Small Business

Discover the latest insights crucial for elevating your small business in the dynamic and highly competitive Australian market. Here with the help of our Sydney marketing company we will unveil cutting-edge marketing strategies tailored for small businesses, delivering vital information to boost your brand.

Trust COG Branding Marketing Company as your go-to experts—we’re proven, trusted, and an authoritative voice in the Australian business community.

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How to grow your business sustainably with a small business marketing partner like COG Branding.

Welcome to COG Branding, your gateway to strategic and sustainable small business marketing solutions. As a renowned marketing agency with over 15 years of experience, we understand the unique challenges that small businesses face in the dynamic world of marketing. If you’re a small business owner or a marketing manager seeking a specialised partner for your company’s growth, you’re on track with COG Branding.

The function of this page is to provide you a comprehensive guide on the key elements that will support your small business, your journey through the highs and lows, and deliver tips tricks and insights that will assist your small business survive, perform and grow, and importantly become greater than what it is today.

COG Branding has an unwavering commitment to transparency. We believe in clarity when it comes to fees and rates, ensuring you have a comprehensive understanding of the value we bring to your business. Located in the vibrant heart of Sydney, we take pride in being a local force with a global mindset.

Our tailored marketing products and services are specifically crafted for small businesses and brands, providing a comprehensive suite of solutions. From digital marketing to print marketing, graphic design, and strategic planning, our versatile team covers all aspects of your marketing needs. 

As a one-stop-shop COG Branding is not just about creating ads on Google and Facebook – we go much deeper. We’re dedicated to building brand equity and fostering organic growth through word of mouth and organic customer conversions. Our focus is on delivering marketing strategies underpinned by sustainability, ensuring that your business not only thrives today but continues to flourish tomorrow.

Partner with us, and let’s embark on a journey of growth and success together.


Chapter One – The Big Decisions

  • Choose A Business Name
  • The Structure Of Your Company
  • Small Business Finance
  • Accounting Insights With Annette Tasker Raising Capital For A Startup Or Small Business

Chapter Two – Strategy And Planning

  • Strategy And Planning Develop Your Business Plan Develop Your Marketing Plan Long Term Business Strategy

Chapter Three – Protecting Your Business

  • Protecting Your Business Insurance
  • Your Company Location Preparing For Emergency Cyber Security
  • Top Tech Tips
  • Legal Documents
  • Legal Insights With Jason Francis Intellectual Property
  • Protecting Your Intellectual Property Your Team And Protecting Your IP

Chapter Four – It’s All About The People

  • It’s All About The People
  • Building A Team With Kelly Salmon Dealing With Customers And Suppliers Managing Disputes

Chapter Five – Working On The Business And In It

  • Working On The Business And In It Setting Up Operations

Chapter Six – Building Brand

  • Building Brand
  • Marketing Factors A Small Business Should Consider Before Building The Brand In Market
  • Market Research and Customer Insight
  • Positioning Your Business
  • Advertising Your Australian Small Business

Chapter Seven – Software And Technology For Your Small Business

  • Online Tools and Software To Market Your Small Business Digital Marketing
  • Set Up A Business Website
  • Buying And Selling Online With E-Commerce

Chapter Eight – Now, Go Start Your Business!

About The Author

About The Collaborators About COG Branding

Welcome The COG Branding Small Business Support Service

Firstly, good for you!

That’s the first thing you need to hear. A congratulatory pat on the back for having the guts and fortitude to take the initial step in starting up a small business in Australia.

After all, myself and the COG Branding team we really do know what is involved, we’ve launched hundreds of startups. We intimately understand what sort of determination and dedication is required to kick things off. We’re knee deep in Startups daily and commend you for what you are about to undertake.

Secondly, the fun has just begun so hang on to your hat!

Our guidance and advice within this Starting A Small Business guide is considerate to the most important element of all – people. Our approach to small business is more broadly reflected in this guide. COG Branding is human first, this means we put ourselves in our clients position to understand the reality of their position, their expected behaviours to standard business operations and routines and the key objective of the Startup.

Our approach is tailored to our clients’ reality, and, most importantly, we understand there is a clear difference between working on the business and in the business – this guide is underpinned by this philosophy.

Having your accounts, your legals and your insurances in order may be the furthest thing from your mind when starting out in your small business adventure. Though this is why COG Branding Partners are an important inclusion in this guide as these elements are what can be a real buzzkill in the startup journey.

Considering all the hidden corners of a startup, they won’t all be understood before you begin. And even if you did know them it will not determine your level of success, though it’ll ensure preventive measures are in place for when things don’t go to plan or as smoothly as expected. And trust me, business is a wild ride at times and no two days are the same.

Plan, Prepare, Communicate.

Australia is an awesome place to start a small business. Opportunity exists and with some gusto and effort the sky’s the limit for your new business. There is a burgeoning startup community in Australia and you can join this today.

Our team at COG Branding have attempted to deliver helpful information in this guide to provide some truths to the unknowns and reveal some of the mysteries that exist for the unknown road ahead.

I hope you enjoy the information contained inside, small business is meant to be fun and not a headache. So as a gauge if you’re having fun you’re in the right place.

Enjoy, good luck and don’t hesitate to get in touch anytime.


What to do when starting your small business.

Starting a small business can be lonely, so what we’re trying to do here is provide you with a partner and a trusted partner to lean on. What we also want to achieve is to provide some real life-tested useful information that will answer some of the questions you may or may not know you even needed to ask. Starting a small business can be lonely too, so what we’re trying to do here is provide you with a partner and a trusted partner to lean on. What we also want to achieve is to provide some real life-tested useful information that will answer some of the questions you may or may not know you even needed to ask.

Clients engage COG Branding for a variety of services and products within brand and marketing, small business development and technology solutions. And our clients often engage our partners for their service offering too, which is why they’re an important inclusion into this guide. We’re Australian focused and our services and advice is tailored to our local markets and economies.

Startups are going to need to address a few key challenges. And it’s good to note, most businesses operate off similar principles, so the relevance of this Starting A Business Guide will be more than likely appropriate for what your small business is all about. In the context of what COG Branding service suite is all about, our clients often ask us the questions below when they’re looking to start something.

  • Our service suite and expertise provides support and answers to these challenges:
    • Is it right for you?
    • Should I be nervous about this step?
    • Am I too old, too young, not experienced enough?
    • How do I set it up?
    • What’s involved?
    • What sort of money are we talking about?
    • How smart do I have to be?
    • Is it risky?
    • How long does it take to get successful?
    • Should I start small then go big? Or try to go big straight away?

When starting a small business there are many elements to consider that will become important immediately at company inception, or perhaps later on in the business’s path forward. Not all will be understood or known by yourself or the key stakeholders of your Startup, and it’s here you may need to engage a supplier or professional in a particular area of expertise.

This guide includes some insights from our business partners who are experts in their field and offer some great shortcuts and tips. Included are contributors who offer COG Branding and our clients invaluable guidance, they are as follow:

This Small Business Guide can be used more as a “how-to” for the company founders, and distilled throughout the subsequent roll-out as the business owners see fit. Business, technology and our local markets never sit still, so to remain flexible and adaptable in your thinking and expectations will serve you well while referencing this guide, but also as a business owner.

We’ve done our best to include what hundreds of our clients’ startups have endured, encountered and celebrated. Ideally to share with you what we know to be true and what is helpful. Every small business is different, as are the owners – and that’s what is beautiful about running a brand and a business, you are free to steer it wherever and however you like!

As a guide, try not to take action on all the elements in this guide all in one go. Use the contents page and refer back to links and chapters individually. Focusing on one element at a time will ensure you consider the actual tasks that will subsequently come from reading this and time in the saddle with your new business venture.

If it was easy everyone would be doing it.


So you’re thinking of starting in business?

Whether you’re starting a new small business, or buying an established one, you’ll need to prepare for challenges. Starting a small business requires a lot of effort and commitment. It’s important to know what’s involved and if you’re suited to business and self-employment.

As a leading Sydney Branding Agency we recommend you take some time to critically evaluate yourself and the challenges of owning a small business. See if you’re ready to start a business by addressing the top ten lift off points on the following page.

Also, now is a good time to acknowledge those who simply open the business, and those who own and work in the business. If you are going to be starting a small business and owning it from a distance, you can approach things a little differently. If your intentions are to work inside the engine of the business, knee deep in the day to day, then you’ll assess things a little differently.

A trick for new small business owners is they often simply buy themselves a job, which is of course okay, though you need to manage the expectations prior to ensure there are less peaks and valleys on the emotional roller coaster that is being a business owner.


Consider these ten key areas to ensure you are ready to make the decision to go it alone and become a business owner.

The first key factor to consider is are you prepared to sacrifice your lifestyle? Some freelancers get sick of working the 9 to 5… be careful what you wish for, some small business owners work 24/7! Your lifestyle will change a lot as a small business owner. You will need to work long hours and even weekends. You need to prepare yourself so that you may have less free time.

There does need to be some underlying grit, determination and toughness to run a business, there is no denying this. The saying “It’s a jungle out there” is true for running a small business and you need to be prepared to take situations on your own shoulders. Ask yourself do you have the discipline to continue through tough times? Initial passions and motivations can dwindle when the going gets tough, and hard times are always just around the corner in running a business. Just think… When is the next pandemic? Make sure you’re prepared to keep working even when things are not so easy (it’s here you create your next wins). Your mental fortitude and discipline will serve you well here.

Be honest, do you have the right skills for the small business you are about to start? It’s OK if you don’t. Better to figure this out now and not later. Plus, you can still own a business that you don’t have the skills to work in, you just need to build in suppliers and skilled workers more diligently to the business model.

Running a small business is more than just the skill of what the business is trading, selling or making. Running a business requires a broad range of skills such as business, personal and interpersonal skills. Luckily, some of these are just administrative tasks that you can learn over time and are not really key to survival. Early on when you can forecast what training opportunities are needed, you can plan adequate time to build relevant skills.

If you’ve been on the group certificate and annual salary wages structure for longer than ten years you’ll find it hard to restructure your thinking and how your bank account goes up and down. Are you prepared not to have a salary? There is a great saying in “when you know how much you’ll get paid at the end of every week you’ll go to sleep perhaps more soundly, though you’ll never be rich”.

We’re only at point four, though now you should start to see if you’re cut out for this small business ownership gig or not. Natural born business owners thrive on risk, the adventure of business, having more control and approach to the unknown cash supply as a game and get excited by this fact.

A tip is to ensure you have enough savings or an alternative income to use whilst establishing your business, and, if it doesn’t work out, cover you while looking for a job after you go full circle. (90% of businesses fail in the first couple of years – remember that). It may be a while before you can pay yourself a stable salary or income again. This may have a significant effect on point number 1 above, your lifestyle and other elements of your life.

Simply put, do you have enough skin to put into the game? Do you have access to the money you need? Making sure you are in the right financial position to start a small business is key, when there is too much month at the end of the money it becomes no fun. Starting a business is exciting but also expensive, it can be likened to a new born baby, crying all the time and always having your hand in your back pocket to address the unknowns of young parenthood. There will be a number of up-front costs you will have to consider, as well ongoing fixed and variable costs involved in running a business.

Understand that you may not start making money from your small business for some time. It’s critically important you have enough financial support to take on and tackle your new venture with confidence, and ensure that while you find your feet the lack of capital does not stifle business performance growth or operations.

Sometimes you can easily get lost in how good your business idea is. Not all business startups are in this position. If you bought a small business or are starting a typical business that is already market proof you can skip to point seven. It’s important that you assess your business idea with a critical eye, and be overly critical in forecasting market sentiment and review, it makes success that much sweeter. Ideally, with some market research you can be sure to know if there is a need or desire from customers for your product or service.

Don’t be afraid to sound stupid. There are no such thing as stupid questions really. Ask yourself, are you prepared to seek help from friends, family or strangers? It’s important that you are comfortable seeking help as it’s likely you’ll get to a point when the echo chamber of your lonely small business mind needs to share thoughts, concerns and ideas and having someone to use as a mentor or sounding board can be the difference between success or failure. Running a business isn’t a simple thing to do and you don’t have to do it alone. Make sure you reach out to professional business advisors or other trusted small business professionals. Talking to trusted business advisers such as an accountant or tax agent can help you solve business problems and connect you to grants and programs.

There are no certainties. Are you prepared for the risks including not succeeding? Unfortunately, you need to be prepared to fail, it’s a hard truth in business. Though all business gurus and coaches will tell you that you learn more from your failures than you do your successes, and this is true. So embrace the fact that your business may not be successful, while it might mean that you could lose money, time and investments you will most definitely learn something and this is the key thing to remember. Before you start a small business, be aware of all the business risks you might face.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Instinct and gut-feel can be all that is needed to push you in either direction. It’s okay if you don’t feel ready to start a small business. There are other options to have one foot in while you consider your options further. Such as –
• Start it as a hobby or pastime for fun.
• Keep working on concepts until you get to the right idea.
• Put a note in your calendar to circle back in a year from now.

The final point of our top ten to lift off is the requirement to analyse your small business idea. It’s important to research and analyse your business idea and consider its potential. But don’t go too far and hit analysis paralysis.

Here you need to ask yourself:
1. Is there a want or need for your product or service?
2. How hard will it be to develop your idea?
3. Is your idea financially viable?
4. How will you protect your idea?
5. Who are your competitors?

Researching your business idea involves gathering, analysing and evaluating information that will also help you write your business goals. It doesn’t have to be too in depth, but as long as there is effort made in understanding the reality of the playing field. In business there are no concessions, the excuse “I didn’t realise that” does not fly.


Choosing A Business Name

Everything is in the name. You’ll say it hundreds of times, it’ll be imprinted on your mind for the rest of your life. Naming a business has been likened to naming a child. You laugh, though it’ll live within your family and household like a human being, so be kind and considerate for what it will have to endure as it grows up. You’ll yell its name when you’ve had enough, though you’ll also shower it in glory when gloating to your mates at the pub when you’re doing well. Aim for timelessness and something classic. Know you will want to fall in love with it.

The key is to find out what you’ll need to consider when choosing a name for your business before you get stuck on a name, it’s likely your first choice is taken and your 4th choice too. Once you’ve decided on a name, learn what you need to do to ensure you have exclusive use of your name throughout Australia.

Initially you’ll begin through common tasks like registering for an ABN or a trademark, so once you’ve decided on your business structure and type, you’ll probably want to make a firm choice for a business name. Remember, a business name is the name your business trades under and is likely what will be the first thing your new customers and staff will read when encountering your brand and business – make it memorable!


Choosing the right name will help develop and create the image you want for your small business to feel like. Your business name will also come with a logo and graphic design elements, so consider that it’ll be more than just the written word and will come to life which will help to distinguish it from your competition.

When choosing your business name, consider the below factors:

  • Is it different? How your business differs from competitors
  • How does it look on paper? What visual identity you want to communicate to customers
  • Does it already exist? If any businesses already use the name or have a similar business name?
  • Is it owned? If someone has trademarked the name?
  • Is there anything online already? if the name is already registered as a domain name?
  • What does it mean in other languages? If the name could be misunderstood, especially in other languages or if you’re planning to use it in other countries?
  • Is it offensive? Whether the name could offend people?


Consider choosing a name that is:

  • Easy to remember and recall.
  • Easy to say out loud quickly, pronounce and spell.
  • Short, succinct, simple.
  • Be Descriptive – so it means something to your customers.
  • Be Bold and Different – you don’t want to be confused with your competitors.
  • You may use your personal name for your business, for example Robin Nicholas.


Once you’ve come up with some options for your business name, you’ll need to check whether any other businesses are already using them.
Use the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to check Business names to see if your proposed name is available to register – either as a business name or a domain name.


Once you’ve chosen a business name, you’ll need to register it. There’s no need to register if you or your business partner are trading under your first name and surname. A business name is registered nationally with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) This allows your business to operate in any state or territory.

Be aware that registering with ASIC doesn’t give you exclusive rights to your business name. If you want to protect your small business name from being used by others, you’ll need to register it as a trade mark. We’re here to do the hard work for you!


The Structure Of Your Company

Here, you really do need to get it right from the start. When establishing a small business it is important to choose a structure that best suits the owner (or the shared owners) as it’ll consider the personal and financial scenarios which are obviously important.

When deciding the structure of the small business the decision will involve an analysis of what the business intends to take to market, it will consider what role each of the owners will undertake, and if they are going to be involved in the management and day to day operations of the business like we outlined in The Big Decisions earlier. There are also the more core fundamentals of small business that will be addressed such as the legal framework which the business will operate and the assumed forecasted profits it will turn over. Also, the assessment to risk will also be an element which will determine the company structure.

COG Branding and our partners assist Australians wanting to start a small business by providing guidance in choosing the appropriate business structure, which includes preparing the necessary documentation and registration with the appropriate government offices. We also consider what needs to be done before you begin to hire staff, access or apply for financial funding and start providing services to customers or selling to the public.

