While there is no single place to ‘register’ your business, there are a few things all new business owners must do before starting to trade.
Once you have read this guide, we recommend making use of the following free resources we offer to help you:
- Attend our Starting a Business workshop
- Contact our business advisory service for a one-to-one chat with one of our experienced advisers to gain greater insight into your particular business needs
- Contact us for access to business benchmarking and industry research
Do your research
Market research can help you assess the viability of your business idea. Although your concept may be well intended, it may not be commercially successful in terms of customer demand or cost.
It is important to consider market trends, how much you should be charging and what is happening in your chosen industry. Carrying out further research may improve your business idea or provide new options.
Contact us for free access to market resources, including IBISWorld - which provides insights and financial benchmarking across more than 500 industries in Australia. You can also discuss your findings with our experienced business advisers who can help you use this information to plan and develop your business.
Choose your business structure
Once you have established the viability of your business idea, you will need to decide on a structure that best suits the business and its particular circumstances.
Some things to consider include:
- any ongoing costs
- how the entity will be taxed regarding income, capital gains and land tax
- asset protection
- control and succession
- flexibility to adjust as circumstances change
- exit strategy
You should aim to minimise taxation, protect your assets, and retain control.
The four most common business structures in Australia are:
- sole trader
Read our business structures page for more information on each structure, including their pros and cons.
It is likely that at some point you will need the services of an accountant, lawyer or other professional. For help in finding professional assistance read our guides on:
Conduct a business licence search
Your industry and geographical location will determine which licences, permits or registrations you need before you can start trading.
Use our free Business Licence Finder to receive a personalised report showing which licences, permits and registrations you need, details of the agency that administers the licences as well as the details of any fees payable.
Your report will include many of the general topics covered in this guide, however there are likely to be other mandatory regulations that are unique to your industry or location.
Obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN)
Obtaining an ABN is free and you can apply online using the Business Registration Service.
Businesses require an ABN when dealing with other businesses or the government. If you don’t register for an ABN, other businesses making payments to you will withhold tax at the top rate of 49 per cent.
Similarly, if a supplier does not provide you with their ABN, you will need to withhold 49 per cent from their payment, unless they provide you with a statement by a supplier form.
You can operate multiple businesses under one ABN (ie. a sole trader can run a lawn mowing business and a bicycle shop with just the one ABN).
Register your business name
Your business name will create a first impression of your business, so it’s worth making an effort to get it right. Choose a name that reflects what your business is about, and will continue to be relevant as the business grows and evolves.
Business names are registered nationally with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
If you’re trading under your own name, you don’t need to register a separate business name.
If you will be operating under a company business structure, your company name must be registered with ASIC. However, if you want to trade using a different name, then you will need to register this as a business name.
Read our business names page for more information.
Register your domain name
Your domain name is an important piece of online real estate for your business (eg yourbusinessname.com.au) – it’s a valuable part of your business identity and a marketing tool to help customers find your business.
Generally the best domain names:
- reflect the name of your business
- are short and easy to remember
- are available for registration on social media channels
Before registering, confirm that your chosen domain name:
- is not already registered as a business name or company (ASIC)
- is not registered or pending trademark (IP Australia)
To register your domain name, visit the auDA website and choose an authorised registrar to take you through the process.
Registrars are the retail channel for domain name registrations; they can also provide other online services. Prices, products and services will vary depending on which registrar you use.
It’s a good idea to register a domain name as soon as you can, even if you don’t have a website yet. This will ensure it’s available when you need it.
Register for tax
To ensure you are complying with all regulations, it’s important to know which registrations apply to your business.
There is no cost to apply for any registrations with the Australian Taxation Office. However, your accountant or tax agent may charge a fee to assist you with registering.
You can register your business for tax purposes:
- online at the Business Registration Service where you can apply for an ABN, GST and PAYG in a single application; or
- through your accountant or tax agent
Read our tax requirements page for more information on the different tax requirements that may be applicable to your business.
Protect your intellectual property
When starting a new business, registering a new business name or developing a new product, you should also consider protecting your original business idea – your intellectual property (IP).
For example: Registering a business name or domain name doesn’t automatically give you exclusive rights to that name. If you register a new business name with ASIC but don’t protect it, a competitor can register a similar:
- company name with ASIC
- trademark with IP Australia
- domain name with any registered retailer
There are a number of options for protecting your business. IP Australia has plenty of practical information. The four most common forms of IP protection are:
Read our intellectual property page for more information on how to protect your IP.
The only compulsory insurance you need as a small business owner in Western Australia is workers’ compensation insurance - if you have employees.
It’s up to you to decide (based on your business type, activities, and industry) what other insurance you may need.
Keep in mind that many insurance companies will require you to have business registrations and licences in place before they will agree to provide insurance.
There are various types of insurance to protect your business, which can be divided into three main categories:
- assets and revenue
Read our practical guide to business insurance for more information.
Start building your business skills
There is much more to starting a profitable and sustainable small business than just meeting the basic regulatory requirements. Knowledge is power when it comes to developing the skills to succeed in business and gain a competitive edge.
Our range of practical and low-cost small business workshops can provide you with the key information you need to build a successful, profitable and dynamic small business.
We suggest starting with our free Starting a Business workshop (held weekly) and then working your way through our range of foundation workshops which are designed for start-ups.
As you progress in your journey as a business owner, we encourage you to explore our wide range of workshops covering the following categories:
- business skills
- digital skills
- financial management
- interpersonal skills
- sales and marketing
- strategy and risk
- tendering and contracts
See our workshop schedule to explore the range of topics on offer.
Access free on-going support
The SBDC is here to help support you through the process of starting and running your business, including the following free resources.
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