Home,  Small Business

Start a small business online? Its easy!

OK fantastic, so you have this great idea, or you already have a small business up and running, but now you want to take the next step and expand by enter the online world, tapping the biggest global resource possible. These days, the internet is one of the most effective ways of giving your business it’s greatest amount of exposure and opportunity to prosper.

So these next few steps are going to hopefully equip you with the tools you need to get up and running in the online world.

Consider your online presence.

If you are running a small business in Australia, and want to take business online with a .com.au address, there are a couple of compliance hoops you need to jump through before you get a website up and running. I’ve done this a number of times for clients and for me it was always a little time-consuming, so from my trial and error of navigating the various authorities in Australia, we can hopefully make these next few steps as easy as possible.

However, if you are happy for your online presence to have a .com address, then registering for an ABN isn’t essential however you may want to chat to your own business advisor to make sure you remain compliant with the requirements in Australia, particularly if you plan to sell goods and services online.

Your small business may need an ABN before going online.

So what’s an ABN?

An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11 digit number that identifies your business to the government and community.

Along with helping to meet your GST obligations (a whole other topic) they also assist the Government to build a better understanding of business demographics in your local area. This helps to guide service delivery, plan and manage infrastructure and provide disaster recovery for you and your community.

In Australia there is no requirement for a business to have an ABN, and not everyone is eligible to register for one, but if you want to buy a domain name to run your website from with a .com.au ending, you are going to need an ABN. As a general rule, if you are selling something being a service or goods you are likely to be entitled to register for and obtain an ABN, and they are pretty straight forward to get. Follow the link here, to find out more about obtaining an ABN, it shouldn’t cost you anything, however if you get your tax agent or business advisor to register and ABN for you they may charge a service fee.

Does your small business have a registered name?

If your business name has already been registered with ASIC, great work, navigating that website is not as easy as it could be!! Big thumbs up for getting through that one. You can go straight onto looking for your domain name.

Now for those who aren’t that far along yet, you might be asking, who is ASIC?

ASIC or Australian Securities and Investments Commission is an independent Australian government body, that acts as Australia’s corporate regulator. It’s role is to enforce and regulate company and financial services laws in order to protect Australian consumers, investors and creditors. Essentially they are a corporate watchdog to make sure everyone is doing the right thing in the big business world. Anyone heard of the big Royal Banking Commission investigation going on?! I digress. Anyway, they keep all the registers needed in relation to who owns what business names along with other corporate registers.

You will need to see if the name you want for your business is available, you can do this by clicking here.

If you don’t have a name for your idea or business yet, now is the time to get brainstorming, open a few tabs and check that the name you want for your small business is available, clicking the link above and the website you want to run the business online (domain name) from is also available, read the section below as to how to go about this.

Ideally, having both the registered name for the business and the domain name for the website matching or close to matching helps to make things easier, especially for branding and marketing of your business, but this isn’t essential.

For example lets take my own page, my business name is registered with ASIC as Mum is Online, however my domain name is mumsonline.com.au. ASIC didn’t approve “mumsonline” because it was too similar to another business already registered. So this may mean you need to have a few attempts finding something ASIC will approve and that suits your business.

So you have your business name set and are ready to register it, this will cost you $35 to register through the ASIC website and will need to be renewed annually to maintain the small business name ownership. Registering your small business name through ASIC connect can be done here. Again if a business advisor does this for you, they may charge you a service fee on top of the $35 registration fee.

Purchasing a domain name for a small business website.

A domain name is like your own piece of online real estate and if correctly chosen, a potential investment in the future.

Looking for a domain name is pretty simple, you will just need to jump onto one of the domain name registrar websites (these are pretty much the online real estate agents) and can be found on Google or check out Crucial who are an Australian based web hosting company and will be able to register your domain name too. There are multiple registrar websites out there and all charge various prices for the same name, so it’s a good idea to go domain name shopping to make sure you get the best possible price from the registrar you purchase off to enter the online world.

Domain name pricing really does vary, you can either buy a brand new domain name, or purchase one that’s been registered for a while. As a real broad guide brand new domains will cost about $10-$15 a year, depending on the registrar. A domain name that has already been registered and is likely to be more “marketable” might cost you a bit more, possibly into the thousands, so be smart about your domain name. If you need to come up with a work around because the domain name you want is unavailable, try some variation on what you were initially looking for, but keep the theme inline with your business. If you have the capital behind you and you can afford to pay more then by all means go for it, but as most small business owners are trying to keep costs low a work around can be just as effective in bringing people to your website.

When registering for a domain name in Australia, being the .com.au address, your registrar will ask for your ABN and business name, which is why it is essential to have take then steps above prior getting to this point. The registrar will undertake a check with ASIC prior to approving your use of the domain name so it’s something to be aware of when going through the process.

However, if you are content on having another “ending” on your website name, such as .com, then you may not necessarily have to go through the process of obtaining an ABN or registering your business name with ASIC. I do suggest you undertake your own research to make sure your meet all the business requirements set out for business in Australia or speak to your own business advisor.

Time to go online

To summarise if you want your small business online to reflect a .com.au website address, then you are going to need to have an ABN and registered a business name with ASIC prior to searching for a domain name to run your business through.

However, if you are content to run through a .com website, then get searching those domain names from the links above.

Now you are all set to head online!! The attached link provides easy training to get you up and running online. Check out how to build your own website here!. I totally recommend you go and check out Wealthy Affliates who provide a one stop shop including web design training, web hosting and marketing tips that will get your small business out in the online market quicker.

Goodluck and feel free to comment below and let me know how you go.

If you want to know more about the Wealthy Affiliate, check out our review here.







  • Glenys

    Hi Nicole,
    Thanks for all this great information about how to set up the initial steps of building a business online in Australia. I live in Australia and was able to follow along with many of the items you mentioned. I was just a little bit confused about if registering for both an ABN and for GST was compulsory for people who will earn only several thousand dollars per year. Isn’t this still considered a hobby and they are exempt? I was also wondering if you had an opinion regarding the international privacy laws that are so topical at the moment? Do Australian residents need to worry about new European GDPR laws?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *