Got a brilliant idea for a business? If your current job isn’t cutting the mustard in terms of personal rewards or income, now could be the time to unleash your inner entrepreneur and join the two million Aussies who run their own show.
Australians are an entrepreneurial bunch. Over 2.17 million businesses are actively trading across the country, and chances are, you could have a bright idea for a money-making venture of your own.
Getting started with a business can be easy. First, you’ll need an ABN (Australian Business Number). This costs nothing and you can apply online at the Australian Business Register. With an ABN in place, you can choose to register your business for GST (Goods and Services Tax). Do this free of charge through the Tax Office’s business portal or ask your accountant to complete the paperwork for you.
Of course, that’s just the beginning. Running your own business can involve hard work – and plenty of it, though the rewards are there, especially if your small business goes on to become tomorrow’s big business. And it can happen. After all, Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in their university dorm room, and even Woolworths started out as a bargain store in Sydney.
The thing is, long term success calls for more than a good product – something Anthony O’Brien, owner and co-founder of marketing consultancy Corpwrite, knows all too well.
A former political staffer, O’Brien recognised the need for businesses to have online content as a way of marketing to consumers and building their brand. So, in 2008, together with good friend Chris Walker, he launched Corpwrite as a content writing agency. Ten years later, Corpwrite is a fully fledged marketing consultancy, and based on his experience, O’Brien shares five key factors that he believes are critical to starting – and growing – your own venture.
1. Do your research
“Know what the market wants and be sure your product is competitively priced,” advises O’Brien. “You may believe your product is fantastic but there is not much point investing time and money in a business if demand for your product simply isn’t there or if you are priced way above your competitors.”
2. Pull together a business plan
“A business plan is a roadmap that explains what your business is aiming to achieve and how it will reach these goals,” explains O’Brien. “A business plan doesn’t need to be complex. Try to keep your plan to four or five measurable goals.”
Download a free business plan template from the government’s business portal.
3. Have a marketing plan
“You can’t sell a secret,” says O’Brien. “It pays to have a good marketing plan in place to sell your product or service. Social media such as Facebook can be a useful starting point if you can’t afford a high-quality website.”
Networking can play a key role too. O’Brien notes, “You have to be prepared to pick up the phone, ring around and get out and meet people.”
4. Set aside money for tax
When the money starts rolling in, it’s easy to feel cashed up. However, unlike being an employee, as a business owner you are responsible for paying your own tax – and this is a common stumbling block for small businesses.
“Your business can be a good source of income though you need to have the discipline to regularly set aside money for tax – including GST,” says O’Brien. Consider opening a separate savings account to store money to meet tax and other obligations so that you have the funds available when payment is due.
5. Invest in the right technology
Staying on top of the numbers is important for any business, and O’Brien says there’s plenty of help available here.
He explains, “When Corpwrite first started, the only options were spreadsheets and software. Today, there is an abundance of low cost cloud platforms and apps that let me know how the business is tracking financially – anywhere, anytime.
“Having the technology in place to manage the money side of the business has been especially useful whenever I’ve needed to pull documents together to apply for a home loan or investment property loan,” adds O’Brien.
In fact, maintaining an accurate set of business records is a must if you’re self-employed and applying for a home loan.
Your Aussie Broker can explain what’s involved in getting a home loan when you’re self-employed. As a rule, lenders will want to see the last two years’ tax returns for the business as well as financial statements like profit and loss reports.
As your Aussie Broker also runs their own business, they are well-placed to explain which lenders look more favourably on business owners, what your borrowing power is, and which home loans are right for your needs.
Talk to your Aussie Broker for help organising your home loan, asset finance or to learn more about how running a business could impact your ability to buy a home.
This article was originally published in 2018.
You may also be interested in Dear John – what can I do to get a home loan if I am self-employed?, Getting a home loan when you’re self-employed and Kicking goals with a second income