5 things to think about before starting a business in Australia

Setting up a business
in Australia? Here are five things to think about

Here are the key things to consider before breaking into the markets Down Under.

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With gateways to a host of Asia-Pacific countries, free trade deals and decreasing unemployment rates, Australia stands out as a land of opportunity when it comes to starting a business.

It’s the 13th biggest economy in the world, but as a marketplace Australia is still being discovered. The continued rise of online selling, however, coupled with fast-paced cities and flourishing coastlines make it hard to ignore as a destination for new businesses.

So, to help you navigate towards business success Down Under, we’ve put together a handy guide with a few things you should think about before starting a business in Australia.

Weigh up the pros and cons

It’s easy to be bowled over by Australia as a destination for a start-up set-up, but it’s important that you also consider the drawbacks in order to make a sound decision.

For example, Australia’s biggest cities are spread across the country, with Melbourne in the south, Sydney and Brisbane in the east and Perth to the west, each offering unique opportunities for businesses, both in terms of audience, lifestyle and shopping habits. Plus, there are various remote regions that attract smaller communities thanks to the mining industry, and a less saturated area could mean you land yourself a more captive audience. If life off the beaten track appeals, you’ll need to consider logistics such as your supply chain, delivery times and accessibility.

If you’re planning to set up in multiple locations throughout Australia, licences and permissions for domestic businesses vary between states, so ensure you research exactly which permits you need to run your business in Australia. If you’re planning for the longer term and can see international expansion in your future, an historic free trade deal with China and other Asia-Pacific countries means that new doors are being opened for businesses and investors in Australia to more easily work with buyers and suppliers in Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia and more.

Think about all costs

The Queensland Government revealed that one of the most common causes of new businesses failing is not having enough cash to meet expenses. By identifying these costs and planning for them early on, new business struggles are less likely to occur. If you’re new to the business world, separating and documenting your outgoings into one-off costs and ongoing expenses will help you manage your finances and ensure you don’t get caught short one month.

Early research into your market – understanding customer needs; identifying competitors; looking into supplier offerings; and analysing market trends – will allow you to set more realistic targets and forecasts.

The Australian Government website has a section dedicated to calculating approximate business start-up costs, which can be found at business.gov.au.

Find out what works Down Under

Small enterprises account for almost 98 per cent of all Australian businesses, nearly 80 per cent of which are either micro – employing between 1 and 4 people – or non-employing businesses. Published by the Australian Government and the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, the Small Business Counts document is a useful resource offering information about survival rates, small business share by sector and employment statistics.

If your business can serve within the finance, professional services or consumer goods retailing sectors, it could make for a successful venture, as these are three of the biggest industries by revenue in Australia. The health services subdivision has also seen great demand in the past five years.

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Research the markets

Even if you’re planning to set up a physical store, an online presence is an absolute must. Whether this comes via exposure on social media platforms such as Instagram or YouTube; through your own website; or via the multitude of online marketplaces that are available Down Under, you’ll want to do all you can to take a share of the billions of Australian dollars being spent at online checkouts each year. But, where to start?

Growing a following on social media can take time, as can launching your own website. By selling via an established marketplace, however, you can open up your business to a huge audience far more quickly.

Offering Australia’s “largest selection for the home”, mydeal.com.au has been in operation for a decade and serves 1 million users per month. New joiners receive a guided onboarding process and full control over shopfronts. Plus, market experts ensure prices are positioned just right for both buyers and sellers.

In the online retail space, clothing tops Statista’s list of what Australians shop for online, with consumer electronics and cosmetics landing in the top half of the table. Interestingly, while 66 per cent of Australian’s prefer to research online prior to making a big purchase – with the majority doing so on a mobile phone or tablet – 25 per cent would rather visit a physical store than part with their cash online.

Rarely are online marketplaces discussed without mentioning eBay and Amazon, both of which are now fully established in Australia. The former offers the familiar auction and “buy it now” options, with its 40,000 trading businesses attracting more than 11 million visitors per month. It’s only in recent years that the latter has fully set up shop in Australia, bringing new jobs, additional investment and empowerment to Australia’s small businesses.

Not as popular globally but still one of Australia’s biggest platforms for online sellers is New Zealand’s market-leading Trade Me. The site supports auctions, classifieds, the sale of services and multiple quantity listings. Its Top Seller programme rewards members with discounted store features and reduced payment fees, though to qualify you must meet the criteria, including making at least NZD$10,000 in a six-week period.

Get your set-up right

Where you set yourself up will be determined by myriad factors, the two biggest being your industry and cost. As well as these, you’ll need to investigate the other businesses in the area as well as find out how nearby competitors operate. Ask yourself if you could benefit from being located near similar businesses – could comparison shoppers be key to your brand’s success or might competition make operations that bit harder.

In your search for a base, factor in lifestyle and tourism. The vast expanse of the country means vibrant cities, remote wonderlands, coastal escapes and laid-back towns are spread far and wide, and all offer something different when it comes to buying behaviour and business opportunities.

Let’s not forget that in the age of online selling, one doesn’t necessarily need a physical storefront. If you’re planning to launch an online business from the comfort of your own home, there are still considerations to ponder, whether you’re going to base yourself abroad or stay at home, not least making sure your home office is accessible for suppliers and couriers.

Finalising your location will also be determined by local laws. Permits and licences for Australian businesses differ across Australia’s states and territories and factor in location as well as business activity, so ensure you have done your research.

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Niki Sehmbi
Senior Content Specialist | 8 years' experience in content marketing within the tech and finance space.
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