Starting a Business in Australia
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Why Start A Business In Australia?
The social critic Donald Horne once called Australia the Lucky Country. The name wasn't meant to be flattering, it was delivered with acerbic irony, implying that Australia's flourishing economy was a consequence of natural resource rather than ingenuity or innovation. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Irony and luck are funny things, and they both now humble the fact that Australia's economy is more prosperous than ever. Sure it has the untapped resources, abundant raw materials, enviable weather, and isolation from the world's problems, but Australia has proved itself time and again to be as cerebrally endowed as it is serendipitous. It is a thriving, fertile location for foreign investment.
Although still trying to shake the baggage of British colonialism, Australia has slowly become a country marked by an excitable appetite, economic openness and a familiar Western business ethic. Trade has always been important between the UK and Australia. It walks hand-in-hand with their entwined political, economic and social history. So don't worry, you won't have to alter your business mindset too much.
The coast of Australia is mapped with its 20 million inhabitants. The deeper you go, the less there is. Marsupial pockets of investment line its border, with an eager government continually maximising, liberalising and incensing. It's a system that's exported one of the most famous cultures on Earth.
The Lucky Country is an antiquated aphorism now, neither fair nor true. Australia didn't lose a penny and find a pound; it took its penny and made its pound. Australia is a high achiever, a country that's adopted the voracious business appetite of the UK and US, moulding it around its unique character, climate and topography.
So, if you dream of setting-up a business Down Under, then here are the reasons to try your luck.
What is the currency and the exchange rate?
The currency of Australia is Australian dollars.
The Australian dollar is the sixth most traded currency in the world. It has gained popularity as a result of appealing interest rates and economic stability in the country. The Australian dollar is relatively stable, but is sometimes prone to fluctuate due to mineral prices.
What's the population
The population of Australia is 23.50 million
What sort of opportunities are there in Australia?
Australia's economy could be described as prosperous. Inflation is low and interest rates are attractive. The per capita GDP is very good - higher than that of the UK. But on the other hand, the country has a large current account deficit as a result of a lack of exports, especially in the manufacturing sector. However, this is negated to a certain extent to the high prices it receives for some of its exports.
Small business is an important part of the Australian economy. There are 1.2 million small businesses in Australia, and they account for 42% of goods exporters.
The main industries are mining, industrial equipment and transportation equipment. Some of the new and fast growing industries are:
- Financial Services
- Agricultural Technology
What's the climate and weather like in Australia?
The Australian climate varies dramatically as it is such a large country. Summer can be hot - very hot in the north. Winter can range between skiing in the Southern Mountains, to 24 degrees Celsius in the Northern States.
One thing to be aware of in Australia, is that the sun is very strong, sunscreen is recommended.
The seasons are basically the opposite of the UK:
- Spring - September, October, November
- Summer - December, January, February
- Autumn - March, April, May
- Winter - June, July, August
What are the main industries in Australia?
The main industries in Australia are mining, tourism, industrial equipment and mining equipment. The last decade has seen GDP growth of 3.3% per annum. There are also low inflation rates in Australia of 2-3%.
According to the World Bank, the fastest place in the world to start a business is Australia - just two days worth of regulatory procedures.
Another encouragement for some people could be the tax incentives for businesses who invest in research and development - up to 175%.
Australia has also made an effort to become more trade friendly, lowering barriers to trade, and cutting or lowering protectionist tariffs.
What other things should I consider?
If your product is original, then you should consider applying for patents and trademarks in Australia. Generally, UK citizens must already have the patent or trademark registered in the UK before they can apply to have them registered and protected in Australia.
Once that is done you need to contact IP Australia who deals with both patents and trademarks.
- Patents - you can apply for a standard patent, which lasts 20 years. Or you can apply for an innovation patent which is fast and less expensive but lasts 8 years. To gain a patent you must pay the fee and describe your invention - this information is then made public. For both patents you will need to pay an official fee and then continue paying to maintain the patent.
- Trademarks - once registered, last for 10 years. If renewal fees are paid every ten years your trademark can be registered indefinitely.
What is the employment situation in Australia?
Australia has a highly skilled workforce. There is an internationally acclaimed tertiary system, and reforms in the 1990s have dramatically reduced labour disputes. Australia also has a multilingual workforce if you are planning on using Australia for a base; about 3 million Australians speak another language, 1.1 million are fluent in a European language, and 1.5 million are fluent in an Asian language. There are many recruitment agencies in Australia to make things a little easier.
If, however you can't find the right person in Australia, you can apply to become a sponsor to recruit someone from overseas. There are certain requirements; such as the position must be one of the nominated skill positions (the department of immigration have a list of skill shortage areas), and the salary must be a certain level. There are a few different visa options:
- The Temporary Business (Long Stay) application - lasting between 3 months and 4 years
- The Employer Nomination Scheme - when a highly skilled position can't be filled within Australia
- The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme - when skilled positions in regional Australia can't be filled locally.
Fees, or course, apply.
What is the minimum wage / holiday entitlement?
The Federal Minimum wage in Australia (over 21) is AU$13.74. An employee is entitled to at least the Federal Minimum wage if there is no appropriate 'Australian Pay and Classification Scale' that applies to their job. There are lists of pay rates for different jobs in different states.
Annual leave is 4 weeks.
What is a workplace agreement?
These are documents which set out conditions of employment between an employer and an employee. They are governed by federal workplace law regulations. They must be lodged with the Workplace Authority.
Embassies, High Commissions and Diplomatic Posts
Australia, Adelaide, British Honorary Consul
Australia, Alice Springs, British Honorary Consul
Australia, Brisbane, British Consulate
Australia, Canberra, British High Commission
Australia, Canberra, Consular Section
Australia, Darwin, British Honorary Consul
Australia, Hobart, British Honorary Consul
Australia, Melbourne, British Consulate-General
Australia, Perth, British Consulate
Australia, Sydney, British Consulate-General
Organisations that can assist with Starting a Business
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