Mummy Confession: So, I’ve blogged and I’ve also ventured into the realm of creating a small business as well.
Yes, this is a LOT off topic to the typical mum and baby posts here, however I’ve seen a rise in the questions from mums asking how they can start working from home, or what they need working from home. I’m a detail-oriented person who liks to compile things to compare or see all laid out in front of me (refer to my massive list of sleeping bags, swaddles, etc, hah!). I like to have everything in one spot to check off or refer to as I go, rather than trying to compile things from all over. I’ve done a bit of the work for you, but I’m no expert, so you’ll have to do further research into these topics, but it should get you started on the basics!
Disclosure: I am not a professional at business startup. I am a mum who has ventured into the world of starting a business and these are some of the most essential things I’ve found you need to know and learn about when starting up! Please consult a professional for any clarifications or queries. This information does not reflect a complete process by which you should set up your business and is only intended as a guide to help you figure out some things you will need to look into before you start your own business. Good luck!
And YES blogs can become businesses, too, but that is another thing for another time! There are also a LOT of opportunities out there in the MLM or Network Marketing realm which can use these tips, however these are more aimed at people starting their own business.
There are quite a few things you NEED to consider when starting up a business in Australia! Let’s start from the beginning though!
1. Make sure to follow all laws, regulations, rules, etc
There may be other regulations, licenses, and registrations you need to consider before starting your business. Make sure to always follow any other requirements! Not only for your business, but consider that you are the face of your business. Your personal profile on social media and your personal conduct still matter in the long run! For example, if you have obscene things posted on your profile, that will deter some customers. News may spread. Things can be shared, screenshot-ted, and word can get around really fast. Be sure to follow all terms of service on the platforms which your business engages (as well as your personal profiles). There have been incidents where social media accounts, pages and profiles have been removed for violation of terms and it’s just best to avoid that.
Legal essentials for business
ACCC site with helpful information for business
Now, let’s really get into it…
2. Have An Idea: See a Need
Do you see something that’s missing? Maybe you’ve seen people asking for something in particular, or not satisfied with what’s available? Identify a “gap in the market” or come up with something people don’t even know they need yet! The possibilities are endless. Just consider the market where you are starting- Is it oversaturated with choice already? How do you plan to set yourself apart from the “competition”? What’s the difference you or your business will bring?
A good place to start is where people hang out- social media. Ask questions. Get answers.
3. Get a Name Sorted
If you plan to use your own name for your business, there’s not much to do. But, if you are trading as a different name, or have come up with some great name…
1. Be sure it’s available! Check ASIC for registered business names. Search Facebook and Instagram for business names in use. Check trademarks and other registered places so you won’t be violating any of that legal stuff. Check domain names to see if the website URL is available in the .com and .com.au formats. (You can always set up redirects if you are using just one URL.) Some places to check are Crazy Domains, GoDaddy, or VentraIP (but you do not need to purchase through them. Feel free to use them to browse some ideas for URL names.)
2. Check social media handles for short and memorable related names. You’ll want to have the SAME name/username across social media if possible, and not be confused with other businesses that could be in the same niche.
3. Register your business name on ASIC. It’s usually fairly low cost. DON’T BE TRICKED by the third party companies who show up in searches when you want to register your business name and save a bit of money. At the time of writing, it’s around $15 to register. You will also get letters in the mail around renewal time from these companies to help you renew it for a far greater cost than going directly on to the website.)
4. Register for trademarks if needed to secure your name and prevent others from using it.
Check ASIC for your business name here
Search Facebook here
Search Instagram here
Check patents, trademarks and more here (Quick or Advanced search for trademarks)
Check patents, trademarks and more here
4. Set Up Social Media Pages, Website & Mailing List
Create hype! Do note that you do NOT create a secondary account for your business profile on Facebook as it is against the terms of service. You can create a page and not identify yourself as “working” there if you do not wish others to see your Facebook page. You can also lock down privacy settings on Facebook, so only friends can see what you post, your profile photo, and a few other bits and pieces as well.
