Starting A Small Business

Start your own small business and know what you need to do to make sure that your business is a success with our Starting a Small Business course.

Course CodeVBS101
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Start a Business at Home

  • Not just a course!
  • Unlike other small business courses!
Start by learning the fundamentals; then develop your business ideas with guidance from a business expert to refine and improve how you move forward.
Learn from people who have actually started and succeeded!
  • Our principal, John Mason, started this school as a small part time business. Decades later our courses are turning over millions of dollars annually.
  • Our other tutors include a diverse mix of others who have successfully started and run small businesses, from craft businesses to consultancies, and garden to accommodation businesses.
Many businesses do fail; but you can easily reduce your risks - under the guidance of a professional business expert, plan and initiate the development of your own business.
This course is unique in that it not only teaches you about business; but it gives you an opportunity to formulate a business plan, and improve it through well structured mentor support, where you can interact with and get feedback from an experienced and well qualified member of our staff.

Lesson Structure

There are 12 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Small Businesses
    • Nature and success factors
    • Primary, Secondary or Tertiary business
    • Scope and Types of Businesses
    • Options –size, products, positioning, legal structure, specialisation, type of industry
    • What makes it a “small” business
    • Key Success factors –entrepreneurship, market niche, information, reputation, flexibility
    • Understanding Risk of Failure
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  2. The World of Business
    • Business structures –sole trader, partnership, companies (public and proprietary)
    • Advantages and disadvantages of different types of ownership
    • Small Business and the Law
    • Importance of record keeping
    • Regulations affecting site and operations
    • Components of a legal system –lawmakers, interpreters, enforcers, administrators, advisors
    • Common law rights and obligations
    • Protection of Consumers
    • Trade practices, trademarks, brands, business, IP.
    • Business Registration
    • Employment Law –employment contracts
    • Business disputes –negotiation, arbitration, mediation, etc.
    • Contract Types –employment, lease, sale of goods or services, insurance, etc.
    • Prerequisites of a contract –what comprises a contract?
    • Taxation and small business
    • Insurance –private, property damage, life insurance, business insurances for risk management
    • Business Case Study
    • Set Tasks –researching local issues
    • Assignment
  3. Considering the Alternatives
    • Goods manufacturing, or services
    • Factors to consider -market niche, location, goodwill, personal factors, etc
    • Business terminology
    • Establishing a new small business
    • Considering options of buying into a franchise, buying an established business or starting up from nothing.
    • What to look for when buying an established business
    • Understanding franchising
    • Guidelines for starting something new
    • Assignment
  4. Understanding Marketing
    • Nature and scope of marketing
    • Purpose of Advertising
    • Managing the marketing process
    • The marketing concept
    • Marketing goals
    • Marketing plans
    • Strategic marketing planning
    • Marketing objectives and strategies
    • Target markets
    • Developing a marketing mix
    • Organising the Planning Process
    • Reviewing a Business Situation
    • Business Mission Statement
    • Establishing marketing objectives
    • Broadening geographical representation
    • Maximizing customer service
    • Developing strategies to achieve objectives
    • Increasing market share –geographical expansion, market penetration, price factors
    • Analyzing market opportunities –external influences and internal influences
    • General economic conditions
    • Government policies and regulations
    • Marketplace laws
    • International influences
    • Demographics
    • Technology
    • Changing Customer attitudes and values
    • Activity of competitors
    • Alternative marketing methods
    • Analyzing business resources, market share, product characteristics, advertising, price, innovation potential financial capacity.
    • Selecting Target markets
    • Mass marketing, niche marketing, differentiated marketing, etc
    • Physical basis for market segmentation
    • Behavioural basis for market segmentation
    • Developing the Marketing Mix
    • Branding and packaging
    • Understanding the price element
    • Pricing methods
    • Understanding the promotion element
    • Public relations, advertising, sales
    • Distribution
    • Product life cycle
    • Analyzing costs and benefits
    • Managing a marketing plan
    • Structuring advertising or promotions
    • Publicity Marketing
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  5. Planning
    • Scope and nature of planning
    • Developing a business plan
    • The planning process
    • Checklist for a business plan
    • Market research
    • Business plan pro forma –a template for you to follow for creating a very detailed business plan
  6. Record Keeping and Bookkeeping
    • What records are essential?
    • The simplest approach to financial bookkeeping
    • The value of financial records
    • Source documents
    • Cash book
    • Credit sales and credit purchases
    • Bank reconciliation
    • Petty Cash
    • The Balance Sheet
    • Classification of the balance sheet
    • Working capital
    • Profit and loss statement
    • Preparing a profit and loss statement
    • The link between profit and the balance sheet
    • Assignment
  7. Sales Methods
    • Personal Selling
    • Rules of Selling
    • Types of Selling
    • Types of customers
    • The Salesperson -characteristics and knowledge needed
    • Using the telephone
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  8. Budgeting
    • Scope and nature of budgets
    • Types of budgets
    • Assignment
  9. Developing a 12 month Business Plan
    • Planning for manpower needs
    • Planning where to work from initially (eg. home, leased or purchased property)
    • You will create a simple plan within the following framework, submit, and recive feedback from our academic staff on what you propose.
    • Description of the Business
    • Motives for Entering Business
    • The Opportunity and Strategy
    • The Target Market
    • Relevant Experience and Skills
    • Financial Assistance Required
    • Financial Projections
    • Financial Summary
  10. Implementing a Business Plan
    • This lesson considers how the plan you developed might be implemented.
    • Consider who is going to do the work: how will you manage to get things implemented
    • Motivating employees
    • Delegating work tasks
    • Assignment
  11. Reviewing Progress in a New Business
    • Monitoring performance
    • Evaluating Performance
    • Modifying performance
    • Assignment
  12. Improving Profitability
    • How can profits be increased
    • Business expansion and sources of finance
    • Overdraft facility
    • Equity Credit
    • Fully Drawn Advances / Term Loans
    • Bills of Exchange
    • Leasing
    • Inventory Financing
    • Sources of Funds
    • Information required when sourcing funds
    • Good Management Practices
    • Set Task
    • Assignment

