Starting a Business - Frequently Asked Questions

All businesses have questions they need answers to when starting a new enterprise. These may include registering an ABN, Business Name or GST to mention just a few.

Below is a series of frequently asked questions that may assist you in starting your new business.

Do I need a business plan?

Preparing a business plan is an essential step in starting or growing your business, particularly if it is your first business or you are going into a business that you don’t have experience in. 

One of the most important reasons to plan a business is to test the viability of the proposal.  Preparing a business plan forces you to consider, research and document all the key aspects that contribute to a successful business.  A business plan will also be necessary if you wish to borrow money or attract others to invest in the business.  If you are going into business with others, the business plan will ensure you and your partners have a mutual understanding of the objectives and strategies.  This will help to provide the basis for a successful partnership.  

We have a template to assist you with putting your business plan together. Download our Business Plan template here.

Do I need an ABN?

An ABN is the key identifying number for your business when dealing with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), government agencies and other organisations.

To be entitled to an ABN you must:

  • be able to demonstrate that your business structure is in place.
  • be carrying on an enterprise in Australia or
  • in the course of carrying on an enterprise make supplies connected with the indirect tax zone or
  • have undertaken sufficient activities to commence an enterprise or
  • be a Corporations Act company.

You can apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) online at the Australian Business Register 

Do I need an accountant?

Obtaining the services of an accountant to assist with your businesses finances can often reduce the stress of running your business. If accounting is not your strength, leave it to the experts.

Take some time to select your accountant as this person or firm will, in effect, become part of your business. Does your accountant have experience dealing with small businesses? Take the time to meet them as you will be working closely together towards common goals.

Accountants in your area can be found through the Certified Practising Accountants of Australia (CPA) website

Do I need insurance?

Before choosing an insurance policy you will need to evaluate your business's insurance needs. Your insurance requirements may vary considerably depending on the type of business you operate.

Some insurers offer insurance package policies specially tailored to cover your business needs. There are also individual products that may be relevant to the particular nature of your business.

Industry associations sometimes buy insurance in bulk to provide better deals to their members. They also provide important insurance advice that is specific to the industry. If you are a member of an industry association, contact them to find out how they can help you.

There are three broad types of business insurance:

Do I need to register a business name?

A business name is a name under which you run a business. If you are operating a business and you are not trading under your own name, you have a legal obligation to register a business name.

Before registering your business name, you need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN). If you don't have one, you need to apply for it through the Australian Business Register.

Apply for an ABN

Set up your account with ASIC (Australian Securities and Investment Commission) to register your business name on the ASIC Connect homepage. Follow through on the steps to register your business name.

Register your business name

Do I need to register for GST?

You must register for GST if:

  • your business or enterprise has a GST turnover (gross income minus GST) of $75,000 or more
  • your non-profit organisation has a GST turnover of $150,000 per year or more 
  • you provide taxi or limousine travel for passengers in exchange for a fare as part of your business, regardless of your GST turnover - this applies to both owner drivers and if you lease or rent a taxi
  • you want to claim fuel tax credits for your business or enterprise.

If your business or enterprise doesn’t fit into one of the above categories, registering for GST is optional. To register for GST you will need an Australian Business Number (ABN).

You can register for GST:

  • online with the Australian Taxation Office
  • by phone by calling the ATO on 13 28 66
  • or through your registered tax agent or BAS agent.

To register for GST you will need to complete an application form. If you wish to apply for an ABN at the same time, then use the same form.

What licenses and permits do I need?

Depending on the type of business you are looking at you may need a licence or permit to operate.  To find out what licences or permits you may need, you can check with the Business Licence Information Service (BLIS). BLIS identifies the licences you need for a particular business, from over 780 business types, as well as relevant industry codes of practice.