Every country has its own rules of business on what is needed, when, how and by whom. Australia is no different, our Government websites are great, easy to navigate and full of all sorts of information to get you started on the right foot for your business. Another of the more common questions I’m asked when helping a new business set up is “What do I do first; should I get an ABN or register my business name?” First things first, let’s work out if you even need to register your business name. Below is a very simplified process that you can follow.

Should I or should I not register a business name?

One of the many steps to starting your own business in Australia as a Sole Trader is deciding whether or not to register a business name. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Virtual Assistant, an Entrepreneur or a small business or you are running a practice (speaker, coach, etc.) The rules are still the same:

  • If you want to use your name, i.e., Jacqui James you do not need to register a business name.
  • If you want to use a trading name, i.e., JMJ – EA for a Day you need to register a business name.

Often, the next question to follow on from the one above is, “Do I need to register my business name before I apply for my ABN number?”  The answer is NO. You do not need to register your business name before you apply for an ABN number.

Why do I need an ABN?

Of course, this is generally followed by, “In that case, do I have to have an ABN number?”  The answer again is no; you don’t have to but, (note the emphasis on but) I would strongly advise against this.  If you don’t have an ABN number, then your trading partners, suppliers and clients need to with hold tax (ouch) if you cannot provide a valid ABN number on your Tax Invoices. It’s a bit of a Catch 22. By having an ABN, you are actually announcing to everyone that you want to do business with, that you are legit.  You also only need one ABN number regardless of how many business names you register.

Do I need an ABN for a domain?

Of course, your business needs a website; a great business tool to support your business.  If you want to have a domain that ends with .au then you must have an ABN number, for example jacquijames.com.au however if purchasing a .com among other domains, you don’t need an ABN.

Five must do steps.

  1. Decide on your business name
  2. Register your business name at the business website
  3. Apply for your ABN number here
  4. To apply for your domain name, check out the link on the right
  5. Make sure you have an accountant or business financial advisor.

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