A business name must be registered if you are conducting business under a name other than your own personal name or if you do not have a Pty Ltd Company. If you are a sole trader and are running your business under your exact name, you don’t need to register. However, be aware that there is no protection for your personal assets if a customer makes a legal claim.
A Pty Ltd company registration will protect your personal assets from most claims. Provided you are not fraudulent, grossly negligent or similar, any claim is limited to the assets of the company and they cannot make a claim against your personal assets. This is the best protection for your home and family. Consider starting out your business with a Pty Ltd set up right from the start.
You need to own your own business name – this is crucial.
To ensure the name you choose is available:
- Do a search on IP Australia for your name first. It may be registered to someone else for a similar business. If you’re really attached to that name and you don’t want to let it go, you can consider a variation in the spelling to make it memorable and more unique.
- Check the domain name is available or a variation for your business plus the derivative versions (.com, .org, .net etc) on com.au or a similar domain registration service.
- Check the ASIC website to see if your name is available.
- Don’t forget to check the social media platforms. You can use an online tool like com to help you.
You need to be happy with your name so ensure you take the time to research, name and brand your business properly as it can be a very expensive process to rebrand at a later date. Smart new business owners will also consider trademarking their business name at this early stage. That way you will own the rights to the brand.