A Step-By-Step Guide To Applying For An ABN

Spoiler: it's extremely easy to do.

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Recently I went through the experience of creating an Australian Business Number (ABN).

I say it was an experience because it’s something I’ll never forget — for I did what an excited, first-time published freelance writer does and rushed into it. Consequently, I made some mistakes.

Here’s what happened, and how you can avoid these mistakes.

#1 I Get The Email

It all happened unexpectedly. I had just woken up with my mind geared to tackle my uni assignments, thrown my covers off my body to encourage a move on, and checked my phone to procrastinate getting out of bed. That’s when I saw it. My very first article had been published. The news got me right out of bed and I’m ashamed to say also running around the house gloating to my parents.

#2 Invoice To Get Paid

But what awakened my mind more than being published was the prospect of money. “I get paid for this,” I thought. For a hopeful writer, this is the most amazing acknowledgment ever. The second thought that entered my head was invoicing. At this stage I didn’t have a filled-out invoice or even an ABN. Both of which I needed in order to get moolah.

If you provide a service to someone, it’s very likely that they’ll pay you for it. In order to get this money without being officially employed, you need to set up an invoice — look on Google and Word for templates you can use.

#3 ABN Application

So, at 7am in the morning I jumped on a computer and got at applying for an ABN. If you’re going through this process, make sure you have a look at what kind of ABN you need to apply for. If you’re freelancing, you’ll more than likely be a sole trader.

I put through my details and the intentions I had for needing an ABN – my TFN, business type, services offered and business name. It was going smoothly. I got through all of it and to the page asking for payment details. Here I stopped and thought, “I didn’t realise it cost money to get an ABN.” Then as fast as the thought entered my mind I shrugged my shoulders (not knowing any better) and stupidly proceeded to pay may way to a future of rich writer’s money.

#4 Here’s The Thing: ABNs Are Free To Create

Turns out, it should cost you zip to create an ABN. Or at least if you go to the legit government website it will be cost free. I’m not trying to make the process of getting an ABN sound terrifying – it’s really not. I just want to make it clear there are websites out there that convince you payment is needed when in fact its 100 per cent free. It’s just something to be wary of. I sure didn’t know, and hope now others will.

#5 How I Know I Wasn’t Scammed

Once I did realise my error, however, I called the Australian Business Register (ABR) immediately in blind panic. I had just given a non-government website my address, TFN number and business intentions — of course I was freaked AF. But after talking to a lovely customer service operator I felt much better. The website I used was legitimate and I hadn’t been ‘scammed’. Just lured I guess? In the end, what mattered was that my ABN made it on the registry. I was ready to roll in the dosh! I had just unfortunately lost more dosh than I had to from my uni savings.

#6 Learning From My Mistakes

I can tell you now I will never rush into doing important things in the heat of the moment. Touch wood. It just seems my brain doesn’t handle things as logically as it should under pressure. Plus, what do they say? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It would be pretty stupid of me to do it again.

But then again, it’s me and I have a habit of putting my foot in these situations. Take a certain anecdote from my first article for instance.

I hope you have more luck setting up your ABN. If you want to read more about running a business, you can do so here.

(Lead image: Keeping Up With The Kardashians/E!)