Where do you go for small business advice?

Small business owner baking fresh bread

Whether you’re running an established business or looking to start a brand new business getting the right advice is key to operating a successful venture. In Australia, small business owners have some high quality, inexpensive sources of advice and information that can help.

Starting a new business

A good place to begin if you are starting a business from scratch is the Australian Government website for business. At Business.gov.au you will find all kinds of useful fact sheets and guides. This includes a simple list of questions to ask yourself before you get started such as:

  • What do I need before I get started?
  • Am I ready?
  • How can I get advice & support?
  • What type of business should I start?
  • Which business structure should I choose?
  • How do I choose a business name?

There are also templates you can use to write up your business plan and information about grants and regulations. You will also find information about managing your cashflow, getting a business loan, employing staff, and importing and exporting.

The Business Enterprise Centre (which has branches in different locations) can also be a very valuable resource for reliable, independent advice about starting a business.  You will also find government departments in the different states, including Victoria, NSW and WA, have very useful small business resources.

The Australian Taxation Office also provide fact sheets for small business owners that help to explain how to get an Australian Business Number (ABN) or Australian Company Number (ACN), your obligations when it comes to paying staff, lodging your Business Activity Statements (BAS) and other compliance issues.

Your bank can also be a good source of high quality business advice: take a look at the website and make use of the free information your bank provides. If your situation is more complicated, you may wish to meet with your bank manager to get her expert input.

Business advice for an established business

Already in business? Although we would like to be able to have all of the answers all of the time, sometimes it is worthwhile getting expert input. Chances are the problem you are having has been dealt with by more established business owner previously – and you can learn from their experiences, hopefully without sharing their pain!

As well as the sources outlined above, additional sources of business advice for established businesses can include expert input from a tax consultant, business lawyer, financial planner, or even a business coach or mentor. The value of a mentor cannot be under-estimated. Many very successful entrepreneurs credit the guidance of a mentor at the early stages, and key points along the way, as vital t0 their success.

Books and videos can also be very valuable resources. YouTube has all kinds of material available – free! – and can be a more attractive option for busy people with little time to read. Audio books are also very useful for the same reason: you can listen while you drive your car or commute.

The ATO also offer seminars, as does the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Other information can be found on the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) website and publications.

If you are researching a business loan or financial product, you may find Canstar Cannex or MorningStar useful sources of independent information.

  • Hi Elayn,

    Just clarifying for your readers that Business Enterprise Centres (BEC’s) can also assist established businesses (not just start up’s), especially through 1:1 Business Advisory Services which are either no-cost or low cost.

    Regards,

    Lara Kilborn
    Business Development Manager
    Business Enterprise Centre – St George & Sutherland Shire.

  • Hi Elayn,

    Businesses should also investigate the benefits from joining an industry Association in their business sector.

    The Australian Gift & Homewares Association Ltd (www.agha.com.au) is the industry Association for Australian companies trading (wholesale or retail) in gift or homewares products.

    Regards,

    Mark Dowse
    Policy & Membership Manager

  • Anna Erskine

    Hi Elayn,

    Great article. I wish I had read it before venturing out to start my business. I have a few bits of wisdom that might help others as well.

    1. Invest time and effort into building a rock solid business plan. I read many articles but the one that stuck with me the most was inc.com (http://www.inc.com/guides/write-a-great-business-plan.html)

    2. Before choosing a name, read this article about the right name to pick (http://sbinfocanada.about.com/od/startup/a/createbizname.htm)

    3. Get a cheap logo done to put on some business cards and hand out to people early on. I got a business logo and printing done by designcrowd.com – they are cheap but get excellent results (http://www.designcrowd.com)

    4. Try register your domain name as quickly as possible so nobody else snaps it up (http://www.godaddy.com)

  • The first thing that you need while starting a business is proper planning; without a good strategy it is pretty difficult to handle a business properly. Most people who start any type of business are unknown about the strategies that need to be taken; so to handle this situation, people should hire any small business advisor company.I have found the useful information which was really important for me.