Business structures and types

There are a number of structures that you can choose from when starting or expanding your business.

Four main structures

The four main business structures commonly used by small businesses in Australia are:

  • Sole trader: an individual trading on their own
  • Partnership: an association of people or entities running a business together, but not as a company
  • Trust: an entity that holds property or income for the benefit of others
  • Company: a legal entity separate from its shareholders.

Choosing a structure

When deciding upon a structure for your business, choose the one that best suits your business needs and remember that there are advantages and disadvantages for each. Choosing your business structure is an important decision that can determine the licenses you will need to operate, so you need to investigate each option carefully.

It is important to note that you can change your business structure through the life of your business. As your business grows and expands you may decide to change your business structure, or to restructure your business.

Obtaining legal or other professional advice can help you understand your own particular circumstances. Speak to your accountant or use our Advisor Finder tool when deciding on your business structure and type. It is important to determine your business structure and type of business before you register a business or company as the steps may differ.

Types of businesses

As well as deciding on the structure of your business, you will also need to consider the type of business you want to start or when expanding and growing your existing business.

There a many different types of businesses. The business type you choose to start or run may depend on your personal circumstances, interests, finances and business objectives.

We've covered some of the business types that you may choose when starting out or if buying an existing business, in the topics below:

Read our Industry Fact sheets for more detailed industry information on a large variety of business types that you can choose from. Our Fact sheets are useful when researching the type of business you are looking to start or expand into.

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