Starting a small business

Tips & Tricks

Mistakes to avoid

business man fill out the form to start a business Research your market. You think your idea is good, and your friends and relatives support it. But this is a poor indicator. Perhaps the rest of the world has no real interest in your product. Don’t invest money on something that never gets off the ground. Many companies, even large ones, when under in the 1970’s and 1980’s because the product was too far ahead of its time. Apple Newton preceded the iPhone, but nobody bought it. Betamax was better than VHS, but people bought VHS.

Not having a clean vision vs. not being flexible. Who do you want to cater for? Does that market exist? It’s good to have a clear goal, but you also have to learn how to achieve it as you go. If it was easy it would already have been done.

Avoiding decisions Bad decisions can ruin a company, making no decisions will achieve the same effect. Try things on a smaller scale, and learn what works; this is a form of research, though it isn’t 100% fool proof it is a reasonable indication. If you make a bad decision you can learn from it, if you make no decision you’re just losing your way.

Transposing ideas A lot of the time an idea or item that works overseas will work here, but not always. Cable TV worked in the USA many years ago, but it took longer here because we don’t have the population to provide as many subscribers. When it finally did arrive is struggled, and ended up competing with online viewing. Similarly, game-shows that are a roaring success in Japan (eat a live grasshopper and win a prize) aren’t even worth trying here. On the other hand computer games and other novelties that worked in the USA often turn a healthy profit here.

Look at expand-ability Can you start the business as a one person operation? If not, you will have to invest in outside help. And if you can start it as a one person operation can you expand over time? Will business demand exceed your productivity? Nice problem to have in one sense, but you will have to catch up with demand. Part time employees can be a good option, especially if they can work an extra day or two as demand varies. Teenage workers are good for a few tasks if they prove reliable and capable; some appreciate the experience for their resume.

Remember, GST is a factor. You should register the business and fill out the appropriate forms on a regular basis. You should register and be collecting GST if you earn over the appropriate threshold, which is about $75,000.

Get a professional to look at your tax situation. The first time you do this you may find a lot of deductions and ideas that you never thought of. These will seem obvious after some experience.

If you have a small manufacturing type business then tries testing the waters on eBay. This can work well for small items that are easy to post, but there are too many variable to give any specific advice.

Get a website made. A template website will work for some businesses, if you just need an advertising card online this is fine. Online customer enquiries and selling over the net require more complex sites; you can add this as your business needs them.

Google for business advice, and look at http://www.business.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx.

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