Self-Employment in Australia

If you are a construction tradesperson and you work for a company, you are rather limited as to what you can do regarding advancement and if you are considering working for yourself, there is much to do in terms of research. The first thing to understand is when you are self-employed, you do not have the security of a weekly pay packet, it all depends on how much work you can find. If you have been in the trade a few years already, you might know enough sub-contractors to land regular contracts; this is something to bear in mind when you go out on your own.

Register an ABN as a sole trader

This can be done online; simply prepare the required documents and follow the instructions; it should be noted that it is compulsory to have an ABN when working in your trade. If you have a few mates who are tradies, they would be happy to walk you through the ABN process. This is a free service and once you have your ABN, you can create a business name, which costs around $30 per year. 

General liability and work insurance

Every business entity needs public liability to cover any compensation claims that might arise from a third party. You can find affordable tradie business insurance from a leading Australian insurer, which also covers the value of your tools. The provider can tailor the cover to suit your trade; general liability could be $5 million, $10 million or even $20 million and for a little extra, all your tools are covered. You should also have personal accident insurance, in case you have an accident; this covers your income while you are incapacitated.

Trade licences

Some trades require a licence (electrician) and not all states have the same rules; check with the Australian government regarding trades that require a licence and if yours is included, make sure you meet all the requirements before applying. 

Business structures

Of course, there are options, you might prefer to be a sole trader who invoices sub-contractors, or you might be aiming higher and require a limited company. If you can find another tradie, maybe you could set up a partnership, although you need to be sure you are compatible before going into business with another person. Prior to choosing a business structure, we recommend consulting with a business lawyer, a legal expert who can offer the best advice. It all depends on your long-term goals as to how you register the business.

GST registration

You must register for Goods and Services Taxation (GST) if you expect your annual revenue to exceed $75,000 per year. There is no cost for this registration, although you must submit a Business Activity Statement (BAS) every quarter (your accountant can do this). 

Bookkeeping & accounting

Regardless of the type of business you register, you need to keep records of all transactions and hire a local accountant to submit your tax returns when the time comes. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do this later; you need to keep all receipts and create a few spreadsheets and enter the data on a daily basis.


You do need to network yourself and your services; start by creating a Facebook page about your business and also a business website will add credibility. Be creative and present yourself in a professional manner; if you have a few clients, ask them to write a testimonial, the more you have of those, the better. Search online for a list of sub-contractors and send each your resume, which increases your chances of picking up a contract. Click here to learn more about how to tap the potential of social media.

Design & print stylish business cards

This is an absolute must; even one client pays for the print job several times over, choose a design that is very noticeable, and people can keep them in their wallet. You could even create a few flyers that you can hand out when out and about; the more you do to get your message out there, the better. If funds allow, why not hire a digital marketing agency? They would put together a dynamic digital marketing plan and implement the plan.

You can find a lot of information on this government website, to help you gain a better understanding of self-employment. It isn’t for everyone, but that said, you do have a lot more freedom when you work for yourself. 

So, there you have it, everything you need to know about self-employment in Australia, we hope that you have a successful launch and that your business grows.

By Punit