Note: I do NOT recommend inviting all of your friends and family to “like” or “follow” your social media accounts UNLESS they are legitimately interested in being a customer or client. The way social media works tends to engage more people similar to those who are interacting with your page, so you’re setting it up a little harder if you invite all your friends in one fell swoop. It’s AMAZING for your friends and family to support you, however, for the purpose of your social media doing its best to attract your ideal client or customer, you will want people who are similar to your ideal client/customer interacting with you from the beginning.
Mailing lists can be good for family and friends who want to stay in the loop, or create a group chat to update them.
Getting a good “feel” for how you want you look to be is also a big part here. Do you need a logo? Colours that best go with your brand? Start thinking about those things, too, while you build your foundations.
It is also a good idea to install a Facebook Pixel when you do have your website set up, to start figuring out who is using your site and what they are after.
Set up a Facebook Page here
Set up an Instagram here
Set up an LinkedIn account here
5. Get an ABN (and possibly ACN): Figure Out Your Business Structure
Even if you aren’t planning on being a “business” per say, you are usually better to get an ABN if you plan to earn money. You can find out about thresholds for hobbies and what classifies as a hobby on the ABN website as well HOWEVER, you still need to consider the other things on this list EVEN IF you are just classified as a hobby. Let me stress that an ABN is FREE if you don’t register through a third party website (which usually show up when you search ABN. Pretty tricky!)
Figure out your business’ structure. Many startups tend to go the “sole trader” or “pty ltd” route. Each various structure has its own obligations, and it’s best to check out the guide here for it or discuss it with a financial consultant to figure out what’s best for you and your business.
You may need an ACN if you are registering as a company.
Register for an ABN here
Register a company here
6. Register for any patents needed to secure original ideas
Do you have an idea that NO ONE else has ever thought of? An original design which will be replicated once people find out how amazing you truly are? Protect your product or idea legally. I don’t know a whole lot about this side of things, but it’s always a good idea to register for a patent long BEFORE your idea is out there. I believe it is also a requirement to do so a certain period of time
Register for patents here
Patent FAQs here
7. Find business support groups and networking groups (online and local)
As you have already set up your business a bit, it REALLY helps to have some like-minded people to help you sort out everything from experience. Both local and internet based networking groups have their benefits! Browse your Facebook or Google “networking groups” plus your location. Or search “business networking” plus your location. You can also use search terms with something regarding your niche or something that identifies you and may provide a group with like-minded people, such as “mums” or defining your niche such as “tradies”, etc. Asking in local community noticeboards on Facebook for recommendations can also be a great place to start, too!
Some great places to find supportive and helpful people online include:
MIBA- Mums in Business Association
8. Find Wholesalers or Distributors for products you need to purchase
If you are planning to sell products already created, find a wholesaler or distributor (usually it’s best to contact the brand themselves to ask about wholesale accounts or finding a distributor). You can easily search for the brand on the internet and contact them via their website. Alternatively, you can use their other contact details to request the best way to get in touch with their wholesale accounts manager. Some networking groups and business support pages may be helpful in suggesting places to look for these, or have products which they wish to wholesale as well. Be sure to follow the next guidelines if you are planning to sell products. It is important to ensure you have a contract agreement with these brands and businesses and clear outlines of what you are permitted to sell, RRP and required pricing, photo permissions and other guidelines to protect you and them. Asking about minimum order quantities may also be a good thing to bring up if you are starting with a limited budget.
Try searching online for “wholesale” plus the realm of products you are after if you’re unsure where to start or unsure of brands. Otherwise, best practice is to get in touch with brands themselves to inquire.
9. Ensure any products you are selling meet the Australian Safety Standards and have been safety tested
If you are creating your own products, this is a BIG must! Even if you are creating handmade pieces, they MUST comply with regulations and safety standards. If products are found to be non-compliant, they can be recalled, which will amount to a lot more stress and financial burden.
