Five steps to getting a business off the ground

Setting up any small business is a big job, but with the right preparation even the most daunting projects can find their feet and take off. Here are a few important things to consider when you’re planning a new business start-up. By breaking the process down into easy to manage chunks, you’ll find it easier to move from A to B.

1) Ask “how good is my business idea?”

Great new business ideas don’t have to be complicated; often the best start-ups are also the most simple. If your idea fills a gap in the market or improves a service that already exists, you’re already well on your way to success.

It’s important to assess how realistic your business idea is, both for you as an owner right now and in the future – can you afford to bring your product or service to the market at a good price? Is there good potential to earn here?

If you don’t personally have the skills or means to make your idea a reality, consider bringing other people on board to help you fund and execute your business. Having an idea is only half the battle: you need to make sure you can bring it to life too.

2) Have a detailed business plan

A comprehensive, dynamic business plan is one of the most important things to consider for a brand new business start up. It’s a way for you to track where you’re headed and work out how exactly you’re going to get there.

  • Start by listing your goals, personal mission, and overall strategy. It’s a great base to spring from and will give you and your team something to look back on and refer to along the way.
  • Keep a record of any competitor or market analysis you’ve done. This can be updated and added to at any time to help keep on top of the environment you’re working in.
  • Think ‘SWOT’ – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Take some time to identify what internal factors work well for your business and what you might have to work on, as well as what external opportunities and threats might arise.

3) Register in the right places

It might not be the most exciting step, but registering your business for certain services can save a lot of time and stress further down the line. Here are four essential links to help get you started.

  • RealMe – A secure login service that lets you log in with one username and password for a variety of New Zealand government-built services. Think of it as an access pass to your business’ most important online accounts.
  • New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) – This is a unique identification number for your business that helps speed up any dealings with the government, suppliers, your customers or other businesses by giving them quick access to your details.
  • My IR – My IR is your online account and hub for all things to do with the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department. Registering means you can sort out income tax, file business returns, and check your accounts all in one place. Sign up here for an IRD number if you haven’t already.
  • GST – If you predict your business’ annual turnover will be $60,000 or over, you’ll need to register for GST (Goods and Services Tax). You can register easily through My IR with your IRD number and BIC Code available here.

4) Keep your money on your mind

There are four types of costs to consider when you first start a new business – start-up costs, fixed costs, variable costs and insurance costs.

Things like leases, permits, equipment, vehicles, furniture, branding, website & domain names and registering IP and trademarks are all costs to sort out before your business gets going.

Fixed costs are ones you’ll pay regularly like utility bills, rent or mortgage and salaries or wages. Variable costs on the other hand only crop up every so often (e.g. ingredients, production materials and stock orders).

Insurance costs are important to consider but easy to plan for once you know how. Take a look at our small business cover guide to start sorting out yours now.

5) Consider your customers

Every entrepreneur knows the most important part of running a business is building a loyal, enthusiastic customer base. Try to put yourself in their shoes – what would you expect if you were on the other side of the fence?

First, consider how people will pay for your products and services. If payments will happen online, you’ll need to sign up for a merchant account so customers can pay with credit or debit cards. It’s a good idea to open a separate bank account for your business so no revenue gets mixed up with your personal funds.

It’s also important to stay visible. Invest in a well-made website and register your address with Google My Business if you have a physical store or office, so customers know exactly where to find you when they’re searching. Depending on your intended market, promoting your business with a Facebook or Instagram page could make a huge difference too.