There are a bunch of different resources for your Australian freelance business that you can access. Making them easier to find is the purpose of this blog.
Here, we’re gathering up some standard government resources as well as some places to do when you need to do things like debt collection, deal with disputes and so on.
Please note: the information supplied here is a guide only and is correct at time of publication (November 2019). Any changes, introduction of new services or contradictory information should be sanity checked. And by that, I mean consult the appropriate body, talk to your accountant, see a lawyer and do your due diligence. Any information supplied here should be seen as a starting point only for your own personal research.
Here’s the starting point for you finding solid general information for your Australian freelance business journey
General business information
The Australian government and state governments offer many and varied programs. A great starting point for uncovering their free assets, access to business connect services, training, grants and more are included below.
Please note: the Australian freelance business arena is often lumped into small business information. There are some differences that will need to be checked to see if they match your individual circumstances and this should be done as part of your research.
Templates on marketing, business development, finance, planning, risk management and more can be found at Business.Gov.au and you can call for assistance 8am to 8pm AEST Monday to Friday on 13 28 46.
The ATO is helpful with lots of information for the running of your Australian freelance business. It can also be slightly overwhelming at times. A few places to go to breakdown the ATO density include:
· The ATO newsroom where you can stay up to date with the latest changes
· Lodge your NIL activity statement or NIL annual GST return via 13 7226
· Enquire about the progress of your individual lodgements, search for your lost super, apply for refund of GST credits, make a payment arrangement via 13 2865
· The ATO app can be downloaded on your phone (styling!)
· Links to various elements of the ATO are located on this tidy contact page
Fair Work Ombudsman
Want to make sure you stay on the right side of the law with hiring contractors and/or make sure your own rights are protected? Check out the Fair Work website.
They have specific advice for small business owners, not necessarily for Australian freelance businesses of one- so giving them a call about finer points are always a good idea.
If you want to speak to someone, you can do so between 8:30am to 5pm local time, Monday to Friday. Contact the Helpline by calling 13 13 94 and pressing option 3. Or you can login to the website and use their webchat feature. You can also access the Workplace Advice Service for free legal advice on dismissal/termination, bullying and/or general working conditions if you meet their criteria.
Indigenous Business Services
The Indigenous Advancement Strategy has a focus on small business within its core. I have not spoken to anyone that has used it and find that it isn’t exactly publicised but hopefully, these resources can help you with any questions related to your freelance business and accessing the scheme if applicable.
You can access free, local information sessions on starting a business through business.gov.au
There is a specific resource website run by Indigenous Business Australia to help grow your business, start a business or buy one.
You can also call an Indigenous business hotline from 8am-6pm, Mon-Fri (local time) except national public holidays on 13 1030.
Awards and rates
While freelancers do have many considerations outside the general award rate, knowing the rates can help you set appropriate prices for your freelance business. Checking your awards and agreements for ongoing and contract work as well as in arenas of work where awards exist (e.g. the arts, journalism etc) can help you price within the market expectation and/or in line with union agreeance.
This can be done via the Fair Work Commissions awards and rates section.
You have options generally on a state by state basis when a payment dispute arises.
A great starting point is the Business.Gov.Au website as they tap into advice, tips and process information and match it with places to reach out to.
Apart from sounding like something you’ve said through a mouth of peanut butter, The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFO) offers all kinds of information, resources and makes regular call outs for submissions about the challenges facing small business. They assist small business operators to resolve complaints and disputes, including disputes with a Commonwealth Government agency, contract and payment disputes and unfair contract term disputes.
They also offer dispute resolution information that is specific to your state via a question and answer system to deliver the appropriate resource.
Phone: 1300 650 460 (but use the support tool first in case you have a better state alternative)
As mentioned many a time in the Freelance Jungle, Australian freelance businesses can benefit from using late fees and incentives to get late payers over the line. However, any late fees and penalties you impose on a client for late or default payment are set on a state-by-state basis. You should consult the state Office of Fair Trading where you live (or where you’ve registered your business) to find individual information.
This is for NSW but some of the resources can also help you. Check with your particular state on the services that are offered. And consider using them for dispute and mediation purposes. The NSW Small Business Commissioner offers direct advice services and resources.
Collectmore app and the Collectmore debt agency remain a popular choice for those times where only a debt collection service will do.
Please note: this is not a government service, it is a private debt collection agency. Fees for this service may be up to 20 to 30% of the amount outstanding. Please do your due diligence before using this service.
The ACCC can assist with general advice and guidance in some specific areas of small business. They don’t get involved in individual disputes and issues, but they can tap you into resources to assist with particularly issues with your freelance business.
Each state’s small claims tribunal operates differently, so it is best to seek individual advice. Small claims court will hear dispute cases however, they usually will only do so if you meet their state requirements AND previous attempts to avoid court via mediation have failed.
Find further freelance business advice and support at your state or territory business and industry website:
- NSW Industry
- QLD Business and industry portal
- Business Victoria
- WA Business
- Business SA
- NT Department of Business
- TAS Business
- ACT Business Gateway.
Need to hash out a specific issue with your freelance business? Pop on into the Freelance Jungle and share it now.