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The entrepreneur’s guide to setting up a business in Australia

March 27, 2017

Ranked 6th on the Venture Capital & Private Equity Country Attractiveness Index for 2016 and with rapid growth in the local startup ecosystem, Australia is an increasingly attractive place for entrepreneurship. Here, we give you the lowdown on how to set up your business in Australia.

Registering your business

In order to start your business in Australia, it is necessary to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN), Goods and Services Tax (GST) and other registrations and licenses.

Decide on a business structure

Before registering your business, think about the advantages and disadvantages of each type of business structure and determine which best suits your needs. The business structure will affect your tax obligations. The common types of business structures include the following:

Business Structure What is it? Tax Obligation
Sole trader The business and the owner share the same legal personality. Thus, as a sole trader, you are responsible for all business liabilities. You need to report your business income on your personal income tax return, along with any other income.
Partnership This is a type of structure where two or more people legally share profits, risks and losses according to terms set out in a partnership agreement. You must lodge a separate partnership income tax return.
Company This is a legal entity separate from its members (shareholders). A director of a company has additional legal and reporting obligations. You must lodge a separate company income tax return.
Trust This is not technically a business structure, but rather a trust is used to describe the relationship between a business owner and a third party who has legal control and a duty to run that business to benefit someone else. You must lodge a separate trust income tax return


Register your company

If you have decided that you will register your business as a company, you can do so in two ways:

Once your application has been processed, you will receive an Australian Company Number (ACN), which you can use to apply for an ABN. Your company will be registered and you will receive a certificate of registration.

Apply for the relevant licenses & permits

In order to determine which licenses and permits apply to your business, check the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) online. You would typically need to register for the following:

  • Australian Business Number (ABN): The ABN is a unique 11 digit number that identifies your business to the government and community. You may apply for an ABN for free at any time via the Australian Business Register website. If you are registering a company, you need to apply for an Australian Company Number (ACN) before your apply for an ABN.

  • Tax File Number (TFN): Most businesses or organisations can apply for a TFN at the same time as their ABN application.
  • Goods & Services Tax (GST): You have to register for GST If your business expects to have GST turnover of $75,000AUD or more, or if you provide taxi travel or are a care hire operator. You can register for GST on the ABN application form.
  • Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding: Under the PAYG withholding rules, you have an obligation to collect tax from payments you make to employees and some businesses so they can meet their end-of-year tax liabilities. Check the Australian Taxation Office to find out whether you are subject to withholding obligations. There are several ways to register for PAYG withholding, and you must apply to register by the day you are first required to withhold an amount from a payment.

Register business name

In order to apply for a business name, you must first have an ABN or an ABN application number. Before registering your business name with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), check that your proposed name is available by searching online at ASIC – Online Services and ABN Lookup. In addition, you should also check that your proposed business name does not conflict with someone else’s registered trade mark by checking IP Australia.

After incorporation

Once your company is incorporated, it is time to get your business up and running.

Ensure compliance with local laws

In order to determine which government licenses, permits, approvals, codes of practices, standards and guidelines are applicable to your business, search the Australian Business License and Information Service (ABLIS), which allows you to create and download a personalised report containing a summary of the state or territory requirements relevant to your business. Register for an Australian Business Account so you can save your search results and manage your registrations, licenses and permits.

Determine tax obligations

In order to determine your taxation obligations, use the free tools provided by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

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Get a lawyer, accountant and small business resources

Seek advice on legal and financial issues, as well as grants available to your small business. Some resources for picking up information relevant to small businesses include the following:

  • Treasury Information for small businesses on general legal issues relevant to small businesses;
  • Advisor – Search for a low-cost business adviser in your area;
  • Grants & Assistance – Find support, funding, assistance packages and loans for your business from all levels of government

For more thorough guidelines on how to set up your business in Australia, download the Starting your Business checklist developed by the Australian government.

Singapore Budget 2017: More help for SMEs with the new SMEs Go Digital Programme

March 25, 2017

In the recent 2017 Budget Speech by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, he announced a new government initiative “SMEs Go Digital Programme” targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Essentially, the government is setting aside over S$80 million for this initiative to help SMEs go digital, with more focus on data and cybersecurity.

The Finance Minister also mentioned in his speech that the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) will work closely with SPRING as well as other sector lead agencies in this initiative.

Additionally, he also mentioned that, “With increased digitalisation, data will become an important asset for firms, and strong cybersecurity is needed for our networks to function smoothly. The Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore will work with professional bodies to train cybersecurity professionals.”

