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Checklist: Starting a business

Confidently set up a new business.

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  • Research your industry
  • Decide on the most suitable business structure
  • Write your business and marketing plans
  • Work out your costs and finances
  • Apply for the right registrations and licences.

Have you got a great idea you want to turn into a business? Small Business Victoria's Starting Your Business Right workshop will step you through the process, help you get set up right the first time and connect you to a range of government resources and free mentoring.

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Pre-planning is the key to the success of your business. This checklist gives you all the steps you need to give your new business the best possible start.


Researching the market allows you to identify your customers, your competitors and your industry. The results of your research will give your business directions and help you stay on top of what your customers want, and how much they're willing to pay for.

Decide on your business structure

Depending on the nature of your business, choosing the right business structure can help put your business in an advantageous tax and legal position

Strategise and plan

Business plan

Take time to write your business plan. This is a crucial step in establishing a new business. Your business plan helps you to crystalise what your vision for the business might be, your product/service offering, your marketing strategy, business structure, finances and action plan. A clear and well-thought out business plan helps secure investors and funding.

Business Plan Template Guide (DOCX 81.35 KB)DOCX icon

Market plan

Based on the market research that you've done, define your marketing strategies and tactics. This strategy will help you define the overall direction and goals for your marketing. It should articulate how you are going to deliver your products or services. You will also need to work out the tactics you'll use to sell your products/services.

Marketing plan template (DOC 410.5 KB)DOC icon

Estimate your costs

What are the set-up costs associated with starting your business? Your business plan will help you to work out common costs when starting a business to determine the amount of financing you need.

Set up your financial tracking tools

Learn how to do your own books to track your profits, losses, sales, stock, and cash flow. Useful templates for a business include the financial statement template and cashflow forecasting template.

Financial statements template (XLSX 301.88 KB)XLSX icon

Cashflow forecasting template (XLSX 78.26 KB)XLSX icon 

Determine the location of your business

Think about whether you want to lease or buy a premise or run your business from home. Use our Checklist: Setting up your premises to guide you in your decision.

Determine if you need a business name

If you intend to use your personal name as a business name, there's no need to register it with the Australian Business Register. More information on how you can register your business name is available in Register a business name.

Find out what registrations you need

Use the Australian Business and Licences Information Service (ABLIS) to help you work out the registrations, licences and permits you need for your business. Registrations that you may need include an Australian Business Number (ABN), Tax File Number (TFN), Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Pay As You Go (PAYG) Witholding. 

Protect your business name and idea

Registering your business name does not give you proprietary rights for the use of the trading name. If you register a business, company or domain name, you do not automatically have the right to use that name as a trade mark. You can gain an edge over your competitors by protecting your business idea.

Get the right insurance

Different businesses have different insurance needs. Find the right insurance to ensure you can still continue to trade during business interruptions e.g. fires, injuries, litigation.

Case Study: What I wish I knew

'There are some universal truths I wish I'd known before I'd taken the leap. It would have saved me time and money, and possibly my sanity.'
Janelle Carrigan, Royall Media

Read more What I wish I knew: Three entrepreneurs tell all

Janelle Carrigan Royall Media

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