Small Business ResourcesStarting a Small Business GuideChecklist to starting a business in NZ


Checklist to starting a business in NZ

5 min read

So, you’re starting a business in New Zealand? In the early stages of business ownership, thorough research is central to ongoing success. That’s why creating a ‘starting a business’ checklist is the best way to ensure you don’t miss anything.

To assist you, we’ve created an easy ‘starting a business checklist’ for you to work through and help your fledgling business become a roaring success.

What is the first step before starting a business?

Before you plan your business idea, quit your job, seek financing, and start constructing a small business plan, there’s a few initial steps you should be taking.

  1. Viability:
    Run the numbers on how much your venture will potentially cost to run each month. Calculate how much you’d need to earn to cover debts and expenditure while maintaining adequate cashflow and profits.
  2. Market research:
    Undertake extensive research into your potential market and competitors. What is your target market? Is there enough money flowing through this industry for you to carve out a slice? Who will you be competing with and what threats do they pose to your profits? How have others gone to market in this space? Is there a high or low business failure rate in your intended market?
  3. Talk to a business advisor, bookkeeper, or accountant:
    Before you set sail with your new business idea, run your idea past a professional advisor (ideally with a business plan under your arm). They’ll identify issues and pin-point potential profit areas in your business idea and will generally have plenty of sage advice. They also excel at compliance work and will advise you of taxation concerns and matters you need to address with the IRD.

Choosing a business structure

What kind of business structure will you be adopting? Your primary choices are:

  • sole trader
  • company
  • partnership
  • non-profit

Each business structure comes with its pros and cons. To understand the difference between each business structure type and decide which ones work for you, visit the NZ Government’s business website here.

Create a business plan

You won’t get very far in business without a well fleshed out and thoroughly considered business plan. Your business plan will detail aspects of your venture such as target market, offerings, sales and marketing plans, financing, and budgeting.

To make this simple, we’ve taken the liberty of designing a small business plan template for you to download and fill out. Find our free business plan template here.

Plan your business finances

Planning your business finances is a crucial step in ensuring you can adequately fund your small business, especially in the early stages where you’ll need decent amounts of capital.

  1. Once you’ve written up a business plan you need to lay down an initial business budget for your start-up costs.
  2. You now need to meet these budgetary requirements with adequate financing. You should research and decide on the following:

Be certain of the terms of your chosen option, what the repayments are, and assess the risks of each type of financing.

For example, what happens if you miss a payment or default on your loan? What are the interest rates and potential assets required to secure this loan or line of credit?

Secure your business name

Do you have a fantastic business name in mind? It could be taken. To see if your intended business name is available in New Zealand, use the following government search function.

Someone else may be using your preferred business name, so have a few backup names. Ensure your business name is catchy, industry relevant, easily repeatable, and not offensive.

Registering a business (NZBN)

Before you can go any further with your business plan, you’ll need to become official by registering your business and receiving a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN). You cannot begin to legally trade without registering a business.

Register your New Zealand small business by visiting the NZ Government business website here and filling out your details.

Once registered, you may begin to build your business in earnest and think about delivering your products or services.

Register a domain

Now that you’ve secured a business name and registered for an NZBN, you should now be looking to register a web domain. As we know, your business may as well not exist if you don’t have a website that’s searchable and looks professional.

You’ll want to secure a web domain and adequately host this domain with a reputable provider.

Once this is complete, you can begin building a well branded and clean website, sometimes with the help of a web designer. You could go it alone with one of the many intuitive DIY website builders available. Options include Wix, Squarespace and WordPress to name a few.

Brand guidelines

In designing your website, logos, and other visual assets you should first create a brief brand guideline. This entails detailing your brand colours, fonts, logo sizes, image style and even writing style or brand voice.

By sticking to your brand guidelines and ensuring consistency, you’ll have professional looking assets and will inspire trust and recognition in the market. This will also help inform your marketing content.

Check for trademarks

Always check for trademarks before launching a product or brand. By claiming trademarks, patents, and copyrights, you’re ensuring you’re not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property. You’re also legally protecting yourself from another entity’s infringement on your own IP.

You can search trademarks in New Zealand here.

Review the business laws and regulations that apply to your business

Very importantly, you’ll need to ensure you have legal rights to trade in the way you intend and have secured the relevant licenses or permits that your business requires.

It’s recommended to consult with an advisor or legal professional.

Register for GST

If you’re turning over more than the GST threshold of $60,000 per annum (or expect to), you’ll need to register your business for GST.

You may also choose to voluntarily register for GST to make yourself seem like a larger entity, or because there’s value in collecting GST on your products or services.

To find out all about GST and how to register, visit the NZ Government’s GST webpage here.

Define your marketing strategies

How do you intend to bring your offerings to market? This is an important consideration and to approach this professionally, you should be drawing up a marketing plan.

Your marketing plan should have sections which cover:

  • budget
  • advertising
  • social media
  • promotional activity
  • partnerships
  • landing pages and calls to action
  • style and branding
  • content creation
  • marketing calendar
  • marketing tools
  • reporting and analytics
  • branding

Keep innovating

Keep innovating! Market and consumer trends always change, and your business should be the same.

Set aside time each year to re-assess the market. Look to experts in your field who can guide you or consult raw consumer data from dependable sources.

By keeping your finger on the pulse, you’ll stave off redundancy in your offerings and always stay ahead of the competition by responding to change early.

This may mean you offer new products or services, deliver them in new ways, enter new markets, retire product lines, or find new ways to market and sell your deliverables.

That completes our quick and easy ‘starting a business checklist. By now you should have all your formative ducks in a row, ready to start your small business in New Zealand.

Free starting a business guide

When you first start out in the Kiwi business world, there’s a lot of assumed knowledge you’ll need to absorb quickly.

Easy estimates The Estimates Workflow, available as part of the Invoices module in Reckon One, allows you to easily create and send estimates to your clients in real time. You are then able to track pending invoices against their expiry date, and convert the status of the estimate to an accepted, declined or closed invoice once the client responds.