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Chapter 9 of 16

Registering a business and other admin tasks

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Small business guides > How to start a business: the ultimate guide > Registering a business and other admin tasks

Registering a business and other admin tasks

After all the excitement of deciding to start a business, you’ll have some paperwork to do. These first tasks as a business owner won’t be the most fun, but they’ll help keep you out of trouble with the law.

Person registering her business online

How to register a business with the government

The government will want to know you’re going into business. Get in touch with:

  • the government department responsible for business and commerce
    This is a great first stop. They often guide and support new businesses through the startup process. They can also tell you what other branches of government to go to, and they may issue you with a business identification number.

  • the tax office
    Depending on where in the world you are, you may have to pay tax on your income and tax on each sale. The tax office can set you straight on your obligations and tell you how to lodge your returns.

There may be other departments to speak to for things like:

  • permits and licenses – you may need permission for certain types of business activity, such as retail, manufacturing, or handling particular types of products.

  • employing people – if you’re hiring staff, the government will want to track and tax your workers’ pay, and they’ll expect you to comply with employment rules and regulations.

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How to register a business with the government

You have a few official steps to walk through before you’re in business:

  • Register a business name
    Unless you’re trading under your personal name, you’ll need to register a business name. You can do this through the Business Registration Service.

  • Get an Australian Business Number (ABN)
    An ABN is a quick way to identify your business to the government and the tax office. You should put it on your invoices to ensure customers don’t withhold pay-as-you-go tax from the amount they pay you. You can apply for an ABN though the Business Registration Service.

  • Apply for licences and permits
    You may need special authority for certain business activities, such as running a business from home or employing people. Some industries have very specific requirements. Find out what you need from the Australian Business Licence and Information Service.

How do I register a company?

If you’re setting up as a company, you’ll need to choose and register a name and get set up with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). You’ll need to submit documents explaining how your company will operate and identify who the decision makers will be. You can start the process through the Business Registration Service.

Should I trademark a business name?

You can legally protect a business name and logo to prevent others from mimicking your identity. This can be a valuable step for businesses that plan to invest a lot in making their brand widely known.

This area of the law can get complicated – especially if you expand into overseas markets and find there’s a business there with a similar name. Ask for advice from a legal professional with experience in this area.  

At the very least, use trademark registries (and search engines) to check that no one already has your business name. It’s an easy way to save yourself a lot of hassle.

Chapter 10: Small business insurance

There are dozens of things that can go wrong when you start a business. Fortunately, there are also dozens of small business insurance policies.

Read chapter 10


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