Starting a business as a young person
If you've got an entrepreneurial spirit, but you're a little younger than the typical age of a business owner, don't worry - you can still start a business as a minor with some proper planning and information!
Generally, there are no age restrictions for starting a business. However, there are a few things that need to be considered more carefully if you're a minor.
One of the first things you'll need to consider is what kind of structure your business will use.
The most common business structures are:
- sole trader
A sole trader business structure is the simplest business to set up because there are less legal and tax obligations.
Company business structures are a more complex structure because they're governed by a board of directors. You need to be at least 18 years of age to be a director of a company.
Getting an Australian Business Number (ABN)
Once you've decided on your business's structure, it's a good idea to obtain an ABN. An ABN is the number you'll use when dealing with other businesses and the government. Although anyone can apply for an ABN (regardless of how old you are), not everyone is entitled to an ABN - it's dependent on your business activities.
What to do...
- Read our Australian Business Numbers article for more information on ABNs.
- Check out the Australian Business Register's (ABR's) ABN entitlement tool to find out if your business activities are eligible for an ABN.
- Apprentices, trade assistants, labourers and other types of employees are not entitled to an ABN. Check out our How do I know if I am an independent contractor? page for more information.
- Use the Australian Taxation Office's (ATO's) Employee/Contractor decision tool to help you figure out if you're an employee or an independent contractor for taxation purposes.
Register your business the easy way
With the new Business Registration Service, you can apply for your key business registrations using one form.
Who can use this service?
The Business Registration Service is available for:
- New businesses starting as a sole trader, partnership, company, trust, joint venture or superannuation fund who can apply for a business name, Australian Business Number (ABN), company and tax registrations.
- Existing businesses with an ABN, who can apply for tax registrations or an AUSkey login.
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Tax File Number (TFN)
You'll also need a TFN to do business. You can apply for a TFN at any age, however if you are:
- 12 years old or younger - your parent or guardian must sign on your behalf
- between 13 and 15 years old - either you or your parent/guardian can sign the form
- 16 years old or older - you must sign the form yourself.
If you decide to start your business as a sole trader business structure, you can use your own personal TFN, but for all other business structures, you'll need a specific TFN for the business.
Working hours for minors
Although you'll be considered 'self-employed' as a minor, there are still restrictions on what hours minors can work.
The laws slightly vary in each state and territory, but the main requirements are:
- no working during school hours
- no work after 10:00pm on a school night.
In some states, you may require adult supervision while you work if you're under a certain age.
Check out the Fair Work Ombudsman's information on What age can I start work? for more state and territory specific information.
After your business is up and running, you might want to employ people to help keep your business going.
If you employ people older than you, your staff members may need to complete a permit or check to be eligible to work with a minor. The requirements for these types of checks vary in each state and territory, so it's important to check with your relevant state government.
Programmes and grants for young people
- Check out our Grants & Assistance tool for potential programmes and grants to support your business venture.
Licence and registration
When starting a business it's your responsibility to ensure that your business is operating legally by having the right licences and registrations. The Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website can help you search for industry specific licences and permits you need to run your business.
Finance and bookkeeping
In business, it's important to have strong financial skills so you can keep track of your earnings and spending habits.
Here are some resources to help you strengthen your financial skills before starting your business:
- Be MoneySmart - the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has developed a free online course designed to help young people understand and take control of their finances.
- Business finances - a useful resource with information about seeking and managing finance, bookkeeping and sources of finance.
Other tips for starting a business
If you're serious about starting a business as a minor, it's important to understand your obligations and responsibilities. Check out these resources to help you:
- Our Starting a business guide - it will take you through each step of starting a business and help you understand what's ahead.
- Business planning template - a practical tool to help business owners plan out their business venture.
- Find a business advisor - our Advisory Services search tool can help you find a low-cost business advisor in your area.