It all starts with you structuring your company and setting it up correctly. In Australia there are four common business structures:

  • Sole Trader
  • Company
  • Partnership
  • Trust


If you are looking for the simplest, most cost effective small business structure that is relatively easy and inexpensive to establish then Sole Trader is for you. Sole traders are individuals who will run a businesses that:

  • Will have full control of the business and assets.
  • Are entitled to all the business’s profit.
  • Simpler reporting requirements than a company structure.
  • Ability to use a individual tax file number (TFN) to lodge income tax returns.
  • The business bank account can be a personal account.
  • As an individual will have legal responsibility for all aspects of the business.
  • Will face unlimited liability for business debts including the potential loss of all their personal assets.
  • The business would be expected to return over approximately $100,000 annually.


An Australian company is a more complex set up, and the structure involves higher set up and running costs to get it started and manage ongoingly. What a company is appropriate for is ensuring the business is seen as its own legal entity which can incur debt, be handled legally as such in court, and the financial rewards earned by the company belong to the company.

Companies are owned by shareholders who are not liable for the debts of the company. A company’s director/s control the business operations and have the responsibility to manage the business as per the board of directors expects. A company director may be held personally liable if their legal obligations as directors are compromised.

Companies and directors have a suite of legal and reporting obligations including:

  • Communicating to ASIC within 28 days of key changes to company information and details
  • Company law in Australia is governed by the Corporations Act
  • Ensuring accurate financial records of the company are maintained
  • Submitting annual company tax returns with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
  • Complying with director duties and obligations under the Corporations Act
  • Declaring annual the company’s solvency
  • Being registered for GST where turnover is $75,000 or more Company Business Structure suits individuals who forecast their business income to be up and down, and want options that allow losses to be offset against future profits.


The Partnership business structure is made up of two or more people who allocate income and losses equally between each other. Partnerships are relatively easy and inexpensive to set up and have limited ongoing reporting rules and regulations. There are three main types of partnership business structures in Australia:

Here with a general partnership, each individual is equally responsible for the management of the business and is liable for the established obligations of the partnership and also any debts that come with it.

Here with a Limited Partnership, the general partners are liable to the limits of the funds they have contributed to the partnership. Limited Partnerships are appropriate for angel investors or passive investors who are not involved in the day to day management of the business and are there simply on a financial basis.

Incorporated Limited Partnership are where partners can have limited liability for the debts of the business provided that at least one general partner has unlimited liability.

With a Incorporated Limited Partnership it’s required that each of the partners must have a separate tax file number and each partner pays tax on the share of the net partnership income they individually receive. Here the Incorporated Limited Partnership itself does not have to pay income tax on the income earned.

  • Partnerships are required to:
  • Have an ABN used for all business operations.
  • Partnership laws are governed by the Partnership Act.
  • Submit an annual partnership income tax return with the ATO.
  • Be GST registered when turnover is $75,000+


  • Trusts are more complicated by nature, more expensive and usually only for unique circumstances and when the business is tied into other affairs. And, it’s likely anyone considering a trust already has legal advice and relationships that can guide this process further. A trust structure has a trustee who holds the business for the benefit of others (the beneficiaries). A formal trust deed outlining the operation of the trust is required and the trustee must undertake formal annual administrative tasks. When a trust is set up and established it can be difficult to change. Here, the trustee can be a individual or a company that:
  • Is responsible for everything in the trust, including the operation of the business and its income and losses, and
  • Decides how business profits are distributed to the beneficiaries.
  • A trust structure is generally used to protect business assets for beneficiaries.

Small Business Finance

Borrowing money is easy, paying back ain’t so. Here is where many inexperienced small business owners get in a tangle. It’s a fundamental responsibility to be fiscally astute and acknowledge that you will have to take charge of your small business finances and know how to manage cash flow – it’s that simple.

It could make or break your business. This is one of those times when if you need help, you will need to get help from a financial adviser or someone you trust who understands the ins and outs of financing a small business.

Professional advice will only take you so far, you will still be responsible for the financial wellbeing of your business, especially if you’re borrowing other people’s money. There are plenty of financial services professionals that can assist in all facets of lending, financing and borrowing money to assist or fund a startup.

Finance Industry Professionals Companies and individuals in the finance industry will be able to help you by:

  • Maintaining your books, Tax, BAS, GST.
  • Manage and monitor budgets
  • Monitor your cash positions against loans and overdrafts
  • Provide advice on buying assets, renting premises and investing back into your business.

While there are numerous choices available on who and what type of finance professional you need to engage, consider what is right for you, your own personal style and think about what it is you actually need help with. Each professional offers a different service and subsequent approach to funding and managing the finances of your business.

Helps your financial requirements such as preparing financial statements, managing tax, BAS, GST and will provide you with financial and small business advice.

Manage the day-to-day financial transactions, perform internet banking, manage invoicing, debtors and receivables and pursue overdue payments and pay staff or contractor wages.

To help you prepare and lodge your BAS so you get it right the first time. They’re registered professionals who are specialists in their field. You can find registered BAS agents on the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) register.

Accounting Insights With Annette Tasker

Accounting Considerations When Starting A Business

No one starts a small business so they can spend loads of valuable time trying to learn the details of an accounting system, or chase customers for payments, or spend evenings and weekends doing payroll, BAS and preparing your taxes.

To get you started, survive and build a transformational small business, new business will benefit enormously by having the right accounting partner providing the business with quality commercial tax expertise.

When you start a small business, there are tax and other compliance responsibilities that you need to be aware of. You will need to consider when your tax and other obligations are to begin. You need to understand the tax and legal implications of the structure you choose.

You will need to consult a professional advisor who can give you facts based on your personal circumstances. Your accountant should always be treated as a partner in your business who can assist with the financial planning that can help a business owner decide if their smallbusiness will be profitable.

The right accountants will help you to develop a bookkeeping system to allow you to issue invoices, collect payments, track and pay your expenses, manage payroll and communicate with customers, suppliers and staff. Whether doing your accounts is too much for you or just want a little external guidance, small business accountants and financial professionals can help you get more control of your money.

A failed small business affects peoples lives, their families, their health. Often the business has started as a hobby or a side hustle, and owners find they need to formalise their processes. Getting the right advice early can avoid these pitfalls.

Good Luck and all the best!

Annette Tasker


  1. Create a plan to build up a cash war chest for future major expenses.
  2. Delegate finance matters to someone, preferably your accountant.
  3. Use accounting software.
  4. Use software you can automate.
  5. Establish a budget and stick to it.
  6. Give customers incentive to pay your promptly.
  7. Keep business and personal expenses separate.
  8. Follow up invoices and pay bills on time.
  9. Control your expenses.
  10. Set some goals, create financial projections for future years.



Managing and setting the price point is as much a business positioning activity, as much as it is a branding activity. Pricing is a critical element of business to get right and to keep on top of. Things will change over time for your pricing such as inflation, competition, wholesale costs of goods and services and plus the desired profit margin.

Learn what you need to price your products and services appropriately, including the types of pricing strategies, legislation obligations, what your price should include, and where to conduct research.

Remember, you don’t want to get stuck in a race to the bottom. Ever. There will always be a bigger and meaner competitor around the corner who will be able to provide cheaper costs and still survive. Small Australian businesses need to focus on their point of difference, hold strong on your pricing and find your targeted customers who are happy to pay your price.

Remember, you can’t be everything to everyone.


Pricing is a process that formally sets the price of your products or services in the market. This activity can be difficult to create because pricing your products and services will be determined by multiple factors, some not in your control. When you set your prices too high, your customers might think it’s too expensive. Although low pricing will not only affect your profit margin, it will also tell your customers that you are cheap. And when it’s a race to the bottom with price, sales volumes need to increase, the business works harder and the mouse on the wheel begins to spin for longer and more often. Below is a basic three step overview that will assist in the pricing of your pricing structure.


Calculating your costs is the smart thing to do before you go too far. Before kick off and you look to calculate yo always consider the cost of producing your product or service including your overheads.

THE 3B’S X 3 MULTIPLIER 1 for the bills, 1 for the bodies, 1 for the business.

A tip, when planning and creating strategy, add in some extra percentage points in the forecasted number scenarios, just in case the cost of goods increases or other economic factors influence the pricing structure.

Don’t forget to also factor in goods and services tax (GST) and other relevant taxes in your costing as these are certainties and critical to consumer confidence at checkout.

  • When you’re pricing your products or services, also it’s important to remember you need to consider:
  • The manufacturing cost/s.
  • Your business’s market place.
  • Your direct and indirect competition.
  • The market conditions of the day and those in the future.
  • Other brands entering or exiting the market.
  • The general quality of the products or services.

Once you understand the true cost of your product or service you can then start working on marketing strategies that might include “free shipping” or “BOGOF” type offers. Only after you truly understand your COG (Cost Of Goods, no pun intended) can you then start analysing other influences and start setting your objectives and strategies.


Research can help you find the optimum price for your products. Generally, the optimum price is one that your customers are willing to pay, without it affecting your profits. This isn’t a one-off activity, you must monitor your key pricing influences regularly as part of your overall market research to ensure your prices stay competitive and you still meet your customers’ expectations.

    To help you determine how much your customers are willing to pay for your product or service you should perform some form of market testing. As a start, research your customer’s purchasing behaviour such as:
  • Their current and anticipated demand for this type of product or service.
  • What they pay for similar products or services.
  • The quantity likely to be purchased.
  • Additional features they value.

Raising Capital For A Startup Or Small Business

Raising Capital For A Startup Or Small Business

Often a Startup small business will require an investment of capital to begin. This can be done via numerous mechanisms, though raising capital is not easy, and depending on the amount in which you aim to borrow, it may require a micro-loan that is relatively easy to obtain, or if it’s a larger capital requirement you will need assistance from professionals such as accountants, angel investors or venture capital investors that can guide you on the process.

The below three points is a high level summary that will assist you in the initial investigations that will help you in raising capital.

  1. Asking yourself the important questions before raising capital.
  2. Understand what type of structures are available.
  3. Documenting the legal requirements.

Should You Raise Capital For Your Small Business

As soon as there is other people’s money in your business, you become connected to them and are responsible to provide the status on how their investment is performing.

Those who are investing their capital are generally looking for a return on their investment, which means in the future they’ll want to cash in. So here you need to be 100% sure that raising capital is the type of business you want to be involved in and responsible for. Many new businesses and startups would simply not get off the ground without raising capital. Though capital investment from someone other than yourself is not mandatory nor necessary to create a profitable and successful small business.

Capital speeds things up, pushes things along. If the small business needs things to move fast, raising capital may be for you. Though if time is of the essence, perhaps you can launch lean and debt free.

Tapping into the right community can also assist you in getting some advice and listening to those who have done this before. Personal connections and family may have experience, so reach out, shout a coffee or a beer, and ask for half an hour of their time to get their experience of raising capital. Allow these conversations to help you form your final decision.

There are incubation hubs, coworking spaces and accelerators that foster like minded founders, entrepreneurs and investors who will assist you in understanding your best position in regards to borrowing other peoples money.

The big question to ask yourself is will you increase the value of your own share holding in the company by taking on an investor? Adding another investor into the share holding will dilute your share holding, so you should only raise capital if you think doing so will increase the value of your stake.

Do You Know What You Are Looking For In An Investor?

One you’ve made the big decision to tap into other people’s money and raise your first round of capital, you need to begin thinking about the most appropriate investor for your startup or small business.

It’s likely that the investment community will dictate this decision, in general you’ll have little control over who will front the funds. If you are looking to raise a large chunk of money in the millions, angel investors, friends and family won’t cut it or make any sense. Though if you’re looking to raise a smaller amount as a seed round in the hundreds of thousands, then Venture Capital (VC) isn’t the ideal capital provider and you can step down to the angel investor community.

Also, it’s important to consider investors who can contribute to the success of your small business or startup beyond fronting cash. Some of the best investors will assist with networking and expose you to relationships you might not otherwise have been able to create on your own.

Quick Tip
Networking is key. Or simply, try to have conversations with others who have started companies and founders who have kicked off their businesses using investments from investors.

The important thing to note is once you make the decision and team up with an investor, it’s likely they will be tied to your small business for a fair amount of time. Furthermore, this decision may impact the ability to have success with other investors supporting your capital requirements. So if there was ever a time to carefully consider who you team up with and sing on the dotted line with, when raising capital is it.


Strategy And Planning

In easy to understand terms, small business strategy is a strategy that sets out a businesses desired goals and objectives. This plan typically covers a period of between 3-5 years and is unique to every business owner.

In more technical terms, a small business strategy focuses on major resource issues. It is the master plan that the management uses to secure a competitive market position, carry on its operations, satisfy customers and achieve the primary goals of the business.

If you want to start, grow or manage your business effectively, you need a business plan that you truly believe and understand. It doesn’t have to be a hundred page book, it just needs to align with your expectations and ambitions.

How To Develop Your Small Business Plan And Business Strategy

Every man (and woman) needs a plan. Whether you’ve just started your small business journey or have been knee deep in driving your business forward for years, or even need a small business start up strategy – a solid small business plan can be the key to your future ongoing success.

You you’ve got a business plan you:

  • Helps identify what is a priority – a plan gives your business direction, defines your objectives and lays out how you will achieve your goals. A great business plan assists you to manage the tough times.
  • Establishes Control – the strategic planning process helps you learn about the different things that could impact or determine your level of success. If you’re already in small business it’ll help you take a birds eye view of your business and look at what areas need to be addressed and what needs to be improved.
  • A Plan Will Assist Seeking Finance – if you’re seeking finance for your business, you’ll need to show banks and investors why they should invest in your business

Develop Your Business Plan

There is a process that can be used to develop a small business plan, though what we know to be true is that every business owner is different and will be receptive to different approaches to the planning phases. If you’re developing a detailed business plan, you may want to check the Top 5 Tips below before you start.

1. Determine What Your Plan Is For

Does your small business plan have more than one purpose? Will you use it internally, or will you share it externally, for example with financial investors or business partners? Usually, what makes the most sense is to first build a spine document that is really your own thoughts on paper that you can refine until you’re confident, these are directions that aren’t likely to be shared with anyone. From there you make a copy and update it accordingly to have it tailored for the particular recipient. Here you can be flexible and style shift your plan to gain traction and buy-in from the audience.

2. Prepare Your Finances

A similar approach to the Raising Capital section above, if you’re seeking finance, any investor will want to know if your finances are in shape and your small business is in a strong fiscal position. Any banks, lenders and investors will most surely want to know how much money you currently have, how much cash you need and how much you forecast to turn over in the future. While a little cash injection will assist you to be sure that you can cover incidentals and unforeseen costs, you still need to be realistic and try not to dip in and borrow more than is needed.

3. Write Your Summary Last

Summarise the main points of your small business plan and keep it very very lean. Bullet points that are 5 to 8 words in length. By using as few words as possible you cut to the chase and avoid the filler. Remember you don’t need to sell it to yourself. And if you are there might be some underlying confidence issues that need to be brought to the service. You need to be able to get to the point but not bypass the all important facts.

Here is the best opportunity to sell yourself. This high level summary should include details about your small business, the market you intend on operating in, your goals for the business and what is unique about your offer compared to other businesses.

4. Get Assistance Early

It’s important to bring this task to the top of the list. When there is a plan from the get go it tends to ensure each step is aligned to a common goal and doesn’t get made obsolete as the other mechanism of the business moves forward. So don’t leave your business planning and strategy to the last second. It will likely take time, so don’t rush the research and be careful with your preparation to ensure you create an effective business plan.

If you aren’t confident in completing the plan yourself, consider getting a professional to look over it and provide advice.

5. Review Your Plan Regularly

Small business will always change and evolve, so does your business whitepaper. With these business changes your plan will need to evolve to ensure your business is still heading in the right direction. Having your business and marketing plans always current and updated can keep you focused on the direction of the business.

Also, here you will begin the filing process of your small business documentation. As the evolutions of one’s thinking and objectives take place, the versions of documents will increase. It’s a good idea to keep a record of each version of your business plan and start with a simple file structure and file storage system as time whizz’s by, and within a year or two you’ll have hundreds of documents. If you pay attention early and keep on top you filing and file structures will save you time and increase accuracy of the administrative desktop tasks.


  • Business Planning > Business Plan > 2022 Business Finance > Accounting > 2022 Business Planning > Marketing Plan > 2022


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6. Protecting Your Plan

If you have innovative products or services you may want people to sign a confidentiality agreement or NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) to protect your innovations and business practises. Simply, a brief summary introducing your recipient to the fact that the documents they are viewing are confidential by nature, are not to disclose the details of your plan and user discretion is advised.


