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When registering your business, it can be confusing as to what comes first. Let’s simplify it with these 9 steps:
- Decide on the type of entity that you are going to setup
- Decide on a Name and check it is available across all required properties
- Establish the Business
- Register for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and any other Tax Registrations
- Register any Business Names
- Arrange your Banking Facilities
- Register your Domain Names and any Social Properties
- Apply for any other licences and permits
- Consider whether a trademark applies
Choose your Business Structure
In the last chapter, you decided on what type of business structure that you wanted to use. Now we are going to look at what happens next.
Naming your Business
Without going into the whole branding aspect (which is super important by the way), naming your business is one of those key decisions that will set you up for the future.
Is it really that important? Yes, it is. Your business name helps customers identify your business from others. You will be investing money and time in marketing your business. And if you need to re-name your business at a future point that can create some issues.
If social media properties are important to your future branding then you will need to ensure that your selected name is available across your chosen platforms.
The reason that you go through choosing your name first is so that you can check the name availability before you invest anything into promotion or get hit with any legal infringement notices.
Establish the Business
If you are a sole trader this is easy. You make the decision.
If you are a partnership, company or trust then the process will need a bit more paperwork and possibly a company registration with ASIC. You may need to involve an accountant and/or a lawyer to help with this process as you put in place everything that you need.
At the end of this step you will have your legal entity setup and ready to go.
Apply for an ABN and other Tax Registration
An Australian Business Number is a unique 11-digit number that is issued to your entity. You need to be entitled to an ABN in order to apply that that means that you need to be carrying on a business.
Information from your ABN allows customers to check that your registration is current. It is a publically available number and anyone can check your registration details online.
Not all tax registration types will apply to your business. What you need to register for will depend upon the type of business you are starting, whether you are employing and its turnover.
If you register your structure through an accountant or lawyer, then they will likely take care of this and the business name registration for you. Check the scope of works to see who is responsible for looking after what.
The other types of Tax Registrations that you may need to consider include:
- Tax File Number (TFN), this is a private number that you do not give to anyone but your bank and your accountant. This is a unique number issued to separate entities. Sole Traders will use their own personal TFN.
- Goods and Services Tax (GST), if your income will go over the threshold
- Pay As You Go (PAYG) Withholding Tax, if you employ people or withhold other amounts
- Fuel Tax Credits if you operate eligible activities and equipment
- Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) if you provide benefits to employees or associates
An ABN application made directly via the Australian Business Register (ABR) site is free. You can use this time as an opportunity to register for an Auskey as well.
If you use a Business Registration Service (https://register.business.gov.au/) you can apply for a business name, your ABN and other tax registrations all at the same time.
If you don’t have an ABN, it can prevent you from doing some of these later steps. Besides, if you don’t register for an ABN, other businesses who make payments to you will have to withhold 47% in tax from your payment.
Register a Business Name
A business name is a name under which a person or entity operates their business. This step is only necessary if you are going to trade with a name that is different to your own.
You make the registration through Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). This is a national registration so will cover use in all States.
A sole trader operating as their own name, or a company operating as their own name will not have to register. Practically everyone else needs to register a busines name.
John Smith doesn’t need to register
John Smith Mowing does need to register
When going through the registration process it is easier if you already have an ABN or have applied for an ABN. Make sure you have either the ABN or application number handy.
Just because a business name is available doesn’t mean it isn’t being used in other ways, so make sure you have used the Name Availability Checklist.
Arrange your Banking Facilities
Business is all about making money and to be able to access the cash, you’ll need transaction bank accounts. To open the account, you will likely need the documents you created when you established the business, or company.
Exactly what you will need is dependent upon your chosen bank but at a minimum they must verify the new business entity and any trading name that is attached, so be sure to have all those documents ready.
You may have to make an appointment with your bank to open the account. The point of this account is to be able to receive funds and spend money. You may choose to use a credit card as well for paying some of your business expenses. And you may even be looking to apply for a loan.
For simple affairs, some of the banks can open business bank accounts online.
If you’re not sure, talk to your bank about what account type is right for you.
You might also consider how you will accept payments from customers. Are there other third-party companies that you might use instead of a bank to accept funds. Some of these payment processors might include Paypal, Square or Wise. Your choice here will depend upon a number of factors including:
Merchant Facilities (Offline)
Merchant Facilities (Online)
International Bank Accounts
Ability to obtain a Loan
Register your Domain Names and any Social Properties
Your domain name is your address on the internet. It can be a valuable part of your business identity and will help customers find your business. You will need to pay to get this get this setup which is why you need to have your bank accounts sorted out first.
You can register the domain even if you don’t have a website yet. This just ensures that this name will be available when you need it.
If you get other people to help do this for you, make sure that you get all of the details, passwords and logins related to it so that you can access and manage this at some later point if you need.
You can find someone to help you register your Domain Names here.
Once you have your domain, then identify all the different social platforms that you want to use and go and setup accounts for each of these under your chosen name.
Apply for Licences and Permits
The type of licences and permits that you need to operate your business will vary. What you have to apply for will depend on the industry that you operate in and the location of your business.
You can use the Australian Business Licence and Information Service to find the licences that you need to start, run and grow your business. You can access that here: https://ablis.business.gov.au/
This is an incredibly useful service as it covers federal, state and local government authorities and will help you identify the type of licences and compliance requirements that you might be exposed to and then provide you with relevant links so that you can take care of the applications and registrations yourself.
Just because you have a business name, doesn’t mean that you have exclusive ownership of the name. Just as it doesn’t prevent other people from being able to register and use similar names to yours.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your chosen name doesn’t infringe on someone else’s trade mark as well. This can be easily checked and is done at the ‘Naming your Business’ stage.
If you want to apply for a trademark then you can do this through IP Australia or you can find an expert adviser here.
While it may seem straight forward, there are a number of issues that you need to consider. This is because making the wrong choices with your application can be costly. In dollars and in time. Ensuring that you register your trademark under the right class is an essential element to having the right level of protection.
As with most things if you are in doubt chat to an expert. The person you need for this will be a commercial lawyer with experience in trademarks or intellectual property.
There are other types of intellectual property rights as well that might apply to your business as well. Talking with an expert in this area will highlight all of these for you.
In the next chapter we are going to take a more detailed look at Protecting your business through pre-planning – Chapter 8: Check Your Legal Obligations and Protect Your Business
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