Self-employment and Running a Business

Find out about the regulations and requirements for starting a business in Australia...

Anyone who's an Australian citizen or a permanent resident can work in a self-employed capacity in Australia, which includes setting up a co-operative, franchise, partnership, private limited company or sole proprietorship. There are numerous opportunities for entrepreneurs in Australia, where everyone (at least in theory) has equal opportunity and is judged on his merits. Although new businesses have a high failure rate within the first few years, working for yourself is still the best way to become (and remain) rich in Australia.

Much of the fall in unemployment in recent years has been due to self-employment or jobs created by small companies. Some 20 percent of working Australians run their own businesses. Redundancy - and the difficulty of finding full-time employment - is often the spur for those aged over 45 to start a business; around 20 percent of redundant (retrenched) employees turn to self-employment.

However, if you're planning to enter Australia as a skilled migrant, you must be under 45, have considerable financial resources and pass a points test. In recent years, skilled migrants have each brought in over $500,000 and created an average of seven jobs; you should regard these figures as a minimum requirement. There's also a considerable amount of red tape for those wishing to start a business in Australia; although it isn't as restrictive as in many other countries, the average small businessman spends as much as four hours per week on government paperwork.

For many people, starting a business is one of the quickest routes to bankruptcy. In fact, many people who start businesses would be better off investing in lottery tickets! If you're going to work for yourself, you must be prepared to fail (despite your best efforts), as almost two out of three new businesses fail within three to five years.


The key to starting or buying a successful business is research, research and yet more research (plus innovation, service and value). Bear in mind that choosing the location for a business is vital. Always thoroughly investigate an existing or proposed business (including the catchment area, competition, history and location) before investing a cent. Generally speaking, it isn't wise to run a business in a field in which you have no experience, although obviously this isn't always possible (and some businesses require little experience, specialist knowledge or training). When experience or training is necessary, it's often better to work for someone else in the same line of business to gain experience rather than jump in at the deep end. Assistance (including hands-on training) from the seller can be made part of a purchase contract.

Extract from Living and Working in Australia (7th Edition - 2010) David Hampshire (Available as eBook or order from Amazon) Published by Survival Books Ltd, Survival Books Copyright © Survival Books Ltd All Rights Reserved