The SMEs Go Digital Programme will consist of these three components:

  1. Sectoral Industry Digital Plans which will provide SMEs step-by-step advice on the technologies to use at each stage of their growth. These plans will start with targeted sectors, including retail, food services, wholesale trade and logistics. Additionally, these sectors were identified as sectors where digital technology can significantly improve productivity.
  2. An SME Technology Hub will be set up by the IMDA whereby firms can get free business advice and access information on government schemes. Companies can also approach advisers at the existing network of SME centres for off-the-shelf technology solutions. Moreover, firms that require more specialised advice will be able to seek help at the SME Technology Hub.
  3. SMEs that are ready to pilot emerging ICT solutions can also receive advice and funding support under this initiative.

On top of this initiative, the Minister also announced the continuation of the SME Working Capital Loan for another two years. Under this programme, the government co-shares 50% of default risk for loans of up to S$300,000 per SME.

Moreover, the Minister also introduced the Tech Access Initiative for small companies that would like to do prototyping. Together with A*STAR, they will provide access and training for small companies to use their advanced machine tools for prototyping and testing. This initiative will be available from September 2017.

With these various initiatives targeted at SMEs, it will certainly help boost the digital capabilities of SMEs even further.

Find out more about these initiatives and the Budget speech.

This is a guest post from RenQun Huang at Gpayroll
Want to read more articles related to payroll, HR & technology? Visit us at Gpayroll

Unspoken reasons why businesses fail

March 20, 2017

On the surface, most failures in business can be attributed to a lack of market-fit, or simply running out of cash. But dig deeper and you will uncover the fault lines. In today’s business climate where as many as 75% of businesses fail, it is imperative that the underlying reasons for failure are understood and carefully avoided.

So what is it then; why do businesses fail?

You have the passion, the expertise, a bank full of cash and friends in higher places. Moreover, you are in the right place at the right time. And yet, your business is far from immunity. In this article, we look past the financials and bring you the unspoken reasons why businesses fail.

#1 Poor Culture

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


In simple terms, notable investor Brad Feld explains the quote well, “You can’t motivate people; you can only create a context in which people are motivated.” The context that Brad is referring to is a company’s culture.

What is culture?

Culture is the shared beliefs, values and practices. A company’s culture governs how employees and management interact and function both within and outside the context of business transactions. Often, culture develops organically over time and is implied rather than expressly defined. Every organisation has a unique culture – so why not let it be one helps you attract the best talent, amplifies their abilities, and lets them create their best work?

In today’s world where there’s a quick solution to everything, culture is probably the most underrated aspect of a business or any organisation. A strong company culture is the basis of a successful environment.

A culture of success does not just happen. Where do we start? What do we DO?

1)  Start by collectively establishing a set of company values …or ‘culture code’.

The earlier you set a culture of success, the better. A set of culture codes made up of shared values will guide your employees through what is expected of them, and what they can expect from you. When you have fewer than 10 employees, culture is easily and organically-adopted once established. Between 20 to 50 employees, you still have direct control and impact on the organisation. However, start now and don’t wait till you grow bigger – it will become more difficult for you to direct influence on individuals in the organisation.

2)  “Family therapy”

Have a “family therapy” session to collectively build your company culture code.

During “family therapy”, give employees 15 minutes of alone time. In the 15 minutes, they should envision and write down the values that would guide the company that they want to work in. Sharing these notes at the start allows everyone, introverts and extroverts, to voice their opinion.

3)  Stick to your values

Culture codes need not be unique or witty. However, they should be a guiding precedence for how individuals and teams behave, communicate, and grow. These range from age old business values such as trust, communication, positive and having an open mindset, to the newer startup values such as hustle and innovation or creativity. It is important to keep in mind that culture is still inherently implied. It is in the following through of these expressed values, that employees will be secure in their priorities and work environment. Even the most resilient person will wilt if the situation is unpredictable.

Enable your employees and encourage them to look beyond short-term, tactical projects to the bigger picture. Show them how what they do each day affects the company and its clients.

Cultivating a strong and resilient culture from the start is key.

#2 Legal Challenges

Legal issues are often one of the last things that comes across a Founder’s mind… if it ever at all! Some entrepreneurs seem to believe that the ill-fitted online templates are sufficient and they simply would not be as unlucky to encounter legal issues.

But what happens when they DO?

Sometimes even with the simplest of business ideas, there is a world of legal complexities in its execution that can contribute to a failure of businesses.

Displaying logos of your satisfied clients and products – have you protected yourself from the risk of trademark infringement? Starting a business with friends – does your Shareholders’ Agreement clearly state the roles, responsibility and equity of each individual?

Resellers such as marketplaces or e-commerce websites are taking on considerable risk as they could unknowingly be infringing upon Intellectual Property (IP) rights. Without an indemnity from the owner of the designs they sell, owners of the design’s IP are in a position to sue marketplaces of counterfeits.

