How to Start a Business in Australia – Introduction

Whenever discussing "business", it's compulsory to show a photo of several corporate-types sitting around a monitor pretending to be working ... I promise I will never include such a photo on this blog.

These days there are quite a number of resources (both online and offline) that can help you with the formal requirements of starting a business and ensuring you do it properly. There are a tonne of business books and government services that have been created for this purpose.

But personally, I often find some of these to be less helpful than they could be. They can be poorly written, overly complicated, or just plain OVERWHELMING. So my goal here is to simplify them, and create a “digestible” series of tutorials that get you on the way. This series includes the following tutorials:

List of Tutorials

I hope you find them helpful.

UPDATE: Please note that due to an overwhelming number of email enquiries and blog comments over time, I’ve had to disable all contact methods. I am unable to offer any further assistance or advice. If the above article hasn’t answered all your questions, I encourage you to look through the archived comments below. You’ll find frequently asked questions there. Thanks.

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17 thoughts on “How to Start a Business in Australia – Introduction

  1. Good posts here.

    Just to add: the ultimate test for any business is to find customers. if you want to know if there are customers before you start your business, you can use lead tools like http://www.whocando.com.au. There are buyers with current needs who are posting jobs on the site and suppliers can view these jobs and then follow up directly with the buyer.

    • I have been testing about a dozen of these sites. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Elance.com is good if you want to operate internationally. They focus more on IT professionals. So you are often outbid by Indian and Chinese companies. Makes it often all about price. There is also guru.com and rentacoder.com.

      WhoCanDo.com.au is more about local services, e.g. tradesmen, where on-site delivery is important or mandatory. It is more about quality than just price because service providers can showcase their credentials. And you pay only for what you get – if you don’t win a job, then you don’t pay a cent which is important for the cash flow of startups.

  2. Hello Frank,

    Thanks for posting. :)

    Ah, yes – “the ultimate test for any business is to find customers”. Very true!

    Thank you for providing that link to whocando. I hadn’t seen that one before. In some ways it reminds me of similar websites like http://www.elance.com

    Have you used these sorts of websites in the past? What kind of experience did you have with them?

  3. Adam, a good post.

    Many people contact Business Switch (I guess we are one of those “useful resources” you mentioned as we start up businesses for a living) either:

    1. because they have been messed around by people who have no idea how to properly set their business up for success. They have wasted time, money and energy … and made no progress.

    2. they do not want to end up like the people in point 1.

    Good luck with the blog and I look forward to reading more on your angle/approach on how to start a business in Australia.

    • Hi Adam,

      The company was incorporated last year and being the first of its type in Australia we have generated a lot of attention as ‘the guys that have taken business start up services in Australia out of the dark ages’.

      Thanks for the positive feedback. It is appreciated. Wishing you great business success.

  4. Hi there,

    Thank you for your comment. It’s great that businesses like yours are around to help people with setting up their businesses correctly.

    How long has Business Switch been around?

  5. The success of any business depends on the way it treats its customers. Whether you are in a service-oriented industry or not, your relationship with your customers will reflect on the company’s bottom line.

    –Thanks for the info.!

  6. I would like to know more about the legalities behind setting up and running a purely online business as a sole trader?
    Namely the business name registration process, such as if you need to register your trading name in each state?
    Thanks

  7. Hi Elise,

    Technically, there’s not a lot of difference between the legalities of running a purely online business, and just a normal business. You’ll still need to have an ABN, TFN, business name, etc – and you’ll still need to make sure you have any required licenses. For more info about these things, check out my articles on licensing, and business structures:

    http://www.wecancreate.com/blog/legal-issues/start-business-australia-licencing/
    http://www.wecancreate.com/blog/legal-issues/start-business-australia-choosing-business-structure-sole-trader/

    Regarding your question about registering a business name in every state you service, I think the answer depends. From what I understand, chances are that you only need to register a business name in the state where you actually have a physical presence (eg. an office). HOWEVER, to double-check this, you should contact your state’s relevant trading office. For a full list of those, check out my Sole Trader article mentioned above.

    Other than that, here are a few additional web links that might be useful to you (in regards to running online businesses):

    http://www.business.gov.au/BusinessTopics/onlinebusiness/pages/default.aspx
    http://www.treasury.gov.au/contentitem.asp?NavId=014&ContentID=1083
    http://www.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/54090
    http://www.privacy.gov.au/business/small/
    http://sblegal.innovation.gov.au/Pages/ChooseaLegalTopic.aspx

    Hope that all helps, and good luck with your business! :)

  8. Dear Adam,

    I have found your website whilst looking for books that may assist me.
    I’ve recently started a business as an artist. Basically I applied for an ABN to make people feel safer rather than purchasing via cash only.

    Can you recommend any books to me that would deal with my area specifically that also speak about tax law and business law pertaining to my area?

    Warmest regards,

    Jo-sahn

    • Dear Jo-sahn,

      First of all, I had a quick look at your website. There are some beautiful paintings on there. I especially liked the ones in your “Realism” category. Very nice.

      Regarding your question about book suggestions, I could obviously list some of the more traditional “business” books, but – as you say – you are looking for something specifically in your area (eg. art).

      I can’t think of a specific title off the top of my head, but I think there is an even better resource for someone in your position. Check out the Arts Law Centre. Their website is at http://www.artslaw.com.au/ – you may have heard of them before?

      Anyway, they have a good list of books at http://www.artslaw.com.au/Publications/Books/default.asp and a list of some useful guides and checklists at http://www.artslaw.com.au/Publications/ChecklistsGuides/default.asp

      Hope that helps! Let us know how your business is going. :)

  9. Hi Adam,

    Your blog is very informational – thanks heaps for using lay-man terminology. :-)

    Thank you.

  10. Hello Charmaine,

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for your comment. Using simple terminology and language has been one of my goals with these posts.

    Thanks again for your comments.

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  13. Please please do a section on the steps needed to start a business under a company structure. Corporation. This is much needed information that is very hard for us to compile together when we re starting out. Thankyou.

  14. Thanks for the info, really clears up the blocks for young people trying to get into business. But I do agree with a few peoples comments… get in the money first and see if you business is viable before you invest in anything. Otherwise you’ll invest all this money and give up before things start to roll.

    Bring in the money — bank the profits — set up the legal stuff as explained below.

    Dave