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss the nature of small business and the skills required to run one successfully.
  • Explain the legal requirements, restrictions and the costs of running a small business.
  • Describe the different aspects and considerations associated with starting a new or buying an existing business.
  • Explain the marketing process.
  • Explain the importance of planning in the running of a successful business.
  • Explain the importance of record keeping and the principles of bookkeeping.
  • Determine sales and promotions strategies in small business.
  • Explain the importance of budgets.
  • Develop a business plan.
  • Implement a business plan.
  • Identify factors that affect profitability.

Small Businesses Succeed if You Do it Right

Anyone starting a business for the first time will probably experience a whole range of emotions, from excitement to apprehension. The anticipation of success is commonly high; but the reality of running a small business can also take you to emotional lows, if you don't fully plan and prepare before launching. 

Doing this course can raise your awareness of many things:

  • Make better decisions about what sort of business to develop, how to best develop it.
  • Identify risks so you can avoid problems before they overtake you
  • Recognise your assets and liabilities and utilize your resources to best effect

Small Owner Operated Businesses are Critical to Economic Development

Small businesses are the main source of most innovation and invention.

An invention is the development of something new. Innovation occurs when something already established is improved upon. Many successful businesses are built on these two forces, especially on innovation. Research and development (R&D), however, can be rather costly. Small business faced with having to undertake R&D often finds difficulty is obtaining adequate finance. Traditional sources of finance, especially banks, perceive this type of finance request as high risk. One possible source of finance for R&D is venture capital. Venture capital is money that is invested in small and sometimes struggling businesses that have the potential to become very successful. The investors take an equity position in the business (own part of it) and provide supplementary finance. When venture capital is used in the initial feasibility stage, that is, when determining whether a potential idea can lead to a profitable product and business, it is referred to as seed capital.



All small business owners start off optimistically, believing that their business venture will lead to financial success and security. Many may have read some multitude of books available about being successful in small business. These books usually highlight five common ‘keys’ to small business success.

1. Entrepreneurial abilities. The people in small business are crucial to the success of the enterprise. Attitudes and personalities of owners will vary enormously. Some will have drive and enthusiasm, many will have set targets and some will take big risks. Some will thrive on the challenge of a potential failure, enjoying the process of solving problems. The majority will be highly motivated and optimistic.

2. Access to information. As a bare minimum the small business operator must have information regarding profitability, the quality of products and services and the performance of employees. Accurate and up to date information will allow the small business owner to make the best decisions.

3. Flexibility. The small size of the business allows the owner to adapt quickly to changes in the external environment. Because there are fewer levels of management, decisions can be made quickly. In addition, the close contact between owners and customers allows the establishment of personal relationships, helping owners to respond quickly to their customer’s changing tastes and preferences.

4. Focus on market niche. Small businesses can concentrate their efforts on a few key customers or a specific segment of the market. This provides the opportunity for the small business to become more specialised and able to deliver a high level of service.

5. Reputation. Because the small business is servicing a narrow market niche, it can develop enviable reputations for quality and service.

These five ‘keys’ above have been identified as major success factors.




Studying this course is an excellent starting point; but study alone doesn't ensure success in business or a career.

  • Who you know can be just as important as what you know -so we make a point throughout this course of helping you build contacts. We show you how to network, we encourage you to network, and we build networking into your assignments and set tasks.
  • Knowing how to find information and solve problems is also critical to the success of any business; and again, we have designed this course to nurture these skills.
  • Studying is about more than just accumulating information.... you need to learn what to do with the information you gather.
Some schools emphasise the learning of factual information; and assessing your retention of that information. At ACS, we feel that approach is very little different to buying and using a book. If that is all you want, this is not the course for you. This course is for people who want something more; something that will make a difference to you


People who are successful in business are passionate, pragmatic, persistent and prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed.

If this describes you; we can help you to get a start.
Use our free service to get in contact with our school today and

open a dialogue with an expert who knows and has experience with small business. 

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John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. J
David Crothers

Extensive international experience in business and finance. Chartered Accountant with 20 years experience in corporate and financial roles. David has a FCA, GAICD, B.Sc.Econ (Hons), Cert IV TAA.
Kate Gibson

Kate has 12 years experience as a marketing advisor and experience as a project manager. Kate has traveled and worked in a variety of locations including London, New Zealand and Australia. Kate has a B.Soc.Sc, Post-Grad. Dip. Org Behaviour (HR).
Christine Todd

University lecturer, businesswoman, photographer, consultant and sustainability expert; with over 40 years industry experience B.A., M.Plan.Prac., M.A.(Social). An expert in planning, with years of practical experience in permaculture.
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