Starting a business is an exciting time, but it does come with challenges. To help answer some questions you may have, we asked our contact centre agents - what the most asked questions are from people wanting to start a business.

1. What is a business name and what is the process to register?

A business name is a name or title your business operates under. All business names are administered by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). You can check if your intended business name is available by searching the Business name check tool.

You can register your business name using the Business Registration Service. The cost to register your business name is $42 for 1 year or $98 for 3 years.

It’s important to know, once you've registered your business name you can’t change it. If you want to rebrand your business or name it something slightly different, you'll need to register for a new business name and cancel your current business name.

2. I want to start a business, where do I begin?

Starting a business takes a lot of effort and commitment. Before you start, it’s important to know what's involved and if you're suited to running a business. Use our Are you ready to start a business? checklist to help you evaluate yourself and make sure you're ready.

Once you've evaluated yourself, use our Guide to starting a business to help you prepare for your business journey. It will take you through each step and help you understand what's involved when starting and running a business.

3. What is an Australian Business Number (ABN) and why do I need one?

An ABN is a unique 11-digit number that identifies your business to the government and community.

You can use an ABN to:

  • identify your business to others when ordering and invoicing
  • avoid pay as you go (PAYG) tax on payments you get
  • claim goods and services tax (GST) credits
  • claim energy grants credits
  • get an Australian domain name.

You can apply for an ABN through the Business Registration Service for free.

Not everyone needs an ABN, to get one you need to be running a business or other enterprise. Find out if you’re entitled to an ABN.

4. What is a company and how do I register one?

A company is a type of business structure and is a legal entity that's separate from you. This means the company has the same rights as a natural person and can incur debt, sue and be sued.

A company has different legal, financial and record keeping responsibilities compared to other business structures, so it’s important you know what’s involved.

You can register a company through the Business Registration Service. The cost of registering a company ranges from $474 - $576, depending on the type of company you register. You can learn more about company fees on the ASIC website.

An important reminder, if you’re a director of a company you need to apply for a director identification number (director ID).

5. Is there government funding or a grant to help me start my business?

Unfortunately, there are very few government grants available just for starting a business. However, once you’re up and running, depending on the type of business you run, you may find support to help with other aspects of business, such as employing workers or innovation. You can use our Grants finder to search for grants, funding and support programs from across government to help your business grow and succeed.

Important reminder, don’t pay for government grant information.

Aside from getting a government grant, there are other ways to raise capital and obtain finance, including sourcing finance from a bank or lender. Learn more about funding for your business.

You may also like to speak with a business adviser about support available to help your business. Use our Adviser finder to find a business adviser or expert suited to your location and interests.

There are also many government run or funded events and training for your business. These events can help you improve your business skills, learn about government grants or grow your network. Use our Events and training finder to search for in-person and online events.

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