Department of State Development

Once you have set up your business there are many on-going elements to consider, plan, manage, monitor and review in order to ensure business success.

To keep your business running smoothly, it’s important to regularly assess how your business is doing.

The following information provides a range resources and ‘how to’ guides to help you with your business finances, employment decisions and information on how to take your business online.

Topics in this section include:

Family Business

Family businesses are defined as businesses where two or more family members work in the business and share or expect to share ownership, and have a long-term preference to pass ownership to the next generation of family members.

There are approximately 53,000 family businesses in South Australia. They account for approximately two-thirds of all businesses in the state and employ approximately 55% of the private sector workforce (The Future of Family Business in South Australia, Dr Dennis Jaffe, SA Thinker in Residence, January 2008, p11).

Family businesses can range from small-to-medium size first generation business, to large, multi-generational ventures, from single-site businesses to complex entities that operate a number of businesses from a range of sites and locations. They can operate in every region and sector of the economy. This diversity within the family business sector further reinforces its significance and contribution to the State's economy. 

Resources and downloads

  • Visit Family Business Australia  to learn about access to specialist family, business and technical services and opportunities to network with fellow family business members.

Financial and legal obligations

At different stages of your business development you will need financial and legal advice.

You must be aware of laws that could impact upon your business operations including taxes, consumer protection, contract law, licences and permits, insurances, intellectual property (e.g. trade marks, patents, copyright, registered designs, plant breeder’s rights, original circuit layouts, goodwill etc.), bankruptcy and insolvency and legal issues associated with employment, business structures and property leases.

Businesses need capital to start, to operate and to grow. Planning for finance is important because it lowers the risk to the lender and allows you to ensure that as a business owner you can adequately manage and appropriately utilise the finance you obtain.

It is emphasised that the resources and tools on this website offer an overview only and you should seek professional legal and financial advice.

Resources and downloads

Staffing your business

Apart from your vision, drive, energy and managerial talents as a business owner, productive employees are perhaps your most valuable asset. But attracting, selecting, recruiting and retaining the right staff can be a major challenge in business.

There are several things to check before deciding to take on your first employee. A little homework will make things easier, cover all the legal aspects and help you to achieve your goal of increasing your productivity and profitability.

Laws change frequently, and as an employer, it is important that you understand and keep up-to-date with legislation to ensure you meet your obligations towards your employees.  You are therefore strongly advised to seek professional advice by consulting a legal advisor and a recruitment consultant.

Employee vs an independent contractor

It isn’t always easy to distinguish whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor and a number of matters should be considered when deciding.

Unlike employees, independent contractors run their own business (i.e. are self-employed) and hire out their services to other organisations. They negotiate their own fees and working arrangements and can also work for a variety of clients at one time. It is also known as subcontracting or contracting.

Employee and independent contractor entitlements and obligations differ in a variety of ways so make sure as an employer or an independent contractor that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities before contracting.

Resources and downloads

Managing suppliers and customers

You must understand, establish and maintain good relations with your customers and suppliers, without whom your business has no future. You need your suppliers to source and deliver vital raw materials, parts or merchandise in a timely manner and service your customers so that they keep coming back and be able to effectively manage and resolve complaints when they arise.

Your supply chain model should be carefully assessed and not just revolve around pricing.  If you have just one supplier, a good relationship forged can ensure consistent quality, simpler ordering, inventory management and accounting procedures and may prove easier to negotiate discounts/ trade credit and rush priority orders through.  However, you need to consider the implications to your business should a serious problem arise.  Alternatively, having multiple suppliers can offer a form of insurance and the advantage of price competitiveness.  Whatever strategy you adopt, it is good practice to review the relationship with all your suppliers on a regular basis.

Quality customer service is about exceeding the expectations of your customers, valuing those with whom you do business and developing ongoing relationships with them.  Satisfied customers will not only continue to buy your goods or services but are also likely to recommend your business to others.  Customer service can sometimes be the only way a business can differentiate itself from competitors.

The ability to negotiate effectively contributes to the profitability of a business more than almost any other single management skill. For business people life often seems to be a series of negotiations - big and small - with bankers, creditors, suppliers, customers and staff. Learning how to negotiate skillfully can give you an edge in these everyday situations.

Resources and downloads

Digital business

Keeping pace with digital technologies and integrating them into your business operations is essential to stay ahead in today’s competitive marketplace where customers expect to be able to communicate via digital channels such as email, text messaging, websites, mobile based apps (e.g. smartphones, tablets and other portable devices), newsletters, blogs and social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) etc.  At the very least they will expect you to have a basic website where they can find out information about your business, your products or services and how to contact you.

Given the importance of digital communications a digital strategy should be part of your business plan to map how your business can take advantage of existing and emerging digital technologies to communicate with your suppliers and customers, promote your products and services, and receive orders and payment for goods and services online.

Benefits of a digital strategy

  • The ability to communicate with, buy, sell and advertise goods and services to suppliers and customers via a variety of channels on a global scale
  • Your business is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • It can open up new and global markets, strengthening marketing capabilities and reach
  • Two-way communication tools can help you collect data and receive customer feedback to develop new business models and tailored customer support and services
  • Streamlining processes enables your business to function far more quickly, efficiently and effectively, reducing operational and transactional costs
  • Provides a competitive edge by researching information on specific industries.

Key factors to consider when developing your digital strategy include:

  • Supplier and customer interaction – choosing the most effective digital channels to connect and communicate with your suppliers and customers
  • Creating your online presence
  • Digital marketing – promoting your business via online resources and tools
  • E-commerce (electronic commerce) – selling your products and services and collecting payment securely online
  • Security – protecting your business and your customers and suppliers’ information, data and assets with effective security practices and a secure environment for transactions.

Depending upon the scale of your business you may consider hiring a digital consultant (to help you research and decide the digital channels most suited to your business) or a web designer.  Digital channels may be the only contact customers will have with your business, so your digital strategy must ensure your business creates a good first impression, stands out from your competitors, is adaptable and consistently delivers customer and supplier satisfaction. 

Resources and downloads

  • Visit A guide to NBN business for what you should take into account when selecting the right plan for your business through your phone and internet service provider.
  • The Digital Growth Program is a South Australian Government funded program to assist businesses improve their use of digital technologies
  • Visit Digital Business - the Australian Government's Department of Communications website for information and practical tips about digital business and getting your business online
  • Visit Stay Smart Online to learn more about the simple steps you can take to protect your business, customer and supplier sensitive personal and financial information online
  • Visit Australian Domain Administration LTD for information on registering your domain name
  • Read Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) report for businesses that supply, or intend to supply, products to Australian consumers via the internet, advising the steps you can take to address product safety issues and foster better outcomes for consumers.

Energy efficiency

Understanding your energy use and taking steps to become more energy efficient can help your business significantly reduce operating costs, cut carbon emissions and your impact upon the environment, whilst enhancing your image.

Energy efficiency should be part of your business planning to help identify low-cost steps to start saving energy immediately and longer term energy efficiency practices.  To develop an energy efficiency plan you firstly need to understand your business's consumption to identify potential energy-savings - investigate which areas of your business are using the most energy (typically, heating and cooling equipment) and choose more energy-efficient products by understanding the energy rating labels on appliances.

It is vital that you engage your staff in the process so that you work together to understand energy use, its importance and the benefits it brings to the business and the environment, thus encouraging energy efficient behaviour and ensuring successful implementation of energy efficiency practices with set targets  and key performance indicators and supporting documentation and procedures. 

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