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Where to begin when starting a business after graduating university

Have you just finished up at university and have a great business idea? Here’s how to get the ball rolling when it comes to starting a small business!

If you have just graduated university and all of those hours of hard work spent studying has resulted in a unique business proposition or the desire to become your own boss, the ABS Institute is here to help with some valuable tips for starting a business

Every business journey is unique

It is really very rare that overnight success happens, and it goes without saying that a lot happens behind the scenes in regards to knowing how to start your own successful business. One of the most important thoughts to keep at the forefront of your mind throughout this process is that your business journey is completely unique to you. Try not to measure your success against someone else’s, as you aren’t privy to all of the steps they had to take to get to where they are today. 

It may take a while to get your business off the ground, and especially in the beginning stages it can be difficult to maintain your motivation as you can face difficulties surrounding finances, marketing and scaling your business. It is important to create habits and follow routines that push you to continue, reminding you of why you started, when your spirit tends to wane. 

Consult someone you trust 

Is there a university tutor or lecturer you feel comfortable enough to confide in about your business idea? Or maybe someone in your life that you admire for starting their own business? Consider consulting someone you trust about your desire to start your own business and they may be able to offer some beneficial industry advice, specific tips about how to start a business in your chosen discipline, and potentially bring up points you might not have considered prior that could get in the way of setting up your business. It’s always a good idea to get someone else’s perspective as it’ll help you understand situations from other positions and viewpoints. 

Determine your business concept 

The dream is to monetize what you love doing, but it’s important to consider whether you’ll actually be able to make a profit. Your business concept doesn’t have to be the next groundbreaking product, it could simply be improving upon something that already exists. 

Forbes Advisor recommends asking yourself these questions when determining your business concept and the following set of questions when considering what kind of business you should start: 

  • What do you love to do? 
  • What do you hate to do? 
  • Can you think of something that would make those things easier? 
  • What are you good at? 
  • What do others come to you for advice about? 
  • If you were given ten minutes to give a five-minute speech on any topic, what would it be? 
  • What’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but lacked resources for?
  • What type of funding do you have? 
  • How much time do you have to invest in your business? 
  • Do you prefer to work from home or at an office or workshop? 
  • What interests and passions do you have? 
  • Can you sell information (such as a course), rather than a product? 
  • What skills or expertise do you have? 
  • How fast do you need to scale your business? 
  • What kind of support do you have to start your business? 
  • Are you partnering with someone else? 
  • Does the franchise model make more sense to you

 

Research your competitors and market 

If you’re thinking of applying for outside funding, the first thing any lender or partner will want to know is what will set you apart from your competitors. This is why it is so vital to do preliminary research before setting up your business. It is recommended that you complete primary and secondary research, as well as a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. 

Primary research consists of obtaining data directly from customers in the form of questionnaires, surveys and interviews to discover what people truly want. Whereas secondary research is when you utilise existing sources of information, such as census data. 

Create your business plan and structure

A business plan is essentially a roadmap for establishing a new business that outlines every aspect of the business for potential investors, financial institutions and company management. A thorough business plan includes an executive summary, company description, market analysis, organisation and structure, mission and goals, products or services, background summary, marketing plan, and a financial plan. 

In these beginning stages of setting up your business you also have to determine what kind of structure your business is going to have. There are a number of structures to choose from including sole trader, company, partnership, trust, co-operative, Indigenous cooperation, or a joint venture. This decision will impact the amount of taxes you have to pay, daily operations and whether your personal assets could be at risk if you run into some financial issues. 

Register your business, get licenses and insurance

The next step is to register your business and decide on your business name. You also have to obtain all the relevant licenses to be able to operate before opening your business. Another essential is organising business insurance. There are various kinds of business insurances including compulsory, workers compensation, personal or loss of income, stock, products and asset, accident and liability, and technology and cybercrime. 

Get your finances in order

There are many economic factors to consider when starting a business such as opening a business bank account, hiring a bookkeeper or obtaining accounting software, and determining your break-even point. 

It is vital that you keep your business and personal finances separate as it makes it much easier to identify when you have paid suppliers and invoiced customers. If you’re selling a product, you will need the means to manage and track inventory, and this is where either hiring a bookkeeper or using accounting software comes into play. There are many software programs that include a ledger and the ability to generate financial statements and log journal entries. Some of these programs also double as bookkeeping tools, offering check writing, managing receivables and payables, tracking your income and expenses, generating invoices, running reports and calculating taxes. 

Before funding your business you will need to have an idea of your startup costs. In order to determine these, you must account for the supplies you require, estimate the cost of any professional services you may need, determine the price of licensing or permits, calculate the cost of any office space and add in the cost of payroll and benefits. You will determine your break-even point when you know how much money you need to get your business started and the point at which you will start to make money. It is always better to overestimate startup costs and end up with too much money instead of too little. 

Getting your finances in order also includes how to fund your business, which usually consists of two categories: internal and external. Internal funding includes personal savings, credit cards, and funds from friends and family, whereas external funding is associated with small business loans and grants, angel investors, venture capital and crowdfunding. A number of small businesses have to use a combination of several sources of capital. It is worth noting that risks come along with all of these funding options, and that they are all worth researching thoroughly before jumping on. 

Get the right tools and learn how to market your business

There are many tools available that can help you save time by automating tasks you would have usually had to complete yourself, some of these tools include: 

  • Accounting software
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software
  • Project management software
  • Credit card processor
  • Point of sale (POS) 
  • Virtual private network (VPN)
  • Merchant services
  • Email hosting

What can sometimes end up being an afterthought is how you go about marketing your business. Although it shouldn’t be because it could mean all the difference between getting noticed by potential customers in comparison to your competitors. Some of the tasks you can easily do to set up your businesses’ marketing strategy is to create a website, optimise your site for SEO, create relevant content, get listed in online directories, and to develop a social media strategy. 

How the ABS Institute can help you!

The ABS Institute is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO ID: 51804) that helps people to achieve their personal and professional goals by offering a range of programs that assist in building knowledge and skills to make it happen! 

Some of the programs and courses we offer are perfectly suited to university graduates that have just started or are thinking of starting their own business. Such programs include Self Employment Assistance which delivers free small business training with help to develop a business plan and 12 months of mentoring with an experienced business coach. We can also provide one off business advice sessions, these free one hour meetings can be a great way to go if you need tailored advice on how to get started.

If you’re interested in any of these programs and courses and want to find out more, simply head to our website, https://www.absinstitute.com.au/ or contact us directly at 1800 501 588.

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