Case studies

Learn from the journeys of other business owners through our simple case studies.

Andrew's Gym 


Andrew was looking at opening a gym in Collingwood. Andrew was aware that the site he is looking at had been a retail business previously.

Meeting with Yarra City Council

Before signing a lease, Andrew contacted Yarra City Council to discuss what permits he needed to open his business. We told Andrew he would need a change of use building permit, amongst others.

The meeting helped Andrew understand the process of opening a business, including

  • The timeframes involved
  • The costs involved
  • The need to plan in advance for these changes
  • The possibility of delays in permit applications
  • The permits required for the building he had leased.

Negotiating a lease

Based on the guidance we gave Andrew, he:

  • Assessed other sites that would suit his needs before deciding on a site.
  • Negotiated a lease on his chosen site, provided the successful outcome of the permit application process.
  • Negotiated an initial rent-free period to allow him to complete the permit process and get his business open.

Dealing with delays

Andrew encountered a delay in his change of use building application due to disability access requirements. This was something Andrew had been prepared for based on advice we gave him throughout the application process. This delay had minimal impact to Andrew’s opening schedule as he was aware there may be potential delays. Andrew was able to:

  • Obtain regular updates from Yarra City Council as the permits were being processed and approved.
  • Coordinate his plans with the permit timelines to plan and mitigate any potential risks from his end.

Once the permits were granted Andrew was able to open his new gym a week before his anticipated timeframe and start trading.

Jenny’s Cafe


Jennifer and her business partner were looking at opening a cafe in Clifton Hill.

Signing a lease

They found a great site on the street that they loved and set about securing a lease so they could secure the site for their cafe. The building had previously been a small manufacturing warehouse and had some interesting features that they wanted to keep and incorporate into the cafe.

Contacting Yarra City Council for permits

Jennifer made some initial enquiries to Yarra City Council to understand what permits she needed in relation to operating her kitchen and preparing food for customers. However, she did not meet with anyone at Yarra City Council in person and did not have a full understanding of the permit process, the costs involved, or the potential for delays. The advice Jennifer received was that she would need to apply for:

  • A permit from environment health to cover her food preparation and handling
  • A planning permit to use the site as a food and drinks premises, install signage on the building and reduce car parks (because there was no on-site parking).
  • A building permit. Jennifer chose to use a private building surveyor to prepare for submitting a change of class application.

She was advised of an approximate 3 month period in relation to the planning process.

Dealing with delays

During the advertising period for her planning permit there were objections from neighbouring residents which pushed the approval of the permit back a further 6 months.

Jennifer was delayed significantly in the process of opening her business and incurred unprecedented costs due to not be aware of the permits, regulations and processes required to open a cafe. This resulted in almost a years’ delay before the fit out could begin. During this delay Jennifer and her business partner were paying $10,000 a month in rent for the building. This experience almost made the business unviable and had significant impact to her health due to stress.