Develop Your Marketing Plan

A marketing plan may be part of an overall business plan. Solid marketing strategy is the foundation of a well-written marketing plan so that goals may be achieved. While a marketing plan contains a list of actions, without a sound strategic foundation, it is of little use to a business. Please visit COG Strategy Business Plan and Marketing Plan for further assistance.

A marketing plan can be defined as an operational document that outlines an advertising strategy that a company will implement to generate leads and communicate with its target market. The functions and components of a marketing plan include numerous individual tasks that when executed as a whole should form a cohesive strategy that delivers back to the business.

So, Why Should You Have A Marketing Plan?

Having a marketing plan for your organisation can help you to:

  • set goals and time frames for your marketing activities.
  • map out a strategy to reach your target audience, including the messages, channels and tools you’ll use.
  • identify your target market and how your product or service can benefit it.
  • identify how you might attract new customers.
  • encourage your existing customers to continue purchasing your product or service.
  • evaluate your marketing activities.
  • provide a marketing budget and see your return on investment.


Develop Your Marketing Plan

The first draft marketing plan you create shouldn’t be considered the final one. It’s likely you’ll rough out a broader skeleton document and then go back and fill it in. Broader brush strokes and then refine it later, getting the bigger thinking down first is key, and not getting stuck on the detail will ensure you make good progress.

There are numerous templates online that will assist you starting out. Below are the COG Branding Top 5 Tips you should check out before you start developing your marketing plan.


The Top 5 Steps For Your Marketing Plan


Some basic market research will assist you to understand your strengths, weaknesses and the opportunities that you can take advantage of. Analysing your own business and your competition will get you closer to identifying where your own brand and small business will be positioned in the market place you want to enter.

The Art Of War by Sun Tu, a great read if you think you would like to take some simple philosophies about war and implement them into small business. It’s important to analyse your competition to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and yes business is likened to war for the simple fact that those who have the best information often win. Researching the competition can not only allow you time to refine your marketing strategy but also provide some context around what’s unique about your business.

To determine where your business fits within the market along with your unique selling point, you can do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. A SWOT, while basic, can help identify what your business is doing well and how you can improve (for an existing business).
Identifying and understanding your customers is an essential part of your marketing plan. Not everyone is your potential buyer, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of your target market early on.


When you achieve some clarity around your small business and its positioning, you can start to think about what you want to achieve. Think about your main business goals, whether it’s the size of your small business, expansion plans or desired sales. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART) goals to increase your chances of success in achieving them.

Outlining your marketing strategies can be done once you’ve set some goals, consider what marketing activity, process or price will help you achieve them. Try and choose marketing activities that suit your small business and your customers. For example, if you want to target young adults, newspaper advertising may not be as effective as a social media campaign.

Choosing multiple activities that complement each other is a good way to help you get your message across. For example, if you’re trying to establish a new product in the market, you may choose to advertise on the local radio, as well as setting up social media channels and introducing a low-cost pricing strategy for first-time buyers. When used together, these strategies complement each other and help you reach a broader market.


After you’ve structured in some goals, consider what marketing activity, processes or pricing strategy will help you achieve them. Do your best to select marketing activities that match your small business and your customers. For instance, if you want to target young adults, newspaper advertising may not be as effective as a social media campaign.

Choosing a few activities that complement each other is a great way to help you get your messages across. For example, if you’re trying to establish a new product in the market, you may select radio advertising in combination with setting up social media channels and implementing a low-cost pricing strategy for first-time customers. When used in combination together, these strategies complement each other and assist you in reaching a broader market.


Knowing how much you have to spend on marketing and how to spend it is critical to the success of your small business. A marketing budget will ensure you accurately calculate your marketing campaign or advertising.

When developing your marketing budget, make sure you’re only spending money on the activities that contribute to your current marketing goals. Advertising and promotion can be expensive. Make sure to pick options that will give you the best value while still reaching your target customers.

Allocating marketing funds before the business is turning over a reliable and consistent income is hard. Remember, you can also spend more, so start conservatively and accurately, and analyse the return closely on this smaller budget. After some time in small business you’ll understand how much you have to spend on marketing, it won’t be mysterious forever. A marketing budget will ensure you accurately calculate your marketing campaign or advertising so the earlier on you understand how to allocate your budgets the better.

When creating your marketing budget, be sure to only allocate spend on the activities that contribute to your current marketing goals, again remain focused. Advertising and promotion can be expensive and it’s easy to have coast run away, especially through marketing technologies. Make sure to pick options that will give you the best value while still reaching your targeted customers.


The marketing plan is a living breathing document, it needs to be updated and managed to ensure relevancy and accuracy. It’s a whitepaper document that acts like a passive business partner. It’s important to evaluate your marketing activities regularly and update your plan when needed. Analysing your results and being aware of new marketing trends is important to keeping your marketing plan up-to-date and reaching your small business goals. It’s a good idea to set regular calendar dates that are reminders to address the marketing plan.

Keep Your Marketing Plan Up-To-Date Is Key

It’s important to evaluate your marketing activities. Analysing your results and being aware of new marketing trends is important to keeping your marketing plan up-to-date and reaching your small business goals. You should tweak and change your plan as your small business and market grow and change.

Having a marketing plan that includes considerations to building brand equity can help you to:

  • Identify your target market and how your product or service can benefit it.
  • Identify how you might attract new customers.
  • Encourage your existing customers to continue purchasing your product or service.
  • Set goals and time frames for your marketing activities.
  • Map out a strategy to reach your target audience, including the messages, channels and tools you’ll use.
  • Evaluate your marketing activities.
  • Provide a marketing budget and see your return on investment.


Long Term Business Strategy

As we mentioned earlier, small business can get lonely, and the longer you’re in small business the more echoes and drifting thoughts you have that can take you off course or be detrimental to your emotional position towards the business. Just like in your personal life, it’s good to have a mentor, friend or a partner that you can share your small business problems and goals with.

So look for assistance or help for your small business, the weeks can be long and isolating at times, you can’t be expected to deal with all the pressures and activities on your own. The bigger thinking is to structure in support mechanisms to your long term small business strategy to ensure longer term success, growth and performance.

There is a trick, and it is relatively simple, look to understand where you can get help, build a network of peers and find a strategy that can help you start your small business, and then grow it to become a high performing entity.

Getting small business help from another small business or individual is easy, there are tons of entrepreneurs ready to send you an invoice. Though the idea is to first look around the edges of the conversations before you commit too far in seeking professional assistance that you may or may not need. Here are some suggestions for getting professional help to get you started in a new business.


Peer to peer networking with your peers at events and workshops. Here you can attend networking events and workshops that will help you:
• Remain up-to-date on industry information.
• Promotion of your small business.
• Develop and learn skills from other small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Government Grants

The Australian and State Governments often have stimulus programs and grants that you can apply for. While our government generally doesn’t look to fund your private startup business, there are sometimes other forms of assistance available to help you and your new small business journey.


Here you need to simply understand what your time is spent doing. Some business owners never figure it out and spend their whole working lives doing tasks that are not made for them. Here, outsourcing tasks and small business functions that might not be directly in your wheelhouse can be a good idea. It will likely be more efficient than trying to do everything yourself and while it costs money to outsource, you can focus on tasks that get the business moving and performing, thus justifying the cost of outsourcing the activity.

Tasks that are time-consuming or require specific skills may be better in the hands of contractors, freelancers, or a business that specialises in that field and is geared to deliver it faster and more cost efficiently than you are able to. Many businesses outsource for their website design, marketing, bookkeeping or information technology (IT) support.

You can also consider A.I. (Artificial intelligence) tools and look to become familiar with a couple of key services that may assist your daily tasking. The future will likely see an increase in these behaviours, how it will impact small business remians to be seen, though understanding the power of AI can remove some of the hours associated with laborious tasks that you might think you have to pay someone else to do.

Business Advisers And Coaches

There are small business advisors that can partner with you to drive the business forward. And small business coaches can also perform this function, though it depends on your own particular style. The key thing to remember is that you don’t have to do it alone. When you create a working relationship with a business adviser or coach they can assist in solving small business problems through their own experience, and they can also help in connecting you to funding your startup, and growing your own network.


Legal Documents

When you’re starting a new small business, the task of taking care of the legalities can seem like the least important thing, or, a very difficult and hard task. Though not setting your legals up properly could end up being more costly in the long run.

Setting up your small business correctly from the beginning is much like building a house. Once you’ve laid the concrete slab and put a structure on top it can be very difficult to go back and restructure.

Your small business terms and conditions will differ depending on the type of business you run. Selling product online versus selling products from a shop is different and the legal documentation will differ.

If your small business is ecommerce online company you will need a set of sale terms and conditions for your customers, likely provided via a clickwrap agreement

Definition: A clickwrap or clickthrough agreement is a digital prompt that offers individuals the opportunity to accept or decline a digitally-mediated policy. Privacy policies, terms of service and other user policies, as well as copyright policies commonly employ the clickwrap prompt

If you provide services you would need a Client Agreement or Service Terms which set out what you will and will not do for the customer as part of any particular engagement.

Ultimately, your business terms and conditions (T&C’s) will be one of your most important contracts. We often find that the process of drafting your terms can help a founder identify exactly how their small business will operate.


Legal Insights With Jason Francis

Business And Corporate Law Considerations When Starting A Business

When establishing a small to medium business it is crucially important to create a legal framework appropriate for the personal and financial circumstances of the business founder (or founders) and their medium to long-term business projections and objectives. At the earliest opportunity, a founder should consider three things; the need to protect personal assets from liability for the debts of the business (“liability”), the rates of tax which will apply to the projected income of the business (“tax implications”) and retaining control of a future thriving business.

Liability and tax implications are primary considerations when choosing the business ‘structure.’ The four most common business structures are sole trader, company, partnership and trust. Each structure has unique attributes suitable to certain circumstances and projections. Founders should work closely with their accountant and lawyer to choose a structure (or blend of structures) to lawfully optimise personal and business tax outcomes, and to adequately protect existing personal wealth.

Looking forward to an expanded and thriving business, founders should consider their preferences and objectives in the event that directors or shareholders disagree about the management, direction or sale of the business, or where relationships irretrievably break down and the business participants are in deadlocked dispute. Retaining control of the business in these future circumstances requires carefully drafted corporate governance documents at the establishment stage. From the beginning, founders should have a clear medium to long-term vision for the business which is reflected in a Company Constitution and Shareholders Agreement drafted by an experienced corporate lawyer.

Creating a profitable business is a challenging and rewarding experience which requires intelligent and informed decision-making at important points in the process. That is particularly so at the establishment stage where key (often irreversible) decisions are made. For that reason, obtaining qualified legal and accounting advice is a fundamental investment in the early stages of any serious business venture.

Top 10 Start Up Legal Tips

1. Obtain legal advice from an independent lawyer with expertise in business and corporate law. Engaging a lawyer at the establishment stage will avoid serious foundational problems and may well save you significant legal costs later.

2. Choose the appropriate business structure having regard to the protection of personal assets from the debts of the business and the tax implications for the anticipated business income.

3. Have a clear understanding of your medium to long-term objectives. Do you intend that the company will issue further shares to raise capital? Do you intend to grow and then sell the business? Who will control the business in the event that further shareholdings are created or additional directors appointed? Have a lawyer draft and execute corporate governance documents to address your objectives.

4. Consider the legal and regulatory framework of the industry or sector in which the business will operate. Be aware that licenses, permits and registrations may take time and approvals are never guaranteed. You should also consider any legislative changes or tightening of regulations proposed by government and the likely effect of such changes.

5. Consider the personnel arrangements necessary to facilitate the day-to-day operations of the business. Have quality employment and/or service agreements drafted restraining trade and safeguarding confidential information to protect the trade secrets and other legitimate interests of the business.

6. Obtain accounting and business management software and implement systems to ensure compliance with the record-keeping requirements of tax and corporations law.

7. Have a lawyer draft any commercial contracts to be used by the business. This is an opportunity to address a range of important matters including governing jurisdiction, appropriate dispute resolution processes, indemnities and limiting contractual liability. Be aware that freely available template contracts are unlikely to contain sufficient detail to adequately protect your business in the event of a complex dispute.

8. Where necessary, take appropriate steps to protect the intellectual property of the business including registration of trademarks, IP licensing agreements and non- disclosure agreements.

9. Ensure that the business website complies with the Australian Consumer Law and the Australian Privacy Principles with appropriate terms of use, terms and conditions, and privacy policy.

10.Be careful to avoid misleading or deceptive content in all client and stakeholder communications, and in the advertising and marketing of the business. Be aware that penalties may apply even where misleading or deceptive commercial conduct is unintentional.


The information provided above is not to be taken or relied upon as legal advice and Jason Francis Commercial and Construction Lawyer will not be responsible for decisions made or acts or omissions undertaken in reliance on this information. It is information intended as a guide only. You should obtain independent legal advice in respect of any issue or query you may have after reading this information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.


Intellectual Property

Your IP is the good stuff, it’s what is of value. It’s like goodwill, it’s hard to get so you need to protect your IP!

Intellectual property (IP) can be anything from a brand name, an invention or simply an idea (refer to Ideation). Understanding the different types of Intellectual property protection and how they can help your business can be difficult and it’s likely you need to speak to a professional if you think what you have is dynamic enough and worth protecting.

So what is Intellectual property (IP) anyway? It is the property of your mind or exclusive knowledge. So if you have developed a product, or refined a unique service or process, or even an idea – this is considered your IP and it belongs to you.

IP should always form part of your business plan, so try to identify your IP Assets early on in your business journey. Early identification will also make sure that you are getting the maximum value from your IP assets while preventing others from using your IP.

Protecting your IP can be a crucial foundation for the success of any business because at the most basic level, protecting your IP improves your competitive position by granting legal rights to you and excluding other businesses or individuals from taking or using your IP Assets.

Your IP will end up one of the key assets to your business, and if by chance you come to sell your business one day it will be a determining factor in how much it is worth. There are associated IP rights that you can pursue to commercialise your Intellectual property. You can visit IP Australia here.

What Are The Types Of IP Rights?

  • The most common types of IP rights are listed below, as there are a number of IP protection rights, they will suit different scenarios and business types.
  • Patents IP – protect inventions and new processes.
  • Trade marks IP – protect logos, words and other branding.
  • Copyright IP – protects art, writing, music, film, and computer programs.
  • Registered designs IP – protects the visual design of a product.

How To Identify Your IP Assets

Identifying your IP Assets early on in the business journey is wise, and a simple audit of your business name, brand and products and services will help you to identify what IP you could protect in the future.

  • When you identify, monitor and value your assets make sure you think about the below three points:
  • What are the products or services that are key to your business?
  • What are your legal rights in relation to your products or services?
  • What are the market advantages your rights can give you?

Protecting Your IP

IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. It’s important to understand how you actually go about protecting your IP. Some forms of IP right such as a trade mark, design or patents are registered rights and need formal application and examination before you can claim rights to ownership. Other forms of IP protection such as copyright do not need to be registered.

Top 10 IP Protection Tips. Here Are Ten Tips To Help You Protect Your Intellectual Property (Ip) And Get Your Ip Strategy Right.

As your business grows overtime, this first step will be one you were glad you assessed. Your new business will start generating IP via signage on the front window, systems and processes you create, there will be things that differentiate you from your competitors from day one.

To know your options is to understand the different types of intellectual property and the distinct advantages of each one. Patents protect inventions, design registration protects their image. A registered trademark protects elements such as brand naming, logos and graphic devices, sounds, scents and even some types of packaging.

What you need to do here is remember, loose lips sink ships. Keeping your ideas, concepts and what will eventually be your IP confidential until it is protected is always a good idea, no matter how hard it might be. When you’re excited about the future you can sometimes let the cat out of the bag. If you’re discussing with others about your ideas and concepts you can implement an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) which prevents those you are in discussion with from disclosing your ideas and concepts without permission.

Only until you have filed your application for your design patent or trademark can you openly discuss your intellectual property. Safeguarding and maintaining secrecy until then is required. Determining the decision to keep your ideas, inventions and business concepts a secret instead of applying for a patent and having to disclose the invention’s details is sometimes an option (known as a trade secret).

Trade secrets work optimally where the product is difficult to reverse engineer or replicate, and the knowledge can be protected with confidentiality agreements.

Protect your idea using the intellectual property system to register a patent, trade mark or design. However you need to make sure you consider the risks and the benefits of registered and unregistered rights.

Ideally, building complete working concepts, models and designs prior to seeking financial backing or speaking with investors and partners is key to formally stake a claim and have your proof of concept brought to life. Again, secrecy is key until formal applications for patent protection are made. Not revealing your work to anyone without having a confidentiality agreement in place first is a smart move.

It’s important to understand you need to first file a patent application before commercialising and scaling up your IP, because if you don’t it might get in the way of the registration process.

Before you start anything, create some rudimentary record keeping on your costs. Tracking all expenditure towards your IP and investments made will create accuracy in how much financial investments were made, and what is needed to ensure an accurate value is able to be established for your IP.

