Expanding your business into Australia: Practical Advice

If your product or service is a success at home, expanding into Australia market offers great potential. The only way of knowing if your business is truly ready and this can't be overstated enough is by doing meticulous market research. Here's our advice for expanding into Australia as a foreign company.

Establish the right business entity
Consider carefully which structure best suits your business needs. It is very difficult to change the legal set up once you start operating. Seek the advice of a corporate lawyer. The four main Australian business types are: sole trader, partnerships, trusts and companies. Companies in Australia must be registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). If you want to set up a company, you can operate as a foreign company, set up a new Australian company or establish a new Australian subsidiary that also operates as an Australian company. Do also think about a partnership arrangement or a joint venture with an entity experienced in the Australian market. This may increase your chances of success.

Do your Market Research
Do not assume Australians understand what you are doing or the benefits of your product or service. Use effective marketing to win the hearts and minds of people and do it well. Also ensure your product is of a very high standard and be aware of your competition. Research market developments, trends and forecasts, as well as information on peers and competitors in the Australian market. Take heed of local marketing advice.

Consider the impact of the Australian political system and Community Groups
Understand the requirements of the various levels of government. Also be aware of possible community opposition within the community and the concerns they may have e.g. environmental groups or the indigenous community. Community groups can hold great power over the success of business ventures.

Employ locally to bridge the gaps
For example, if you are coming from a Chinese speaking country, employ Australian-born Chinese who understand the complexities and culture of the Australian market. These people will also fast track your networking reach.

Comply with Australian Employment law
The Fair Work Act 2009 is the main source of industrial relations regulation for companies operating in Australia and applies to all employees in private sector employers. The FW Act contains ten minimum employment conditions known as the National Employment Standards (NES), which apply to all employees. Use these as the basis for employing locally.

Comply with Work Health and Safety Requirements
Australian work health and safety legislation requires you to protect your workers and others both at their place of work and in the course of work carried out by your business. This legislation is much stricter than in many Asian countries and the penalties, fines or imprisonment, for not complying can wipe out your business. In addition, you must provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for your employees.

Be aware of cultural differences
Australians tend to be fairly tolerant of other business cultures. Do not worry excessively about this but here are a few pointers. Strong eye contact in Australia is a sign of sincerity and trustworthiness. Though Australians are relaxed in their manner and may be on a first name basis upon meeting you, it does not mean they take their business interactions lightly. In Australia, meetings start on time. If you are running late for an appointment, always let the person know you are running late as early as possible. Also do not answer your mobile phone, or send text messages, in a meeting unless it is urgent. In this case, politely excuse yourself and leave the room to answer.

Ensure that you enter the country on the right visa
Use the services of a qualified migration lawyer and agent to secure you the correct visa. There are many visas some of which are more suited to business professionals than others