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Five top reasons to start-up in 2013

Monday, 21 January | By Oliver Milman

feature-start-up-2013-thumbThe start of the year often sees a surge in new business launches, as plans mulled over throughout the year, fermented over Christmas, come to fruition.


There are many things that can delay or even wreck these start-up dreams, such as family circumstances, financial concerns or self-doubt.


Other external factors also come into play, such as the stance of potential suppliers or clients. And then there’s the economy, which, given the recent gloom over consumer spending and the long-term prosperity of the nation, you could be forgiven for finding a little off-putting.


But there are several reasons, generally speaking, why 2013 is the ideal time to start-up. Here are the top five reasons to take the plunge this year.



1. You probably aren’t happy in your job


Let’s face it, you aren’t overjoyed in your current role and think you could do a better job than your boss. Or you have a sideline passion that you want to explore more fully.


And you’re not alone. A report out last week from Seek Learning found that a quarter of Australians are planning a career change this year, while only half of Australia’s 11.5 million employees believe they are in the right line of work.


A further four in ten employees admit they ended up in their present career by “falling into it”. Only 5% said they chose their career because it would earn them a lot of money.


Not all of these disgruntled staffers want to be their own boss, of course. But those looking to start-up have an easier path than ever to go it alone – and they don’t even have to leave the day job.


Test out your business concept in your spare time – see if you can get some customers on board and listen carefully to their feedback. Adjust your model accordingly and take it from there.


Hopefully, it will grow to the point that you are faced with the dilemma of whether to keep the security of your job or take a leap into entrepreneurship.



2. You won’t be alone


Even sole operators with minimal help from family and friends can gather first-hand help and advice these days, without even having to speak to a formal mentor.


A slew of co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators have opened up across Australia in recent years and it’s clear this trend is still at the thin end of a thick wedge.


In places such as The Hub in Melbourne or Fishburners in Sydney, a modest outlay can get you a desk among other like-minded start-ups, all able to share something that will aid your new business.


Promisingly, several of these co-working hubs have purposely introduced different skillsets, such as lawyers and IT professionals, into the community, to cover off all the various hurdles faced by a start-up.


It can even help your fundraising efforts, although co-working spaces aren’t as big a help as incubators, unsurprisingly.


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3. The government is doing its bit


Entrepreneurs may grumble about the amount of red tape they have to deal with, but it’s fair to say that the federal and, indeed, some state governments haven’t been entirely hostile to start-ups.


There are grants such as those for clean energy and tourism, as well as help with research and development costs.


Commercialisation Australia is dispensing funding to promising start-ups after a pointless, politically-motivated freeze last year and the state governments are pitching in with some interesting initiatives, such as NSW’s Startup House.


On top of this, there’s the not insignificant matter of the economy – unemployment’s low, as are interest rates, the public debt is manageable and most other industrialised countries would want our rate of GDP growth.


Sure, the Australian government has no specific start-up plan – unlike the US or UK – and much of the focus still appears to be on the big end of town. But conditions, considering the continued turbulence caused by the GFC, could be far worse for budding entrepreneurs.



4. The cost doesn’t have to be prohibitive


The trend of falling technology costs isn’t a new one but it’s something that many start-ups will be able to take advantage of in 2013.


With little more than a computer and some website development and admin costs, you can get a business up and running.


Templates for terms of trade and shareholder agreement documents are readily available online for nothing, while the process of getting an ABN and registering your business name nationally is now pretty straightforward.


Free cloud-based applications such as Dropbox can store your data while several start-ups have found their best marketing campaigns have cost them next to nothing thanks to Facebook.


In short, unless you need a large amount of equipment or a big team, the cost of starting up is a diminishing barrier, especially if you’re able to work on your business in your spare time while earning a regular wage.


However, be aware that there are still hidden costs to launching your own business, as this checklist outlines.



5. Global markets await


Increasingly, your customers aren’t likely to be found just in the vicinity of your business. The internet allows you to sell to a global marketplace almost instantly.


You may want to go a step further and concentrate on a particular export opportunity. Not surprisingly, the most lucrative avenues are to be found in south-east Asia.


A report last week by workplace services provider Regus, found that 63% of Australian firms that export overseas have increased profits compared to just 36% of companies that trade domestically.


That doesn’t mean that the export opportunity is clear-cut – you still have to provide a quality product to customers looking for something a bit different.


“Australia is an expensive country so you’re not going to compete by selling low-value goods into other markets,” says Ian Murray, executive director of the Export Council of Australia. “To be successful, you need to position yourself at the premium end.”


“There’s a whole raft of areas you can get into, but you need to create quality products because you won’t be able to compete as a low-cost producer.”