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Setting up a new business, by Dale Adamson

Entity Type. The 4 main choices are sole trader, partnership, company and LTC (Look Through Company). Consider the nature of the business, involvement of spouse and children and their personal financial situations, and your long term aims. Different entity types have different legal requirements, documentation, and taxation treatments. 

Business Plan & Funding Requirements.  We recommend the preparation of a business plan and cashflow forecast.  As a minimum, you need to know the monthly break-even point for the proposed business (i.e. the sales required to cover your expenses). How are you going to fund your working capital (the funds needed to keep your business running until your clients pay), and what are your terms of trade for your customers?

The saying goes “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.  Have you researched your market, customers and competition?  What equipment or premises do you need to get started and how are these to be funded? 

GST. The business is required to register  for GST once its turnover reaches $60,000 per annum or is likely to do so in the next 12 months.   Sometimes it is beneficial to register for GST even though turnover won’t reach the threshold and at other times your profitability and cashflow will be better if you don’t. You may be able to claim GST for assets introduced to the business.  Most small business will opt to file GST on a payments basis which means you only pay GST once customers have paid you, and you only claim GST once you have paid suppliers, which is the simplest method.

Tax Obligations. It is wise to plan for your tax liabilities, instead of waiting till year end and finding out

you have a tax problem.   We suggest that funds are set aside in a separate account so, as you earn the profit, you are providing for the tax.  A company may have to put aside as much as 28% of profit.  For an individual earning $70,000 or less, 20% should cover your income tax liabilities.

Accident Compensation. This is compulsory, however there are decisions to make.  What is your industry classification, part-time or full time and should you be registering with ACC immediately or wait until they send the bill once your first year’s tax return is filed?

Employing Staff. This can be a minefield.  Things to be aware of are compulsory employment agreements, employee entitlements such as holidays, sick leave & maternity leave, minimum wage, Kiwisaver obligations, and deducting and accounting for PAYE. An important part of being an employer is to be aware and look after staff wellbeing particularly in these times of change and uncertainty.

Record Keeping. The basic level needed to meet your legal responsibilities or more detailed to create meaningful reports to assist in managing your business.  Your accountant will be able to advise you on how to keep your records to minimise year-end fees, various software systems available and how to interpret the figures.

Other Requirements. There are rigorous health & safety requirements for all businesses, with exposure to liability for business owners & managers.  Does your business require any particular licences or permits to operate – e.g. Council licences?

As you can see, there are several considerations involved in setting up a new business, so get advice to get it right from the start.   As part of our community commitment, PKF Francis Aickin offers a free initial consultation to help you start on the right path.

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