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Australia - Self-employment and Business Start Ups


Many expats move to Australia with the idea of working for themselves when they get there. If you intend to start your own business and can prove that you have the funds and acumen to do so, then you will be considered an investor or a business owner in the country and will find it much easier to get a visa. There is a difference between starting a business and buying an existing business. If your venture is a success then after a period of 4 years you can be granted residency in the country.

One way of finding a business to buy is to go through a buyer’s agent. They can help to negotiate terms, prices and other details. This a popular route for the newly arrived expat as they are dealing in unfamiliar territory and a buyer’s agent can make the whole process much smoother. They will also be able to advise on local legal requirements and other regulations, such as taxes, employment law and insurance.

Whether or not you choose to use a buyer’s agent or act for yourself you will need a strong business plan, particularly if you need some financial backing. If you are new to the country you will have no credit history there so the more information you can provide on paper to the banks the easier it will be to find funds. This will demonstrate your knowledge of the market and your business acumen.

There are grants that can be applied for via the Australian government in order to start a new business. These are available to expats as well as Australian nationals; although for newly arriving expats it is much easier to buy an existing business than start one. However, it should be noted that these businesses are on the market for a reason and it is usually because they are not performing as well as expected. Unless you are sure you can turn the business around you should not consider buying it, so this usually means sticking to a business area that you are already familiar with.

Australia has a shortage of skilled workers, so if you have a trade and want to work for yourself your visa application may be looked upon favourably. This category includes plumbers, electricians and builders. However, you also need to demonstrate that you will help local economy and this usually means taking on local staff. Some visas granted for businesses will state that a minimum number of local staff should be hired, so you may want to take this into consideration when writing your business plan.

There are options for running hotels and guest houses in the more tourist areas of the country. A business venture like this will require a great deal of capital and it is a good idea if you can demonstrate some experience in this field. When buying an existing business, consider how you can add to it or change it. If the business is being sold because it has been underperforming then you will need to make changes when you take it over otherwise it will not improve.

There are also opportunities for those who are skilled in water sports and can run courses or take tourists out scuba diving and other such activities. The coastal areas attract those who enjoy diving and fishing or simply sailing. This does require expertise as there is a great deal of insurance needed in a business such as this and it would be hard for an unqualified person to get. Experience of running a similar business will also help if funding is needed from a financial institution.

Business insurance has become something of an issue in Australia because of soaring premiums. Some small businesses that have been struggling have been forced to close or sell because of this, so it is essential that you investigate the potential insurance costs prior to buying any business, otherwise you might find yourself paying out more than you are making for a while.

When you are starting a business in Australia there are a few decisions that need to be made. First of all you should decide on the type of business. You can opt to trade under your own name, establish a business trading name or you can trade as a limited company. If you choose to trade under your own name you do not need to register a business name, but you should check if your business requires a licence or if you need to be registered for goods and sales tax. If you register as a business name you need to ensure that the business is registered in all states that the company operates in. All state governments have their own offices for business registration. Registration does not mean that your business name is protected and you will find that others can use the same name. If you want to protect the name you will need to apply to register the name as a trademark. Once your business name has been registered it must appear correctly on all your company paperwork.

If you start a business in Australia you will need to register for an ABN – Australian Business Number. This will make processing taxes much easier. Even if you are not a permanent resident of Australia you are considered to be a resident for tax purposes if you are in the country for more than half of the financial year unless you can prove that your main home is outside the country. However, a business in Australia is still liable for taxes regardless of where the proprietor is living.

You may choose to form a limited company. When you are making plans for this you can reserve a company name for up to two months. Such a company will need to have at least one named director but there is no obligation to appoint a company secretary. In order to be named in either position you must be resident in Australia. If you suggest a name that is being used by another company or the name is considered to be unacceptable then it will be rejected. You can register a company name and then trade under another business name, but this will need to be registered in all states where you do business.

There are fees for registering a business which are regularly reviewed, but you can expect to pay several hundred dollars for the registration fee. You can opt to use a specialist company to take care of the registration process for you, but you will need to account for their fee on top of the registration fees.

When you employ staff you must be registered with the taxation office and follow the state regulations on paying salaries. You are obliged to keep up to date employment records and you should ensure that your business complies with all the relevant health and safety regulations for your state. It is your responsibility to follow employment regulations and ensure that contributions are paid on behalf of the employee.

Obtaining finance in Australia to begin a new business can be difficult for an expat. When you first move to the country you have no credit history and the terms of most visas granted for this purpose will state that you should have finance in place in order to invest in the country.

Starting a business in Australia can be something of a minefield, particularly when you take into consideration all the regulations of every aspect of business that need to be dealt with. The government’s business advice website can guide you in the right direction of the all the relevant forms and guides that you need on taxation, business registration and employment regulations. The website has information on all the different funding options that are available for your business if you are eligible and all the different types of business options that may be suitable for you.

It is relatively easy to find an accountant in Australia. There are a number of searchable websites available or you can just go directly to the website of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. The site gives information on how a chartered accountant works and has a search facility so that you can find an accountant in your area.


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