Starting a new business can be very rewarding and provide an opportunity to achieve greater work-life balance and pursue your passions.
However, a lot of prospective small business owners don’t have much background knowledge in terms of how to get their new business up and running.
We’ve put together a checklist to get the basics right when you’re starting a business so you are well prepared.
There is a great deal to think about when starting a new business, from product development to marketing and from IT issues to finance. The distractions and demands are numerous.
However, if you get the set-up of the business right, meaning the basic registrations and systems are in place, then you are preparing for success in a business environment that naturally encourages performance.
1. Figure out the best business structure
Are you better off as a sole trader, partnership, trust or company? Each has its own advantages and comes with specific tax reporting responsibilities, regulatory necessities and work health and safety obligations.
Speak to your accountant or lawyer to find out which best suits your current, and future, structure.
2. Where is your funding coming from?
If your business needs funding, discuss with your accountant the pros and cons of each option, whether it be banks, venture capital, personal savings, personal loans or one of several other options.
3. Decide on a business name and get it registered
It’s very important that you make sure you can register your business name or company name before having business cards, letterheads, logos, websites and so on designed, and before purchasing a URL.
Is the name accepted by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and is it available? Start the process at ASIC Connect.
4. Should your business name or logo be registered as a trademark?
Do you need to protect your business name or logo? What about patent or copyright protection? For a proper understanding of intellectual property issues, visit IP Australia.
5. Apply for an ABN
If you’re going to be registered to collect GST (annual turnover of $75,000 or more), then you’ll likely need an Australian Business Number (ABN).
To apply, visit the Australian Business Register. At the same time, if you’re opening a partnership, trust or company then it will need its own Tax File Number (TFN) from the Australian Tax Office (ATO), too.
6. Familiarise yourself with PAYG withholding responsibilities
Employee salaries must have taxable amounts withheld from their payments. Certain contractor payments must also receive a similar treatment.
Speak with your accountant to make sure your business is meeting all of its tax responsibilities.
7. Investigate all necessary permits and licences
Visit business.gov.au to find out whether any national, state or local licences are required for your business.
While you’re at it, check out the ATO’s fuel scheme info to investigate whether your business is eligible for fuel tax credits.
8. Open an Australian Business Account
A one-stop shop for many government-related permits, licences and registrations and a rare and welcome partnership between national, state and local governments, an Australian Business Account can save a great deal of time and effort.
9. Understand the legal requirements
Various laws apply to different businesses, products and services. A good starting place for small business owners interested in their legal obligations is the Australian Government Department of Industry.
Australian Consumer Law, our privacy laws and the Competition and Consumer Act should also be understood at a general level.
10. Set up your accounting systems
No matter how it is done, if an accounting system is set up properly from the very beginning and with future growth in mind, you’ll save an enormous amount of effort in the long run.
All levels of business have legal and tax obligations when it comes to record keeping. Commercial offerings customised specifically for the Australian regulatory landscape, such as Quickbooks Online, take a lot of the weight off your shoulders, freeing you up to work on your business, not in it.
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