Just like in other areas of this guide, market research is key. Remember, knowledge is power and the more you understand about your product, design and patent, the more you’ll intimately understand the point of difference and uniqueness in your IP.

Researching will allow you to understand how consumers and buyers will receive your IP. This type of research will assist you in working out your per unit cost, and also enable market price comparisons to be done.

Obtaining business know-how will allow you to successfully commercialise your idea. Business know-how includes a variety of business skills that can come over time, and also from the experienced business people. Getting educated on business know-how can include taking advantage of local business chambers of commerce, small business networks and local, state and federal government initiatives that offer assistance in different capacities. Some research here will provide many opportunities to sharpen up some skills you didn’t know you needed.

Making money is hard, but spending it is so easy. Your intellectual property might be a great concept though getting people to spend their hard-earned on it is very difficult.

Remember: If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. So don’t give up and remain dedicated to your ambition and what you believe is unique.
Making money from your IP can come from selling it, licensing it or making products that you can trade.

Protecting your IP is something to not get too fanatical about, though it’s good to keep an eye on managing what might negatively impact IP and prove detrimental to the equity in the associated brand of your IP. A competitor or market force can quickly erode your brand equity or market share more quickly than you can react, or respond and build against it.

A basic infringement strategy can provide a simple defence mechanism for protecting your IP is a worthwhile activity, that you hopefully may never need to use. Though if you did need it one day you’ll be glad you had this strategy in reserve.






Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Your intellectual property is one of your businesses most valuable assets. It’s an easy element to overlook early on, when investing time registering your trade mark or domain name doesn’t seem to be at the top of the huge list of a startup business.

Trade Marks.
What Is The Difference Between Trademarks, Copyrights And Design Patents?

There are numerous ways to protect your intellectual property rights to a design. Your design may be eligible for trademark protection, copyright protection or patent protection, depending on the sort of design and the way it is going to be used.

A trademark protects your right to use a design that identifies your business’s goods or services. You might trademark a design for a logo, a label or product packaging. You gain trademark protection by using the design in business.

A copyright protects original works of authorship. You automatically have a copyright in any design you create and fix in a tangible medium such as paper, cloth or a digital medium. You might have a copyright in a clothing design, a logo, a website design or a blueprint. You do not need to use a design in business to have copyright protection, but you must have created it or had the copyright transferred to you in writing.

A design patent protects the ornamental design elements of a functional object, such as a smartphone or a lamp. The only way to obtain a design patent is to apply for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

There are many types of Designs That Can Be Trademarked, including:

  • Logos and Visual Identity.
  • Product designs.
  • Product label and packaging that assists in identifying the product in the package (think the dynamic Coke bottle).
  • Colour schemes, when they distinguish your product from competitors.


Trademarking Your Logo

A trade mark is a sign used to distinguish one company’s goods or services from those of others. A trademark exists whether it is registered or not, but registration formally provides rights that you would not otherwise have. So, should you register your logo as a trade mark?

Each ‘mark’ or ‘sign’ is considered a separate trademark, and you must register each separately at IP Australia. Meaning, if you register a business name, and its logo then this is two submissions and you would submit two applications and pay two sets of fees.

When registering a word trademark such as your business name, you are protecting the word or phrase.

If you select the option to register your logo, you are protecting the image and its overall impression, taking into account the shape, orientation and configuration. If your logo is just a stylistic representation of your name, then you may be sufficiently protected by registering the name or phrase only as a trade mark.

Depending on the size, scope and intentions of your business (and subsequent brand) the logo and graphic device may have a distinctive appearance that is a fundamental component to your branding, so here it should be considered to register the image also.

Inventions that are considered IP and worth protecting such as an instrument, device, substance, method or code you would look to apply for patent protection. Patents are legally enforceable, and a patent allows you to prevent others from selling, using or making your invention.

Filing a patent application can be a complex and enduring process. There are a few hoops to jump through and to receive your patent protection, your invention must be new, include innovation and something inventive and unique, and also commercially applicable. Depending on how complex your patent situation is there might be a requirement to contact a Patent Lawyer to assist in the process.

There are two types of Australian patents, the Standard Patent and the Innovation Patent. Both processes can take several months or years to complete.

A standard Australian patent will offer protection for up to 20 years, and the number of claims you can make is unlimited. The patent office will then examine your patent application to determine whether it meets the requirements for patentability in Australia.

An Australian innovation patent has a lower threshold of patentability, requiring an ‘innovative’ rather than ‘inventive’ step, but only provides up to eight years of protection and here you are limited to a total of five claims. An innovation patent here in Australia may be a more appropriate option for simple inventions that you want to commercialise quickly and have a shorter life span.

It’s important to understand that lodging an Australian Patent does not mean that you will have worldwide protection. To protect your IP globally you need to lodge applications directly to those countries.

Applying for a patent is expensive, more so enforcing it against a competitor copying your invention is even more expensive and draining on time and resources, so you new business is likely not going to actually be in a position where applying for a patent makes sense. Again depending on how complex your patent situation is there might be a requirement to contact a Patent Lawyer to assist in the process so they can guide you on how to best protect your invention.

Domain Names

In our digital-first age one of the most basic fundamental digital assets to purchase is a domain name (which is often managed by an agency offering Managed IT Services), and ideally a functioning email and website associated with it. Your brand will become more valuable when there are assets attached to it. Part of protecting your IP includes taking claim to what is associated with the brand and business, and in this case a domain name is an important part of the digital stack for any modern day business.

If you’re launching a new business with a functioning website and email, the choice between .com and the more focused in Australia isn’t always clear. To make it simple, here are the differences between a .com and a to show you the benefits of both.

.COM or .COM.AU or .AU?

Geo-location services are now very sophisticated, and Google for instance knows where you have been and where you are going, this includes online. The relevance here is specifically for Local Search, and the most important difference is that search engines like Google are smart enough to provide results based on your location.
If your business is primarily Australian, then a address will help ensure your site appears when Australian customers search for your products or services. This isn’t always guaranteed, but it does add weight to local search rankings. So there is no point trying to digitally position your business as a globally focused .com when your products and services are strictly for Australians.

If your brand or business has a legitimate international focus, market or opportunity then a .com would be the most appropriate. It’s always worthwhile acquiring both .com. and domains for brand protection. You can also redirect each domains to each other if needed.

Simply visit COG Domains for your Domain Registration:
Simply visit COG Digital for your Email & Domain Solutions:


Your Team And Protecting Your IP

Prior to building your team you’ll need to consider how you protect your intellectual property, knowingly this team is likely going to become knowledgeable of it in good time.

The next chapter goes into detail surrounding managing people, though note to ensure you successfully manage your IP with all employees and contractors they should sign appropriate contracts that include strict confidentiality protections at the commencement of their employment or involvement with the business.

The legally binding documentation should include conditions stating they cannot use or disclose the company’s intellectual property to anyone during their employment or after they leave.

Top Tips for Protecting IP In Small Business.

  1. Educate
  2. Conduct an IP Audit
  3. Develop an IP Strategy
  4. Register your IP
  5. Ensure your business owns or has right to use the IP Use confidentiality/ non-disclosure agreements Document licences and approvals to third parties Protect
  6. Your IP Internally
  7. Protect your IP online
  8. Develop an infringement strategy

Customer Relationship Management. It’s All About The People.

Treat Others How You Wish To Be Treated.

Doesn’t get any easier than that, and in small business the quickest way to building a great business and word of mouth referrals is to focus on good old traditional business values. First Value to know to be true is being a nice human. It shouldn’t be too hard for most people. Remember you don’t have to be a tyrant to be good at business.

Communicate With Customers

The key to Learning how to communicate well with customers and deliver great customer service is to first be yourself, and see how that goes. Monitor your results from being yourself and write down things you learn about yourself as a communicator as you move through your small business, and also what things you did or didn’t say that you wish you did.

Developing trust and customer loyalty is much easier when your natural position is one that works. It might not come naturally though overtime most people get in the groove. Natural born sales people tend to gravitate towards sales careers that deliver commission bonuses on great performance, so it’s a smart move to assess how used car dealers, real estate sales people and others in notoriously competitive industries go about communicating when in selling mode.

If you have a family member or friend in these jobs, ask for tips on how to deal with customers, how to style-shift and communicate with all types of people, it’s the fast track to knowing how to deal with the public.

Customers are core to any small business, so if you develop strong interpersonal skills, you can maintain good communication with your customers and build lasting relationships. Remember, it’s easier to sell an existing customer another product or service than it is to sell to a brand new customer.

Customers are king, and the happy customers will become advocates for your small business and promote it by simply telling some of their friends. Recommendations are like gold, but let it be known, when there are problems (and there will be) customers can turn and quickly erode any credibility quickly.

Next are some basic steps to help you improve your customer service.

1. Communicate Well With Customers

Be Relatable: Building A Relationship Early Is Key.
Take the time to be professional and personable with your customers. Get to know them and take note of what they’re telling you.

Big Ears: Listen To Customers, Know Their Problem
Active listening is a skill like any other, and you need to practice it. Stay involved in the conversation and make sure to ask clarifying questions if you’re not sure you understand something. It can also help to rephrase what your customers tell you and repeat it back to them to clarify. This can make a good impression and ensures that you understand what your customer is saying to you.

Common Speak: Use Analogies To Make Your Work Relatable
Analogies are great to explain complex or technical issues or descriptions. If you’ve built a good relationship with a customer, pick examples they’ll connect with. You’ll be able to explain your product or service in a way they immediately understand.

Standards: Create A Customer Service Standard Manual
Internal customer service policies, standards and benchmarks ensure that your employees communicate with your customers in a consistent way. This gives you peace of mind that your staff provide the same good customer service each time customers interact with your small business.

Resolution: Look To Resolve Disputes Swiftly
Customer complaints will occur, but if you can handle them professionally and quickly, you will build strong customer relationships.

2. Discover Your Go-To Style.

Find your own style on how you deal with your customers, then go about perfecting it. The more you communicate with your customers, the more likely they are to remember you and your business.

You need a communication strategy so you can determine which communication method is best for your business and your target customers. Consider your customer demographics before you settle on a method. For example, social media is used differently across different age groups.

Find Your Voice

Speak to people and make that phone call. When you’re a service-based business, dropping a quick call through can be a great way to keep your business at the front of your customers’ minds, let them know you’re there. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. People lead busy lives and if you are seldom heard, a competitor might come along and provide an irresistible sales pitch.

It’s also key to know that you don’t have to try and sell your customers anything every time you get in contact. Provide free information every time you communicate with them, it’s a core value driver and they will likely be eagerly awaiting your next call. This strategy builds value rich relationships quickly.

Engage On Social Media
You can use social media to post special offers, information about new products or services and general announcements. Keep in mind that social media works best when you use it to build connections, relationships and rapport with your customers. You shouldn’t use social media to simply sell to your customers.

Social media is crucial in today’s world. However, you must also recognise the risk. You have limited control over what your customers may post about your business. Make a plan to handle any enquires or negative feedback.

Simply visit COG Digital Social Media Solutions

Send A Newsletter
Newsletters are a great way to let your customers know about any promotions or success stories. You can also share personal milestones or experiences, which help you build rapport with your customers. Make sure you have your customer’s permission before sharing success stories.

Visit COG Branding to learn how to develop your small business and pursue digital transformation.

Request Feedback
Be forthcoming with requesting feedback, ask for the honesty opinion as while it might sometime hurt and damage the ego, at least you’ll know the truth on your business and it’s value to your audience.

Feedback can be delivered via surveys as they allow you to directly ask your clients for feedback on the products and services you have supplied or are offering. You can find out their true opinion on your products and services, and what you could improve on or add to your offerings.

Sometimes you might need to incentivise your audience with gift vouchers and special offers, though it’s a small cost of doing business to understand what is true. Make sure you ask open ended questions to give your customers a chance to have their say. These questions can provide you with feedback you can take action on.

Most importantly, follow up on the information you receive and do something with it.

3. Deliver Great Customer Service

Good customer relationships are at the heart of great customer service. Whether you’re interacting with a long-term client or a first-time buyer, developing a strong rapport is an important part of building good customer relationships.

Face-To-Face Customer Service
If you have a physical, bricks and mortar business, to help you develop good customer relationships:

  • Greet your customers as they walk through the door. Ask them how they are or how you can help them. If your customers have to wait to be served, it is helpful to have someone greeting your customers and letting them know how long they should expect to wait. Make sure you check in with your customers while they’re in your shop. This also gives them a chance to ask any questions they might have.
  • Know your product. In a face-to-face small business setting, if you’re able to immediately answer any tricky questions from your customers can help build trust and credibility.

Online Customer Service
If you run an online business, or interact with customers over the phone or email, our tips can help you develop good customer relationships:

  • Answer emails promptly. A general rule is a 24 hour turnaround. If you know that you take longer to respond to emails, it can be useful to publish your expected turnaround time on your Contact Us page on your website, or even in your automated email responder. This can help to manage your customers’ expectations.
  • Consider a live chat service. A live chat service allows you to communicate instantly with your customers and help answer their queries. This service may require extra staff or monitoring, but many can switch on and off during certain hours.
  • Consider adding a ‘request to call’ option on your Contact Us form. This may allow customers to request a time and day they would like to receive a phone call from you. This could allow you to gather specific information about their request before calling them back.
  • Keep a log of any phone interactions you have with your customers. Write down the date, time and any issues discussed. This information can be useful to refer back to when making contact again.
  • Publish important information about your business, like your mission statement and your business history, on your website. This information helps your customers understand your business and its values.
  • Add a feedback form to your website. This will allows you to collect valuable information about your service and may provide you with insights for new product or service ideas to grow your small business.

Building A Team

Running a small business is about the people. If it’s just you, then you need to be kind to yourself, listen to yourself both physically and mentally, and get support.

If it’s a new small business with more than 1, then that’s a team. Jeff Bezos famously once said,

“if you can’t share 2 pizzas with your team then the team is too big”.

Although your team may begin with one or two founders or employees, if you find success you will soon need to consider how to manage multiple people, teams and groups, and all that comes with it. 

HR Considerations When Starting A Business

With Kelly Salmon from Growth HR

Many small and medium sized business often don’t have the capacity or see the need for a HR department, it doesn’t mean there is no requirement for HR processes and documentation from the very early days of starting a small business. The following is some important HR considerations for any start up business;


Forget paperwork and filing cabinets by signing up to a cloud based HRIS system. This will save you time on HR tasks and provide a seamless experience to new starters. Many HRIS systems will plug into your payroll program and provide a platform to manage all staff records, leave, training requirements, certification, company policies and host the company mission statement, goals and values.


The Fair Work Act 2009 is a piece of Commonwealth legislation which governs most employment law in Australia and provides for employer rights and responsibilities. National Employment Standards also known as NES is a section of the Fair Work Act that contains a summary of the 10 national minimum standards. This is the baseline for all employee rights in Australia.


Company goals, mission statement and values clearly articulate what you stand for as a small business. They are used to tell the story of what you want from your team and brings people together to work as an effective team.


As any small business grows, naturally workplace issues arise. By having Workplace Policies in place early, provides for a clear structure and guidelines for how to manage the issues both informally and formally. This helps manage small conflicts before they become big ones.


  1. Establish who will oversee and manage HR records.
  2. Ensure you are legally covered by having an employment contract in place for the business.
  3. Sign up to a cloud based HRIS system which integrates with payroll.
  4. Ensure you have a clear mission, vision, and values for your business.
  5. Implement Workplace Policies and include your WHS obligations.
  6. Write and issue Job descriptions and discuss goals.
  7. Create recruitment processes.
  8. Implement Employee benefits; this will help to retain and attract staff.
  9. Schedule check ins and regularly communicate with your employees.
  10. Develop training and development processes and opportunities.


When building your human team and looking to hire new staff one of the first things you need to consider is what capacity they will be – an employee or contractor? There are different obligations for taxation, superannuation and employment law for each. Here this issue can get early stage small business owners and founders into trouble. Factors determining whether a worker is a contractor or employee are examined below.

Special Note: Importantly, you cannot call a worker a contractor while treating them as an employee (a ‘sham contracting’). The ATO is all over businesses that mischaracterise workers to avoid their employment law obligations, you won’t beat the ATO.

Does the hirer have the right to exercise detailed control over the way work is performed or does the worker have full autonomy?

Is the worker required to wear a uniform or display material that associates them with the hirer’s business?

Is the worker required to supply and maintain any tools or equipment (especially if expensive)?

Is the worker free to work for others at the same time? Can the worker subcontract the work or delegate work to others?

Is taxation deducted by the hirer from the worker’s pay?

Is the worker paid according to task completion, rather than receiving wages based on time worked?

If you are unsure, use the employee/contractor decision tool on the ATO’s website to determine whether your team member is an employee or a contractor.

