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So you want to start a business

Increase your chances of success with our checklist.

On this page

  • Assessment checklist
  • Help to prepare
  • Ways to get started
Know where to get the right support before you start your business. Our infographic explains the steps to start a business and what support and resources we offer.

Is running a business for you?

There are many benefits to having your own business: independence, flexibility, satisfaction in nurturing your own idea and possibly building an asset that you can leave to your children.

But it's a lot of hard work. You'll need to put in long hours to get your business started. There is also financial risk. You'll be leaving behind a secure pay packet and company benefits such as superannuation and paid leave. Your personal assets might also be at risk. Before launching your own venture, ask yourself these key questions.

Checklist: Are you ready to start a business?

Personal skills

Before starting a business it is important to see whether or not you have the required skills.  Ask yourself:

  1. if you have the discipline and motivation to keep going when times are tough
  2. if you have experience in the industry
  3. if you either have a solid understanding of how to do your own books or can afford an accountant
  4. if you are an effective and clear communicator
  5. if you are good at problem-solving, particularly under pressure.


It is important to plan your new business venture properly, so you should ask yourself:

  1. if you have done thorough research into the state of the market, the type of customers you need to target and competitors
  2. if there is a proven market for your business, either filling a gap, entering a market where demand is greater than supply or providing a point of difference
  3. if you have sufficient funds to cover the start-up costs and the first couple of years when cash flow might not be steady
  4. if you have a business plan for the first 12 months, including a marketing plan, cash flow and projected costs.
If you've answered 'Yes' to all of these questions, it's likely that you're ready. If you've answered 'No', it's important to find the right support before you go any further.

Where to find help

Existing research

To find out more about your industry, seek out existing market research and do your own. IBISWorld has independent research reports and analysis on more than 500 industries. You can also access IBISWorld reports for free at Victorian Government Business Offices.


Attend a Small Business Victoria workshop on business planning, financial management, marketing or online. 

Get a mentor

Mentors can advise on how to run a business and offer specific industry insights. Small Business Mentoring Service can connect you to someone with experience in your industry.

Speak to a business adviser

For financial help, speak to someone who's professionally accredited. Accountants, registered with the Institute of Chartered Accountants, help with taxation and financial statements.

Financial Planners, registered with the Financial Planning Association of Australia, can set up short and long term financial goals, including investment advice and estate planning, and prepare a financial plan.

See if it's right for you

A good option is to work in the industry while keeping a salaried job. If you're thinking of buying a cafe, for instance, take a job as an employee in a cafe first to see if it's the right fit for you.

Ways to get started: new, existing or franchise

Your personality and experience can help direct you to the type of business that suits you best.

Starting a new business from scratch

It's the riskiest way to start a business, but it can also be the most rewarding. Legal requirements, pricing, marketing, stock and staff are just a few of the things you'll need to make decisions about.

Checklist: Starting a new business

Buying an existing business

Buying an existing business offers you a proven track record. You're buying the physical assets, as well as crucial contacts--the customers or clients. It's essential that you check the financials carefully. Use our

Checklist: Considering buying a business

Buying a franchise

Franchises are established ventures with a successful business model. This takes away some of the risk for the owner. A solid franchise has a proven track record, an established market and provides support for marketing and operational aspects of the business. You buy the rights to an existing one or pay to set up a new one. Franchises are costly investments, and as such our checklist on buying a franchise will help you to decide if buying one's right for you..

Checklist: Buying a franchise

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