Related reading: What you didn’t know about IP protection

Most notably, Alibaba has been accused of promoting the sale of counterfeit products. The lawsuit has been issued from Gucci, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent as well as other brands owned by Kering. Although Alibaba has no control over what vendors sell, that does not shield Alibaba from legal liability as marketplaces are responsible for their vendors. Alibaba has since spent more than USD$160.7 million in year 2013 and 2014 alone, battling IP infringement.

Get your free legal health check report

Contacts and agreements clearly state and map out every possible scenario, saving you the headache when things do go wrong. However, business practices vary even within the industry. How can you then rely on a one-size-fits-all template to protect your business reliably? Save yourself and your business before you make more legal blunders – take a free legal health check, complimentary of Dragon Law. After all, prevention is better than the cure.

Most companies fail. It’s an unsettling fact for bright-eyed entrepreneurs, but old news to startup veterans. The statistics are disheartening no matter how you define failure. If failure is defined as declaring a projection and then falling short of meeting it, then the failure rate is a whopping 90 to 95%. The learning mindset is crucial. Take steps to be on your way to becoming the other 5% today.

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Does the Law Matter? – 5 legal fundamentals for every business
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Think you’re ready to raise funding? Think again.

In the last decade or so, startups have been a hot topic of discussion. We constantly hear about various new edgy startup ideas, and someone or the other at this very moment has probably had his company valued at over a billion dollars. A great example of a startup that has been funded is that of Airwallex, a fintech company located in Australia.

We always question as to how did these lucky individuals get to that stage so fast. A lot of it is hard work, determination and a little bit of Lady Luck. But mostly these individuals would have you know that it is because their legal paperwork was done in a very proper systematic manner and whatever agreements and contracts are in place, they were all airtight from the moment that company started running.

Before even thinking about funding, take a step back and ensure that all your legal documents are in place from the onset.

Dragon Law for Startups

The ugly truth is that most startups take off at an alarming pace only to crash and burn. In order to mitigate risks and prevent collateral damage, it would certainly be wise to educate yourself on what those risks are and how to prevent damage from happening.

Legal documents have a vital role to play in safeguarding the interests of both, a business and its owners. Ensuring that certain essential documents are in place for your firm right from the get go will not only alleviate stress, but will also have you better prepared to fastback any future business relationships you may consider entering into.

For starters, here are some legal documents that every business should have:

Confidentiality Agreement:

Protecting sensitive information and keeping strategic decisions and company plans under wraps is often vital to the success of a company. However, when discussing the mentioned with friends, family or business partners, every company must have prepared with them a Confidentiality Agreement (or NDA). Under this agreement, the person being addressed is legally bound not to disclose your confidential information to a third party, and may only use that information for a specified reason.

Draft your Confidentiality Agreement for FREE with Dragonlaw

Shareholders’ Agreement or Partnership Agreement

A Shareholders’ Agreement is an agreement between the shareholders of a company and puts forward the key rules as to how the business will be run and the manner in which the shareholders are expected to cooperate, ensuring continuity throughout the life of the company.

Draft your Shareholder’s Agreement for FREE with Dragonlaw

 Employment Contract

An Employment Contract very clearly outlines the obligations and expectations of both, the company and the employee in order to minimise potential disputes. The contract addresses matters of employment such as a probation period, pay, benefits, hours, annual leave, and termination.

Draft your Employment Contract for FREE with Dragonlaw

Website Privacy Policy and Website Terms of Use

With the rise of e-commerce, there is a lot more personal data being shared digitally. Companies must clarify the scope of personal data usage and means of protection of the same through a Website Privacy Policy.

A Website Terms of Use sets out the legal relationship between the website operator and users, thereby ensuring that users agree to the company terms when using its website. This is most commonly done through a tick box we see on our screens.

Learn more about these documents

Now that your documents are in place, when the time comes for approaching VCs and angel investors – there shouldn’t much back tracking for you to do. If they throw questions or requirements at you, you won’t have the time or bandwidth to figure it out and impress them.  This is why it is important to have everything in place before you can even think of funding.

It is also necessary for you to know the terms and conditions attached to the funding and the background of the investors. It is important to make sure that the relationship is mutually beneficial to the investor and the company. Too often, companies sign on with the first party willing to invest without really understanding what it is that the investor can bring to the table for them. Big numbers and valuations mean nothing till there is a promise to work together in a direction that is agreed on by BOTH parties. If you haven’t discussed or planned ahead together, you may regret it in a couple of years.


Legal documents that every business should have when raising finance:

A simple Promissory Note details the terms of the loan and can avoid future disagreements.

Other businesses might be interested in helping you out. In that case, use a Commercial Loan Agreement to set out the terms and conditions of the loan. Sometimes, a director or shareholder decides to lend money, especially when the business is still relatively young and it is not so easy to obtain funding. Then a Loan from Director or Shareholder is the correct document to use. In the case a sister company helps out, you should use an Intragroup Loan Agreement.

