In a previous blog post, we looked at how you can expand your business operations overseas. We discussed the local laws and regulations you need to consider, people’s customs, religious and cultural beliefs, and even their political preferences. Knowing and understanding all of these elements about a nation will help you succeed in a new country. But what if you’re considering starting a new operation in a different state or territory? While there are many similarities to expanding overseas, there are different nuances to consider when you’re planning to expand between states, territories, or nationally.
Do your research
There are plenty of online resources about setting up shop in another state or territory. Start by looking at the practical factors, such as the active competition in that area and how you can differentiate your offering from theirs. Learn and understand the population demographics of the state/territory, city, or suburb you’re considering. This is important because how you market your offering and what your audience responds to depends entirely on the local population.
For instance, if you’re expanding from Ballarat in Victoria to outer Sydney in NSW, the audience in Parramatta is drastically different from the audience in the northern suburbs. Can you effectively cater to the needs of the people living in the area where you want to do business? Sometimes, depending on the nature of your business, you might have to choose an area that isn’t your first choice. For instance, if you’re an Italian restaurateur, though the central business district (CBD) is a good choice, you might have a higher chance of sustained success if you open your restaurant in a suburb of Italians and other immigrants who will actively support your business.
It’s also important to familiarise yourself with the state or territory's local holidays and religious observations and their impacts on your business throughout the year. For instance, public holiday trading laws differ by state, suburb, and even industry. The National Retail Association (NRA) of Australia works with the state governments to regulate trading hours for retail businesses. It also creates educational material such as this extensive Christmas ’22 and New Year ’23 trading hours help sheet. It’s a good place to start your research and gain an understanding of the requirements in each area. There are exceptions to these general guidelines, too, and businesses can usually apply with state business bodies to operate extended hours or special days.
Real estate will be one of your biggest challenges when considering an interstate expansion. While you won’t have much technical difficulty in purchasing property—apart from varying stamp duties and registration costs—renting or leasing can be more process-intensive. Your responsibilities and rights as a tenant will vary in each state or territory and will be based on the nature of your business. The easiest way to go about this is to hire a real estate agency who can guide you through the legal mumbo-jumbo of interstate renting. A certified agency will also support you with additional tenancy requirements and periodic maintenance or repairs.
If you’ll be employing staff locally, it’s a good idea to seek guidance from a legal firm, HR consultant, or an employment agency. Not only can these professionals help find talent for your business, but they can also advise you about the state or territory's employment regulations and laws, including workers’ compensation, insurance, wages and superannuation, workers’ rights, and workplace health and safety (WHS) requirements. Even though you’re only moving interstate, it’s important to consider employees’ welfare and lifestyle factors, such as housing availability and cost of living before you establish yourself in a particular state or territory. Seek expert guidance to help you make the right decisions for your business and your potential employees.
Understand trade requirements
When expanding operations interstate, you’ll have to comply with that state or territory's trading regulations. These will vary based on your industry and business model. For example, if you’re a fruit grower in Tasmania and want to sell your produce through IGAs and local farmers’ markets in South Australia, you’ll have to consider both states’ import and export conditions. As a commercially operated exporter/importer, you’ll have to develop partnerships and business relationships with peak industrial bodies such as transport unions and farmers’ associations.
One of the best ways to build these relationships is to organise and attend meetings with other businesses in your industry. Join business campaigners like the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), the Small Business Association of Australia (SBAA), and the Australian Chamber of Commerce to meet like-minded business owners and learn from their experiences.
Aside from these national business associations, each state or territory also has its own business organisation. The NSW Business Chamber, Business Victoria, Business SA, Canberra Business Chamber, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Queensland (CCIQ), Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA), Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry can help you with the resources and support you need to expand into their state.
You can also join your local business community groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and meetup.com to hear and learn from a diverse range of businesses.
As a new business in a state or territory, you’ll also be eligible for local government grants. For example, you can get tax benefits when you go to regional Tasmania, funding for businesses that want to develop and retain jobs in regional Victoria, and incentives for construction businesses and tradies who move to Queensland. Have a look at business.gov.au to identify other benefits that you can leverage.
It's exciting to plan for business expansion, but it can also get overwhelming. Start small, and build out a strategy for how you want to go about it. Spend enough time researching the best place for your business and don't skimp on getting professional guidance. Investing a lot of time and effort upfront will save you from doing it in a new place when you're still getting your bearings. We hope this blogs gives you an overview of what to expect and how to start planning.