Business FAQ

August 9, 2012

Q: What do I need to do before I start a business?
A: Before starting a business, you need to find out:

  • If people are interested in what you have to offer.
  • If the concept is sustainable.
  • Who your competitors are.

To do so, you need to gather, analyse and evaluate information to help you determine your business goals. Try to answer the following questions in your research:

  • What is the product or service that you will offer?
  • Is your concept achievable?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • How will you safeguard your business concept?
  • What skills do you need for the business?
  • Who are your business competitors?
  • What differentiates you from the competition?
  • Do you have the financial muscle to run such a business?

Q: What type of business should I start?
A: You have two options: you can start from scratch or buy an established business.

Starting from scratch means you have to put in a lot of time and money. You have to do your research, raise money, find a suitable location, hire employees and introduce your business to the market.

Buying an established business, or even a franchise, gives you a few advantages. The concept, customer base, brand and suppliers are already there, although it may take even more money to afford the purchase.

Q: How do I register my business name?
A: You can register your business name at the Australian Securities & Investments Commission website. The registration process takes around 15 to 20 minutes, but if you can’t finish it in one sitting, the ASIC portal lets you save and exit your application, and keeps the information for 90 days. However, the business name you entered won’t be held, making it available for others to register.

The registration process also requires the following:

  • An account at the ASIC portal.
  • The Australian Business Number or ABN application reference number of the enterprise that will hold the business name.
  • The actual business name.
  • The business name holder's details.
  • The business address.
  • Eligibility to hold a business name.
  • A registration fee.

Q: How do I register my company?
A: According to ASIC, you can register your company through business service providers who use software that deals directly with ASIC. You may look for these providers online by keying in "shelf company services" or "Australian company registration" in the search engine.

You may also accomplish ASIC’s application form for registering an Australian company. Don’t forget to sign the application and include the fee when you submit the form to:

Australian Securities and Investments Commission PO Box 4000 Gippsland Mail Centre VIC 3841

Q: Do I still need to register a business name even after registering my company?
A: Take note that registering a business name is different from registering a company. Registering a company allows you to create a legal entity, but registering a business name doesn’t. Registering a company, as opposed to registering a business name, entitles the company to privileges such as limited liability and a corporate tax rate.

However, if the business is done under a person’s name (i.e. first name + surname or middle initials + surname), it’s not necessary to register a business name.

Q: How do I apply for an ABN?
A: There are three ways to choose from:

If you’re going to withhold tax, say for example, from employees, you should contact the Australian Taxation Office at 13 28 66 to register. Take note that this is quite different from registering for an ABN. The ATO says if you’re withholding employee wages, you’re already registered as a withholder.

Q: Do I need to register for Goods and Services Tax?
A: It depends. You have to register for GST if your business meets the following conditions:

  • Your company has a GST turnover of AU$75,000 or more.
    • If you run a non-profit organisation, it needs to have a GST turnover of AU$150,000.
  • If you provide taxi travel as part of your business, you have to register for GST regardless of your GST turnover.