When we first started Project Alfred, we made our life (a lot) easier by engaging others to help in areas outside our expertise. Our specialty is numbers and tech, so while we felt confident with finances, strategy and systems, we knew we’d fail pretty quickly if we didn’t enlist professionals we trusted from our network to help with everything else.
It’s important to work with people you feel really comfortable with so you can ask any questions freely (there’s no such thing as a stupid question!). You can read as much as you want about how to start a small business in Australia, but the more you’re able to bounce ideas off real people, the easier it will be to set your business up for success.
So to help you make smart business decisions early on, here’s who we recommend you consult to get started.
If you haven’t already, the first person or group you should talk to before starting a small business in Australia is your family. It’s important to approach your partner and any other family members you live with or have financial responsibilities to, and openly discuss your decision to start a business.
Talk to them about the time demands, responsibilities and commitments that being a small business owner brings. It’s a good idea to have a realistic conversation about the financial cost of your business too, including any unknowns or risk factors. Create a potential budget to see how much starting a business will likely cost, and consider the impact this may have on your family in the short and long term.
Family is a great source of support while starting a small business, but they also need to be supported, especially if you’ll have less time to spend with them. Running a business takes a significant amount of money and time (and probably more than you initially anticipate). It’s not just a commitment you’re making, but a commitment your entire family is making. So make sure to talk to them first!
It’s crucial to find the right accountant to help start your business. It’s no good having a tax accountant with no experience with small business bookkeeping, or a great small biz bookkeeper who knows zero about tax. You need a trusted all-rounder accountant that not only has experience with businesses in the early growth stage, but who really takes an interest in seeing your business succeed.
A lot of people think an accountant is someone who just pops up at tax time, but partnering with an accountant from the get-go and continuing that relationship means you’ll be able to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and make better business decisions along the way. You need to find an accountant who can be your trusted advisor, someone who can be an extension of your team, someone you can rely on to be available when you need them – not just when you fit into their appointment calendar.
A good accountant will help you determine the best structure for your business, and even register your biz with all the necessary government systems so you don’t have to spend hours trying to understand jargon-heavy gov websites (trust us, they’re awful).
You’ll need financial help starting up a new business. Choose the right accountant, and they’ll be by your side to look after the financial health of your business at every stage, help you measure your performance, and reassess your strategies when necessary.
A great accountant should love the nitty gritty parts of setting up businesses and obsess over the small details just as much as YOU do. You’ll know you’ve chosen the right accountant when they care about seeing your business grow and succeed as much as they do their own.
Using the right technology isn’t a luxury for businesses anymore – it’s a necessity. Experienced tech specialists are important to talk to when starting your biz, as they’ll make sure you have the right solutions for your business type and needs. Having the right systems in place from the outset will save you time and money (and a lot of stress).
Having a website that’s easy to navigate and appealing to new clients is also critical to adding legitimacy to your business. Would you trust a website written in Comic Sans that looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint? Yeah… We wouldn’t either, so you shouldn’t skimp on your own website!
There’s some great no-code website builders available, which means you don’t need any coding wizardry to make an enticing website – all it takes is some dragging and dropping and a keen eye for design. If you don’t have a big marketing budget to start with,
Carrd is a super low cost and easy-to-use (but still intuitive and complex enough) website builder that we love and recommend as an option to our clients.
Keep in mind your website is often the first place your business will be seen, and how customers may initially get in contact with you, so you want them to have a seamless experience.
If you find yourself daunted by the task of finding a tech specialist, find yourself an accountant who also gets the tech side of things… (ahem, that’s us!)
We can help you work out what your accounting-related technical needs are (from bare minimum through to industry-leading options) to make sure your finances are as straightforward and streamlined as they can be. This includes invoicing, online payment systems and automated bank reconciliations.
Starting a small business in Australia involves reading and signing a lot (and we mean a lot!) of legal paperwork, so it's important to consult with someone who is down with all the rules and regulations new businesses need to meet. Lawyers are critical advisors for small businesses. Alongside your accountant, they can help you develop your business structure, and make sure your business’ IP and trademark are protected.
If you plan to start a company with several business partners, or borrow money from a friend in exchange for equity, you’ll want a legal team to help you navigate these tricky waters to avoid any sticky situations down the track.
We should also point out here that we’re using the term “lawyer” as an umbrella term. Lawyers have specialties too, and depending on the type of business you’re starting, you may need to engage the services of several different lawyers: an intellectual property lawyer, a contracts lawyer, an employment lawyer and even a general business lawyer.
Good to know: Speak to your association or industry body to determine any licenses you may need. Some lawyers or accountants may know this but industry bodies and associations should be able to provide you ‘free’ advice as part of your membership.
Another group you should talk to before starting your business is other entrepreneurs. Often overlooked or seen as competition, other small biz owners can show you the ins-and-outs of running a business and give some great tips.
It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s even a good idea to reach out to competing businesses and position yourself as a ‘friendly competitor’, especially if you’re in a niche or small industry. You might be able to build a mutually-beneficial relationship. You can talk with other business owners about issues they’ve faced and they also might be able to point you in the right direction of people they’ve worked with that helped them build their business, even if they work in a different industry.
If you don’t have a network of small business owners to talk to, there’s a world full of podcasts and online communities covering every aspect of running a business. Some of our favourite business podcasts include:
It’s always worth listening to others' ideas and opinions, and using those perspectives to form your own business values and practices. Other business owners have been in your shoes, they know what you’re going through and what you need to do to succeed.
Do you feel like you have a better idea where to get help to start a small business now? No successful business is the result of individual achievement. Leaning on others and outsourcing tasks is an important part of acknowledging your business’ strengths and weaknesses.
When starting a small business in Australia, it’s important to surround yourself with people who’ll support you and your new venture. Forming a support network and choosing the right people around you is crucial for your success in the short and long term. You’ll be able to consider new perspectives in your decisions and you'll learn that you’re not alone. It can be daunting, but talking through business situations with someone else who has a different expertise than you or is one step ahead can really help, even if it’s just as a sounding board.
Remember not to let the opinions of everyone get to you though. Don’t put too much weight on the negative thoughts of people who haven’t ever put themselves out there, and remember that people who’ve had more success than you know the hard work that it took to get them to where they are today, so they won’t judge you for being at the start of your business journey!
Starting a small business and not sure where to go first? Talk to us about your business needs. We’re experts in small business accounting and we care as much about your growth and success as you do. If we don’t know the answer to a question, we’ll help you connect with someone who does.
Book a discovery call with us today and find out how we can help your business grow.
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