What to know before starting a business in South Africa



The rise of highly successful start-ups and entrepreneurs in the last few years have led to many South Africans wanting to start their own small businesses.

Unfortunately, for many, the journey ends with the idea of being an entrepreneur, because the process of registering a business in South Africa may seem too complicated and expensive.

But is this really true? Or is it simply this preconceived idea that’s leaving potential entrepreneurs with broken dreams.

When starting a business, you need to have certain documents and structures in place, however, the process is not a complicated one.

Anyone with a valid identification document can start a business in South Africa and with the right guidance, the registration process should be an effortless experience.

Do you really need to register a business in South Africa?

Yes. No matter the size of your company or the amount of profit your business makes, registering it can offer numerous legal benefits, such as asset protection and the ability to raise equity capital, and will simplify admin processes in the future.

Which types of companies can register in South Africa?

Profit, non-profit, public and private companies can all be registered in South Africa.

Is the process of registering a business in South Africa really that complicated?

Not at all. If you follow the correct steps, your business can be registered in just a few days.

What are the steps to register a business?

1. Start by reserving a name for your business

It is important to choose a unique name for your business; one that has not yet been registered. You should also secure the domain name of your business. This will give credibility to your business and reserve the space online for when you are ready to launch a website.

2. Have the right documents

Many people think that you need a stack of documents to register a business, but this is not the case, you simply need the following:

  • Identification document (ID) of the incorporator or the director of the business; and
  • A certified copy of the ID.

Once you have this, we will complete the entire registration. It’s that simple.

Should I register with the South African Revenue Services (SARS)?

All businesses have to be registered with SARS and comply with their regulations. This will require you to have a tax number for your company.

When is registering for VAT compulsory?

You do not have to register for VAT immediately. You can voluntarily register for VAT if your business’ income exceeds R50 000 over a 12-month period. It becomes compulsory if your income exceeds R1 million in a 12-month period.

When starting a business, should I have a bank account?

Having a bank account for your business is a SARS requirement. A business bank account will ensure that personal and business transactions are separated for better bookkeeping.

Starting a business in South Africa is not as complicated as you may think. With the right guidance and advice, you can register your new business in just a few days and reap the benefits thereof.

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