Starting a Business in Australia – the Specific Aspects and the Recent Changes


Carolin Peterson, World Executives Digest |  It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to decide they want to start a business in Australia – it’s a wonderful, vast, diverse country full of countless business opportunities. However, with a steady rise of far-right politics in western countries, things seem to be changing. Unfortunately, Australia has declared war on immigration.

This has, indeed, made launching a startup in the eleventh fastest-rising country in the world much harder than it used to be, so you’re going to need some useful tips by your side in order to achieve your goals and dreams.

Choosing a business structure

There are four common business structures in Australia: company, trust, partnership, or sole trader, and making a choice will likely require help from a legal expert or business consultant.

The specific thing about a company is that it is a separate legal entity – it has the same rights as a natural person, can sue, be sued and incur debt. The shareholders within a company often limit their personal liability, thus making them not liable for outstanding company debts.

Essentially, a trustee is imposed with an obligation to hold property or assets for the benefit of others, aka beneficiaries; this is the essence of a trust.

A partnership involves a number of people who do business together (up to 20).

A business structure where a person, as an individual, is legally responsible for every single aspect of their business is referred to as a “sole trader proprietorship”.

Non-disclosure agreements

A non-disclosure agreement, or an NDA, is used for protecting one’s business idea before revealing to associates. This agreement is a great way to make sure that your idea is safe from theft, but it does come with a huge downside: if you are looking for investors, you might want to find a different way to protect your idea. Why? Well, the vast majority of people who are interested in investing in your business will definitely balk at signing this agreement, and the case is similar with your clients-to-be.

If you aren’t interested in winning over the investors, go with an NDA as a safe bet, otherwise, go with a confidentiality statement.

Australian Business Number and Tax File Number

Australian Business Number, or ABN, is obligatory if you’re looking to be registered to collect GST (which does have an annual turnover of $75,000+). This is done in the Australian Business Register.

If you’re opening a company, a trust, or a partnership, you’re going to need a Tax File Number, or TFN, which is obtainable through the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

The old 457 program

Saying that the old 457 visa program was much more forgiving to foreigners would be a huge understatement – it was designed to attract skilled workers from overseas in the first place. A major downside to this program was the fact that it was extensively abused by Australian businesses – it made it easy for them to bring in cheaper labor force and increase their profits.

On the other hand, the 457 program was certainly much more accessible than the current one, making it perfect for startups looking for foreign experts.

The new Temporary Skill Shortage visa program

This visa is exactly the essence of the modern “visa” problem in Australia – it has made hiring foreign employees an absolute nightmare. Divided into two categories, the two-year visa (short-term) and the four-year visa (medium-term), the new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa is more difficult to obtain. The first, short-term visa is renewable once for two extra years, while the medium-term one makes the holder eligible for residency over the course of a three-year time period.

Another problem is eligibility – unless you have plenty of previous experience with the new visa program, you should hire an expert help. A Parramatta solicitor should possess all the necessary knowledge in this department.

Obtaining citizenship

The new Temporary Skill Shortage visa program has made obtaining Australian citizenship much more difficult. Applicants now have to reside in Australia for the full time period of four years in order to qualify for citizenship, instead of one year.

Starting a business in Australia is still an incredibly lucrative idea, but you should familiarize yourself with all the new aspects that play roles in making getting a startup running much more difficult nowadays. Australian business structure is rather specific, and so are the NDA, ABN and TFN. Getting the new Temporary Skill Shortage visa, however, has become just as difficult as obtaining citizenship nowadays.