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The recent years have seen an unprecedented number of new companies starting in Australia. It is a widely held view that the millennials are the most entrepreneurial generation so far. The Federal Government keeps talking up innovation and entrepreneurship, both in their speeches and through their policies supporting new initiatives and technologies.

 You have an idea and you want to register a company

So, assuming you have a great startup idea, you know what problem your startup is solving, and you have some (regardless how small) budget to back it up with, the first next question that you should ask is how to actually start a company. The issue is not insignificant – it involves dealing with legal and regulatory stuff, considering a variety of tax and compliance implications and making a set of decisions that could impact the company later on in its life.

Things you need to do

Having said that, the challenge is not an insurmountable one! It has been done before by many thousands of others and will be done by many more – you are not alone. There is help, too – from online instruction, YouTube, Google, even ASIC and ATO have advice posted, to self-help booklets and guides.

Of course, as a true millennial you will get someone else to do it – and pay your way through the maze. Specialized accountants and lawyers do it for a fee – so called off-shelf companies are waiting for you! Then again, if you are a true entrepreneur you may want to learn it yourself, even if that means paying it with sweat and tears!

So, let’s have a look to how to entangle the process …

To register a company you need to cover 3 basic steps:

Step 1: Register company business name

Your company is like a newborn baby – it needs a name! You have to register your company business name through ASIC (Australian Securities and Investment Commission)

TIP: Company business name does not have to be the same as your business brand name.

Once you have picked the name you like, and have checked against the ASIC register that the name has not been taken by others, it is only a matter of navigating through thoroughly complex, sometimes impassable and often silly ASIC website, until, at some late hour, a message appears congratulating you on successfully registering your new business name! Hurrraaah!

Step 2: Register your company

Your company needs to be registered (it’s like getting a birth certificate for a newborn). ASIC, again. The online ASIC FORM 201 is such a joy – consider it an online 1st startup competence test placed before you by ASIC. Fortunately, your persistence will eventually win over all ASIC challenges and conspiracies to keep you out of the game. On successful completion you will be richly rewarded by ASIC with the following 3 things:

  1. Company Registration Certificate – You can frame and hang it in your non-existing startup office.
  2. ABN & ACN (Australian Business Number & Australian Company   Number)
  3. Corporate Key – Don’t lose it – you will need it for all sorts of online dealings with ASIC and others, including registering for online dealings with those esteemed institutions, any changes to the company you need to make, etc

Step 2 conquered! Get the new box of tissues and wipe that sweat off!

Step 3: Your business needs TFN

Yes, yes, you are expected to pay tax on company income and for that your business needs its own TFN.

  1. Tax File Number: From one Leviathan to another: we now deal with the Australian Tax Office (ATO – brrr!). The helpful link is https://abr.gov.au/For-Business,-Super-funds—Charities/Applying-for-other-registrations/Apply-for-a-TFN-for-business/ . You will learn more acronyms during the next hour of your life than in any preceding or succeeding one, but in the process you will achieve a rare privilege of becoming a corporate citizen, fully entitled to pay or dodge tax, depending on your inclinations and choice of tax agent.
  2. GST and PAYG. The crunch time – do you want to become a government’s agent for collecting and paying GST? Unless you anticipate to earn over $75,000 income per year, you do not have to do it. The good thing is that if you   do register for GST, you can claim the GST you had to pay on purchases back from ATO! Imagine – ATO  actually       gives you money back – truly irresistible!PAYG stands for Pay-As-You-Go (cute, what?!) and you need it only if you will have employees, whose salaries are of course taxed, and you as their employer need to pay it to ATO. So … over to you on this one!
  3. Company docs. A proper corporate citizen needs to be governing itself accordingly. To do so, it needs to have its own set of conduct rules, which are contained in two (or more) documents: the Company Constitution and the Company Rules, in accordance with the Corporation Act 2001. These two docs are readily available as templates   from the above links and will also govern the issues such as share structure, directorships, Board meetings (as if!)     and so on. Once you insert your company name in templates, print them and place them in some folder which is easy to lose and never find again, unless you go broke (which is not the intended idea anyway!).

You are now officially and legally ready to start your startup! Never mind that you are mentally so exhausted that you hate the day you left that cushy little job you had, and decided to immerse in this maze, which Sleeping Beauty’s Prince would never even try to cut through! But then again, you will feel so good about yourself that you will have to post it all on Facebook as your 1st startup achievement!

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