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So you want to start a business?

Increase your chances of success by using our checklist

On this page

  • Assess whether running a business is for you
  • Learn about the support and resources available for small business owners
  • Explore the different ways to start a small business
  • Understand your legal obligations with long service leave

Attend Small Business Victoria's Starting Your Business Right workshop to step you through the process of starting a business, help you get set up right the first time and connect you to a range of government resources and free mentoring.

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 the following key questions:

Are you ready to start a business?

Personal skills

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

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


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

  • have done thorough research into the state of the market, the type of customers you need to target and competitors
  • if there's 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
  • if you have sufficient funds to cover the start-up costs and the first couple of years when cash flow might not be steady
  • if you have a business plan for the first 12 months, including a marketing plan, cash flow and projected costs.

If you answered 'Yes' to all of these questions, it's likely you're ready. If you answered 'No', it's important to find the right support before you go any further.

Where to find help

Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS)

ABLIS uses guided search to help you find information about licenses you need to run your business.

Want to open a café in Preston? A bar in Ballarat? ABLIS will guide you through a list of questions to help you determine what licences you need, what fees may apply and which agencies you need to contact.

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 Trade and Investment (VGTI) offices.

MyVictoria is an open data project from the Victorian Government, giving you access to demographic and industry data that can help learn about your industry, customers, competitors and anticipate growth and opportunities. Search by postcode, suburb, Local Government Area of Region and use data to make more informed business decisions.


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

Upskill My Business connects you to short courses, online events and resources from the state’s top education providers and industry experts. Courses on offer can help you regain ground to find more customers, better manage cash flow or just prepare for new market conditions.

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

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 to help determine is buying an existing business is the right move for you.

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 our checklist on buying a franchise will help you to decide if buying one is right for you.

Checklist: Buying a franchise

Long service leave is an important consideration for anyone looking to start a small business.

While you may not have any liability for long service leave until your employees have reached 7 years' service, it's vital to plan for long service leave from the beginning, and ensure that necessary records are kept.

Long service leave – what you need to know

Long service leave is an important consideration for anyone looking to start a small business.

While you may not have any liability for long service leave until your employees have reached 7 years' service, it's vital to plan for long service leave from the beginning, and ensure that necessary records are kept.

Example – Ryan starts a small business

Ryan is looking to start a small business. He will be employing 3 casual staff initially.

He has found out about rates of pay, tax, superannuation and workers compensation insurance but he figures he will worry about long service leave down the track and thinks it doesn't apply to casuals anyway.

Without planning ahead for long service leave, Ryan is at risk of financial liabilities down the track.

Purchasing a business and long service leave

If you're looking to purchase a business – and will be continuing to employ the employees of that business, you're likely to be required to recognise their service from when they first started working at that place of employment.

Example – Sally purchases a newsagency

Sally has recently purchased a newsagency.

She has continued to employ the employees who were working at the newsagency. Sally opted not to recognise the employees' service with the previous owner, as the previous owner paid out the annual leave to the employees before Sally took over the business.

Sally didn't realise that – under the Victorian Long Service Leave Act – she is legally required to recognise the previous service of the employees that transferred with the business for the purposes of long service leave.

An employee who has worked at the newsagency for more than 10 years has requested to take a period of long service leave. Now Sally has to find the money to fund this.

Visit our section on long service leave to find out more.

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