Starting a small business in Queensland, or any location across Australia is not an easy feat, it involves courage, drive, and passion. Regardless of the type of business, you are seeking to open, a physical location or an online eCommerce store, there are standard steps and considerations that must be taken.
With the pandemic shifting of many traditional retailers online, the competition for customers is increasing in Australia wide. Building solid business foundations and operating principles will aid you in scaling your business - planning for the future and having an open mind.
The following article will outline all the processes you should undertake if you are contemplating starting a business in the sunshine state.
Choosing your business structure
When starting a business in QLD, there are 3 options available to you in terms of business structure.
The most common for new businesses is a sole trader - as 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, and debts and losses cannot be shared with anyone else. Setting up your business as a sole trader involves limited paperwork and is an avenue by which you can begin operating in a short time frame. As a sole trader, you will have an Australian Business Number (ABN) which will help identify your business and the structure you operate under.
The second type of business structure available to you is a partnership. A partnership is a legally binding business structure that involves 2-20 business owners who are all under contractual obligations within the enterprise. If you and your partners 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. You may also 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 the law. Directors of a company in most cases 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 are extremely complicated and involve the appointment of directors and a designated management team. It is not recommended that new businesses 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 to outline 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 - this can directly impact the amount of credit you receive. Furthermore, if you are seeking to expand your business through external investors, they will want to understand the intricacies of your business and how you use your funds.
Conduct market research
Once you have created a business plan it is important to conduct market research to better 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 businesses servicing the needs of your customers from the onset.
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 you research what is most suitable for the success of your business.
If a physical location is the right decision for you then it is important to determine whether a metropolitan location, such as Brisbane or a regional location, such as Far North Queensland 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 - market research will help you determine this.
Queensland business licenses and registration
Queensland 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 get food safety and liquor licenses. For tourism operators in Queensland, there are strict licenses and safety registrations that must be completed in order to operate.
There is a range of responsibilities including the need to be aware of the local, state, and Australian government laws that may affect your operations. Please visit the Queensland government website to determine how licenses and registration may affect your business.
Available grants and programs
The Queensland government offers various grants and programs that help provide funding for small businesses making waves in local communities. These assistance programs can come in the form of tax waivers, exemptions for planning requirements, and commercial tenancy legislation changes.
Visit the Business Queensland website for detailed information. This agency 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 grants available. These are available on a local level, administered by councils to encourage innovation within their local government area. To see what innovation grants may be available to you in Queensland, visit the Business Queensland website.
Small business support
Small businesses have been hit hard throughout the pandemic - in response, the Queensland government has provided support for struggling businesses. These support services aid businesses in recovering in a post-pandemic world.
To help with pandemic recovery, the Queensland government has released stimulus and relief packages for small businesses in the state, specifically for tourism operators in the north. See if you are eligible by visiting the website.
Queensland’s Small Business Advisory Council focuses on significant small business challenges and provides advice and solutions on areas related to small business growth, sustainability, and employment.
Developing an online presence
Building a website for your business is crucial in order for your business to be found by more consumers and to expand your reach. 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 and easy transactions. Allowing you to accept payment from a variety of methods, increasing your customer base, reach and profits!
Sell anything with a free online store.
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!