Starting a small business

Even before you decide to start a small business, you’ll need to ensure you are eligible to do so and consider the best structure for your business.

Checking your eligibility to start a company or business

Some people are automatically disqualified from managing companies or holding business names in Australia.

Can a bankrupt, disqualified or convicted person become a company director or manage a company?

If you are bankrupt or have signed a Personal Insolvency Agreement under Part X of the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (the terms of which have not been fully complied with), you cannot manage a company. For more information see Information Sheet 14 Bankruptcy and personal insolvency agreements (INFO 14).

ASIC has the power to disqualify or ban you from managing a company for up to five years if (and in addition to other reasons):

  • you have been involved in two or more failed (liquidated) companies in the last seven years, and
  • a liquidator has lodged a report with ASIC for each of the companies about the companies’ inability to pay its debts, or
  • money was advanced for the purposes of paying the entitlements of employees of the corporations under the Fair Entitlement Guarantee.

If you have been convicted of certain dishonesty-related offences, such as theft or fraud, you are automatically disqualified from managing a company for five years. The five-year period begins on the day you were convicted or, if you were imprisoned, from the day you were released.

It is a criminal offence to manage a company when disqualified.

Business name holders must also meet eligibility requirements.

Choosing a business structure

When you start a business, it is important to choose a structure that best suits your needs. The most common types of business structures are sole trader, partnership, trust and company.

Find out more about how to choose a business structure.

Registering a business name

A business name is the name or title under which a person or company conducts business.

You must register a business name if:

  • you conduct business under a name other than your own personal name, or
  • you operate a company that conducts business using a different name to the registered company name.

A business name can be registered for one or three years. All business names used in Australia are registered with ASIC.

Find out more on how to register, renew, transfer or cancel your business name.

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Last updated: 31/10/2022 10:40