New businesses and startup companies may also allow interns to function in the office while they study or broaden their professional experience. For an intern it can be a worthwhile learning experience that offers the intern access to senior mentors in the team and further skill development they wouldn’t get studying or in part time work. Internships do get used and abused from time to time, and it’s important founders remember that an individual on an internship does not replace employees.

There are dual purposes of internships, they help the job seeker and also the business. Before onboarding an intern, your first filter can’t be “free human resources!”. You need to first consider “what is the purpose of hiring an intern, and will they learn what they are expecting to”.

When taking on interns the business has a responsibility to provide a benefit to the individual and the business. Though if the benefit is overwhelming towards the business as a free source of labour then it is likely to resemble an employment arrangement.

Knowing the primary benefit derived from the internship should flow to the Individual, it’s clear when an intern is an employee and vice versa. Interns and provide a great contribution to the business instead of just observing when they are currently enrolled in tertiary education.

If you bring on an intern, your internship agreement needs to clearly state that the role is unpaid and for a finite agreed duration. The business may choose to offer lunch and commuting expenses, though if this line becomes blurry and payments are comparable to wages then it can mean the internship is becoming an employment relationship.

As an internship’s primary function is for the individual to learn about the business by being inside it, the business and the intern should ensure they both agree on the internship’s length prior commencement. An internship should not be looked at as an indefinite placement, and should have a formal concluding date.

If the business makes the decision to host an intern, it’s a good idea to create an internship agreement from a pre-built template that can be used for each intern. When they start you can fill out their role, learning objectives and obligations together. This will ideally ensure that you avoid the intern becoming an employee.

Special Note
There are Consequences for Mischaracterising a Relationship when a business owner or startup founder engages interns, and uses them like employees. If determined by the Fairwork Ombudsman the business may be liable to back pay the intern including other employee entitlements. Plus the business could also face fines for each breach of the Fair Work Act.

When you formally employ staff, they need an employment contract. Ensuring your employees have an employment agreement at commencement of their engagement to their role is required. Any employment contracts need to address a number of standard issues such as intellectual property, restraint of trade, leave requirements, and formal job description, all items that will form the employment conditions of the agreement.



Dealing With Customers And Suppliers

Your network is key, and as you move through your small business cycles the quality and trust within your relationships with stakeholders such as customers and suppliers, will continue to be a key factor in your ongoing success. As you grow, along with it so does your network and relationships.

Not all relationships last forever, though in business sometimes strong relationships can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to the quality and size of your network.

A big factor in your small businesses success will be how you deal with people. Customers, staff, suppliers, affiliates and so on. When you can manage emotions when they are running hot, and nurture customer complaints through to a swift resolution your reputation will remain intact through tricky situations.


Suppliers are a crucial part of your small business. Find out how to find suppliers, negotiate contracts, build and maintain relationships and resolve disputes with suppliers. A supplier sources items at a suitable price for your business. They supply your small business with the right materials, products and/or services for you to conduct business.

Suppliers don’t only supply your business with products and other physical supplies — they may also supply a service to your small business, including:

  • Banking and financial services.
  • Utility services.
  • Property suppliers.
  • Internet and phone services.
  • Insurance products.

Discovering the Right Suppliers

It can take time and research to find the right suppliers for your small business. Having a reliable supplier means you can provide your customers with quality products and services at the right price have enough stock and materials to meet customer demands.

Before you take on a new supplier, there needs to be some research and investigation on what is a good supplier for your business. The following steps will guide you on finding the right supplier for your small business.

1. Supplier Research

You’ll need to do some research to find a supplier you’re happy with. Here are some ideas to get you started on finding suppliers for your small business:

  • Search online for wholesalers.
  • Attend an industry event or exhibition.
  • Join an industry group, forum, and/or professional network.
  • Use an industry database or association website to find a list of local suppliers.
  • Talk to other businesses to get a personal recommendation.

2. Comparing Suppliers

With your list of potential suppliers a good idea is to compare them, ideally with a conclusive rank out of ten. Your supplier list will be made up of different suppliers offering a range of services and features. Determining which ones best fit your small business is the hard part. In part trust your gut feel here as your list may not end up conclusive and some of your live experience is to be leaned on to assist here.

Comparing suppliers on the following elements will get you close to choosing the right partners:

Price: affordability is important to consider as this can affect your bottom line. However, it’s equally important to remember that cheap doesn’t necessarily represent value for money. If you pass poor quality products on to your customers, or compromise on service because of your supplier, you’ll run the risk of damaging your business’s reputation. Reliable: can the supplier deliver the right goods or services on time?

Size: large suppliers generally have enough resources and systems in place to make sure they can still deliver on time if anything goes wrong. However, you may be able to establish a closer relationship with a smaller supplier.

Stable: find out how long the supplier has been in small business for. An experienced supplier might be a better choice for your small business, particularly if you want to have a long-term contract, or if they’re the only supplier of a certain item. However a new supplier may be able to work with you to provide a better service, allowing you to grow your businesses together.

Location: suppliers that are located further away might mean longer delivery times and extra freight costs. Local suppliers might be better if you need something quickly.

Background: make sure you ask for a supplier’s references and check them. Even follow up on their reviews and see what industry they work in and what sort of businesses they run.

3. Negotiating Contracts

Now that you know which supplier you want to do business with, you can start to negotiate a contract with them. It’s a good idea to document the terms in a written contract to minimise disagreements about each party’s rights and responsibilities.

You may also want to negotiate other factors such as delivery times, payment terms and the quality of the goods. Remember that if you want to do business with the supplier in the future, you should aim to negotiate outcomes that both parties are happy with.

Your contract should include:

  • The goods or services to be provided.
  • Price and payment terms.
  • Timeframes.
  • Delivery terms.
  • Warranty periods.
  • Insurance responsibility.
  • Dispute resolution terms.
  • Termination and exclusion clauses.

Make sure you know who you’re doing business with – do background checks on your suppliers before you sign with them. Look up their Australian business number (ABN) to identify the person operating the business. Search for them through the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) Business Checks.

4. Maintaining Relationships

Your relationship with suppliers can directly influence your business. Once you’ve found the right supplier it’s important to develop a productive and professional relationship with them.

The following tips can help you establish good working relationships with your suppliers:

  • Set up regular times to communicate with your suppliers.
  • Discuss issues or concerns in an open and honest way.
  • Actively listen to advice and feedback.
  • Provide feedback and report issues early.
  • Keep track of your supplier’s performance.
  • Agree on a standard ordering process.
  • Pay your accounts on time.
  • Stay organised and try not to change or rush orders.

Your business is important to your supplier, but also remember you’re just one of their many customers. Give your suppliers the benefit of the doubt if your needs aren’t instantly met, be a great customer to them.

5. Regular Supplier Review

Once you’ve selected a supplier and start working with them, it’s important to continually review, evaluate and maintain your relationship with them.
Regularly monitor your suppliers against your business’s priorities. As your business and the suppliers grow, often the priorities can change. This can result in contract changes or changes in supplier.

Here are some common reasons you might need to change:

  • You’ve found another supplier who’s offers’ better value for money.
  • You need to cut down on your expenditure to increase your business’s bottom line.
  • Your business has grown and you’ve found a supplier who can better fulfil your changed needs.
  • Your current supplier is closing their business, or no longer stocking the items you need.
  • Your current supplier contract is expiring and you want to check out other suppliers before renewing the contract.

Whatever your reason, make sure you take the time to go over your decision carefully. Changing suppliers will mean having to rebuild trust and relationships, which can take time and energy. It might be more cost-effective to stay with your current suppliers and renegotiate your contract. Make sure you consider all your options before making the switch.

Managing Disputes

Managing disputes with suppliers and customers is an artform. You need to learn how to deal with your emotions and also rely on a good memory and also your own documentation.

Unfortunately, all businesses will encounter a dispute at some point, and it’ll be likely to be with one of the more high volume relationships like customers. While a customer loves your product and service 9 out of 10 times, that one time when you find yourself in a dispute you’ll want to have some fall back position to lean on and know you are prepared.

There are numerous areas where disputes arise, and can difficult to navigate for a number of reasons:

  • Legal Reasons: If the dispute is very serious, you could get sued or find yourself needing to sue someone.
  • Costing Time: A dispute will take time away from the most important thing for any founder – running your business.
  • Customer Lifecycle: You can lose a customer and all of the revenue that the relationship might have generated going forward.
  • Supply Chain: If the dispute is with a supplier, you may need to find a new organisation to work with, which can have significant cost implications.
  • Brand Equity: There are reputational risks, which are a particular issue if your startup has a social media presence.

Supplier Disputes

Managing suppliers is sometimes very different to how you manage customers. This will depend if you are a B2B (Business to Business) focused business or B2C (Business to Consumer).

While you can do your best to develop strong and productive relationships with suppliers, sometimes disputes arise. For a B2B business some of the below questions highlight the communication between business owners and suppliers

  • How will you ensure consistent product quality?
  • Who is responsible if product quality is below standard?
  • Does the supplier require a minimum order?
  • Will you pay upon receiving the goods?
  • What happens if the supplier sells out or discontinues particular stock?
  • How can you compare suppliers?

Your legal documents, specifically your supplier agreements should address issues around quality, payment and subcontracting. Remember, you need to build relationships but also protect yourself and address early on how you will deal with suppliers will ensure you protect your business and comply with any relevant laws.

  1. Most disputes can be resolved quickly using a common sense approach. Some quick tips below may help you identify and resolve the issues quickly and easily:
  2. Check your facts – if you have a written contract, read it carefully. Your contract may help you understand the problem, or help you identify a dispute resolution clause.
  3. Contact your supplier – you may find a resolution by simply talking through the issue with your supplier.
  4. Listen – if you put yourself in your supplier’s position, you may be able to recognise the issue.
  5. Keep records – records will help you keep track of what has happened. You may need these records if you take the matter further.

Remember, the issue could be a simple misunderstanding. You may not know all the circumstances or facts. Give your supplier the benefit of the doubt!

Managing Customer Disputes

Most often, a customer will make a dispute if they believe they didn’t get what they paid for, product or service. It’s meeting the expectations of your customer which is toughest, as disputes commonly arise because of a difference in how these expectations between you and your customers are met or managed.

When your business doesn’t deliver to this preconceived expectation seldom the customer looks at themselves in the mirror and blames themselves for their decision to set this expectation to what you are selling.

When customers get upset because of what they thought your business would provide, the quality of the product or the delivery speed differed to their expectations you might get a email blast, and spray over the phone or a negative review online, though in simple terms most disputes will unlikely become legal, and just potentially damage brand equity and brand reputation.

Refunds, replacements and amicable solutions to the common problem is always a better way to go. It might hurt the ego and cost a few extra bucks though concentrating on positive business, solving problems quickly and looking to continually build brand equity will have customer disputes and small speed humps that you simply bounce over.

Quick Tip
Having a solid set of business terms and conditions is a good document to build once you have all your products and services ready to take to market. When you clearly provide your terms and conditions it is a first form of clear communication and line of defence that can provide a measure of protection if a customer tries to sue you for damages they claim to have suffered as a result of a failure in the product/service you have provided.

Resolving Disputes

Long term business success is dependent on a customer-centric approach to building products, services, and yes resolving disputes. A business that has a customer centric approach to dispute resolution will be one with a higher EQ and likely understand the value of relationships better than a business that doesn’t.

So, what is a customer-centric approach to resolving disputes?

It’s purely to put yourself in your customers shoes and think about what would make you feel better. The olive branch exchange like offering discounts, free services and other financially welcomed resolutions will always go a long way.

Retaining customers is key, as they are hard fought and won, so doubling down on the customer service here is the first logical approach. The disgruntled customer might not ever be a repeat customer, though you don’t want them trolling your Instagram feed or leaving a negative Google My Business review.

Below are some tips on a customer-centric approach to dispute resolution:

  1. Offer a discount.
  2. Refund the service or good.
  3. Offer a free upgrade.
  4. Train staff on dispute resolution processes.
  5. Open up communication channels.
  6. Give personalised attention.
  7. Resolve quickly.

If the worst-case scenario does happen, and things get legal, our best advice is to stay out of court if possible at all costs. There are no winners for a small startup business in court.

Court proceedings are very expensive, can take a long time to be resolved and can be disastrous from a brand building perspective. If the courtroom calls, best get legal advice.




Working On The Business and In It

Ask any small business owner who has endured a few small business cycles what they do when they’re not working: “Working on the business” they’ll more often than not respond. Running a business is not easy, though if there is an underlying passion your spare time might not be totally absorbed by the business, though you’ll most likely be thinking about it.

This is both a blessing and a curse. You can be in danger of loving something to death, alternatively you the small business owner suffers burn out. There needs to be a consideration to the longer term efforts and how a sustainable strategy is in place to ensure what you love doesn’t turn into something you hate.

With passion comes self perseverance, business is a marathon and not a sprint. Though when you work on the small business and also in it, the lines can get blurred and turning off become difficult.

Marathon, Not A Sprint

There is an effort that needs to be made in constantly reminding yourself that running a small business is a marathon and not a sprint. There is no first prize and a gold medal at the end of it. Life is too short to be in a hurry, furthermore you don’t want to have a small business you created or started to begin to own your life and become a burden.

Work to live, not live to work.

There is so much truth in working smarter not harder though all the inspirational quotes go out the window when the Monday morning siren calls – but you shouldn’t let it.

An evenly paced week is much more effective than a run of volatile days, when one minute you’re winning, and then next you’re losing. These peaks and valleys are all throughout one’s life, and will happen regardless, so there is a need in small business to let destiny take its course and don’ get hung up on the immediacy of the day to day, just ensure a smooth and steady pace, keep turning up and giving it your call.

Just remember that a balanced approach is key, and supports a sustainable approach to the broader small business operations.

The Balance And The Filters

There will be times of weakness when everything around you seems to be moving so much faster than you, and others are achieving so much more glorified success than you. Often this is not the case, use a filtering system to look at what you are being influenced with through the right filter.

You see, those who have time to get in front of you with a sales proposition or something really engaging and sophisticated are either not busy enough, and have spent their time on building some sophisticated marketing, or, they are from a bigger organisation that shouldn’t be threatening or stifling for you as you’re more than likely not competing directly with this small business, so use it for inspiration and not have it take the wind out of your sails.

Setting Up Operations

Setting up your business operations properly will save you trouble in the long run, and give you more time to focus on running your small business. There are a few key things to consider here such as office location, the budget and ongoing costs, the fit out of the physical office space and managing things like phone lines and the internet. Knowing your business needs will help ensure you choose the correct office size and location to support yourself and team members who share your workspace.

First, Make A Big List!

Before even looking for office space, you may want to make a list of everything you will need in your new office, from desks and chairs to computer hardware, as well as any tasks like setting up your internet connection.

With this list will come the visual dashboard that helps look at office locations with the list in your mind. From desks, chairs and workstations through to computers and technical office hardware. Knowing your business needs before you commit to a location will help ensure you choose the correct office size and location to support yourself and team members who share your workspace.

Ensuring the first steps you make on getting a considered plan together will ensure the move into the office is a successful one, on budget and on time. An office move is not as emotionally draining as moving house, though it does take some effort, energy and acquires plenty of head space. The difference is that you’ll need your small business to remain productive during the transition and to keep the soldiers moving, so it’s likely it’ll blend from home office and work office during the move, or, there will be two offices in function if it’s a relocation move.

Manage The Budget

Making sure the external office is within your budget is critical. The electricity bill hurts at home, wait till the office bill comes in! One of your major priorities will be finding a location that fits within your company’s budget, but also the style and type of business. However, that’s not all you need to examine when it comes to money. There are often other location- specific costs to consider beyond the purchase price or monthly rent.

Almost every location has different hidden costs that you need to account for: taxes, renovations, utility upgrades, minimum wage requirements, and economic incentives.

Considering all the above will help you make a well-educated choice for your next business location. Before committing to anything, be sure to speak with other business owners in the area to make sure they’re happy with the location and what the landlord is like.

Although you can never predict if a new location will be successful, you can do as much research as possible beforehand to ensure it is the best available fit for your growing small business.

Phone And Internet Communications

The Internet: One thing that can make or break an office space is access to reliable internet, phone, and network services. If you have a slow internet feed or no mobile service, it will frustrate you daily so consider the performance of your communication channels and available infrastructure.

Find an internet provider with adequate speed and reliability. Before committing to any office lease, make sure the location is serviceable by a high-speed internet provider. Research which internet service provider (ISP) can connect your office well before you move in. Then, once you’ve found a few providers, compare their plans, prices, and contracts. Also, remember that commercial accounts often differ from residential ones, so be careful when looking at their terms.

