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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Amey

Which One is Right for You? The Pros and Cons of different business structures . . .

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

In Australia, business owners have various structures to choose from, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these structures is crucial for entrepreneurs to select the most suitable one for their business needs.

1. Sole Trader:

Pros: Easy and inexpensive to set up, with complete control and autonomy over business decisions. Simplified tax reporting as profits are taxed as personal income.

Cons: Unlimited personal liability, meaning the owner is personally responsible for debts and legal obligations. Limited capacity for business expansion due to relying on individual resources.

Consider Change: As the business grows, the owner might consider changing the structure to limit personal liability and open opportunities for expansion.

2. Company:

Pros: Limited liability for shareholders, separate legal entity status, potential for growth and access to capital through share issuance.

Cons: Increased administrative and compliance requirements, and the potential for double taxation on profits (company and individual level).

Consider Change: Owners might contemplate shifting from a sole trader or partnership to a company structure for liability protection and scalability.

3. Trust:

Pros: Offers flexibility in income distribution and asset protection. Can provide tax benefits as profits can be distributed among beneficiaries.

Cons: Complex legal and administrative requirements, and a lack of direct control as trustees manage the trust.

Consider Change: Changing to a different structure might be preferred if greater control and simpler administrative tasks are desired.

4. Joint Venture:

Pros: Allows pooling of resources and expertise between separate entities for a specific project or goal, sharing risks and costs.

Cons: Potential conflicts between participating entities, and the joint venture's duration is typically limited.

Consider Change: Transition to a more stable structure may be necessary if the business partnership evolves beyond the initial project.

5. Partnership:

Pros: Shared responsibility and expertise, potential for increased capital, and a broader skill set from multiple partners.

Cons: Unlimited liability for all partners, which means each partner is liable for the actions of others within the business.

Consider Change: Partners might seek to transition to a structure that provides more liability protection and autonomy.

Reasons for Changing Business Structures:

  1. Liability Considerations: As businesses grow, owners might seek to limit personal liability, making a transition from structures like sole tradership or partnership to entities offering limited liability, such as companies or trusts.

  2. Taxation and Compliance: Changing structures to reduce tax obligations or simplify compliance requirements might be necessary as businesses evolve and encounter more complex financial situations.

  3. Business Expansion: When a business outgrows its current structure and needs access to more capital or resources, transitioning to a different structure like a company might be warranted.

  4. Changing Ownership or Business Goals: If the business partnership changes or there is a shift in the long-term objectives, altering the structure to accommodate new needs or goals might be necessary.

Selecting the appropriate business structure is crucial for long-term success. Business owners should regularly review their structures and consider changing based on evolving needs, financial situations, and future aspirations. Consulting with legal and financial professionals is highly recommended to navigate these changes effectively.

This articles intention is to inform rather than advise and is based on legislation at the time. Each Taxpayer’s circumstances vary so we strongly recommend that you discuss this information with your Tax Agent, Accountant or Bas Agent before implementation. If you take, or do not take action as a result of reading this article, we accept no responsibility for any financial loss incurred. This is general advice only.


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