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Fact Sheet - Start a business checklist

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Last updated on December 18, 2012
Working through this checklist will help you take the necessary steps to get your business off the ground.

Before you start

  • Are you the right sort of person to go into business?
    Our "Thinking of going into business" information can help you decide.
  • Do you know when a hobby becomes a business?
    It's important to know if you're operating a business or enjoying a hobby as this will affect your tax and deductions. The Australian Tax Office and websites have some information to help determine if you are in business.
    Are you operating a business?
    Online selling - hobby or business?
    Hobby or Business tool
  • Are you an independent contractor?
    It's important to establish whether you're considered a contractor or an employee. Having an Australian Business Number (ABN) does not automatically make you a contractor. This tool will help you assess whether you are an independent contractor.
    Contractor decision tool
  • Is your business idea viable?
    Establishing whether your business idea is viable before you start can save you time and money.
  • Do you need to obtain finance?
    You will need to work out how much money (capital) you'll need. It's important to know how to be prepared to borrow from a financial institution.
  • Have you decided on a business structure?
    What type of business will you run? For example, a sole trader, partnership, company or trust. You may also establish yourself as a social enterprise or to set up a charity or not-for-profit association.
  • Have you chosen a location for your business?
    Where will you locate your business? It may be that you decide to operate business from your home. Once you've decided you'll need to check with your local council about any planning or permit requirements as well as any zoning issues or restrictions on signage.
  • Do you have an invention, idea or product that you wish to develop?
    You will need to put the spotlight on your idea and make sure that your new product, process or service has commercial value.
  • Do you have a business plan?
    Planning can help you avoid mistakes and can also help you seek finance and support from others.
  • Have you thought how you will market your business?
    A marketing plan can help you decide the best way to market your goods or services to your customers.
  • Are you planning to import goods?
    Imports with a value that exceeds the threshold of A$1000 must be cleared by submitting a completed import declaration form and paying duty and taxes that apply.
  • Are you planning to export goods?
    If the export of goods is going to be an aspect of your business, you need to be familiar and compliant with a number of legal requirements.
  • Have you joined an industry association or found a network?
    Networking groups and industry associations can provide you with valuable contacts and information.

When you start a business

  • Have you registered for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and established whether you need to register for Goods and Services Tax (GST)?
    The website has the information you will need for this.
    Go to 'Registering for an ABN' and 'Register for GST' at for details.
  • Have you registered your business name and domain name if applicable?
    Go to ASIC website to register you business name and to the AUDA site for the domain name.
  • Do you know about any licences, registrations, codes of practice or standards that are applicable to your business?
    The Australian Business and Licence Information Service is a one-stop-shop for all the information you need about this.
    Link to Australian Business Licence Information Service
  • Do you know how to manage your business finances and understand your tax obligations?
    Seeking appropriate information and support will help you manage your finances as you set up and grow your business.
  • Do you understand your legal requirements?
    You will need to comply with a number of Commonwealth, State and Local Government laws relating to the operation of businesses in Australia.
  • Do you have the right insurances?
    There are a range of insurances you may need when in business. Your insurance broker will be able to help you work out what is relevant to your business.
  • Do you have intellectual property (IP) or trademarks that need protecting?
    Intellectual property is the property of your original idea or proprietary knowledge. It can be an invention, a trade mark, a design or the practical application of your idea.
  • Do you know how to employ people?
    Consider how you will recruit staff and the legal considerations of employing people.
  • Do you understand your occupational health and safety obligations?
    WorkSafe Tasmania provides extensive information on occupational health and safety in Tasmania
  • Will you be applying for grants or financial assistance?
    Although there is limited grant assistance to start up a business, some support is available in the areas of innovation, research and development, technology and exporting.
  • Have you established how you will work with your customers and suppliers?
    The way you approach your relationships with customers and suppliers will be a crucial factor in your business success.
  • Do you have systems in place to meet your financial record keeping requirements?
    Setting up systems early can help you stay in control.
  • Do you plan your business online?
    Our Digital Ready site will link you to all the information you need to know.
  • Do you intend to do business with government?
    Understanding how to pitch for government business in a way that meets government procures guidelines can help your business be competitive.
  • Are you prepared for difficulties or crises?
    Planning for difficulties or crises can help you reduce the risk of this occurring. Knowing where to go in the case of difficulties or crises is also important.
  • Are you aware of scams targeting business?
    SCAMwatch is a website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which provides information to consumers and businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams. Protect your business from scammers who may claim that they offer grants services or grants upon payment. Please read this information on SCAMwatch.
  • Would you like to talk to someone?
    Business Tasmania provides a fast, free and confidential information and referral service for people starting and operating a business in Tasmania. We can help you with questions about establishing a business, expanding your business, licensing, accessing government programs and much more.
    Contact us on 1800 440 026 or email
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