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Starting a small business

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Getting started with a small business. Image: Getty

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By Diana Clement
MSN NZ Money writer

Every year thousands of Kiwis take the plunge and start or buy a business. In fact we're a nation of small and medium-sized business owners. To be successful you need to get the planning right and have your head fully screwed on.

Getting started
Start the planning stage by asking yourself honestly if you really are suited to business? For example, think of the worst thing that could happen to your business and ask yourself if you could sleep at night if it happened.

It's also worth looking at the skills all business people need. They include good time management and sales skills, self-motivation, and as your business grows, people management skills are required.

If you pass these tests, you'll then need:

  • A business idea, unless you plan to buy an existing business or franchise.
  • A business plan, which outlines how you plan to make money from your winning idea.
  • Finance or your own personal money.
  • Premises, unless you plan to start your business from home.

Access free government training
If these sound daunting, don't worry. The government provides excellent free training and mentoring through enterprise agencies, which can be found right across the country. There is also free training available on the Business.govt.nz website.

Your to-do list before launching
Even then there are quite a few things that you'll need to do before launching your business. A business that hits the ground running has a far greater chance of success than one that muddles through the first year.

You need to:

Your business will need a name and possibly a logo or other design, a website, and marketing material such as business cards and perhaps sign writing.

Sooner or later you're going to need an accountant and possibly a lawyer and it can be a very good idea to consult these professionals before you "pass go". They can contribute a lot to fledgling business. A good accountant, in particular, can give invaluable business advice.

Don't be in a hurry to give up your day job
While many entrepreneurs risked everything on an idea, other people need built-in security — which may come from continuing work part-time until the business takes off. After all, many companies started as part-time businesses. Starting from home lowers the overheads, but you do lack foot traffic, the profile of the business will be narrower and sometimes human interaction will be minimal.

In fact some quite large businesses such as Trade Me, Navman, Pumpkin Patch and Resene were launched from bedrooms or garages.

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