You can ask private investors, such as venture capital firms or angel investors, to purchase shares in your company in return for an investment. You will need a Term Sheet, a Seed Investment Agreement, and a Share Certificate if you choose investment through ordinary shares. Alternatively, if the investment is funded through a convertible note, you will need a Convertible Note Term Sheet, a Convertible Note Subscription Agreement, and a Convertible Note Certificate.

A private investor can also invest in your company using a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE). This is a relatively new concept and is similar to a convertible note. Essentially, it is an agreement whereby the investor provides capital to the company and, in return, the company provides a warrant to issue shares to the investor at a later time and upon a specific event, such as at the next round of funding. You will also need a new Shareholders’ Agreement and a Directors’ Resolution to Issue Shares.

Overwhelmed? Likely. Costly? Yes!

Source:Dragon Law x Bid4Ad


The good news is that by adopting the use of the right technology you can be guided through this process all while saving time and cost with a traditional law firm.


Drafting legal documents with the Dragon Law app feels just like sitting down with a lawyer:

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The 5 changes you must make to your New Zealand employment agreements as of April 1

March 17, 2017

Keeping up to date with changes to employment laws ensures that you both you and your employees are protected by the law. Retaining employees is one of the biggest challenges faced by small businesses – helping your employees to understand their rights and being transparent about any changes to those rights, is an effective way to build trust and encourage a transparent work environment.

Significant changes have been made to employment laws in New Zealand, and all businesses must update their Individual Employment Agreements (IEAs) prior to 1st April 2017.

Below, we outline a summary of the new changes and how to incorporate them into your IEAs so that your business stays compliant.


Update My Employment Agreements

Dragon Law have updated their IEAs to reflect these changes. Log in to your Dragon Law account to create a new agreement for your employee and get compliant today!

Don’t already have employment agreements in place? Sign up to a Dragon Law account today and put IEAs in place for your employees to stay compliant.

1. Trial period

The most significant change to employment laws concerns the trial period in IEAs. The most common length of a trial period is 90 days. IEAs must now specify ‘90 days’ (or they can elect a shorter time period), but it must not state ‘up to 90 days).

Employers must ensure their IEAs state:

  • the trial period commencement date;
  • that the employee can be dismissed within the trial period;
  • the notice period of the trial period.

To protect yourself as an Employer, you must ensure that the employment agreement is signed before work commences – note that paid training or induction is considered employment. The reasonable time for an employee to receive a contract before commencement is in between 5 to 7 days.

For best practice employment procedures, you should think about implementing a 30, 60 and 88 day review of the employee’s performance. This will allow the you and employee to jointly evaluate the performance and for you to act in good faith if you decide to terminate the employment within the trial period.

In the case the employer has the intention to dismiss the employee during the notice period, then the employee must be paid off.

Additionally, the notice period has to be stated in the IEA, and it can vary between an employee in a in a trial period and those who are not.

Finally, employees can be dismissed during their trial period but in order for this to happen they must be noticed on day 89 at the latest.

2. Agreed hours of work

Every employee agreement must indicate the specific agreed hours of work. This can be stated either as: the number of hours, or the days per week that should be dedicated to the work.

The changes also mean that if employers expect their employees to be available when required, they are obliged to :

  • commit to working hours;
  • give reasonable compensation;
  • have a legitimate reason based on acceptable grounds.

In addition, contracts must specify the start and ending times.

3. Availablity provisions

When it comes to the availability provisions in your IEAs, the agreed hours of work must be reasonable in order to avoid any conflicts. In addition, any compensation for requested availability has to be fair and rational. Moreover, there has to be a genuine reason for the requirement.

4. Shift cancellation

Based on the new changes, you can now cancel a shift as long as you first:

  • give a reasonable notice for cancellation; and
  • reasonable compensation in case there are any late notices

When considering reasonable compensations in case of a shift cancellation you must:

  1. Figure out how much your employee would have earned during the shift; and
  2. the preparation costs for the shift

In addition, the employee is entitled to be paid if the shift has already started or if it is cut short.

5. Secondary employment

As an Employer, you may prohibit an employee from taking on a second job if the following requirements are met:

  • You have a genuine reason behind prohibiting or limiting the secondary employment; and
  • The reason is specified in detail in the individual employment agreement (i.e. restraint of trade, non-solicitation, etc.

Final thoughts

These changes will affect all businesses, so it is important that your agreements are updated to reflect the new laws. Having up-to-date agreements will help to protect your business and limit your liability. Keeping your employees informed of the changes to their rights and responsibilities will also help to create an environment of trust and compliance within your workforce.


Update My Employment Agreements

Dragon Law have updated their IEAs to reflect these changes. Log in to your Dragon Law account to create a new agreement for your employee and get compliant today!

Don’t already have employment agreements in place? Sign up to a Dragon Law account today and put IEAs in place for your employees to stay compliant.