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5 Step guide: starting a small business in New South Wales

New South Wales is a great place to start a new business – more than 736,000 small businesses call NSW home. The state’s economy is growing fast, and solid population growth and a strong pipeline of infrastructure and housing construction reflect strong business confidence.

Before you launch your new business in NSW, you’ll need to create a business plan, decide on a legal structure, understand your costs and more. The process can seem daunting, but there’s excellent support available. For example, Business Connect is a dedicated and personalised NSW Government program that provides independent business advice and events to help New South Wales business owners to start, run, adapt or grow their small businesses.

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Read on for tips about starting your own business in New South Wales.

1. Write a business plan

A business plan is an essential step to starting a new business. A comprehensive business plan will turn your business idea into a realistic plan of what you need to do, showing you gaps where you might need support.

You should undertake a SWOT and competitor analysis to define your new business idea and where it sits in the market. Most lenders will ask to see a comprehensive business plan before providing your new business with funding.

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If you need business plan inspiration, our blog, How to write a business plan, may help.

2. Choose a business structure

Before you start a business in NSW, you must choose a business structure for your new venture. Your choice of business structure will affect your legal obligations, taxes and liabilities; each option comes with pros and cons.

In New South Wales, the most commonly used business structures are sole trader, company, partnership and trust. The New South Wales Government website has a detailed guide to help you find the best structure for your new business. You can change your business structure in the future to reflect business growth.

3. Explore support and grants for NSW startups

The NSW Government provides many types of support to individuals starting or scaling businesses. Grants available to NSW small businesses include:

  • Minimum Viable Product grants: These grants support promising technology startups that haven’t yet generated any income to develop scalable technology solutions. Visit the NSW Government website for more information and to apply for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) grant.
  • Building Partnerships grants: These grants help NSW startups and SMEs to scale by acquiring a key customer or channel to market. More information about Building Partnerships grants is available on the NSW Government website.
  • Western Sydney Investment Attraction Fund grants: Specifically designed to boost the Western Sydney economy, you may be eligible for this grant if your startup is in a nominated local government area. Visit the NSW Government website for more information and to be notified when the Western Sydney Investment Attraction Fund is open for applications.

Grants aside, the NSW Government offers several programs and initiatives to support small businesses in the state of New South Wales. These include:

  • Women in Business: A NSW Government and TAFE NSW initiative that offers a fully subsidised online program for women who are looking to establish a small business or already operating a business. More information, including eligibility criteria, is at the TAFE NSW website.
  • Sydney School of Entrepreneurship: The Sydney School of Entrepreneurship is a not-for-profit organisation supported by NSW-based universities and TAFE NSW. They offer programs such as a Virtual Startup Internship and short courses in innovation, design thinking and entrepreneurship skills. More information is at the SSE website.
  • Business Concierge: A fantastic service designed to help small business owners start, run, grow or adapt their businesses, apply for government grants and licences, understand regulations and work with local councils.

4. Apply for the licenses or registrations you’ll need

You need certain licences and registrations to operate a business in NSW. The Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website lets you search for the licences, regulations, council approvals and other compliance requirements that may apply to your new business, based on your business type, industry and location.

Common requirements for New South Wales businesses include:

  • Register for an Australian Business Number (ABN). An ABN will let you claim Goods and Services Tax credits, energy grants credits, register an Australian domain name, plus more.
  • Register for Goods and Services Tax (GST). You must register your business for GST if your GST turnover is $75,000 or more.
  • Apply for a Tax File Number. If you’ve decided a company, trust, or partnership structure is best for your business, you’ll need to apply for a business Tax File Number. If you’ll be operating as a sole trader, you’ll need to apply for an individual Tax File Number.
  • Register for PAYG withholding. You’ll need to register for PAYG withholding if you need to withhold tax (on behalf of the Australian Tax Office) from payments you make to employees, contractors, or other businesses that haven’t supplied you with an ABN.
  • Get liability insurance for your business. Public liability insurance protects you and your business against the risks of damage or injury to people or property. While it’s not mandatory, it’s highly recommended that you hold liability insurance. You can choose from public liability, professional indemnity, or product liability insurance.
  • Register for fuel tax credits. You may be eligible to register for fuel tax credits for the fuel used by your business.

You can apply for these registrations at the Australian Business Register.

5. Decide where you’ll operate from

Depending on your business, you may operate virtually, from physical premises, or even from home.

If you run an online store, you’ll need somewhere to pick and pack orders – either a dedicated space in your home or a leased business premises.

If your new business is a retail store, you’ll need to lease or buy business premises. The New South Wales Government website lists a raft of aspects you may need to consider when developing your premises, including applying for a fire safety certificate, construction certificate or zoning certificate, or to install a street awning or business sign.

If you’re launching a home-based business, you won’t need to find business premises, but you’ll still need to meet a number of requirements. The New South Wales Government website offers a comprehensive list of tips for home businesses, including guidance about whether you need local council approval to run your business from home.

Confused about where to begin when starting a business in New South Wales? Get in touch with the Business Concierge for tailored advice to help you get up and running fast.

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