Nine steps to start a business on the Gold Coast

September 2015

The Gold Coast, Australia’s sixth largest city,  is in the midst of a transformation.

The economy has grown from its traditional roots in to knowledge-based industries; close to $13 billion is being invested into major infrastructure; and the current population of 540,000 people is projected to double by 2050.

Combine this with the city’s natural beauty and lifestyle (not available in most capital cities) and you start to see why many entrepreneurs have chosen to start their business here – close to 60,000 in fact.

For entrepreneurs looking to start a new business, we have compiled a step-by-step list of things to consider including a heap of free resources openly available to you – from business plan templates to research and statistics.

#1 – Set goals and build a plan

Time to start asking yourself a few important questions and making some decisions. Where do you want your business to be in one, five and 10 years and how are you going to get there?

A business plan is not just about mapping out the direction of your business; it is also a vital document for gaining finance and future business support.

The Australian Government’s Business portal  has extensive resources available to assist you.

How to write a business plan   |   Business Plan Template and Guide   |   MiBizPlan app

#2 – Experience and training

Do you have the relevant experience that you need to start your business? How will your existing skill set transfer to managing suppliers, customers and employees?

While you may be able to learn as you go, by having the right knowledge and experience from the outset, you can significantly minimise the risk of failure.

Find out if you have the right skills and experience with the business skills checklist and the training needs analysis.

The below list of Gold Coast based training organisations may have the right course for you. You could also try online webinars, blogs, local business events and targeted industry associations.

Griffith University  |   Bond University   |   Southern Gold Coast University   |   TAFE Gold Coast    |   Gold Coast Training College   |   EIM Training   |   Aurora Training Institute   |   People in Performance

For more study choices, visit Study Gold Coast.

#3 – Research the market

By doing your research you will be able to make better informed decisions and increase the chances of your business success.

It can be time consuming and difficult to find reliable information (that won’t cost you your first month rent) so we have compiled a list of free or reasonable priced resources.

Research and statistics:

Market Research Kit   |   Gold Coast – EconomyID   |   Australia’s Gold Coast research and statistics   |   Australian Bureau of Statistics

There is also a wealth of data available on tourism, education and employment through:

Department of Employment   |   Education Queensland   |   Tourism Research Australia   |   Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

#4 – Consider your finances

What will it cost to start your business and how will you finance this? Do you have the ability to fund your venture or will you need to seek additional financing? Once your business is up and running, how will you manage your finances? has extensive resources available to assist you:

Apply for finance   |   Understand the sources of finances   |   Manage your finances has a range of publications on personal and business finances:

Managing your money   |   Borrowing and credit   |   Money Management kit

#5 – Start networking

Networking is a big part of doing business in any city. Those that have mastered the art of networking tend to be more successful in their personal and professional endeavours.

The two key words of advice are ‘early and often’. This will help you to understand what is happening in the industry, share knowledge and ideas and meet prospective customers and suppliers.

Networking organisations on the Gold Coast:

Young Professionals Gold Coast   |   Founders Forum    |   Business Chicks   |   Institute of Business Leaders   |   BNI Gold Coast   |   Rostrum Gold Coast   |   Gold Coast Toastmasters   |   Women in Tourism   |   Early Risers   |    University Alumni – Bond, Griffith and Southern Cross

#6 – Establishing your business

There are a number of important considerations that you need to resolve before you actually establish your business – from business structure and name to licences and domain names. Getting this right from the start will ensure you avoid issues with tax, liability and profitability in the long run.

The business and industry ( portal has a section dedicated to establishing your business.

Key business considerations:

Decide on the business structure – seek advice from a business advisor or lawyer about what business structure is most suitable for you.

Search business name – check to see that your proposed name is available through a free search on IP Australia’s trademarks database.

Register business – business names need to be registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).

Licences and registration – make sure you are aware of and hold the correct licences and registrations to cover your business practices. The City of Gold Coast also has information about licencing and permits specific to the city.

Registering your business with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Trademark registration – if you have any intellectual property or trademarks, make sure you protect yourself by registering them.

Domain name search and registration – make sure you’ve figured out what the domain name of your website will be and secure it.

#7 – Know what support, grants and awards are available

One of the advantages of starting a business on the Gold Coast is the strong support that the City of Gold Coast provides. Additionally, Gold Coast businesses can access State and Federal support.

To get you started, we’ve outlined a few programs available to Gold Coast businesses and while you may not be eligible for an initiative right away, the criteria may provide insights into where to improve or grow your business long-term.

City of Gold Coast’s fully-funded Competitive Business and International Trade programs:

Growth Accelerator Program   |   Emerging Exporters Program   |   Export Assistance Scheme   |   International Trade and Investment Program

Tendering and procurement opportunities:

City of Gold Coast – LG Tender Box   |   Queensland Government – Qtenders   |   Australian Government – AusTender   |   Industry Capability Network

You may also wish to register for the Tendering for Government Business Workshop to increase your knowledge of the tender process.

Grant Finder is also a great resource that lists over 500 grants available across the three tiers of Government.

Another idea is to be aware and prepare for awards that recognise business’ success.

Relevant industry and local business and economic newsletters are also a good source of information.

#8 – Find the right premises for your business

There are many things to consider when deciding on the right location and premises for your business – foot-traffic, visibility, local demographics and accessibility.

As a business just staring out you may wish to consider the less risky option of a coworking space.

Read: Gold Coast Coworking Spaces

Many businesses make the mistake of just focusing on these things, and don’t take the time to understand the Local Government planning for the area which may uncover a range of opportunities.

We’ve included an overview of the strategic planning undertaken by the City of Gold Coast to assist you in selecting the right area for your business.  You should also make yourself familiar with the City’s Draft City Plan.

#9 – Brand and market your business

There is no point having the best idea in the world if nobody knows about it.

First things first: building a marketing plan that aligns with your business plan. This will help you establish your target market, how you will communicate with them and how you brand and position your business.

Start with the Marketing Plan Template and Guide.

There is no question that the world is moving online and that is where you may need to be also. Take a look at the Social Media Plan Template and Guide.

See Business Gold Coast for more resources about starting and growing a business on the Gold Coast.

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