Open Colleges

How to start your own small business

by Chloe Baird
Posted: December 04, 2020

  Return to blog home


**This is an updated post**

Starting your own business from the ground up can be hugely rewarding. Not only is it an opportunity for you to pursue your passions, you can also become your own boss, which is something many people dream of doing.

But it can also be daunting. Starting, running and growing your own small business is no small task. It takes dedication, determination and plenty of hard work. But the rewards are often worth it.  

If you’ve ever thought about launching your own small business, then read on to find out how to make it happen. 

starting a business

1. Develop your idea

Firstly, you'll need a strong idea for your business. If you already have one, then that's great! You’re ready to move onto the next step already. If not, take some time to brainstorm.

Ask yourself the following questions to narrow down your business ideas:

  • Can you solve someone's problem for them? Consider if there's a problem out there that doesn’t currently have a solution. This may be something your business can help solve.
  • What are your strengths? Think about your strengths, skills and experiences. You may be able to develop a business idea that can capitalise on your existing talents. 
  • What will the future bring? Look ahead to see what developments may arise in the future (such as technological changes). Are there existing trends that indicate a future gap in the market you could fill?

If you’re still not too sure about what your new small business could offer, then that’s ok. Starting your own small business is exciting, but that doesn’t mean you should rush into things. The most important thing is to take your time and let your idea develop. You may even find that as you consider alternative ideas, you may come across a brand-new idea you hadn’t considered before. 

Some of the best ways you can develop new ideas is by getting out of your comfort zone, exploring new areas you hadn’t considered before, looking for new solutions to existing products and searching for ways to improve on current solutions.  

2. Do your research

Now that you’ve landed on your big idea, you need to carry out some detailed market research to establish whether or not it will work. It can also help you to tailor your business idea for a greater chance of success. 

Networking can also be a great way for you to conduct research. Find out what local associations there are you can join, or jump online and join a small business owners and entrepreneurs group. This is a great way to build new, professional relationships and swap ideas. 

Here are some areas you could focus on for your business research: 

  • Market trends – For example, look at the value of the current market and whether this is growing or declining.
  • Competitor research – For example, look at businesses that provide similar products/services to you and consider how your business could offer something unique.
  • Audience research – For example, do some research online or at a resource library to find out more about your audience such as their location, job role and income. This can help you develop your business concept further, as well as pricing. If you’re not sure where to start, read our blog, ‘How to find and define your target audience’.
  • Product/service research – For example, get feedback on your business idea through interviews, questionnaires or focus groups.

Research the stats and facts behind successful small businesses. Read our blog, ‘What is the success rate of small businesses in Australia?’

starting a small business

3. Planning, planning, planning

The need for planning when setting up your own small business cannot be underestimated. While creating a business plan can take time, it will certainly benefit you in the long-term.

Here are a few key areas to consider:

  • Business information – Establish how you will structure your business, confirm your business name and detail your products/services.
  • Market information – Define who your target audience is and how you plan to stand out from your competitors.
  • Marketing plan - Outline how you will promote your products/services to ensure that your target market knows about them.
  • Financial plan – Work out what finances you will need to get your idea off the ground and whether you will need any financial help.
  • Business development – Consider how your business will develop over time. What do you want to see happen in the next one year, five years or ten years?

4. Setting up your business

You’ve got your idea. You've carried out the necessary research. You’ve planned your business strategy. Now it’s time to start making things happen and set up your own business.

Here are the real-world steps you’ll need to follow to bring your business to life: 

  • Register for an Australian business number (ABN) – This is an 11-digit number that you will need for tax and other business activities.
  • Register your business name – You need to register your business name through the Business Registration Service. It’s an offence to operate without registering your business name. If you don’t register, it means that you could receive a fine and someone else may already be using the name, which means they have rights to the name.  
  • Tax registration – Make sure you understand your tax responsibilities for running a business in Australia. You will then need to register for any taxes that are relevant to your specific business.
  • Licenses and permits – Make sure you’re aware of what licenses and permits you will require in order to trade legally. These can vary between states, local laws and industry.

For more help with these steps, follow the Australian Government’s ‘Starting a business guide’.

Building up your skillset and knowledge base 

If you want to help make your small business a success, then one of the best ways you can do that is through ongoing learning.  

Study the BSB42615 Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship and New Business online and equip yourself with the tools to help make your business a success. Through this nationally recognised, accredited course, you’ll learn how to market your small business, hone your customer service skills, plan and manage your finances, build and maintain business relationships and much more.  

Whether you’re thinking of starting your own small business or have already launched your business, you’ll be able to benefit from this course. After all, the more tools at your disposal, the more prepared you’ll be for anything that comes your way.  

Take the next step forward in your own small business success story and enrol with OC today! 


Chloe Baird

Chloe is an Open Colleges alumnus who now works full time for OC as a Content and Copywriting Specialist. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their goals through education.

Recommended Course

Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship and New Business

Have you always dreamed of running your own business? Get the professional skills you need to successfully start and operate your own small business, with the Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship and Ne...

View Course

Course areas