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Starting out in a trade

Just finished your apprenticeship, or looking forward to finishing soon? Either way, you’re about to start on an exciting new phase of your career.

You might be planning to sub-contract with your current employer or you might want to go into business on your own. Whichever option you choose, there’s plenty to think about. Here are some tips and ideas to get you started.

  • Once your apprenticeship is done and you’ve got your certificate, you might still need a licence before you start work. It all depends on your trade and the state and territory you work in. If in doubt, ask your training provider or search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service for the rules in your state or territory.
  • Planning to work for yourself or as a subcontractor? You’ll need to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). It’s free and it only takes a moment.
  • If you want to use a business name instead of your own name, you’ll also need to register that. You can register your business name when you apply for your ABN, or at any time with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

  • If you’re starting a business or working as a sole trader, it’s wise to keep your personal and business finances separate. As a CommBank customer, you can open a Business Transaction Account in just a few minutes online, then add a Business Online Saver to earn extra interest from cash on hand.
  • You’ll need to work out how you’ll accept payments from your customers.  Obviously the faster your customers pay you, the better so it’s good to get across the latest mobile technology you can have with you at all times. For example, Emmy and the Small Business app lets you create estimates and invoices on your compatible smartphone or tablet and accept card payments on the spot, using your mobile phone or tablet.
  • Sometimes, bills arrive faster than customer payments. Make sure you’ve considered whether you should set yourself up with ready access to credit so you can take care of expenses while you’re waiting to get paid. A business overdraft or business credit card are good options to consider.
  • If you’re working for yourself, don’t forget to pay yourself super. An easy to understand super account like Essential Super lets you see your super balance in NetBank so it’s easy to keep track of it, along with everything else.

  • If you’re a sole trader or working for someone else, you can just use your own Tax File Number (TFN). But if you’re starting a business, you’ll need to apply for a separate TFN.
  • Once you start earning over $75,000 a year as a business or sole trader, you’ll need to register for GST, then start charging it to your customers.
  • You’ll also need to lodge quarterly business activity statements (a BAS) with the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
  • It’s a legal requirement for you to keep records of your business transactions for a minimum of five years, so it’s important to keep all documents relating to your income and expenditure. Set up a filing system for easy retrieval - good record-keeping also makes it easier to stay on top of tax and claim all the deductions you’re entitled to.  
  • Remember, tax laws are complex and everyone’s tax situation is different, so make sure you get advice from a qualified tax professional.


  • We all know accidents can happen, so it’s essential to get protection against injuries to yourself, your employees and your customers. That’s where business insurance can make all the difference.
  • We can also help you protect the vehicles you depend on to stay in business.

There’s plenty to think about, especially when you’re just starting out. That’s why it’s important to get great advice and profit from the experience of others. If in doubt, talk to our Business Banking Specialists


This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product or taxation advice. Taxation considerations are general and based on present taxation laws and may be subject to change. You should consider seeking independent financial or taxation advice before making any decision based on this information.