If you import products from overseas, be sure they comply with regulations and are covered by your insurance provider (many insurance providers will not insure products imported from overseas). If you are importing, it could be on you to conduct any safety testing and ensure compliance with all safety standards and regulations.
If you are purchasing products wholesale from a company within Australia, it’s always best to check that products have been safety tested and are compliant with standards and regulations.
Find out about safety standards here
Find out about product safety here
Find out about product testing here
10. Find packaging to suit the products you will be selling (if you need to post them)
I’ve found there are places which wholesale packaging which are usually the most cost effective way to go about this, but often it can be a pretty big expense that you’re not quite ready to pay. I’ve had to purchase a few sizes to see what would fit products (and boxes that would fit flat rate satchels if needed). You can use these dimensions for your information when you check for postage costs, or set up a product to estimate postage costs.
You DON’T need to purchase packaging from Australia post necessarily and it may wind up more dear in the long run. This is another question you can ask within networking groups, as many businesses have been through it before! Your packaging will be one of the first physical experiences that people have with your brand, so you want to make sure to get it right! Be sure to protect your products when sending by using appropriate packaging. It matters so much and may play into what you charge for post, too.
Find out about packaging options from Australia post here
11. Sign up for an Australia Post Business (MyPost Business) account
If you are spending a lot on postage, especially, it pays to sign up for an Australia Post Business account (if you’re using Australia Post to ship your products). Various tiers offer discounts on postage costs, and it can come in handy to manage as well! If you’re not planning to use Australia Post, be sure to do some research on other couriers and experiences that locals have had with them and get some ideas of how they work and how much you’ll be spending on postage.
Sign up for an Australia Post Business account here
12. Get Insurance for your business
This is ESSENTIAL even if you just consider yourself a hobby business! Insurance protects you and your customers, and ensures that there is that safety net for your business should something go amiss. I advise seeking out a professional insurance broker rather than researching insurance rates yourself, but it depends on your experience. Ask again, in local Facebook groups, who people use for business insurance. These professionals will be able to tell you what type of insurance/s you need as well as give you quotes on various cover and what it means. Asking an insurance broker for a quote is generally free, so you don’t need to commit until you sign and purchase your insurance through the broker. I love that I can run my products by the brokers for them to check eligibility and it really puts my mind at ease!
Learn about insurance here
13. Plan Your Budget & Get Organised
I know it’s just early days, but having a little bit of a starting plan for your budget is very helpful! It’s always helpful to allocate a certain amount for marketing to get off the ground (or courses to learn about some of the options out there where you don’t need to constantly be feeding money into ads (such as social media, SEO, etc). Definitely have a plan for how much you wish to spend on any initial stock you may need as well (and keep the records in a set place for tax reference). Do you need to invest in a photographer for photos? A graphic designer for logo or asset creation? A Virtual Assistant to help with various tasks? Write it all out and start with what you feel are the essentials. There is always room for improvement!
Some places to find out more about creating a budget, or tools to help:
Learn about creating a budget here
14. Register for GST
You may not need to do this straight away, but it it something to consider as you reach higher income. It is best to talk to an accountant about tax-free thresholds and when/if you need to apply for GST. They would be able to offer the best advice on what to expect.
Learn about GST here
I hope these are helpful for you as you look into getting started as a business out there, please look at some of these resources below if you need further information or suggestions of great courses to take to boost your knowledge about a range of topics including social media, SEO and more!
SO many great resources for getting your business off the ground, and reaching people on the various social media platforms!
Facebook Course (but applies to other platforms, too!): MOOLAH An amazing course on finding, reaching and growing your audience on Facebook (based in the US, but totally applicable worldwide..and to other social media platforms, too!)– OPEN FOR SIGN UPS UNTIL JUNE 28
Digital Mums Directory– Helping mums grow their online business
MIBA – mums in business association
Decoding Helixx: A Small Business Podcast
Mums with Hustle Podcast
Brilliant Business Mums Podcast
Busy Mum. Balanced Life Podcast
Kate Toon: The Hot Copy Podcast (Copyrighting Podcast)