Note that this is written for Australia, but applies in principle in other countries as well. Check with the appropriate organisations in your country.
These business basics are what you need to think about and put into practice. They include a lot of references to other resources or the organisations that actually administer these things. As every practitioner is different, you need to check your personal circumstances with them.
All these links and resources are provided so you can do things yourself. If you would like our support, we are more than happy to help you decide what to do and to implement things.
Professionally printed business cards reflect greatly on your practice. Cards printed at home are usually taken to be a sign that you are not giving a good service. Think about ways to make your business cards active by inviting people to act on them.
In the Training you can learn how to get the best business cards that really attract clients, everytime.
Here is your chance to receive 100 business cards for free.
Even if you have cards already, you might want to try out a new design with this offer. Choose from many designs, create your cards online and receive them in the mail. All you pay for is the postage.
A website is cheap, flexible and adds credibility to what you do. It usually includes your own email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). Before printing flyers or brochures you can test their impact on your website, by inviting your past clients to go to the website.
If you need help, you might try Soothed.
Find a good accountant. Ask around your friends. It is best to meet with the accountant when setting up the business to check that your plans suit your personal circumstances. They also provide help in registering with all necessary departments.
Also plan what the accountant will do and how you can best provide the input (e.g. the bookkeeping). Your tax return is usually part of your personal tax return, but includes additional forms.
Most health practitioners would operate as a sole trader, the simplest form of running a business. A partnership is also common when two or more practitioners work together, although they could each run as a sole trader and just share the expenses.
A company or trust structure might be useful when large investments are involved and risk needs to be managed. Always get advice from a lawyer.
Online Legal might help to find the right lawyer.
If you are using any name other than your own (even just adding something to your name), you are required to register a business name with the Office of Fair Trading.
Check that the name is still available on www.search.asic.gov.au, select “Identical Company Names Check”. This search does not guarantee that the name is free, but gives you a fair idea.
If you want to be completely certain that the name is not taken, you can also check for registered trade marks on www.ipaustralia.gov.au.
Each state has its own Office of Fair Trading (for Queensland: www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au), download the form under “Forms” and “Business Name”.
You can register your business name for either one or three years.
Currently fees are $113.60 for one year and $218.50 when registering for three years.
Tax File Number
As a sole trader your personal tax file number (TFN) is sufficient.
Other business structures (e.g. a partnership) need to apply for a TFN through the ATO (see www.ato.gov.au) and select “For Business” and “Apply for an ABN” for more details or use the online service www.abr.gov.au).
Australian Business Number (ABN)
Every business needs an ABN. It needs to be quoted on all tax invoices that you write. You can apply for an ABN online on www.abr.gov.au.
You are most likely not required to register for GST. Check with your accountant.
However, it might be useful to register for GST anyway if your services fall under a GST-free category (e.g. Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Dietary, Herbal Medicine (including traditional Chinese herbal medicine), Naturopathy, Osteopathy, Psychology, Physiotherapy, Speech Pathology, Speech Therapy. Check the ATO website ). It will reduce your business expenses by 10%, because you claim back the GST that you paid.
To reduce paperwork, yearly BAS reporting might be good, even though that means you will not receive the money until after the end of the financial year. Check with your accountant for the best
You can apply online on www.abr.gov.au.
Some practitioners cannot practice unless they are registered with the appropriate board. Speak to your training institution whether that applies to you if you are unsure.
Rules vary in every council, so check with your local council whether
your business premises need to be registered.
If you use your vehicle mainly for business purposes, you need to change your registration and CPT insurance.
If you play music for your clients, the artists want to get reimbursed. You are required to get an APRA license for Background music (see www.apra.com.au) Currently it is $72.20 per year.
There might be other licenses that are necessary for you to carry out your business. They are administered by state government. For Queensland check by filling out the questionnaire on smartlicence.sd.qld.gov.au. Go to “Starting A Business” and select “Natural Therapy” to get details of what else might be necessary.
All services and products have mandatory consumer standards that you need to fulfill. Your training should have prepared you for that.
There is usually an association for all modalities. Apart from keeping you up to date with what is happening, they often provide access to good value insurance and have agreements with health funds (meaning you can register more easily to offer health rebates).
If you do not have a specific association, the ATMS represents 65% of Australian health practitioners and is open to most natural health practitioners (www.atms.com.au).
More and more health funds are reimbursing for natural health and wellbeing. Check with your association what you need to do to become a registered provider. It will add a lot of strength to your marketing when you can offer health rebates.
Business Bank Account
Useful to speed up your bookkeeping by separating private and business expenses. Some banks (e.g. Bendigo Bank) offer a free debit card that is attached to the Bank account. It can be used like a credit card, but is deducted off your account immediately.
Professional indemnity insurance covers the costs of any mistakes you make in your professional life. Public liability covers any accidents of your clients on your premises.
Sometimes this can be covered under your home insurance, but you
usually need to tell the insurance that you are running a business.
There are other insurances that might be useful in your circumstances. It is best to speak to a professional advisor about that, but make sure that you check with your Association for best prices.
Income protection insurance might be useful when you are earning a steady income and have ongoing expenses (e.g. mortgage, rent, children to feed, etc.) that are essential to be covered.
Income Insurance Australia provides free quotes to give you an idea what the costs are.
Life Insurance is useful if you have a family and a mortgage, so that they can continue their life even if you do not.
Get a free quote on-line!