When setting up your office communication systems you have several options when choosing your communication systems. What’s important is to schedule the installs or configure your software in time for your move so that there’s no disruption to your work and customers are able to get hold of you. Some office communication options to consider are as below –

Telephone Communication Systems:

Many small businesses are switching to voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone service in lieu of traditional phone systems built on old copper wiring. VoIP phone service is a great option for most businesses since it is more affordable than a landline and just as clear. You can also easily add or subtract as many lines as you need, and you’ll be able to get phone service within minutes of plugging in your phone.

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION SOFTWARE: Communication with your internal employees is critical, especially if some work off-site or remotely. Consider free software, like Slack.

MOBILE PHONES: Some firms provide field and sales employees with business cell phones to ensure they can be reached throughout the work day.

VIRTUAL PHONE SERVICE: Consider a virtual phone number service that forwards calls made to your business phone number or email.

OTHER COMMUNICATION TOOLS: Depending on your business model or how many employees you have, you may need email, appointment scheduling, or video conferencing software. As you select your communication tools, it’s a good time to consider how incoming calls will be routed. You might consider setting up a call tree to support your business.

OFFICE OR HOME OFFICE: Many people will work from home, now termed WFH. There are some key factors to consider when setting up a home office or looking to rent office space. You need to support your business, your mind, your body and consider the both long and short term tricks that many often fall into.

Deciding how to design and set up the work environment for your startup business is one of your most important tasks, yet, it is an often overlooked one.

Navigating The Work From Home Environment Is Not Always As Great As It Sounds.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made working from home almost an expected option for many office and knowledge workers. While the pandemic challenged big office spaces and long commutes to meetings or work, many employers will have discovered that they don’t need large office buildings, and many employees will have discovered that they don’t need to be in the office every day or spend hours commuting.

But many people have set up makeshift home offices for the pandemic that won’t work well for the long term. In addition to having the right equipment, the physical setup — the ergonomics of the workspace — is critical, especially around avoiding repetitive strain injuries that a bad setup can cause.

A long-term home office should ideally be a separate space in your home that is properly outfitted for work. Do as much of the following as you can to create an effective, safe workspace for the long term.

Home Office

When WFH is chosen as your place to conduct business, you need to make sure it’s a dedicated space that separates your personal home life from your professional life. Everyone operates differently, though when work and home lives get blended it often ends in troubles on both sides of the fence, and business is the first one to be shown the door.

Make a choice that is a small room that can hold a desk and computer equipment and whose door can be shut for the essential need to separate work life from home life.

Most people don’t have spare space, but many people can convert a guest room into a dual-purpose space: an office most of the time and a guest room when people visit. Even a garage can be rigged up and made into an office space!

Work Office Choosing The Location

Does your office need to be in a business district or is an industrial park location fine? Consider whether visitors come to your office and how far workers will need to travel to get there. Some businesses, like a restaurant, find they can carve out a small office niche within the existing building, especially if files and documents are stored online using cloud-based software. Others may prefer a virtual office that provides them with client meeting space worldwide.

Choosing a business location is not something that can be done on a whim—it’s a crucial step in starting a business. First things first, the business location you choose will depend on the type of business you operate. Business parks, shopping malls, professional buildings, and others are all designed to meet the specific needs of numerous businesses. If you’re expanding from online-only to online and brick-and-mortar, for example, your needs will be much different than if you’re a legal firm looking to grow your firm and introduce new clients.

While your first instinct may be to spend as little as possible on your office space, remember that this is the “face” of your business and as such should reflect your brand. Additionally, by spending less money on features such as desks and chairs now, you risk having to replace them more often.

Lease Negotiation

One of the challenges of leasing office space is that you need to balance your risk with the monthly cost. You’ll often get a discount in exchange for a longer-term contract. But with a lease, you’re on the hook for monthly payments, even if you later decide to relocate. In fact, many long-term leases contain penalties if you break the lease contract early. Therefore, it’s best to have your business attorney or an online legal service review your lease to ensure there are no hidden clauses.

Furniture And Equipment For Your Office

You will need to carefully select the most appropriate office furniture and computers for your business’ requirements and budget. That may mean initially buying used office equipment, or simply add a few pieces to existing office desks, chairs, and dividers you already have. Embrace the bric-brac shabby chic style!

Below are the common items most small business offices need, though each business is different so here you want your decisions to be tailor made to your businesses operating requirements.

Desks: Consider the best office desk to suit your work needs and office layout. Which office desks you choose will largely depend on your office layout. With an open plan, simple rectangular tables that you can group together will usually be the most functional. With a little budget injection you can invest in glass and metal tables that look great at the front office, though they are heavier and often hard to assemble or move. L-shaped tables are great for modular plan office spaces, and standing desks are another popular option for those who spend all day at a computer or who have back issues.

Chairs: There are three common types of Office Chairs you may want to consider. While there are many low-priced office chairs on the market, buying the best your budget can afford is a good place to start. Remember you can always upgrade. A decent investment in office chairs will deliver a great bums-in-seats office environment, and people will do a better job when they are comfortable. Your team may spend most of their day sitting, so investing in their comfort shows that you value them and also their output. There are three main types of office chairs , where in most offices the mid-back and executive chairs will meet your needs, and often task chairs are used to supplement them at temporary hot desk workstations.

Task chairs: These are usually armless and compact—intended for shorter use. They can be moved easily for group meetings.

Mid-back chairs: Mid-back chairs have arms and offer more support. These are a better option for full-time office staff who sit all day and drive the computer, costing up to $600 this area is usually the most appropriate.

Executive chairs: Executive seating is typically more ergonomic, and are designed with ventilation areas and additional adjustments. These chairs cost up to $1000 or more, and are suitable for businesses making a bigger investment into the senior management office spaces, or to offer high end desk personnel seating.

Computers: Determine how many and what kind of computers you’ll need. If you’re going to be providing a uniform set of computers for your whole staff rather than letting them choose their own, the first decision you will need to make is what type of office computer to buy. For general office computers and the desktop workstation generally provide better value with more storage and better performance, but laptop computers are more portable.

Operating System: It’s best if you decide in advance which computer operating system to work on:

Apple OS X: Using Apple products is ideal for businesses like marketing or design, which use heavy graphics, video, gaming, audio editing, or website development.

Windows OS: Windows is best for Microsoft Office suite, which is a widely used and flexible platform for general business.


Once you add everything on your checklist, consider the layout of your office space. This will help you to confirm how much furniture to buy.

For example;

  • do you need private conference rooms for client or employee meetings?
  • Should managers have a desk near a window?
  • Should your bookkeeper have their own cubicle?

Based on the amount of room you have and the kind of work being done, your floor plan can maximise your office space for productivity. Before signing on to a lease, get the managing agency to give you a tour and don’t forget to take your tape measure so you can measure up. And grab some photos of the empty space on your phone.

Here you can visualise what your office will look like before you spend time and money on the fit out.

Start by choosing an office floor plan layout:

Open plan: An open floor plan maximises the usable area of the space, but at the expense of privacy and storage.

Closed plan: A closed floor plan gives your staff more personal space, but it’s less collaborative and won’t fit as many seats.

Modular workstation: This layout combines elements of both, giving your staff more privacy, storage, and larger working surfaces—with open areas for collaboration.

There are other options for your office space and how to consider the best way to use the space. Depending on your business needs, you may need a dedicated workspace within your office, like a copy room that contains printers and stationery.

Or, you may need to shape up a waiting area with guest seating if you expect clients to come in for meetings. Here are optional areas you may want to plan for within your overall office setting:

Formal entrance or reception area: This is best if you expect visitors.

Break room or kitchen: It’s nice to offer coffee, drinks, and snacks, and give employees a place for breaks. It’s helpful to have a refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher too.

Conference room: Conference space is crucial if your team gathers for regular meetings; private rooms are best for one-on-one conversations like HR reviews.

Exercise room: To keep employees fit, some firms like to bring in a few pieces of equipment, such as a stationary bike or treadmill, or a room to stretch or do yoga.

Dressing area: Service businesses often set aside space in the office for offsite workers to change into office clothes, or for staff to change after going to the gym in their lunch break for instance.

Storage: If your business needs physical storage you’ll need to consider the frequency of access required to the items stored and have the space allocated accordingly. Office supplies like pens and copy paper, product brochures and marketing materials will be different compared to machinery or tools and mechanical equipment.


There are other optional services that will support your office setting, so consider your broader office needs. For example, you may need to set up an alarm system, a phone answering service, or even credit cards for your employees. Many of these are optional based on your business model and where your office is located.

Some of the more common optional office services and supplies are listed below –

  • Security: Consider whether you need a security system or video surveillance.
  • Answering service: Set up an after-hours answering service, or use a service like Ruby Receptionist to save on hiring someone to answer your phones.
  • Office supplies: Amazon is a great place to order supplies because they’ll deliver right to your office, saving you time. Consider copy paper, desk organisers, and recycling bins.
  • Bank accounts and credit cards: You may want to set up free or low-cost bank accounts, as well as determine whether to provide credit cards to managers or sales reps.
  • Time clock: A time clock can keep track of who’s on site as well as hours worked. And most, like Harvest, can interface directly with your payroll software.

Getting your office setting right is an involved process. Like any project, the more planning you do upfront, the less painful it can be.

That’s where our checklist comes in handy. If you need to set up an office quickly, there are good temporary options, such as virtual offices that let you rent space and answering services to ensure client calls aren’t missed.



Building Brand

Taking Your Business To Market

There is some good advice in that the best advertising is someone wearing the T-Shirt you’re trying to sell. What this means is that any work you do should ideally lead to word of mouth referrals.

While our world is filled with complex social platforms and technology, humans talking to humans is still a core driver of new small business and the best way to get your business out there.

Every inch should be treated like a mile until you feel like you can relax, until then you’ve got to muscle up and put in the hard yards.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

This guide for starting a small business in Australia covers the marketing factor in depth. And here we look to cover some of the basics such as budgets, strategy and planning and your customers. Promoting your business and brand to your target audience to grow your customer base is a fundamental part of running a business so some knowledge here will go a long way.

And if you engage a brand and marketing agency like COG Branding some understanding of the terminology and functions will ensure you know where your investments are being allocated and understand what returns should be expected.

A key element with taking your small business to market is the planning and strategy phases, which should be done first. They are the keys to success and intelligence for your business. Your business planning and marketing strategy should consider what you want to achieve with your advertising or promotional campaigns. Ask yourself if your strategy and plan align with your brand and your business goals and objectives.

Knowing who and where your customers are is a vital element in taking your business to market. Your targeted customers and audience should be your laser focus for the first 3 to 6 months. Trying to be everything to everyone early on can have you like a dog chasing its own tail. If you’ve been in business for a while, you should have a good understanding of who your target customers are.

Either way, your targeted customers are the people who you expect will buy most of your products or services. If you’re not sure who your target customers are, then have a look at who is currently buying your products and services. Look for ways to make sure your promotional activities are reaching them.

Taking your small business to market will require some for of advertising, and deciding where to advertise is complicated and will need some serious thought. Ideally your marketing plan and business strategy should determine this up front. If you’re already in business, how do your customers normally find you? Through the internet, social media, word of mouth, flyer, advertisements in a publication, online, on radio or TV are some of the more obvious locations. Find out how your current customers find you, then target your advertisements and promotions in these areas.

When you’re ready to take your small Australian business to market, you’ll need a budget, or at least know how much you can spend on advertising and marketing. Advertising and promotions can be expensive. Pick options that will give you the best value for money, while still reaching your target customers.

Remember, the cheapest option is not always the best, it’s all about the return on investment and if you are happy to get one customer at the cost of $100 or 100 customers for $1.

The best option will be whatever is most effective for your business. Some budget-friendly advertising options include flyers, posters, social media and newsletters.

Marketing Factors A Small Business Should Consider Before Building The Brand In Market

Before you start any promotion, write down your goals and objectives. You’ll then be able to track and evaluate your success after the campaign. This will help you decide whether to take this approach or to trial different promotions in the future. Then, get a good grasp of what marketing and branding actually is.

Marketing is defined as the set of tools, processes, and strategies you use to actively promote your product, service, and company. While branding is the marketing practice of actively shaping your brand. Branding is about defining who you are as a company.

It’s important to know that a brand creates and stores value, and while marketing is an expense a brand will become more valuable through marketing. Marketing is more effective when the brand expresses the value the customer gets from it, so a true value exchange from the brand is what you want, and clever marketing will facilitate this exchange

Brand Marketing Explained

There are many definitions of marketing. Broadly, it involves activities that help to build your brand and business. It’s about identifying and understanding your customers, and developing products and services that meet their needs. Marketing requires careful planning and research – but investing time and money now will pay off in the long term.

Marketing is more than just advertising and logos, it can be across many areas of your business, including:

  • How your customers are greeted on the phone
  • Your customer service procedures
  • What your staff wear
  • Your email signature

Benefits Of Brand Marketing And How It Can Help Your Small Business Succeed

Good marketing tells a story about your business and gives your customers a reason to purchase from you instead of your competitors. It helps you to look at everything in your business that could affect how your customers identify you.

Writing a marketing plan can help you define certain aspects of your business and focus on your priorities.

  • Marketing can help your business reach its target audience, attract new customers and ultimately increase your profit. Learn what marketing is, its benefits, and your legal obligations when marketing your products or services.
  • Business marketing. Marketing can help your business reach its target customers and increase your profit.
  • Identify your target market. Find out how to identify your business’s target customers.
  • Research your market. Learn how to research your market to understand your customers and competitors.
  • Develop your marketing plan. A marketing plan can help you understand who your customers are, how to reach them and how to define your brand.
  • Market your business. Learn about the 5 Ps of marketing to give your customers what they want.
  • Advertise your business. Promote your product or service and reach more customers through advertising.
  • Tools and software to market your business. Find the right tools and software to streamline your online marketing.

Market Research and Customer Insight

Research Your Market And Identify Your Small Businesses Targeted Customers

Decisions that are made from something other than a guess are the best kind. In order to deliver powerful research, insights and tangible outcomes you first need to be focused on delivering against your great thinking and translating it into an actionable plan. It’s what will set you apart from their competition.

If your new business is focused on launching and operating from true, researched, accurate and useful information, it’ll leave your competition for dead.
We know that many businesses and brands skimp on the ever important key insights of their audience and consumers. This is why you need to ensure their marketing activity has come from astute decision making in the research and insight phases prior to any investment in campaigning and project execution.

Simply put, a market insight is the discovery of a relevant, actionable and previously unrealised reality about a target market as the result of deep, subjective data analysis. The goal of insight in marketing — especially when marketing a previously unused or unknown innovation — is to benefit both parties, meeting your target audience’s true needs and wants while simultaneously profiting. In other words, the best market insights offer value for both the seller and the companies in need of the innovation.

It’s important to note that market insights is not to be confused with data, knowledge or general feedback. While data has the potential to become an insight, data alone is simply numbers — only a real, breathing, thinking human can turn such knowledge into an insight. Marketing insights reveal results that represent consumer’s deep beliefs, feelings or behaviours. This links marketers to consumers by supplying essential information to solve marketing challenges and help with marketing decisions.

Identify Your Target Market

Identifying and understanding your customers is an essential part of your business and marketing plan. Not everyone is your potential buyer, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of your target market early on. Learn how to analyse your market and define your customer segments.

A target market is a group of potential customers that you identify to sell products or services to. Each group can be divided into smaller segments. Segments are typically grouped by age, location, income and lifestyle. Once you’ve defined your target audience, you’ll find it easier to determine where and how to market your small business.

For your small business to thrive you need to know who your customer is. Knowing your customers will help you to target customers who are willing to pay for your product or service. This is a much more effective and affordable way to reach your customers and generate business. You’ll be wasting resources if you aim too broadly, or find out too late that there aren’t enough customers for your product or service.

By understanding your market you can promote your product or service more effectively to the right customer group. You will know:

  • Where they are.
  • Which media channels they use.
  • What their buying habits are.
  • How to tailor your marketing to motivate them to buy your product or service.

To define your target market effectively you’ll need to do some research. Gathering statistics and other market research data helps you to understand your potential customers and their needs and make better marketing decisions.

Market research is the process of determining the viability of a new service or product through research conducted directly with potential customers. Market research allows a company to discover the target market and get opinions and other feedback from consumers about their interest in the product or service.

Market research is a valuable tool for all small businesses. It can help you to understand your market, including potential customers and their needs. Learn how to research your market, including goods and services, customers and your competitors.

Market research helps you to understand your customers and their needs, as well as what your competitors are doing.

This understanding can help you to better focus your marketing efforts, make informed decisions about your business and make the most of opportunities. It’s important to make sure market research is part of your ongoing small business plan and daily operations.

Below are the top 7 steps for researching your market for your small business.


You can waste a ton of time researching things that are not relevant, or end up in rabbit holes studying areas that might not ever be relevant to your small business. Four common types of market research techniques include surveys, interviews, focus groups, and customer observation.

