and liquor licenses if you are serving alcohol.

There are stringent requirements for different industries. Including a range of responsibilities outlined by the local, state, and Australian government that may affect your operations. Please visit the Western Australian government website to determine how licenses and registration may affect your business.

Available grants and programs

The Western Australian government offers various grants and programs that can help provide funding for small businesses. These assistance programs can come in the form of tax waivers, exemptions for planning requirements and commercial tenancy legislation changes. Visit the Small Business Development Corporation for more detailed information. The SBDC also offers free online workshops for businesses to learn digital skills, along with financial management – if your business knowledge is limited then this may be beneficial for the success of your business.

If you are a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent then there are a number of initiatives available for you to commence your business operations. Visit the Business Development and Assistance Program website and the Indigenous Business Australia website for more detailed information.

If you are innovating in your industry, then there are also grants available for innovation. These are available on a local level, administered by councils to encourage innovating within their local government area. To see what innovation grants may be available to you, visit the Business Australia website.

Small business support

Small businesses have been heavily affected throughout the pandemic – in response, the Western Australian government has provided support for struggling businesses. These support services aid businesses in recovering in a post-pandemic world, as well as providing knowledge and helping business owners implement new skills. Explore options available to your business below.

The Western Australian government has also released stimulus and relief packages for small businesses. The biggest offerings are for those in the tourism industry. See if you are eligible by visiting the website.

Small Business Western Australia is a government agency that aims to support small businesses with one-on-one support and practical workshops.

The city of South Perth operates a small business advertising board where locals can learn what businesses operate in the community. Get free advertising and learn from other businesses by posting your enterprise there!

Developing an online presence

In 2022, building a website for your business is crucial to help customers discover your business and reach a wider audience. A business website can help you increase profits by having an eCommerce offering as well as providing customers with an opportunity to browse from home.

Square Online allows small business owners to easily set up a website and facilitate secure transactions. You can accept payment from a variety of methods, increasing your customer base, reach, and profits!

Be patient!

Starting a business is a journey, and success doesn’t happen instantly. If you are passionate about what you are selling, then your chances of success are greatly improved. Access support and learn new skills to increase your chances. The internet is a fantastic resource for new businesses – there is always a customer out there, it’s just about finding them!

The Bottom Line is brought to you by a global team of collaborators who believe that anyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy.


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