There’s a lot riding on getting your business name right. Read our expert guide on choosing the right name for your business, getting it registered and applying for your ABN.
What’s in a name?
Choosing an effective business name is important. It’s your business identity and tells your customer what you do. When deciding on a business name make sure it’s simple; easy to pronounce; descriptive; memorable; positive; sounds nice; unique; and conveys your brand or what you are selling.
Is this name going to work?
Once you’ve decided on a business name – or maybe you have a shortlist of potential names – do some research, starting online. Check that your proposed business name isn’t too similar to one that already exists and isn’t linked with any negative news story or scandal. You don’t want a case of mistaken identity!
Picture yourself trying to relay your web address to one of your customers. If your business name uses a mix of letters and numbers or symbols, that might make the task difficult.
Road–test your business name with family and friends. Is it easy for them to understand? Do you have to spell out the name so they “get” it? If you had to do that multiple times a day for your customers, that would be torture, trust me.
The next step is to go onto the Australian Business Register and make sure your desired business name is available. If it’s taken, back to the drawing board. At least you’ll be quicker with the process second time around.
Once you get a green light on the business name, check the domain name and social accounts are also available. If they’re not, it means you’re deprived of an invaluable resource, and you may want to adjust the name of your business. If, happily, the domain name and social accounts are available, consider purchasing both .com and .com.au domains.
Congratulations! You’re now ready to register your business name.
Get your Australian Business Number (ABN)
You will need an Australian Business Number (ABN) to carry on an enterprise in Australia. An ABN is a unique 11 digit, single identification number that enables businesses in Australia to deal with a number of government departments and agencies.
Before starting the online registration process for your business, you’ll need to have applied for and received your Australian Business Number (ABN). You must have this for the registration process.
Warning: Please do not pay for your ABN. While there are plenty of sites offering to help guide you through this process, they will charge you for the pleasure. It can be a very expensive exercise. Use the Australian Government’s “one-stop-shop” instead. It’s user-friendly and free.
It’s easy to get bogged down in confusion around registration for Goods and Services Tax (GST), pay as you go (PAYG) taxation and related business obligations. This may be a good time to consult your accountant or a business advisor. Another option is to get your ABN first and then go back and register for any compliance obligations later.
Bear in mind that getting professional advice and making the right decisions from the get-go is the smart thing to do.
Business name registration
The ATO’s “one-stop-shop” makes the whole process of registering a new business quick and easy. No need to stress. Go online and apply for an ABN, an Australian Corporation Number (ACN) if needed, register your business name, and register for business taxes all in one place. You can also register for an AUSkey. Your Auskey is a secure login that identifies you when using online services on behalf of your business.
If you’re tight on time or need some assistance completing the application, just save it and return later.
Job done! You’re on your way, and haven’t paid a dollar more than you need to.
The cost of registering your business
Unlike registering for an ABN, business registration will definitely cost you. At the time of writing, it’s AU$36 for one year or AU$84 for three years. (Please check these prices, though, as they are liable to change.)