Starting up

Starting a business in 8 steps

3 min read


Got a business idea but unsure how to make it a reality? BNZ Head of Small Business Harry Ferreira shares these tips to help you on your way.

1. Write a plan for your business.

This should focus on identifying how your product or service is unique, and which market segments you want to target. Make this a realistic and factual one-page document. Lean Canvas offers a good template for initial planning.

2. Validate your idea.

You may think your product or service is the best in the world, but to ensure others will want it you need to ask good questions of people both within your social circles and outside of them.

  • Talk to real people in the target markets you identified in your plan. You can actually identify potential customers through this process who you could eventually sell to.
  • Use social media to get mass feedback (for example, from Facebook groups), and don’t be afraid to target overseas influencers.
  • Protect your idea by asking questions rather than telling people about the specifics of your idea.

3. Refine your product or service.

Use the feedback you’ve gained to align your offering so it solves a problem in your target markets as closely as possible. You can also look at the statistics available at business.govt.nz to further validate your potential market size.

4. Understand what it takes to become a business owner.

Many kiwis dive into business ownership with a number-eight wire attitude and trip up along the way. Organisations like The Icehouse have foundation courses that can help you invest in yourself and grow your skills.

5. Build a trusted team around you who can add value to your journey.

Being in business can be lonely and you won’t know everything, so surrounding yourself with great people, including professional advisors such as accountants and solicitors, can provide different points of view and help avoid pitfalls. Also, working from co-working spaces can help create a supportive community around you, which may ease the loneliness and make a significant difference to your fledgling business. BNZ has just launched community101, our new business co-working space that’s available to use free of charge for everyone.

6. Understand how you’ll commercialise your product (and make money from your idea).

You will need to be clear at what point you will move from making a loss to a profit (called break-even) and how much money you will spend up to this point. Using a cash flow template can be a good starting point to work out your costs. Once you have your numbers, run them past an accountant, who will be able to test your thinking.

7. Ask ‘how will I fund my start up?’ 

Typical funding sources include your own savings, or those of friends or family; bank loans; peer-to-peer lending platforms; or from salary/wages earned in your day job while you start your own business after hours.

8. Make sure your compliance and legal bases are covered. 

Researching on websites such as Business.govt.nz and IRD.govt.nz can help you understand your obligations, while a solicitor and accountant can help advise on tax, company structures, intellectual property and protecting personal assets. Other organisations, such as MyHR.co.nz, can advise on health and safety, people advisory and hiring/firing.