New ID requirement for directors
Company directors are now required by law to apply for a director identification number (director ID). Find out more at our director ID information page.
If you are operating or planning to operate a small business as a registered company or under a registered business name, this content is for you.
ASIC assists small business as we regulate all companies, financial markets and providers of financial services and consumer credit in Australia.
- Definition of a small business
- How ASIC assists small business
- Starting a small business
- Running a small business
- Protecting your small business
- Closing a small business
- Not-for-profit and Indigenous corporations
- Small business resources in other languages
Definition of a small business
There is no one definition for ‘small business’. This is because different laws define ‘small business’ differently. However, the Corporations Act defines ‘small proprietary company’ in section 45A(2).
Generally, a small business can be structured to operate as a company, partnership, trust or sole trader. Find out more about setting up a business structure.
How ASIC assists small business
Small businesses will generally interact with ASIC when they:
- register a company or business name
- renew the registration of a company or business name
- deregister a company or cancel a business name
- report misconduct by a financial product or service provider
- verify information about other businesses by checking our registers.
- operate a business in Australia that is involved in providing financial or consumer credit services.
If people or entities contravene the law, ASIC has the power to take various enforcement action. For example, ASIC can ban or disqualify company directors, ban individuals from the financial services and credit industries, and take civil or criminal action against companies or company officers. Find out more about ASIC’s role.
Read our Small Business Strategy (PDF 658 KB) to find out how ASIC assists small business.
Starting a small business
Before starting a small business, you will need to decide on the structure that best suits you. This could be a registered company or operating as a sole trader under a registered business name. Different business structures have different compliance and legal requirements. In deciding the best structure, you should consider getting professional business advice from a trusted adviser, including an accountant or lawyer. If you decide to register a company, you will also need to appoint company directors and officeholders and find out how to meet your legal requirements.
Find out more about how to start a small business.
Running a small business
There are several requirements and factors to consider when operating or planning to operate a small business in Australia. If you own or are looking to start a small business as a registered company or under a registered business name, you should read ASIC’s Running a small business in Australia - What you need to know booklet.
Protecting your small business
Once your business is up and running, it is important that you know how to manage business risks, understand your rights, take steps to protect your business, and know how to sort out any disputes with other businesses and recover bad debts.
Find out how to protect your small business.
Closing a small business
There may be different reasons why you want or need to close a business.
If your business has stopped trading, you should consider deregistering your company and cancelling your business name. This will mean you won’t have to pay annual fees or continue to comply with your legal requirements, such as keeping your personal and business details updated with ASIC.
If you think your company may be insolvent because it is unable to pay all is debts when they become due and payable you should consider getting advice on the options to wind up the company’s affairs.
There are various ways you can close a company or deregister a business. For further information read our guidance on closing a small business.
Not-for-profit and Indigenous corporations
If you are setting up a not-for-profit or a charitable Indigenous organisation that is a company limited by guarantee, we have some useful guidance. We explain your company obligations, the rights of company directors and members and how to resolve disputes.
Find out more about Indigenous corporations.
Small business resources in other languages
We have information and resources for people from non-English speaking backgrounds. If you are a small business owner in Australia and English is not your first language, this page may be of interest to you.
Find out about our resources in other languages.
- Business.gov.au – Australian Government website for businesses
- Running a small business in Australia - Read our small business booklet
- Translation and interpreting service - Use our translation service
- Moneysmart website – Tools and tips for your personal finances