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Getting into business

So you want to start a business? There are a few things you need to know before moving forward and truly starting your business journey.

The reality of starting and keeping a business alive isn’t something to take lightly.

You need to be prepared for all the things that can go right, and also all the things that can go wrong.

Be sure of yourself and speak to others

There are many questions that only you can answer and determine, are you ready to be in business?

To help you work it out, ask yourself and honestly answer our short list of questions.

Another early important part of considering a move into business is to sense check your business idea with others.

Develop your idea

You know what you want to do. Though to get things going, other people will also need to know.

Collect your thoughts and develop your idea, from where you’re thinking to do business, to finances and staffing.

Apply for permit assistance

With a mature business idea, you’re now in a great position to apply for free tailored preliminary information from us.

You can receive guidance on the types of permits and registration you may need, plus more by providing:

  • a business concept
  • details of the services offered and operational thinking
  • location
  • works

Receive support

Within a week of applying a business concierge officer will follow up with you and provide relevant preliminary information and arrange a time to meet.

Preliminary information includes:

  • guidance on the types of permits and registration you may need
  • details on the documentation and supporting information needed to lodge complete permit and registration applications
  • an indication of the aspects of your business idea that generally align with policy or could introduce complexity if you do apply for permits and registration
  • business planning or support services.

The choice is yours

You can carefully consider the next steps with your move into business. Equipped with our tailored advice, you’re in a better position to reconsider the details of your business idea and plan your next steps.

Are you ready?

Business or a hobby

If you’re not sure, Business Victoria explains the differences between a hobby and a business.

Motivation is important

Money aside, where does your drive to succeed in business come from?

Experience counts

What relevant education, experience, skills and certifications do you have that you can use?

What local courses can help you achieve business success?

Working under pressure

In small business you tend to wear multiple hats, on occasions this can be demanding on your free time and relationships – how do you feel about this?

What pressures are you under at the moment and can you anticipate any others looking ahead?

Accounting and finances

Financial planning is important in business, especially when you’re starting out.

Would you be able to do your own books or afford an accountant?


 What does success mean to you?

Can you define what a failed business looks like?

Do you have plans in place if your business fails?

Talk to people

You’re ready to be in business and have an idea in mind. Ideas come in all shapes and sizes, and an early important part of your move into business is to sense check your idea with others.

People are fundamental to any business, so it is important for you to have conversations and do research.

Think about speaking with:

  • your ideal customer, your target market
  • business operators of a similar nature
  • competitors
  • centre management and traders associations
  • mentors or professional associations in the area your business will operate in.

Our Banyule Business team are also here to help and can help point you in the right direction or possibly set you up with free business mentoring.

Business location

Location, location, location: it’s important to understand what will influence success for your business and the role location plays.

  • Shopping centres and main street frontage
  • Business to business focus: commercial or industrial precincts
  • Loading bay and freight access
  • Mobile business garage
  • Stock and storage

If you speak with property owners or agents, think carefully about commitments to enter into purchasing property or starting lease.

Learn from the experience of cafe operator Joanne and find out what can happen if you sign on the dotted line too early.

Negotiate time frames and modifying commitments, for instance:

  • add conditions akin to an exit clause in the case you’re not able to get relevant approvals to operate.
  • consider time frames and negotiating reduced or no-cost arrangements until you have a higher level of certainty your business will get off the ground.

Business planning

Business planning is a particularly important aspect to setting your business up and supporting it once it’s off the ground.

Getting a professional involved or doing the work yourself with experienced support should not be underestimated.

Business planning is an ongoing practice that is beneficial early on and to support your operations as it includes:

  • goals and actions
  • business structures, for instance a registered company, partnerships and sole traders
  • financial structures, loans, cash flow
  • staffing and employment
  • insurance
  • identity
  • marketing.

Business Victoria is an excellent reference for business planning and to help if you’re considering doing the work yourself.

Be mindful of avoiding unrealistic time frames and deadlines and add in buffer time to compensate for unforeseeable delays.

Working with government

There are many ways to work with government to start a business, some causing more challenges than others.

The next move to make is to get personalised permit information from us.

Experience in starting out

Learn from Joanne and her business partner who went all in to open a cafe in Ivanhoe.

Find out what it took Josh to open up his own gym in Banyule.

Contact us

Get in touch with us at any time as we know questions can come up at any step in your small business journey.

Which permit applies?

Permits and registrations are essential when it comes to business and we play a significant role across many types. Select the permit type to get an indication of when the specific type of permit is needed.

The list is not exhaustive and only considers the permits we are responsible for. Be mindful other government agencies may need to be involved to help you, for instance the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation.


You’re likely to need a planning permit because of:

Change of use and parking

Using the property for a type of business that differed from how it was most recently used. For instance using a shop front that previously operated as a butcher for use as an office.

Alternatively using the property in a way that may have impacts beyond the property boundaries. For instance not being able to cater for all parking demand on site.


Selling and serving alcohol.


Fixed signage on awnings, walls or even free standing signs.


Including extensions, new structures and changes to facades all need permits.

Business location plays an important part as heritage considerations will mean painting a wall will require a permit.


You’re likely to need a building permit because of:

Changing the inherent use (class) of a building

For instance, operating a café in a property that was previously used as an office.
Alternatively you might move a gym/training studio into a space that used to operate as a newsagency.

Learn from Joanne’s experience of starting a cafe about how significant this is.


  • Structural works within the building.
  • Alterations and extensions to the exterior of an existing building.
  • New buildings and free-standing structures.

Patron numbers

Where the number of people your business is likely to cater for at any one time is 20 or more.
This is important to help manage patron safety by considering risks of overcrowding and fire hazards.

This could significantly influence what you need to prepare and do to obtain a permit.


You will need to be registered under the Food Act and comply with the Food Standards Code because of:

Food and drink preparation, storage, service and selling

Examples of registrations include

  • Farmers market stall
  • Hairdressers offering a coffee to a patron
  • A bakery cafe serving the best smashed avocado.

Food and drink manufacturing

From chocolates to cheese, if you’re manufacturing it to consume then registration is for you.

Selling packaged food and drink

Milk bars to bottle shops packaged food and drinks need to be handled correctly.

No matter the location, home based, food truck/mobile based or otherwise – registration applies and must be renewed annually.

Health and wellbeing

Registration under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act is necessary for businesses operating in industries including:

  • Hairdressers
  • Make-up artists
  • Beauty therapy
  • Personal care
  • Skin penetration:
    Body piercing, tattooing, dry needling, electrolysis, ear piercing
  • Prescribed accommodation:
    rooming houses, hotels and motels

Local law

You will need a Local Law permit if your business operations will occupy the footpath or naturestrip.

Typical needs for this permit include:


  • Tables and chairs
  • Cafe barriers, weather shields and draw down awnings

Business promotion

  • A-frame signs
  • Displaying goods

To find out what specific permits you will need to get into business and what’s involved to apply for them, use our free small business permit assistance service to get free personalised permit information.