Start-up should do

Our checklist of the main best practice tasks you should implement before you start your business.


What you should do when starting a business

New Zealand is one of the easiest places in the world to start a business, however, there are some tried and true good practice tasks you should consider in your business.

Follow our checklist of the several things you should do to follow best practices and check out the compliance tasks you must do.

Please be aware that every business will be different, so we strongly recommend you seek professional advice from an accountant, lawyer, or business adviser to discuss your personal circumstances before you start your business.

You should arrange business insurance

There are three main insurances to consider. First is business assets, liability and interruption insurance in case your business gets damaged or something happens to prevent you from operating. Second is business, life and disability insurance in case something happens to you to prevent you from working. The third is start-up income protection.

Find out more about ASB’s business insurance.

You should protect your intellectual property (IP)

It’s better to find out what IP you have and the steps to keep it yours before you start trading. IP can include your business name, logo or slogan, the appearance or shape of a product design, registered trademark, or a patent if you have a new product, process, or way of creating something. There is also copyright on words or designs.

Find out about all the different types of IP on the Intellectual Property Office website and talk to a lawyer who specialises in intellectual property rights or your other business advisors before making decisions that could impact your business.

You should protect your intellectual asset’s

Intellectual ‘assets’ are things that you usually can’t protect legally but are still important. For example, business contacts, networks, business know-how and any ‘secret sauce’ of how your business runs. Take steps to keep any of your ideas secret by drafting confidentiality agreements and restricting who has access to your information.

You should register for a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)

The NZBN is a unique number allocated to your business which holds your primary business data (trading name, contact details) so whenever you deal with either a government agency or supplier, it’s easily found. You won’t have to keep entering this basic data again and again. Get your NZBN (it’s free) here.

You should form a company

Forming a company gives you several benefits when starting your business. Of those, the main three are increased credibility with customers and suppliers (as you’ve taken the time to form a company), limited liability protection if circumstances outside your control cause financial stress, and finally more protection of your business name (as it’s registered with the Companies Office and no-one else is allowed a similar name). Yes, there are (minor) costs and a little more compliance to maintain, but it’s probably worth it. Find out more on the benefits and steps to form a company from the Companies Office.

You should find an accountant or bookkeeper

You can file your own tax returns, but if you’ve never been in business before, it’s usually wise to engage an accountant or bookkeeper to give you a hand. They can step you through a number of the things you must do.

Find an accountant near you here, or a qualified bookkeeper.

You should forecast cashflow

A cashflow forecast helps you predict the cash coming in and going out of your business. You can compare the income you’re expecting to receive every month with the costs and expenses, resulting in a positive or negative cashflow.

Download our cashflow template here.

You should identify your cash cycle

Your cash cycle is the length of time it takes to turn your product or service into a completed (and paid-for) sale. Each business has its unique cycle. For example, a retailer usually receives money from customers immediately, but an electrician may not be paid until a month after finishing a job.

You should join your business association

It’s helpful to get specific industry advice or support when starting up your business. Every industry will have its own network, which you may already know if you’ve been working in the industry. Otherwise, search online. Find your local Chamber of Commerce or one of the fifteen regional business partners.

You should apply for relevant grants and subsidies

Your business may be entitled to certain grants or subsidies to help get it up and running. The best first step is to contact one of the fifteen regional business partners. They will be able to give you one-on-one advice.

You should use software to help run your business

Software should save you time and money, plus increase efficiencies. Good examples are accounting software like Xero, MYOB and WAVE, Hnry which helps sole traders automate tax payments, and MyHR to assist in managing your employees. ASB has a number of offers from these providers for ASB customers.

You should organise personal insurance

Personal insurance helps protect your income from any trauma, total permanent disability (TPD) and life events. ‘Key man’ insurance provides cover if a key employee is unable to work, providing you with payments to employ an alternative.

You should develop a business plan

It’s important to write down what you aim to achieve in business, and how you will keep your business on track and focused on achieving its goals and objectives.

We have an online Business Plan tool to help you get started, including template downloads and tools to help you write an effective business plan fast.

You should build an online presence

It’s easier to compete in business with a website. Use a local agency, or you may wish to build your own using website template companies such as SquarespaceWix and Weebly. To get started you might want to consider an established ecommerce platform such as ShopifyWooCommerce or BigCommerce.

You should register a website domain name

A domain name is your unique ‘www.(name)’. The easiest way to see if your preferred domain name is available is to try it online. If it doesn’t come up, it’s probably available. There are loads of official registrars in NZ and you can use any domain name provider. An example is where you can type into their search bar and see if the name you want is available.

You should set up a unique email address

Rather than a generic, it’s better if your email is the same as your business domain name such as so customers recognise your business as well as you. You can then set up email filters such as and to more effectively direct customer enquiries.

You should establish a social media presence

By building a strong presence on selected social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter (to name only a few), you’ll create vital communication channels between your business and your customers.

You should calculate your break-even

Once you know what your costs are and you’ve got a good idea of what you plan to sell your product or service for, it’s time to work out at what point you will break even. You need to know that you can cover your costs and begin to make a profit. Use our online Break-Even Calculator to work out your own break-even.

You should investigate your market potential

Before you start your business, collect solid evidence that a market for your product or service exists. Find out as much as you can about potential customers such as who might buy, where they live, how much they would pay, when they would buy and the current competition.

Use surveys, one-on-one interviews or focus groups to collect data on your target customers. Also look at industry and market trends and global influences. Download our SWOT analysis template to identify any threats or opportunities that lie ahead.

Next steps

Make a list of the things you should do that are relevant to your business and seek professional help to uncover any other should that apply to your business. Knowing what you should do to trade is good best practice.


This content is for general information only. It does not contain financial, tax or legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as or replace financial, tax or legal advice. ASB recommends you seek advice from a qualified advisor before making any decision that could affect your business. ASB makes no warranty or representation and accepts no responsibility or liability for this contents suitability (for any person or purpose) or the adequacy or completeness of its content. ASB reserve the right to amend, update or withdraw this content at anytime without notice.

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