  • Your market research should cover your:
  • Customers.
  • Competitors.
  • Product or services.
  • Suppliers.
  • Business location and local area.
  • Industry and market trends.


There are both primary and secondary methods of research you can use to conduct your market research. Primary research involves gathering information yourself first-hand. Secondary research uses information and data that has already been collected and analysed by others. Before you embark on gathering first-hand information about your market, you can use research that has already been done. For example, look for market reports, government statistics, and trade and industry association publications.


Work out if your market is large enough and accessible. Then segment the market into groups of buyers with similar preferences and buying habits. For example, the athletic shoe industry is broken up into several segmented groups – first by gender, then by the activity or sport.

Once you’ve identified your market segments, you can define your ideal customer for each segment.


Your target audience once defined should isolate specific groups of consumers who most likely want your products or services, and therefore, the group of people who should see your ad campaigns. Target audience may be dictated by age, gender, income, location, interests or a myriad of other factors.

To define your target customers, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who your customers are?
  • Are your target customers male or female?
  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their marital status?
  • Do they have children? How old are their children?
  • What is their education level?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What is their average income?


Customer Interests and Buying Habits

  • What motivates a customer to make a purchase?
  • What are your customers’ common interests?
  •  Who makes the buying decisions?
  • How often do they purchase a product?
  • Do they shop online or prefer to see their product before they buy?
  • How long does it take them to make a buying decision?
  • What form of media does your target rely on for information?
  • How far do they travel to make a purchase?
  • What other products do they buy?

Then target your marketing efforts to explain how your product and service will fit into their lifestyle and how it best meets their needs.


Testing your business idea with customers can give you an idea of how successful it might be. You can do this by talking to people about your idea and seeking their feedback on your product or service. This could be through direct contact, surveys, focus groups or social media polls.

You may also consider a test run or pilot test of your product or service with a small number of clients to fine tune your idea. This will help work out if your idea is viable, find any problems, develop a price for your product or service, and see how quickly your business might grow. This may help you identify where your products or services fit in the market and how they differ from your competitors.

You can also work out your product or services:

  • Positioning – whether your products or services are high-end, competitive or a low- cost alternative to the products or services offered by your competitors. Read more on positioning your business.
  • Anticipated demand – the amount of products or services your customers are likely to purchase from you. For example, how much will an individual customer buy in 6 months or 12 months?


Ways to collect customer data include emails, online surveys, interviews, and even talking directly to your customers. You can discover:

  • What their needs are.
  • What they’re willing to pay for different products.
  • The anticipated demand for your products.
  • Finding out how your customers think and behave (including their likes and dislikes) can also help you better target your marketing activities.


If you’ve been in business for a while, you may already have the tools and information on customers to use in your research.  Check your:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) database.
  • Customer loyalty or reward program information.
  • Point of sale (POS) system and sales records.
  • Inventory management system.
  • Records of customer complaints, feedback or suggestions.
  • Reports on customer service benchmarks and targets.
  • Website statistics and traffic.


If your research shows that your customers are looking for an affordable, family-friendly restaurant, your business could cater to that need. Marketing is about working out what problems your business or product can help solve.


You can collect data on your competitors through:

  • Observing their advertisements and sales.
  • Observing businesses in your industry and area through trade magazines, general advertising or site visits.
  • Networking.
  • The internet, including websites, blogs and other social media.

You can use this competitor data in your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT) analysis when you develop your marketing plan. Analysing your competitors can also help you understand where your business or products fit in the marketplace.

Questions to ask when researching your competitors. Consider the following:

  • Who are your competitors?
  • What do they offer their customers?
  • Where are they located?
  • What marketing strategies do they use?
  • How do they communicate with their customers?
  • Do they have an online or social media presence?


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is Australia’s official statistical agency and provides a wide range of economic and social statistics that provides free data that you can use for your market research on a range of topics.


State and territory specific statistics. Government statistics by topic:

State And Territory Specific Statistics



  • NSW statistics – find ABS statistics on population, education, employment, income, family and households.


  • NT statistics – find ABS statistics on population, education, employment, income, family and households.


  • Market and customer research – advice from the QLD Government’s business website about market research.
  • QLD statistics – find ABS statistics on population, education, employment, income, family and households.
  • Queensland Governments Statistician’s Office (QGSO) – the Queensland Government’s statistical and economic agency provides a range of demographic, economic and social data.


  • SA statistics – find ABS statistics on population, education, employment, income, family and households.


  • Tasmania statistics – find ABS statistics on population, education, employment, income, family and households. Statistics and services – Business Tasmania’s guide to statistics and services tools.
  • Tasmania’s export statistics – information on the export of goods from Tasmania using trade statistics.


  • MyVictoria – an interactive map that provides demographics, industry data, facilities, upcoming projects and building activity to help plan your business.
  • Victoria statistics – find ABS statistics on population, education, employment, income, family and households.
  • Where to find statistics – statistical sources to help you understand your customers and industry.



  • WA statistics – find ABS statistics on population, education, employment, income, family and households.
  • Market research – how to do market research from the Small Business Development Corporation.
  • Small business statistics – business-related statistics on small business in WA.

Positioning Your Business

Thinking about all your small business activities can help you to position your business, and your products or services in the market. Positioning assists in establishing your product’s or service’s identity within the hearts and minds of your targeted customers.

A company’s positioning strategy is affected by a number of variables related to customers’ motivations and requirements, as well as by its competitors’ actions.

Learning the 5 P’s of marketing will help build your small business brand and target your customers’ needs. It doesn’t mean you have to complete a marketing degree or a short TAFE course though it will help in understand the broader objectives and an important element in running a small business.

Marketing And Position

Marketing aims to build your brand and business. It can help you to reach your customers, attract new ones and increase your profit. But before you plan your marketing, you need to have a clear idea of your small business’s position in the market.

Positioning Your Business

Positioning is your small business niche or how you want your customers to think about your products or services. For example, is your business a budget choice for families? Or do you offer more high-end services?

Positioning helps you to be clear and focused in your marketing efforts. It shows what your business does, who you do it for and why you’re different from your competitors.

You can use key features such as your location, your experience or packaging, to position your small business. For example, a home-based accountant might use their international experience to position themselves as an up-market service provider.

The 5P’s Of Marketing

Once you have a clear idea of your positioning, you can use the 5P’s of marketing to reach your target market. Working your way through each of the P’s can help you identify areas of your business you can change or improve on – to meet your targeted customers’ needs.

Product refers to what you are offering as a whole. What exactly are you selling to your customers? This includes the value added features, branding and packaging as well as service and warranty terms. For example, if you’re a jewellery maker who is looking to grow your business, you might think about giving your customers a free gift wrapping service as an incentive to buy from you.

Price refers to the way you set prices for your products or services. It generally includes all the parts that make up your overall cost, including the advertised price, any discounts, sales, credit terms or other payment arrangements or price matching services you offer.

Your pricing will also depend on your business’s position in the market. For example, if you advertise your business as a budget car rental service, your pricing should reflect that choice. If you’re looking to grow your business, consider if your pricing reflects your positioning.

Promotion refers to all the activities and methods you use to promote your small business and products. This includes sales, public relations, direct marketing and advertising. For example, if you’re growing your sports management business, you might add sponsorships to your marketing mix to help promote your business. Your promotional strategy will be part of your marketing plan.

Place refers to how you deliver your product or service to your customers. This might include the physical location (such as a shopfront, online or a distributor), your delivery methods and how you manage your stock levels. For example, you could choose to provide your product from a shopfront, over the internet or through a distributor.

If you’re looking to grow your small business, you might consider changing or expanding the way you sell your products and services. For example, if you’re a homewares distributor, you might think about setting up a new store in a different location or offering franchises. Or you might consider setting up an online website to supply other businesses.

People refers to you, your staff and your customers. This covers customer service, as well as communication and training for your staff. For example, if you’re thinking of expanding your business online, you’ll need to think about:

  • How your customers use the internet.
  • How comfortable would they feel purchasing your goods online.
  • Whether they’d be willing to pay shipping costs for your products.
  • If your staff have the skills to manage a website.
  • If you need to provide further staff training.

Develop Your Brand Marketing Plan

The purpose of a marketing plan is to write down your tactics and strategies in a neat and simplified format. This will assist in keeping you on track, and measure the success of your marketing efforts.

Writing a marketing plan can help you define your marketing strategy and identify the best activities and channels to market your products or services. A marketing plan should be a strategic plan that small businesses use to organise, manage and track their marketing strategy over a given period of time.

While marketing plans can include separate marketing strategies they should all work toward the same business objectives.

Why You Need A Plan For Your Brand?

When the brand is strong, it provides the small business a hard working autonomous sales engine that communicates the values and offers to your audience.

When a brand is strong it is said to have equity the business can leverage. Brand equity refers to a value premium that a company generates from a product with a recognisable name when compared to a generic equivalent.

In the marketing sense brand equity is the social value of the brand name. So here any small business that intends on sticking around for a few business cycles should look to create a brand that builds brand equity quickly/

The owner of a well-known brand name can generate more revenue simply from brand recognition, as consumers perceive the products of well-known brands as better than those of lesser-known brands. When a company has positive brand equity, customers willingly pay a high price for its products, even though they could get the same thing from a competitor for less.

Advertising Your Australian Small Business

Advertising is an effective way to promote or sell your product or service. Understand the benefits of different advertising types, what to include in your advertisements, and your legal obligations. There are numerous reasons why you need to promote your small business, though the primary one is to inform the public about what you can offer them. You need to let the public know that you can provide a solution with your products and services. You have to establish communication with the public in order for your business to survive.

Benefits Of Advertising

Advertising is a marketing activity that can help you to reach out to potential customers and encourage them to buy your products or services. An effective advertising campaign can help you to:

  • Increase customer reach.
  • Build customer awareness of your business and brand.
  • Promote the benefits of your products or services.
  • Communicate information about your business.
  • Increase sales and demand.
  • Gain an advantage over your competitors.

What To Include In Your Advertisements

For your advertising to be successful you need to set yourself apart from your competitors and grab your audience’s attention. Identify your target market and tailor your message to connect with those customers. When creating your ad:

  • Use a powerful headline.
  • Tailor your message to suit your target audience.
  • Talk about the benefits of your products or services.
  • Have a call-to-action for the audience to take.
  • Use exciting images and testimonials if relevant.
  • always deliver on what you promise.

16 Types Of Advertising

Examples of advertising media include:

  1. Digital advertising
  2. Websites
  3. Social media
  4. Facebook
  5. Instagram
  6. LinkedIn
  7. Pinterest
  8. TikTok
  9. Google Search and Display Ads
  10. Email Marketing
  11. Television
  12. Radio
  13. Print (for example, in specialist magazines read by your target audience)
  14. Cinema advertising
  15. Billboards and transit signs
  16. Door-to-door sales

With a range of choices, finding the best advertising mix for your business can be challenging. The advertising you choose should be considerate to your business and your budget, and most importantly the types of media your target audience accesses.

For example, social media may be a free or low-cost way to advertise, but is used differently across different age groups. Make sure your target audience accesses your advertising platform. You may benefit from using a mix of media.

Digital Marketing And Advertising

Digital advertising allows you to reach a larger target audience, all over the world, 24 hours a day. You can focus your efforts on your ideal buyer and build a community around your product or service. You can reach your customers and your customers can engage with you in a two-way format. Some digital options include:

  • Social media advertising.
  • Mobile app advertising.
  • Email marketing.
  • Online promotion through website banner ads, display ads, keywords and video.

With digital advertising, you can:

  • Track your customers
  • Analyse their buying behaviour
  • Customise your message to their preferences.

Executing What Is In Your Marketing Plan

Having a clever marketing strategy is great if you use it, though often a marketing plan or brand strategy gets left as a dusty top draw file and forgotten about once the business wheels start turning and the day to day activities take control.

Once you’ve established a firm sense of direction honour the original thinking and stick to the course. It won’t happen overnight but it will work over time, patience is key.

A business strategy outlines the direction in which you want your company to travel. It plays a vital role in establishing realistic goals and objectives that are in line with the businesses vision and mission statements. The business strategy provides you with a concrete foundation from which your company can grow, analyse its success and set up the framework for efficient decision-making. So believing in it and sticking to it is something that really needs to be driven through week on week to all business owners and staff members who will use the marketing plan.

All business owners would aim to be proactive in their decision-making rather than reactive, and a great marketing plan will provide the right guidance for anyone involved in marketing to be proactive. If you’re attempting to increase your company’s market share, a small business strategy will dramatically impact the way your company makes crucial decisions in regards to market trends, technological advancements, and unfavourable scenarios.

Even though you might be starting up as a small business, a successful business strategy will work towards increasing its market share and ideally its profitability. Knowing that a business marketing strategy will provide – your company with valuable insights on market trends, customer segments, your products & services, market position and potential market opportunities. This information allows you to be more strategic in your sales and marketing efforts that in turn can help to increase your small businesses bottom-line.

A key behavioural element in what a good marketing and business strategy will do is create longevity around the broader plan and longer term goals. Day in and day out it’s easy to lose focus and drift towards opportunities or concepts that are immediately presented. With a solid marketing plan executing it will take weeks and months, and ideally the team involved in driving this through need to be aware its the long play made up of short games.

A business strategy plays an important role in identifying unique selling propositions (USP’s), and if the marketing plan is dynamic enough, executing it will allow key stakeholders to embrace it and put their own signature on some of the tasks within while executing it. USP’s are points of difference for your business that help to elevate your business above your competition, so let your team and yourself drive them through the business via their own unique style too where appropriate.

Creating a digital business strategy can set you up for an effective online presence, regardless of what web options you choose. A digital strategy:

  • Outlines what you want to achieve using digital technologies, and how you hope to achieve it.
  • Involves thinking about what your goals are and deciding how to achieve them.
  • Clearly defines responsibilities.
  • Provides a road map for your business’s future.
  • Gives you control of your business success.

Ideally, while it seems a little harsh, small business can benefit early on from thinking about trading human labour for software and technology. A small Business has time as the most valuable thing you’ve got to manage, so the digital business strategy should include project management and workflow softwares that either do the job of a human, or increase the efficiencies of the humans doing tasks.

The software will cost money, but humans are way more expensive and over time the bottom line won’t lie. Its wise to build in an annual financial assessment of recurring costs and software subscriptions versus the human labour costs associated for doing the same tasks.




Software and Technology for Your Small Business

Online Tools & Software To Market Your Small Business

Learn about the digital tools and software available that can support your online marketing goals. Marketing tools and platforms can help you conduct your online promotion and retailing. By streamlining how you deliver targeted messages to your customer, it can help you achieve your small business goals.

These tools and platforms can help you:

  • Retain customers.
  • Keep customers and clients up to date.
  • Track your customers’ purchasing behaviours.
  • Personalise messages to your customers.

The type of platform and tool you use will depend on what you want to achieve.

Communicating by email is almost instantaneous, which enhances communications by quickly disseminating information and providing fast response to customer inquiries. It also allows for quicker problem-solving and more streamlined business processes.

A CRM allows small businesses to become more efficient by organising and automating certain aspects of the business. From sales processes to marketing campaigns and business analytics as well as customer data, CRM automates and streamlines these processes for businesses.

Cloud file storage is a method for storing data in the cloud that provides servers and applications access to data through shared file systems. This compatibility makes cloud file storage ideal for workloads that rely on shared file systems and provides simple integration without code changes.

File transfer is the process of copying or moving a file from one computer to another over a network or internet connection. It enables sharing, transferring or transmitting a file or a logical data object between different users and/or computers both locally and remotely. This is a great way to alleviate email from carrying cumbersome and heavy email attachments that bog down email and fill up IMAP servers.

Workflow management software is an advanced platform that provides flexible tools to improve the way you work. It gives you the ability to create and optimise workflow in an ideal way, find redundant tasks, automate work processes, identify potential areas of improvement, and achieve new levels of efficiency.

Project management software is useful because it helps you keep track of tasks and see them against the backdrop of the entire project. You will better be able to see how they relate to the bigger picture and how they affect other tasks that have yet to be done, become a work in progress, or completed.

Email marketing systems are platforms that can help you send and schedule emails to you customers. You can use them to send emails advertising your products or services or to keep your customers informed of company updates and other news.

Use an email marketing system to help you:

  • stay connected to your customers.
  • target email messages to specific groups of demographics of your customer base. • measure the success of your email campaigns with in-built analytics.

Marketing automation software platforms can help your marketing team be more efficient. They can allow you to market through multiple channels at the same time and automate repetitive tasks.

You can send out and track all your marketing messages from the one platform. You can use them for:

  • Email campaigns.
  • Social media.
  • Websites.
  • Text messages.

Through a marketing platform, you can automate your marketing message to send at a specific time on a specific platform. You can also use them to create a more targeted experience for your customers, such as sending out messages to customers on their birthday.

By having all your platform data and information in the one place, you can be more effective when speaking to your customer and maintaining your brand.

