Securing the right structure for your business at the outset is paramount to its success and longevity. Unfortunately there is no “one size fits all” approach to determining your optimum operating structure, as there are multiple factors to consider. Various factors can include (among others):
- Size/scale of your operations
- Employment requirements
- Nature of your business
- Current living situation (i.e. single, family, etc.)
- Stage in the business life-cycle
- Taxation implications
- Asset protection
- Cost related to the particular structure
Commonly adopted structures include companies, trusts (fixed or discretionary), partnerships and sole traders.
If you are intending to start your own business, I highly recommend having a discussion with a/your professional advisor to, at the very least, point you in the right direction. It can prove more costly to change a poorly thought out structure, rather than setting it up correctly in the first instance.
Running Your Business
Once you have arranged the appropriate structure for your business, you will need to ensure you are running it efficiently and effectively. Some of the things you may need to start thinking about include:
Employment of personnel
- Consider the National Employment Standards and/or relevant Award for your particular industry
- Ensure you are compliant with your taxation and superannuation obligations (i.e. Pay As You Go Withholding and Superannuation Guarantee)
- Workers compensation insurance cover
Advertising/promoting your business
- Think about the best way to promote your business (e.g. social media, website, google, print media, etc.)
Branding and trademark design
- Consider registering your logo/design to prevent third party use
- Ensure you are not replicating an already registered trademark or design
Acquisition of assets such as plant and equipment
- Awareness of various tax concessions available to small business
- Providing assets for use by employees (e.g. motor vehicles) may attract other taxes (e.g. Fringe Benefits tax)
- Consider funding options (e.g. hire purchase arrangements)
Location of your business
- Think about an appropriate setting/environment to run your business (i.e. size/space requirements)
- Consider your target market and service location
- It may be possible to run your business from home during its infancy to avoid unnecessary overheads. Depending on the type of business, you will need to ensure you are not in breach of the laws of your local municipality
- Although this does not serve to generate income for your business, it is extremely important in monitoring the success and failings of your business
- Up-to-date accounting records seek to ensure you are meeting your periodic tax obligations, as well as achieving your business performance objectives
- Today’s cloud-based software platforms offer a range of reporting functions to assist with monitoring business performance
- If you lack the necessary bookkeeping experience to maintain your business records, I suggest consulting an expert to assist
- Your business may require significant capital investment, therefore you may need to seek alternative sources of finance. Banks may be somewhat reluctant to provide loans in the current economic climate
- Banks will generally want to see up to date financial and tax records as part of the loan process
Buying and Selling
Buying a business is never a straight forward exercise. Like buying anything of significant value you want to make sure that you are conducting your due diligence by asking the right questions and requesting the right information to ensure you are making a fully informed decision. Some things to consider:
- What is the current structure of the business (i.e. company, trust, sole trader, etc.)?
- If the business is a company should you buy the shares in the company or the assets of the company?
- Does the seller have complete, up-to-date and accurate business records for you to review?
- Are there any leases and/or loans in place that you may inherit?
- What are the intentions of the existing employees (if there are any)?
- Is the business fully compliant with their compliance obligations to government agencies (i.e. ATO, ASIC, etc.)?
- How will you fund the acquisition?
- Who are the main competitors of the business and where are they located?
- Is it the right time to buy this particular business given the current market conditions?
As a vendor you want to ensure your business is as attractive as possible to prospective buyers in order to receive your asking price. Some things to consider:
- Are your business records complete, up-to-date and accurate to provide to potential buyers?
- How will you advertise your business? Should you engage the services of an agent to help promote your business to facilitate its sale?
- How have you valued your business and is it reasonable (i.e. what is the value of goodwill if any)?
- Taxation implications of the sale (i.e. income tax and GST)