The Building Blocks of Starting a New Business

Are you taking the leap from hobbyist into a legitimate business? Perhaps inspiration has struck and you’re starting a business from scratch.

This 'how to' guide is going to give you all the need-to-know basics so that you can confidently focus on what you do best, without worrying about the logistics.

Starting a new business can be daunting and if you don’t get the foundations right, it can crumble down around your ears. Seek advice and support from professionals to welcome success with the best possible start for your new business.

With the help of this guide, you can get yourself informed, understand some concepts and take action where you can.

Here are some of the common tasks you will need to do in order to legally establish a business and a quick guide on how to do them.

Register a company

First things first, get a company registered. It's great to do this before you do anything else because it means all your expenses and income can be tracked to the company from the get-go. You also get the great advantages of a company, most notably that it is a separate legal entity (which means it is separate from you and your personal assets). The company name you choose is also yours - once you have it, no one else can come and register the exact same name.

Getting a Domain Name

Your digital presence and online identity are crucial for success in this modern world. Even if you are planning on creating a bricks and mortar business, people will often seek your company out online to determine authenticity and trustworthiness.

Although obtaining a domain name is not entirely necessary in order to establish a business, it is generally one of the first steps that you can take to create a successful one.

A domain name is another word for your website; what people type into the address bar at the top of a browser page. It consists of two or three parts, each separated by a dot. For example, or are domain names.

Your first step is to choose a domain name. Consider the following:

  • It should be related to your business,
  • be memorable,
  • easy to type
  • and have longevity.

The second part of your domain name is known as a top-level domain (TLD). If you think your business may have global reach at some point, then .com, .org or .net options would be more relevant to you. is specific for New Zealand and other countries have their own versions.

The next step is to purchase/register your domain name through a registrar. Generally speaking, the more popular the TLD, the more expensive it will be. You cannot have the same domain name as anyone else, so if your chosen website name has already been registered, you will need to choose something else.

You purchase a domain name for a year, with the option to renew it automatically, and the cost will range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars per annum.

You can search for, register and pay for your domain name with a number of registrars. Some of the more popular choices include GoDaddy, BlueHost and and Squarespace.

Build an Internet Presence

Now that you are in ownership of a website, it’s time to nurture it.

Depending on the nature of your business, there are different website builders and platforms that you can operate from. These days, you do not need to know how to write code to build a website, there are user friendly programs to do it all for you.

Shopify is a popular option, allowing you to create an online store easily and sell your products. Being such a well-known hosting solution, Shopify is reliable and secure. There are also additional benefits of great marketing and SEO tools at your fingertips as it is one of the few hosting sites which is purely designed for a shopping experience.

Wix, Squarespace and Wordpress are other popular website builders, each catering to any and all kinds of businesses. They allow for creative freedom for you to put your unique stamp on your website.

Wix is great for beginners, being affordable, extremely easy to use and with a number of great looking templates. You can enjoy having a website basically built for you, whilst adding additional features to suit your needs.

For those who want their website to have that wow factor, Squarespace prides themselves in offering some of the most aesthetically-pleasing templates around. This all-in-one platform even allows you to register your domain with them, so it really is a one stop shop for the design minded.

Wordpress has been the blogger’s choice for years and it has grown phenomenally as a result. With great support, numerous plugins and additional features, if building a social network is important for your business and the goal of your website, then Wordpress would be the option for you.

Get a Bank Account and Apply for Credit Cards

The big step into creating a business demands more than just getting online. If you’re serious, then you’re going to need to have a chat with your bank and create a business bank account, separate from your personal one.

Look through the benefits that each major bank here in NZ has to offer to see whether there is one that might be better for you. Although it’s common to use the same bank, you don’t need to. Fill in a registration form online for a business bank account and someone will get back to you within a few days. You will usually need some details regarding your business in order to do this.

You will be guided through the process, but you should keep in mind these few points to ensure this is as straightforward as possible.

  • opening a credit card and what sort of limit would be suitable,
  • whether foreign currency accounts are necessary for you
  • obtaining a merchant ID number, so that you can process transactions
  • opening a business savings account for your tax and so forth.

Your Logo and Branding

First impressions lead to instant decisions made by a customer. Are they going to buy or walk away? Your brand is what your customer sees and feels when looking at your business so getting it right can mean the difference between a thriving business and a failed one.

Therefore, branding is an extremely important element to consider when establishing a business. After you have decided on a business name and registered your website, it’s time to put some effort into the presentation of it.

You can go big here, or keep it to a budget. And by a budget, I mean free. There’s heaps of free logo creating tools on the net and you can take the time to craft something that is very personal and meaningful to you. Some of the free online logo makers out there include, or

Beyond your logo, a slogan could be relevant. This is a witty, memorable phrase that accompanies your logo and can really elevate your business. It can be quite hard to think of something, so perhaps a branding advisor is a wise investment at this stage.

Particularly for bricks and mortar stores or if your business provides a service, you’re going to want to look into business cards and other business stationery that has your company logo affixed to it. Another initial expense, but a worthwhile one, there are many options available with quirks and flairs that could complement your style.


There are other very popular platforms that you can benefit from to make the accounting element of your business a smooth and hassle free experience. Mark my words, if you get this part right from the beginning, you will feel a whole lot more in control of your business and more able to focus on the parts that you enjoy doing, rather than the paperwork.

As tedious as such paperwork may be for you, it is a critical element of business ownership. You will need to have all financial documents on hand for at least 7 years and records of expenses and sales are a must for filing your taxes.

Xero is accounting software that seamlessly links with your bank, allowing you to pay bills and claim expenses easily. For those that feel a little overwhelmed by all the accounting jargon can competently manage themselves through this system.

MYOB is similar, with payroll and accounting software designed to empower you and give you the tools you need to succeed in your business. There is always a human on hand to talk to as well, something that can be taken for granted.

If you are someone who values face to face connections, accountants and bookkeepers can manage your finances for you, keep your business on track with valuable guidance so you can meet your financial goals and enable you to grow your business when the time is right.

Trademark Protection

Registering your trademark is the most effective way to protect your brand name, reputation and company. But what is a trademark and how do you get and protect it?

This article has shown you that a lot of work goes into building your brand and your reputation when you establish a business. Thankfully, there are legal steps that you can take, which also increase the value of your business, that protect that reputation from other people benefitting.

When you have trademark protection, no one can use your identity, or something similar to it, in order to benefit from your reputation. There are strict rules about what you can and cannot trademark, or else simple and generalised business names could not be used, but a unique and specific name or logo can be protected in this way.

You can apply for a trade mark with the Intellectual Property Office New Zealand. You can trademark a word, an image or a combination of both. You first need to research whether the same or a similar trademark is already on the register. If you’re good to go, an initial assessment will let you know whether your intended trademark is unique enough.

There is a fee to register a trademark, but the impact of having one can be invaluable. Not only does trademark protection increase the worth of your company should you wish to sell it, but your business looks more reputable to customers when you display the ™ symbol after your brand name and logo.

In addition, you can rest assured knowing your hard earned reputation benefits you and you alone and that there will be legal repercussions for those who try to mirror your brand for their own gain.

Record Keeping

Deep in the undercurrent of every successful company lies consistent and meticulous record keeping. By getting the foundations right and establishing systems that ensure records are kept well and even somewhat automatically, then this doesn’t become a headache for you, dragging you away from what you’d rather be doing.

When you start a business, your passion drives you. The service or product that you’re offering people is authentic and has value. Quickly enough for many though, the pressures of management and administration get in the way and the day to day operation becomes the focus.

With clever foresight, you can avoid this conundrum and power through those shaky first years where others have failed.

These are just some of the factors that you should be keeping a record of in your company:

  • Business expenses
  • Sales records
  • Accounts receivable / accounts payable
  • Customer list
  • Suppliers
  • Employee information
  • All financial documents including:
    • documents
    • Bank statements
    • Invoices
    • Purchase orders
    • Receipts
  • Shareholder information
  • Minutes of all meetings
  • Contracts / Certificates etc.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of the kind of information you need to be keeping a record of. Regarding shareholders, records need to be kept for 10 years, most other records should be kept for 7 years.

Where to go for Advice, Grants and Training

All of this can be quite a lot to remember, let alone daunting to embark on alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of low-cost and even free opportunities available to you if you are just starting out a business.

Before you seek out advice and support, you should use this guide to help you create the most fully formed business plan that you can. That way, you’re able to get the most out of the professional support that’s available.

The government can provide grants and mentoring designed to get you off the ground. The Regional Business Partner Network is a great starting point and is free to register. You can connect with professionals and advisors through this platform, access resources and training to boost your confidence and knowledge and get valuable insights into government support that you could be eligible for.

Māori business owners or those with a fast growing business or even a tech startup can receive dedicated grants. These are changing all the time, so keep up to date with the latest opportunities by taking a look online.

Now is always the best time to start up a company. Although there is a lot to consider, there is also a lot of support out there to guide you through the process. With the right foundations laid down, you are setting yourself up for success.

By putting a little of yourself into each step of the way, you can reap the rewards of business ownership and enjoy doing what you love all day every day.

Information provided on this website is of a general nature only and not legal advice. Please visit our disclaimer for further information.