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Quick reference guide for getting started

Choose a business structure

Before starting a small business, it's important you choose the best structure for your business type. The most commonly used business structures are sole trader, partnership, company, and trust.

  • If you’re unsure, use the Business registration – help me decide tool to help you work out a business structure, and which basic business and tax registrations you should consider applying for.
  • Operating as a sole trader is the simplest and cheapest business structure you can set up. You control and manage the business, and although you 'trade' on your own, you can still employ people to work for you. Learn more about setting up as a sole trader.
  • If you’ve decided a limited partnership structure is best for your business, you’ll need to register the limited partnership with the NSW Fair Trading’s Registry Services.
  • If you've decided a company structure is best for your business, you'll need to register your company with the Australian Government.
  • trust is an obligation imposed on one person or entity (the trustee), to hold property for the benefit of another (the beneficiary). The trustee can be an individual or a company, the latter providing some asset protection. Learn more about setting up a trust business structure.
  • If you've decided a co-operative is best for your business, you'll need to register the co-operative with NSW Fair Trading's Registry Services.

For further information, visit the Australian Government Business website or speak to a business advisor through the NSW Government's Business Connect program.

Learn more about the differences between the business structures in our Business Basics FAQs section.

Register for an ABN

Decide whether you will need to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN). You don't have to register for an ABN, but an ABN will let you claim Goods and Services Tax credits, energy grants credits, register an Australian domain name, plus more.

Register your business name

Unless you're a sole trader or partnership and your business name is exactly the same as your first and last names (or yours and your partners) you can register your business name. You'll need an ABN or ABN application number to register your business name.

Check the licensing requirements

Some types of home businesses must have special registrations or licences.

Check the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website for licensing and other requirements for the type of business you are planning to operate, and for your local council area.

Check if you need local council approval

  • As a general rule, home businesses that meet certain criteria and do not impact on the local amenity (including noise, traffic, parking, waste, smell, fumes, signage) are exempt and do not require development approval to operate. If your business is not exempt, check with your local council to see what approvals from council you need to operate your home business. There are also separate specific council approval requirements for home child care centres, beauty and skin penetration services and food businesses.
  • In addition you should check with your local council for the specific requirements for bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday rental accommodation including Airbnb and campgrounds, home occupation (sex services) or sex services premises including brothels.

Running a home business from a rental property

If your home business is operating from a property you do not own, including public housing, you may need to obtain the owner, body corporate or landlord’s permission to operate your home business in the premises and/or to display any signage. Learn more about when you may need approval as a tenant.

Hiring employees

If you have or plan to hire employees you need to ensure you are aware of and can meet all employee obligations (including but not limited to payslips, taxation, contracts, superannuation, and work health and safety). Learn more about your obligations as an employer.

Register for GST

You must register your business for Goods and Services Tax (GST) if your GST turnover is $75,000 or more.

Apply for a business TFN

If you've decided a partnership, company, or trust structure is best for your business, you'll need to apply for a business Tax File Number.

Other tax requirements

Check with the Australian Tax Office or your accountant regarding what tax requirements you need to meet in relation to your home business. Learn more about tax deductions and liabilities.


Consider what insurance cover you need and confirm that you have appropriate insurance cover for your business activities. For example, residential insurance may not cover your home business. Learn more about insurance.

Register a trade mark

If applicable for your business, you should consider registering a trade mark. A trade mark (sometimes called a brand) is the way you show your customers and the public who you are.

Putting up a sign

It is a good idea to have a sign for your home business so that potential customers and clients can identify it. Find out about requirements for signs.

Intellectual Property protection

Consider the Intellectual Property protection options and strategies relevant to your business needs. You can contact IP Australia, the Australian Government agency responsible for administering patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights.

Prepare for natural disasters

Review the Get Ready Business toolkit to ensure that your business is prepared for unexpected emergencies or natural disasters. This will include regularly backing up your computer files to the Cloud, and having copies of key business documents stored in a safe place.

Professional associations

Consider if there is a professional association or peak body for your type of business, or consider a home business network or local Business Chamber. Learn more about professional associations.

Waste disposal

If your business will produce waste or pollution of any kind (including but not limited to water, grease, chemicals, rubbish or smell) you need to ensure that this waste or pollution will be disposed of legally and appropriately. Learn more about waste disposal.

Displaying and advertising prices

Ensure your business meets requirements for displaying or advertising prices. You must comply with pricing requirements, and display prices accurately and clearly.


If you are residing in Australia on a visa, there may be conditions that could affect your ability to start and run a business. To check whether or not you are eligible to run a business check your current visa, or visit the Department of Home Affairs.