Social Media Management Systems

A social media management system allows you to manage all your social media platforms from the one place. It will help you maintain consistency when speaking to your audience on each channel.

You may also be able to schedule social media posts ahead of time and then analyse the effectiveness of your posts. You can use both these features to help you better plan your social media communication.

Through a marketing platform, you can automate your marketing message to send at a specific time on a specific platform. You can also use them to create a more targeted experience for your customers, such as sending out messages to customers on their birthday.

By having all your platform data and information in the one place, you can be more effective when speaking to your customer and maintaining your brand.


A social media management system allows you to manage all your social media platforms from the one place. It will help you maintain consistency when speaking to your audience on each channel.

You may also be able to schedule social media posts ahead of time and then analyse the effectiveness of your posts. You can use both these features to help you better plan your social media communication.

Digital Marketing

There are a lot of different definitions of digital marketing. Simply put, digital marketing is any form of marketing products or services that involves electronic devices. Digital marketing can be done both online and offline. At a high level, digital marketing refers to advertising delivered through digital channels such as search engines, websites, social media, email, and mobile apps.

Essentially, digital marketing is a comprehensive network of strategies operating simultaneously to achieve a common goal. There may be several digital marketing campaigns running and each of these may serve a totally different purpose. Even though each of these campaigns may be working across a variety of platforms ultimately they would all be attempting to achieve a common goal set by the marketer.

Depending on your type of business will determine what strategies are implemented to work together to drive relevant traffic to a business (either online or off). The overall purpose of this traffic is to result in a sale and convert a one time visitor into a returning, loyal customer. Well structured campaigns may use any combination of a number of different digital marketing strategies.

Digital marketing allows businesses to see accurate results in real time. Traditional marketing methodologies such as print are difficult to estimate how many people actually saw your ad. Additionally, there’s no guarantee to know if that ad was responsible for any sales at all. On the other hand, digital marketing, provides you with the tools to measure the ROI of pretty much any aspect of your marketing efforts.

Social Media

Social media can help you to market your business and connect with your customers. On this page you’ll find out about the different options available, and the pros and cons of using social media.


Social media is online communication that allows you to interact with your customers and share information in real time. This can help you to reach your customers better, create online networks and sell and promote your products and services. It can be easy to get carried away when using social media for your business. It’s wise to tread carefully and be aware of both the pros and cons before you start.


Social media can help you engage with your customers and find out what people are saying about your business. You can also use social media for advertising, promotional giveaways and mobile applications.

  • Social media can help your business to:
  • Attract customers, get customer feedback and build customer loyalty.
  • Increase your market reach, including international markets.
  • Do market research and reduce marketing costs.
  • Increase revenue by building customer networks and advertising.
  • Develop your brand.
  • Exchange ideas to improve the way you do business.
  • Recruit skilled staff for example through job networking sites like LinkedIn.
  • Increase traffic to your website and improve its search engine ranking.
  • Keep an eye on your competitors.


Social media may not be suited to every business. If you are unprepared and launch your social media presence without planning, you could waste valuable time and money.

You should be aware that:

  • If you don’t have a clear marketing or social media strategy, the benefits may be reduced
  • You may need additional resources to manage your online presence.
  • Social media is immediate and needs daily monitoring.
  • If you don’t actively manage your social media presence, you may not see any real benefits.
  • You may get unwanted or inappropriate behaviour on your site, including bullying and harassment.
  • Online exposure could attract risks such as negative feedback, information leaks or hacking.
  • False or misleading claims made on your social media (by your business or a customer) can be subject to consumer law. You could be fined if a customer fan posts misleading or deceptive information, particularly about competitor products or services.

Whatever the risks, having a social media strategy and preparing your policy and procedures carefully beforehand can help you manage them.

Social Media Tools For Business

Not all social media platforms will be right for your business. Consider saving save time and effort by using social media tools that your customers use. Below is a brief guide to help you understand some of the options available.

Social networking sites allow you to create your own profile or page, network with others and share information (including promotions, images and video). Creating a business profile can help you to attract followers, get new customers and develop your brand. Examples of social networking sites include Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Job networking sites can be used to build a professional business profile and connect with networks of skilled people for recruitment and development. An example is LinkedIn.

Blogs are online journals of thoughts, observations, promotions, links, images and videos. Blogs are typically public. They allow readers to comment on posts and interact with you. You can host them in-house or through a blogging platform that provides the software and website hosting. Some examples of free blogging tools include Blogger and WordPress.

Micro-blogs are used to send short messages to a network of followers. They can be useful if your business has a lot of information to share. Examples include Twitter and Tumblr.

Video sharing sites let you upload and share your videos. Users can then comment on and share your videos with others. Examples include YouTube and Vimeo.

Podcasts are audio files with blog-style or lecture-style content. Vodcasts are podcasts in video format. They are usually available either for download onto a computer or portable device (so it can be played offline) and streamed live.

Social-news communities are websites where members share interesting news or links to others in the community. Social-news
websites are not intended for selling your products and services. Examples include Digg, StumbleUpon or Reddit.

Private social network services allow you to share information in your private network. This is useful for businesses that want to develop a secure organisation-only network to share knowledge. An example is Yammer.

Location-based services helps you connect and interact with other people and businesses in your area. Foursquare- is an example that also enables you to recommend or rate businesses in that area.

Create Your Social Media Strategy

  • Doing the groundwork before you start is critical to a successful social media presence. By developing your social media strategy you’re able to:
  • Create compelling content.
  • Engage with your customers at the right time.
  • Generate sales.
  • A social media strategy describes how your business will use social media to achieve its communications aims. It also outlines the social platforms and tools you’ll use to achieve this.
  • Dedicate a budget to Facebook ads?
  • Consider building content and paid social media marketing via Instagram ads

Follow your strategy and don’t overwhelm your customers with unnecessary posts. Remain focused on reaching your specific goals and tailor your messages around these.




Set Up A Business Website

With a broad range of information, products and services available online, having a website means you won’t be left behind.

Understand the benefits of having a website and follow our steps to set up your business website. Follow our steps for the basics on developing a business website.

Having a business website allows you to display details of your products or services and get your brand out to your audience. It can become your shop front, available to customers all over the world.

A website can be important to your business’s success and growth. Some of the benefits of having a website for your business may include:

  • Giving your business a digital shopfront.
  • Allowing your business to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Reaching a global audience.
  • Helping your customers to access your products or services anywhere, anytime.
  • Using it for marketing to sell and promote your products and services.
  • Increasing customer engagement.
  • Creating or enhancing your brand and reputation.
  • Improving your business productivity and efficiency.

It’s important to do your research before you develop a business website. Choose an option that is useful and targets your products and/or service. To stand out from other businesses, you’ll also need to find a way to make your online presence unique.


If you want to be able to sell your products or services online, then you’ll want to invest in a website with an e-commerce platform. If you just want a website that tells your customers where you are and what products or services you offer, then a basic website or a blog might be suitable.


A relatively straightforward way to build a basic website is to use a free package that gives you a template design and a web content management system (CMS). If you want to build a more complex website, you’ll need to hire a web professional.


A good blog should provide:

  • Useful and engaging content for your customers.
  • A positive image for your business.
  • A bit like a journal, a blog is usually updated regularly. Most successful blogs consist of a regular flow of new, relevant posts to get people coming back.

4. Pick And Register Your Domain Name

As part of going online, you’ll need to choose a web address, or domain name. It’s worth spending some time considering this decision – your domain name is an important promotional tool. To make sure your customers know you are an Australian business you can register a domain with the .au extension. If you’d like to buy your domain name today you can simply click here to go to COG Domains and here you can purchase your very own domain name.

5. Choose A Web Hosting Service

You’ll need a web hosting service, choose one based on your business needs. To be publicly available, a website needs to be stored on a server that is constantly connected to the internet. If you’re using a third party’s pre-made website template and CMS, they may have web hosting packages you can choose from. For assistance with website and email hosting simply visit COG Branding hosting partners for further information. 

6. Build Your Website

When building your website, there are a number of things to consider. These include:

  • Understanding your customers and how they’ll use your website.
  • The website design and usability.
  • Making your website accessible.
  • Making your website mobile friendly.
  • Your search ranking.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is the set of techniques used to help search engines find, understand and rank your website against similar websites. There are different factors that can help your website rank well. Find out how using keywords and meta description tags can improve your search ranking.

You may want to learn how SEO can help small business, put simply SEO will create domain equity in your website and ensure it is worth ore tomorrow than it is today. Above all when done well it ensures your website is found for free by your customers. 

7. Launch Your Website

It’s important to test your website before you launch. This ensures your customers can easily navigate around it and successfully buy your products or services.
When you are ready to go live, let your customers know that you are launching your new website. Encourage customer feedback to help you improve your site once it’s live.

Other Online Channels

If you’re not ready to commit to a website or don’t have the budget to hire an expert, here are some useful tools your business can use to connect to your customers online:

  • Social media platforms.
  • E-marketplaces.
  • Online directories, such as business or suppliers’ directories.

Buying and Selling Online With E-Commerce

Taking your business online whether that’s creating a website, blogging or social media, can mean new opportunities and benefits for your business. Understand the basics of buying and selling online.

People today have more access to information and a broader range of products and services online. By having a web presence means your business won’t be left behind. It can help you increase your engagement, grow your customer base, and provide you with a competitive edge.

Using E-Commerce

Buying and selling online is known as e-commerce (electronic commerce), online trading or online shopping. Sometimes e-commerce can also involve a good or service being traded for another good or service. As a business, you could offer e-commerce on websites, social media and mobile apps (often known as ‘in-app’ purchasing).

With e-commerce you can accept payment for your products or services online. Check our information on how to buy and sell online if you decide on an e-commerce website. You may want this type of website to supplement your physical shop, or as your only point of sale.

Benefits Of E-Commerce

Having an online presence can provide a range of new opportunities and benefits for your business. E-commerce can:

  • Allow your business to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Allow your customers to be able access your products or services anywhere, anytime.
  • Help you market your products and services.
  • Increase customer engagement.

It’s important that businesses do their research before creating an online presence to ensure they choose an option that is useful and targeted to their business product.

Options For Taking Your Business Online

Some of the options for going online are:

  • Creating a website for your business.
  • WooCommece WordPress.
  • Shopify.
  • Big Commerce.
  • Magento.
  • Opening up an online shop or store, or trading in an online marketplace.
  • Blogging.
  • Using social media to reach and communicate with your customers.
  • Using digital media channels, such as video hosting sites.

It’s important you do your research before creating your online presence to ensure you choose an option that is useful and targeted to your product or service. Each online option has pros and cons. Consider the goals of your business, your business model and what you sell, before you decide which approach is best for you.


Online directories may suit your business if you just want to list your business’s contact details online. It also allows you to promote your business in an online space where your potential customers already are.


Social media can be an important part of your online presence if one of your key requirements is to promote your brand and business. The different channels can help you engage with your customers, generate conversation and may improve your chances of building customer loyalty.


E-commerce platforms provide a way for you to sell your products online and can have a range of features like inventory management and analytics. If your goal is to sell products online, joining an online marketplace may meet that requirement without the need to create your own ecommerce website.


A website can be a useful way your business can be discovered. Websites come in different types, each serving different functions. If you want to sell products or services online, an e-commerce platform may work for you. If you want a website to inform your customers where you’re located and what products or services you supply then a brochure website might be the right fit.

There is a wide range of website builders and choosing the right one can be difficult. Understanding your business is an important step in selecting the right website builder.

Checklist For Business E-Commerce

If your business offers products or services online, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do consumers need specialised software or hardware to trade with you?
  • Are contract terms for purchases clear, accurate and easily accessible by consumers?
  • Have you taken appropriate steps to protect consumers’ privacy?
  • Have you provided consumers with payment mechanisms that are easy to use and offer appropriate security?
  • Are consumers informed about any specific laws or jurisdiction applicable to transactions with your business?

Marketing Your Products

Marketing strategies are a common part of many business plans. However, marketing your product or service over the web can be quite different. Even if you’re experienced in business, it’s important to do further research into successful online marketing techniques.

The core intent of eCommerce marketing is to drive awareness and action toward the product so a user can checkout easily. A eCommerce marketing strategy will use social media, digital content, search engines, and email campaigns to attract visitors and facilitate purchases online.

Driving traffic to your online store is not easy, there is a science to it so you need to remain dedicated for the long haul. You can think about marketing your ecommerce site in terms of three main audiences. Start thinking about your various marketing actions and how you can manage your time and budget accordingly for each of these.

People who have shopped with you before or at least know about your store. For your first audience, people who know about you, you should have a direct line to them — either through email communications, content marketing or via social media. You can communicate with them directly and for “free” (not counting any budget you might spend on tools).

People who are looking for the kind of product that you offer. For your second audience, you’ll need to find ways for them to discover the products you have that meet their needs. This can involve search engine optimisation (SEO), content creation (like blogging) and search engine marketing.

People who would want the product that you offer if they knew about it. Here you’ll need to think in terms of brand awareness.

Are you offering a fix for a problem they don’t know about yet? Or is your target audience using a competitor’s solution? The answers will have an impact on how you approach your marketing. Once your store is set up, you can start promoting your site to your existing customer base via the numerous digital methods outlined in the guide.


Now, Go Start Your Business!

The business world might appear locked down from the outside but in reality it’s a lot more interesting than you might think. Many entrepreneurs are known for being colorful characters, both at work and in their personal lives. Plenty didn’t even finish high school!

After all, following rules and staying inside the lines doesn’t often make for business success, there are no rules and in business you can choose how you want to move forward.

Each entrepreneur and business owner will likely start out putting in 100% effort to make their dream business a success.

Obviously hard work is not the only factor that contributes to a successful business, though it does most definitely help.

Small business is a large part of Australia’s economic ecosystem, and its also a great melting pot of cultures and characters.

Small Business can be a powerful force for good in the world and we encourage you to kick things off with an open mind, goodwill in your heart and fortune in your steps. There are so many great examples of businesses who have giving as part of their DNA and remember while money is an obvious factor in business, every decision and focus shouldn’t always be about it. Life is too short to be totally driven by the dollar.

Consider relationships and the business life you want to lead, and follow a path that is balanced and harmonious, you don’t ever want to create a business that is destructive to your personal life or family.

If you are committed to doing good in the world and equally committed to growing successful business then good luck will no doubt bounce your way. Australians are naturally driven by a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a solid work ethic, and our domestic business ecosystem is full of opportunity, so when opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to go after it.

Though if you don’t succeed, see it as a positive and not failure, simply because business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming!

Be the change you want to see in the world and write firmly when you’re leaving your signature.



Request Our Product Guide

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Examples of how our small business marketing expert team has supplied performance and growth solutions for Australia’s small business community.

Performance Paid Marketing

Bodyfit Social Media

This COG Branding case study delivers an insight to the results and methodology to Performance Paid Marketing on Social Media channels for the Bodyfit business and brand.

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Rentokil Initial New Product Launch Campaign

This COG Branding case study delivers an insight to the results and methodology to Art Direction and Brand Design across digital and print channels to support product launch campaigns for the Rentokil Initial business.

Brand Audit

Fiducian Brand Audit

This COG Branding case study delivers a summary for the Brand Audit of the Fiducian business and an insight into the process and methodology to auditing a brand.

Start something now, and tomorrow you’ll be 1 day further towards something you call your own. Contact COG Branding today for a free no obligation conversation.

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Our approach

Why Deloitte chose COG Branding as the marketing partner for the federal governments small business program.

The COG Branding vision for the future is clear, and we know what our clients need us to do. Our everyday consistency in problem solving, providing clear transparent value and remaining innovative is why our client partnerships are long lasting. By staying true to our purpose and ensuring value is at the core of our product and service suite, COG Branding makes our vision our reality.


+61 2 9523 6007


8A Cronulla Street
Cronulla NSW 2230

Free briefing

Schedule In With The COG Branding Team On Your Marketing Plans. We can discuss what you want to achieve, the broader vision and business objectives, available assets and how our solutions meet your requirements.


Leadership And Experience

COG Branding is led by Luke Sullivan. A dynamic Sydney-born professional with a diverse design and marketing career. Luke leads the Sydney branding agency as a knowledgeable and dynamic captain at the helm. With professional experience across numerous industries, Lukes’ leadership at COG Branding is brand aware and business considerate, which ensures that all brand and marketing briefs big and small, are driven through to commercial success.

The benefit of having a Managing Director with professional hands-on-the-tools experience ensures the transfer of real working knowledge throughout the agency. It also offers the COG Branding service offering great depth and an honest transparent value.

Small businesses can unlock great value from a Sydney branding agency by asking the right questions, fostering a positive working relationship, and seeking a partner who envisions their success. Together, we’ll create a powerful brand that paves the way for a prosperous future. Let’s embark on this exciting journey, hand in hand!