What are the set-up steps and costs?
Set-up steps and costs for a sole trader and a company
Australian Business Number (ABN)
Registering and obtaining an Australian Business Number (ABN) is free. Generally, both companies and sole traders will need an ABN.
If registering a business name applies to you, business name registration is $35 for one year or $82 for three years.
A sole trader is a simple business structure to set up as there aren't many legal or tax obligations. It's important to understand that when you operate as a sole trade you are:
- the sole owner of the business
- personally responsible for business liabilities.
Separate business bank accounts are recommended, but not compulsory for sole traders. You may be liable for bank fees, depending on the type of account you choose to open.
A company is a more complex business structure to set up as there are quite involved legal and taxation obligations. A company is a separate legal entity. This means it has the same rights as a natural person and can incur debt, sue and be sued.
Registering a company will cost you $479 for a proprietary limited company. You will receive an Australian Company Number (ACN) when the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) registers your company. If you want to run your business as a company, you need to register your company and get an ACN before you can get your ABN. Companies must have a separate bank account for the business. The company may be liable for bank fees, depending on the type of account it opens.
- Read more about a sole trader and a company.
- Check out our What could I be personally responsible for as a sole trader vs. a company director? information for more on your potential liabilities as a company director.
- Check out ASIC's Guide for Small Business Directors for more about your legal obligations as a company director.