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It starts with a spark, an exciting and brilliantly energising idea. You think about it all day and at night, and when the everyday tasks of running home and family are done, you dive back into it.

You’re so full of hope and ambition that other creative ideas come to you fast, sometimes unexpectedly (in the middle of the night; in the shower; when you’re driving), and you make notes everywhere you go, so you won’t lose track of this great idea, or that one.

You register your ABN and every successful step forward after that feels almost inevitable.

You are counting down the days until you can ditch the day-job and give your true passion the time and attention it deserves.

But what if that day just doesn’t come soon enough? No-one can live on adrenalin and optimism forever, and even the brightest stars are in danger of burning out.

Some ideas are just too good to give up on

It’s true that not every business idea is destined for success. But it’s also true that plenty of great ideas are abandoned, simply because the person behind them didn’t get the support they needed to soar past the start-up phase.

Take Thea Mendes, for example. She launched her business Domuts, selling donuts for dogs, as a side-hustle. The idea took off quickly and the future looked bright, but the pressures of meeting increasing demand for her donuts, caring for her family and holding down a full time job were all too much, and she had to admit defeat.

“I didn’t want to quit,” Thea explains. “I wanted to make it work, but I didn’t know how.”

Then Thea saw a call-out from CGU, offering to partner with a small business that had lost its way and help get it back on track. “I realised this could be the last opportunity to resurrect my Domuts business,” she said. “I didn’t stop to think: I just went for it. This had to work.”

Thea is working with a CGU business coach, David Stefanoff on re-launching Domuts to the world. She’s also getting help from marketing experts and food and distribution professionals to set the business up for success. In the coming weeks we’ll share how she does this, alongside advice and resources, so anyone else who had a great business idea that just felt too hard to continue can reignite their ambition.

Revive your business: a 5-step action plan to get back on track

STEP 1: Celebrate your ambition Ambition is one of Australia’s biggest untapped resources. More than half of us say we dream of starting a business or side-hustle, but only six percent of us have actually done it. What’s going on there? It’s time to buck the trend and celebrate our ambition. Feed it. And follow where it takes us.

STEP 2: Work on your mindset Successful entrepreneurship is as much about mindset as it is about practicalities. If you have a business idea that you want to pursue, take some time to mentally prepare yourself for the action ahead. Accept that challenges will come, but remind yourself to focus on the big picture so you are not tempted to give up when the going gets tough.

STEP 3: Plan carefully This means putting in the work to create a full business plan (as Thea’s business advisors say, “Writing a business plan sounds scary. Not doing one is scarier.”), and ensuring that things like industry regulations and appropriate insurance covers are in place.

STEP 4: Prepare for growing pains Every new business faces growing pains – they are a side-effect to success. Be strategic and think ahead to the types of hurdles you might face (or ask for advice if you’re not sure) so that you will have an action plan in place to help you grow through them and keep going.

STEP 5: Choose a support-team You don’t need to do this alone. Choose the right people to help you where there are gaps in your skills and experience, and to support you when challenges arise.

 Rescue your ABN

“When you want to revive your business, the first thing to do is have a friend or colleague give an honest and frank opinion about it,” says David. “Based on this, it may be appropriate to look at what has changed since the business was abandoned, including changes to the business, the market, technology, and distribution channels. If a sensible proposition remains after you’ve made that assessment, then it’s time to write or rewrite a business plan.”

As soon as you’ve decided to get back into business you’ll need to check if your ABN is still active or cancelled with the Australian Business Register (ABR)’s ABN Lookup tool:

Your next steps can be:

1. If your ABN is still active – you need to update your ABN record within 28 days if your business details change or you decided to end the business.

You can update/cancel online with the ABR here:

Note: You can’t update the business name this way – that’s done via the ATO or ASIC.

2. If your ABN is inactive/cancelled – you’ll need to re-apply for your ABN with ABR.

When you re-apply, select ‘Recommenced business’ as the reason and fill out the form here:

Tip: Watch the video on the ABR site for information about how it all works.