Starting a business in Australia checklist – before and after!


How to start a business in Australia?
If you want to start your own business in Australia, you will need to know where to find the right information and support quickly and easily. This will position you and your business for success. Businesses are diverse so a complete checklist is not possible for all business categories. However, the following list will show you everything you need to know about how to start a business in Australia.


It is really important to tick all the boxes below.

1. Before starting a business in Australia

icons8-tick-box-26 Find the right advice and support. You will need to know about such things as tax and accounting regulations, business structure, IP laws, ASIC and ASX requirements and much more. There are a number of decisions to consider when starting a business in Australia and finding the right support is critical if you want to give your company a fair shot at success. 

icons8-tick-box-26 Business structure. Generally you will need to enter by establishing a new company, registering as a foreign company or acquiring an existing company. Within this you will need to choose between Australia’s most common structures. You need to be set up either as a company, a branch, trust, partnership or as a joint venture. The business structure will determine the licences necessary to operate, as well as tax and legal implications.

Related: Subsidiary or Branch: Choose the right business structure when setting up in Australia

icons8-tick-box-26 Tax planning strategies. In Australia tax is governed by the Australia Taxation Office (ATO). As a general rule of thumb, if you are earning money in Australia regardless of your structure you will be required to pay tax. It is imperative that you understand Australian tax law and what your business and personal obligations are regarding tax. You might need to know about company tax, Capital Gains Tax (CGT), Goods and Services Tax (GST), and other business taxes in Australia. Australia also holds a number of tax treaties with other nations to prevent double taxation of foreign entities operating in Australia.

2. During starting a business in Australia

icons8-tick-box-26 Registrations. There are several items you will need to apply for, such as an Australian Business Number (ABN), a Tax File Number (TFN), your business name with Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), a web domain name for your website and several other registrations, licences, permits and certificates. Work with an expert to ensure the set up is undertaken correctly.  Whilst setting up the entity is a fast process, the ABN and TFN takes much longer for international business and having the right notated records early on in the setup process can remove many delays along the way.

icons8-tick-box-26 Protection of your IP. The last thing you want is for another business to steal your identity. Seek advice on protecting your trademarks, logos, any new products, devices, processes, methods and trade secrets you have, copyright, and international protection.

icons8-tick-box-26 Understanding Australian Taxes. Records need to be kept for 5 years on all invoicing (do you know what to show on an invoice?), Income Tax, Goods and Services Tax (GST, needed if you expect to earn over $75,000, with the requirement to submit regular Business Activity Statements [BAS]), Capital Gains Tax (CGT), Excise Tax, Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT), payroll tax, state and territory taxes, land tax and stamp duty.

icons8-tick-box-26 Legal requirements. Depending on the nature of your business, there are laws you may need to comply with, such as the Australian standards (safety laws, food standards), Consumer Protection and competition laws, codes of practice (support is available from State Treasury websites), local council or planning authority, industry body, the Business Enterprise Centre and your accountant.

icons8-tick-box-26 Human Resources (HR). Matters concerning your employees include superannuation, Work Health & Safety (WHS), paid parental leave obligations, accurate contracts, how to recruit staff (including apprentices, trainees and people from overseas), handling disputes and complaints and employee retirement obligations.

Related: Australian payroll: What global companies need to know

icons8-tick-box-26 Insurance. If employment staff you will need to ensure you have Workers Compensation Insurance in place before anyone starts their employment.  At the same time insurance such as PI, Contents Insurance, Cyber etc are recommended.

icons8-tick-box-26 IT practices. Your IT should be safe if you protect your business from cybersecurity, back up data off site, comply with Privacy Act 1988 if handling personal information and are aware of the laws against spamming.

icons8-tick-box-26 Corporate Governance. There are a number of roles that need to be fulfilled when setting up a company in Australia and it is often confusing as to which roles are important. Let’s start with an explanation of Australian Resident Director role who is required for an Australian company and see how a company secretary fits into the picture.

For any overseas company looking to set up a business in Australia, it is a necessary and a regulatory requirement to have a local Australian resident appointed as a director of the company at all times. Although the company secretary it isn’t mandatory for most businesses, you do need to understand that if you don’t have one, the roles and responsibilities that a company secretary would normally perform will lay with the directors of the company. Knowing who does what (job descriptions) having policies and procedures in place and a culture of accountability will ensure a smooth day-to-day operation. 

Related: Duties of directors: Does my business require a Company Secretary?

3. After setting up your business in Australia

icons8-tick-box-26 More HR. Be sure to maintain your employee entitlements (award rates, minimum wages, unfair dismissal protections).

icons8-tick-box-26 More insurance. You will need workers compensation insurance for your employees, as well as public liability, professional indemnity and product liability.

icons8-tick-box-26 WHS. Spot checks in businesses by local council and government bodies could be expensive if you are not compliant with WHS regulations. For information on your particular line of business, contact your state/territory WHS agency and Safe Work Australia.

icons8-tick-box-26 Accounting and record keeping. Ensure you have efficient and effective systems for cash flow management, budget, adequate working capital and reporting and lodgement of income tax returns. Hire an accountant and bookkeeper.

Your one stop shop for setting up and maintaining operations in Australia

icons8-tick-box-26 The Azure Group is a good place to ask for advice on most of the items on the list. As a leading accounting and advisory firm we have built a strong reputation on assisting offshore clients set up and maintain their operations in Australia. We can provide you with a full range of advice and support to ensure that you make the right decisions from the beginning. Get in touch. 

Have you noticed our #FridayExpertTips... here's one that relates to #International

"One common problem that INTERNATIONAL ENTREPRENEURS encounter is that they don't have all of the resources supporting them in a foreign country. Finding the right support could be critical for GLOBAL SUCCESS."

Related: Can a foreign citizen start a business in Australia?

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About Author

Michael Derin
Michael Derin

Michael Derin, Azure Group's Founding Partner and Chairman has over 28 years’ experience as a qualified Chartered Accountant within the business and commercial sectors. Michael works across our Technology, Corporate Advisory and CFO operations, managing highly complex projects to success.

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