According to the 2016 edition of the World Bank Doing Business report, Australia is the eleventh easiest place in the world to start a business (several years ago we were ranked in the top three). The study also found it was possible to set up an operation in Australia in just 2.5 days and after just 3 procedures.
The research analyses regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their lifecycle including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes and protecting investors. To some extent, experts maintain the report is flawed as the index focuses solely on laws and regulations but it is a useful benchmark guide.
Australia does have some of the basics right including rules of law, transparency and accountability and this country is essentially a friction-free environment for a business to set up. The problem lies in the administrative burden of conducting a business in Australia and in many of the areas essential to operating a business. We still have work to do to match the leading economies in developing a streamlined, effective and inexpensive system where businesses can easily start up, operate and succeed.
There is no doubt that starting a new business is hard. However, the range of new products and services on offer means it is getting cheaper and easier to get up and running. Here are some examples of what many new businesses are using.
On Line Business
Retailers and other businesses no longer require a bricks and mortar presence because websites provide a digital 'shopfront' for online business owners. Online sales continue to grow and traditional business models are being replaced with online marketers, E-Bay and e-commerce businesses. The barriers to entry into an online business are minimal and the cost to establish and operate an online store are a fraction of the traditional retail shop. All you need is a computer, an internet connection and a website complete with e-commerce functionality and you are ready to launch. Of course, the internet provides a level playing field for retailers so once you have a web page you can effectively compete with the big players in your industry and almost any business can reach a global market, quickly and economically irrespective of their size.
Shared Office Space
Shared office space has become more prevalent across the capital cities, allowing start-ups to set up for a fraction of the price of a traditional office. Often they are month-by-month and do not need you to commit to long-term leases. Business incubators (or accelerators) are another option and while some offer seed funding, others just offer a space to work or mentorship.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
Most businesses find it essential to have a regular phone number but it has been prohibitively expensive in the past with a new number running to hundreds of dollars plus the ongoing monthly charges for even a basic service of around $30 to $50 a month. PABX features such as voice greetings, menus to direct callers to the right place, call queues or even just voicemail meant that small business phone systems had to be physically installed and purchased.
VoIP services can provide these features, are quick to sign up to online and utilise your computer or a cheap IP phone from a local electronics shop through to high end PABX units. VoIP uses your internet connection, so there is no need to wait for a technician. Diversions can be set up to other numbers including your mobile so no physical phone line needs to exist.
Online business applications
Once upon a time it was an expensive and time consuming process to obtain your own business email address. You needed to purchase a server and connect it to the internet and spend money and time getting it configured so you could have an email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org. This applied to setting up customer relationship management programs or online shopping websites, administrative processes, etc. Now it is possible to purchase software-as-a-service (SaaS) so that start-ups can now access powerful applications online and pay for them month by month (often after a free trial) instead of having to outlay big money up front. Some common examples from the enormous range of categories available include:
Offshore Software Development
Where a start-up has a significant online component, the cost of software development could be the biggest expense. With offshore software developers available this expense can be managed by moving all or part of the software development offshore, or blending an on-shore/offshore team to maintain control and quality while still greatly reducing the price. Contract hire websites are in abundance, such as Freelancer and Upwork (formerly oDesk). There are also businesses such as SoftwareSeni that blend offshore resources with Australian-based operations thereby providing an additional level of technical oversight and quality.
Marketing Tools and Sites
Start-ups and business owners can streamline their branding and obtain a logo, flyer, business card or video edited for a fraction of the cost of a local designer. Experienced freelance designers are readily accessible online to help you with your logo design, video, voice over, web design, banner, business cards and photo editing. Logo design contests can be run with packs available from a full brand identity pack, logo only or flyer, product label or anything else you are after from sites such as www.logotournament.com or www.99designs.com.au. Fiverr gives you access to creative designers, voiceover artists and video editors from $US5 per job. 99designs.com.au/tasks (formerly Swiftly) provides simple design tasks that can be completed within 30 minutes for $US19.
Any or all of these tools can be utilised to get your start-up business off the ground and working smarter, not harder.
Click HERE to download the full edition of The Business Accelerator Magazine for December 2015.