Nudge Moments: When do I need to register different trading names for my startup?

Every second month Emma from Nudge Accounting answers a finance question (via Vlog or Blog) asked by a member of the Microsoft Bizspark or the startup community.

#Nudgemoments startup Question from Emily via the Bizspark Blog: Hi , I have a question for Emma; If you are a sole trader and have multiple blogs/websites, do you have to register each website’s name as a business trading name? And, if you do, do you need to set up separate bank accounts for each website/business name, or as a sole trader, can you collect all your income directly into a single bank account under your own name?

Emma’s Response:

What is a business name?

First it is important to understand what a business name is.

A business name is the name under which your business trades. It is used to identify your business – think about who your customers think they are doing business with? Registering a business name gives you the right (but not an exclusive right) to use that name.

As an example, if you run a website under a certain name and customers buy products from your website, then your business is trading under the name of your website. Similarly, if you operate your blog under a different name and advertisers post material on your blog, then you are trading under the name of your blog.You can operate multiple websites and blogs with their associated business names connected to the one ABN. So, in Emily’s case, operating multiple blogs/websites and trading under these different names would require multiple business name registrations connected to her one sole trader ABN.

When do I need to register a business name?

If you are a sole trader, trust or partnership you need to register your business name. However if your business name is your own first name and surname (or your partners), then you do not need to register. If you are a company, you only need to register your business name if it is different to your company name.

Does registering my business name protect my brand?

No, registering your business name does not give you exclusive rights to use to your business name in any way. For this protection, you will need to register a trade mark for your business. More information on trade marks is available via this link

How do I register a business name?

You can register your business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Registration can be done via ASIC’s online registry service, ASIC Connect. The fee for registering a business name is $33 for one year, or $76 for three years.

Do I need a separate bank account for each business name?

No, you do not need separate bank accounts – all the sales from your different business lines can be paid into the one sole trader bank account. However, it is important to have a way of tracking where the different sources of income are coming from. Using accounting software (such as Xero), you can assign the different income sources against different tracking codes which will mean you can see which websites/blogs are making you money and which ones are not.

Emma Petroulas is Client Happiness Director at Nudge Accounting . She also lectures in Small Business Accounting at the University of Technology, Sydney.

To have Emma answer your finance question next month, post a comment here or tweet using #Nudgemoments.

Disclosure: This article is not intended to replace in any way professional accounting advice.