How To Start A Small Business In Australia - Swinburne

Want to know how to start a small business in Australia? This Swinburne Open Education small business info covers steps to take to start your new venture.

young woman business owner smiles as she serves a customer at a Square point of sale system at her small business in the hospitality sector

If you've decided to start a small business in Australia, it's important to get organised. While each business is unique, there are many common factors that need to be addressed. Whether your business is involved with hospitality, finance, e-commerce, services or another industry, qualified training and learning can help you get started and grow. 

According to this guide released by the Australian Government, the following 10 steps are key to starting a small business in Australia:

  1. Make key decisions regarding your business name, structure, and location.

  2. Develop a business plan, including all aspects of risk management and marketing.

  3. Get help for your business by doing courses or working with business and financial advisors.

  4. Register your business by taking out an Australian Business Number (ABN), claiming a name, and signing up for any necessary licences and permits.

  5.  Focus on cash flow by learning about finance options, pricing strategies, invoicing, and payments.

  6. Learn about the legal aspects of your business, including contracts and fair trading laws.

  7. Protect your business and staff with insurance coverage, and get prepared for emergencies.

  8. Learn about record keeping and tax obligations, and whether you need to lodge a Business Activity Statement (BAS).

  9. Set up your central business processes, including hiring employees and dealing with suppliers.

  10. Market your business, communicate with customers, and establish your brand.

With so much to learn, starting a new business can be daunting or overwhelming. Whether it's creating a business plan, dealing with the Australian Taxation Office, or learning to differentiate yourself from the competition, business success demands knowledge, experience, and a diverse range of skills.

If you want to overcome these obstacles and get job-ready, the following tips are a great place to start for aspiring business owners or entrepreneurs; 

Study a business course 

Unfortunately, many small businesses in Australia don't survive the first year. Establishing a small business in a market is hard work, but can also be very rewarding. Whilst a variety of factors can affect small business operations, a lack of knowledge, skills or underestimating time commitments for owner-operators, can negatively impact business success. 

If you want to dramatically increase your chances of business success, enrol in a business course such as a Cert. IV in Entrepreneurship and New Business is a great place to start. Among other things, a small business course provides you with a solid understanding of business fundamentals, current operating standards, and market expectations.

Gain experience

Along with doing formal study, you can increase your chances of business success by gaining experience. While each industry is unique, hands-on experience is always helpful. There are lots of ways to gain experience, from working or volunteering at a related business to doing a side hustle part-time. This can be a great way to learn more about specific aspects of business, and it also helps to build your confidence.

Create a business plan

A comprehensive business plan sets you up for success and helps you to adapt as your business grows. Creating a formal business plan helps you to identify challenges, recognise opportunities, and avoid surprises. This document helps you to set clear objectives, understand market needs, and navigate challenges and risks. It's about setting goals, identifying methods to attain these goals, and creating a time frame for their achievement.

Business marketing

Marketing is an essential aspect of every business. It doesn't matter what you sell or where you're located — businesses need to connect with their customers. A wide array of promotions are used by modern businesses, from digital and online advertising to traditional print media, signage and merchandise. Marketing for businesses (a business in itself) is an always-changing field. It can have large implications on attracting new and retaining, existing clients or customers.

What skills do you need to start a small business?

The following skills will give you an advantage for any type of small business:

  • Financial knowledge and management

  • Accounting and bookkeeping

  • Marketing, customer service, and sales

  • Communication and networking

  • Leadership and staff management

  • Project management and problem-solving

  • Data management and security

Start your small business journey by studying at Swinburne Open Education

If you want to start a small business, studying via the Swinburne Open Education platform provides students with a solid foundation. We offer a range of business courses that you can study from home for the ultimate convenience and flexibility. 

We offer the following business-related courses via online learning;

  • Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping Online

  • Certificate IV in Business Administration Online

  • Certificate IV in Business Finance Online

  • Certificate IV in Human Resource Management Online

  • Certificate IV in Business Leadership Online

  • Certificate IV in Business Procurement Online

  • Certificate IV in Business Big Data Online

  • Certificate IV in Business Cyber Security Online

  • Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship and New Business Online

  • Certificate IV in Marketing and Communication Online

  • Certificate IV in Leadership and Management Online

  • Diploma of Accounting Online

  • Diploma of Leadership and Management Online

  • Diploma of Project Management Online

At Swinburne, all of our online courses and qualifications are developed in partnership with industry leaders based on valuable knowledge and practical skills. The information we deliver and teach is based on Australian standards. So you'll learn current skills to support your role as a business owner.

Small business FAQs

Q. How many small businesses exist in Australia?

Based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there were 2,589,873 active businesses nationwide in 2023. To be considered a small business by the ABS, it must either be non-employing or have less than 20 employees.

There are 1,545,304 non-employing businesses in Australia, along with 722,628 businesses with 1-4 employees, and 258,280 with 5-19 employees.

Q. What types of small businesses are the most common?

According to figures released by Treasury, the most common type of small business in Australia is in the services sector. This is followed by: construction, professional, scientific, technical, rental, hiring and real estate services. Then retail trade, health care and social assistance, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Q. What is the success rate of small businesses?

Using numbers from the same Treasury study, just 59.7% of small businesses survived over a four-year period. This figure is much lower than medium-sized businesses at 75.8% and large businesses at a rate of 74.3%. Completing a small business management course is an ideal way to improve your chances of success.

Q. What are the benefits of running a small business?

Despite the inherent risks, owning and operating a small business offers a range of financial and lifestyle benefits. You have greater control over your life, more opportunity to generate profits, and the ability to scale your business based on demand. From tax advantages to lifestyle flexibility, you can benefit on several fronts.

Q. What are tax advantages and requirements of running a small business?

As a small business owner, you have various tax obligations. For example, you must lodge an income tax return each year, and you may also have to lodge Business Activity Statements (BAS).

Depending on your business, you may also need to lodge other financial reports or returns. There are also tax benefits, including deductions for business-related equipment, maintenance and repairs, business travel expenses, and depreciating assets.


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