Getting started

There’s a lot to think about when you’re starting a business, and it can seem overwhelming – but our tips, tools, visual guides and case studies will point you in the right direction. Here’s where you’ll find information about:

  • planning
  • getting set up
  • funding and finance.

You’ll also find templates to help you get started.


Tips and tools to help you start a business

Do your research

Before you start a new business, it’s really important to research your market and find out what and who you’ll be competing against. Our guide shows you how to figure out who might buy your products or services, and who your competitors might be.

Choosing a business name

Choosing a name for your business is a big decision, especially if you’re planning to build a brand around it. Use our free ONECheck tool to check available business names, trade marks, web domains and social media usernames in one quick search. The tool will also guide you to your next steps.

Case study

Researching the market

What do you get when you put a lawyer, accountant, marketer and IT programmer in a room together? In the case of Common Ledger, an online platform that lets accountants access clients’ financial data regardless of the software format they use. Getting started wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

After the initial development came six months of market research, speaking with accountants around the world. The product was then developed, tested, and investors were found who believed in them enough to back them, and their product, financially.

Learn more about how Common Ledger got started

Getting set up

Tools, tips and advice to get you started

Choose your business structure

Use this tool to help you make the best choice when it comes to structuring your business. Just three quick questions and you're on your way to choosing a business structure.

Case study

Bend it like Becs

Becs has 10 years’ experience as a custom metalworker, and is thinking about going out on her own. She knows her industry, and she knows there’s a market for the bespoke products she wants to create. She takes the time to work out what her likely start-up costs will be, including premises, equipment, and compliance costs. But she’s not sure whether to set up as a sole trader or a company.

Becs logs on to the Choose Business Structure tool to help her make a decision on her business structure. After careful consideration, and reading through all the information on the Choose Business Structure tool, she decides to set up a company. The tool provides her with a task list she can follow, along with an outline of some of the costs she can expect to pay to set up her company.

Types of advice you'll need

There’s a lot to think about when you’re a small business owner - but you don’t have to do it alone. There are a number of different people and organisations you can go to for support, help and advice. Understanding the types of advice you might need will help you figure out where to go for support.


Tips and guides to help you manage your finances

Case study

Buy what you can afford

When it comes to capital, Vicki Ha, owner of Wellington’s House of Dumplings, believes in only spending what she has. “I still haven’t borrowed one cent from the bank and there’s not a lot of businesses like that,” she says. Ha thinks bank loans aren’t a safe business practice because she can’t prove how much income she’ll make.

“My approach is that you can’t predict sales,” she says. “That’s the problem with a lot of businesses. They go to the bank to borrow $40–50k based on their own predictions. But who decides that? It’s not the owner — it’s the customers.”

Ha avoids borrowing by only buying what she can afford and avoiding frivolous or spur-of-the-moment business purchases. “When I started, I had $20,000 in my bank but I would only spend it very wisely. I’m still very cautious about spending money.”

While Ha consciously decides not to take on debt, loans can be a viable option for those who carefully assess whether borrowed money can be paid back on time and put to good use.

Learn more about how House of Dumplings got up and running

What's next?

Resources for your next steps

Choosing where to work

Working from home. Renting a shared workspace. Moving into — or relocating to — your own premises.

There are pros and cons to each of these options.

Choosing where to work may come down to your situation and budget. But it’s important to think about what suits your working style too.

Hiring an employee

Some businesses start hiring employees right from the beginning, while others take some time before bringing people on board. If you expect to start looking for employees right away, here are some tools, tips and visual guides to tell you what you need to know about hiring.

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