When most people think about starting a business, they imagine a long and complicated process that requires a significant amount of money. And for many entrepreneurs, that is enough to put their dreams on the back burner. 

But what if you were told that starting a business in Australia could cost as little as $650?

Sure, once the company is up and running, your costs will start adding up, so you’ll need to do some proper research and preparation before jumping straight in. The actual process of creating a company, however, is relatively inexpensive. 

So, don’t let the thought of it overwhelm you! All small business owners go through these hurdles at the beginning. 

Let’s look at a few simple steps to take when starting a business in Australia. 

1. Choose Your Company Name and Business Structure

Before starting any business, the most imperative step is to decide between the different business structures. The business structure you choose will impact your:

  • Tax obligations
  • Legal obligations
  • Level of asset protection
  • Reporting obligations

If you’re reading this blog post, you may be one of the Australian businesses that have already gone through these steps, but have decided to go with a company as your preferred structure. From here, you can proceed with the company registration process. 

If you have not contacted an accountant, be sure to do so, as the wrong structure may incur unnecessary costs or higher taxes. 

The next step is to decide on your business name. 

​​Once you’ve decided on a name for your company, you’ll need to reserve it with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to ensure no one else can register the same name for their business.

The process is simple and only takes a few minutes. First, visit the ASIC website and search for the business name you want to reserve. If the name is available, you can then fill out an online form and pay the reservation fee, which is currently set at $59

Note: ASIC regularly updates these costs, so check their website for the most current information.

Once your payment has been processed, you will reserve your company name for one year.

After that, you will need to renew your reservation if you want to keep using the same name. If you decide to change your proposed company name, you can cancel your current reservation and start the process over again with a new name.

2. Decide on the Type of Legal Entity You Want to Incorporate

When you’ve chosen an available company name, the next step is to decide what type of company you will be incorporating.

Regarding private companies in Australia, you can choose between a proprietary company limited by shares (Pty Ltd) or an unlimited proprietary company limited by share capital (Pty).

A proprietary limited company (Pty Ltd) is limited by shares, which means that shareholders’ liability is capped at the number of shares they own. 

On the other hand, unlimited proprietary companies (Pty) have a share capital, but the shareholder’s liability isn’t limited. That means shareholders could be liable for the full debt if things go wrong. A Pty Ltd structure is more common in Australia than a Pty structure for small businesses.

That said, each type of company has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh up your options before making a decision. But the most popular type of private company is a ‘Pty Ltd’. 

You could also incorporate a public company. 

The main difference between a private and a public company is that a public company conducts business with unlimited shareholders. It can sell its shares to the public, making raising the capital you need to further your business generally easier. 

Having said that, because the public is involved, there are also more compliance regulations to which you need to adhere. 

Most small businesses start as private companies and then switch to a public company structure once they’ve reached the maximum number of shareholders allowed in a private company and wish to have their business continue growing.

3. Establish What Rules Will Govern Your Company

After deciding on your company’s legal status and registering a company, you need to determine how it will be governed. In Australia, a company has its legal obligations and must be governed by either replaceable rules, its constitution, or a combination of both. 

Replaceable rules are a set of default rules that apply to all companies under the Corporations Act, unless modified or replaced by the company’s constitution. A company’s constitution is a document that sets out the rules for running the company. 

It can override the replaceable rules and also contain additional rules about areas like the powers of directors and shareholders.

From a cost perspective, using the replaceable rules is free, whereas drawing up a constitution may require consultation with a lawyer and the expense of updating it. So, if you want to keep costs to a minimum but still adhere to the Corporations Act, you can start with the replaceable rules and always create a constitution for your proposed company at a later stage.

4. Legal Obligations: Obtain Consent from Officeholders and Members

If more than one person fills the roles of director, secretary, and member, you’ll need to obtain their written consent to register a company. 

The director must also apply for a Director Identification Number (Director ID) . 

Once you’ve decided how your company will be governed, you can proceed with registering your company.

Once you’ve decided how your company will be governed, you can proceed with registering your company.

5. Register a Company with ASIC

Once you’ve gone through the previous four steps, you can register your company online. The current cost to register a company ranges between $474 and  $576, depending on the type of company you register:

  • Proprietary company that has share capital: $576
  • Public company with share capital: $576
  • Public company limited by guarantee: $474

Note: ASIC frequently updates these costs, so check their website for the most up-to-date information.

Once you’ve registered your company, you’ll be given an Australian company number, which you can then use to apply for your Australian Business Number (ABN) and tax registrations (such as Goods and Services Tax, PAYG etc.) 

The Australian Government Business Registration Service combines several business and tax registrations into one place, so you can apply for an ABN  and register your company name online simultaneously. 

Key Takeaways

    • Registering a new company in Australia is a simple process that can be completed in five steps. 
    • The entire process will cost you less than $650, making it more affordable than you may have initially thought.  
    • Ongoing costs, such as accounting and bookkeeping fees, will be incurred after you decide to register a company. But these costs are generally tax-deductible, so you can offset them against your company’s income. 

    If you have a few extra dollars to spare, you may want to consider seeking professional advice from an accountant. We can help register a company on your behalf and navigate your company’s records and tax obligations. 

    Box Advisory Services is a full-service accounting firm that can help your company with all its accounting and tax obligations. We have a team of experienced chartered accountants and tax agents who are well-versed in company tax law, and we can help you file your company tax return and maximise your deductions. 

    We also offer outsourced bookkeeping services, so you can be confident that your company records are in order. Beyond that, we offer a wide range of consulting services, including financial planning and risk management assistance. 

    Book a FREE consultation today. 


Can 1 Person Start a Company in Australia?

Yes, one person can start a company in Australia. To start a proprietary limited company, which is the most common type for small businesses, you only need at least one director, and that one director can also be the sole shareholder. However, having at least two directors for better corporate governance is recommended. In some cases, a solo business owner may choose to be a sole trader instead.


Is a Company a Separate Legal Entity?

Yes, when you register a company in Australia, it becomes its own legal entity, which is separate from its owners, directors and other company officers. This means the company itself can sue and be sued for its own assets, incur debts and liabilities in its own name, and continue to exist even if the directors or shareholders change. Directors have limited liability with most company structures.


What Is the Corporations Act?

The Corporations Act 2001 is the principal legislation regulating companies in Australia. It covers matters like the powers and duties of directors and officers, fundraising and disclosures, corporate governance, and mergers and acquisitions. The Act aims to ensure responsible corporate behaviour, transparency, and the protection of shareholders and the public. It is administered by ASIC.