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Office Desk In A Branch Office In Melbourne

How & Why To Set Up Your Business Branch Office In Melbourne

Grant Merriel

Are you looking to set up a business branch office in Melbourne? First off, congratulations! It means that your business has grown considerably. Nevertheless, opening a branch office can sometimes be an expensive and risky endeavor. 

The good news is that I’m going to teach you how to minimise risk when opening an office in a new location. You will learn more about risk mitigation strategies for business success. Of course, risks are unavoidable in business but still, you can reduce them. 

For example, think of the risks you take in your everyday life. Let’s say that you want to quit caffeine and break the addiction. You can start by drinking three cups of coffee in a day instead of six. Or, you can get some decaf coffee instead. (if you didn’t know, decaf coffee can taste as good as regular coffee). This is what I call a low-risk. Alternatively, you can skip your morning cup of joe all of a sudden and replace it with a cup of milk. Outside of the taste not being anywhere close, you might end up with a caffeine withdrawal headache and be cranky the whole day. That’s a huge risk and it would be pointless. When it comes to business, it’s the same. Why take a huge risk when you can just adopt a risk mitigation strategy? 

Reading this article will help you learn more about why and how and to set up a business branch office in Melbourne with almost no risk, time, and effort. 

Table of contents:

  1. Branch office, satellite office, and interstate office – Definition and differences 
  2. How to set up a branch office in Melbourne 
  3. Why should you set up a virtual branch office in Melbourne?

1. Branch office, satellite office, and interstate office – Definition and differences 

Man Setting Up A Branch Office In Melbourne

If you plan to open a branch office for sure you already have some pieces of information concerning this type of arrangement. I do not believe that you intend to extend your business without having a clue what a branch office is. The purpose of this section is to clear up a few terms. Perhaps you have already heard about the concepts of a “branch office”, “satellite office”, “interstate office”, etc and you might want to know what is the exact difference between them. 

Essentially, there is no difference between a branch office and a satellite office. Both of them refer to a division of a company located in a different area or region than the original headquarters of the company. For example, the headquarters of your company can be located in Sydney and you can have branch offices or satellite offices in Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, etc. Branch or satellite offices are typically smaller than the headquarters of a company. Branch or satellite offices are extremely important as they can foster more efficient sales and facilitate the customer service process but having a local presence. 

However, there is a difference between a branch office (or a satellite office) and an interstate office. A branch or satellite office can be located in a different city, region, state of the same country, or a different country. In the example above, I explained to you that the headquarters of your company can be located in Sydney while you have a branch office in Melbourne. But you can also have a branch office in Melbourne while your company’s headquarters are located in New Zealand or any other country. 

At the same time, an interstate office (that can be a satellite/branch office or another type of office, such as a representative office) is located in a different state of the same country. In other words, interstate business is a business conducted between states. So, if your company’s headquarters are located in Brisbane, Queensland, and you open a branch office in Melbourne, Victoria, you may say that you have an interstate office. But if your company’s headquarters are located in Indonesia and you open a branch office in Adelaide, Australia, you don’t have an interstate office (that is an intrastate office, but I do not intend to “argue semantics” with this post. Also, click here just in case you don’t know what this expression means). To sum up:

  • A branch office is the same as a satellite office meaning an office located in a different city, region, state, or country than the headquarters of a company.
  • An interstate office can be a branch office/satellite office only if it is located in a different state of the same country.    

2. How to set up a branch office in Melbourne

A Company’s Branch Office In Melbourne

If you are considering setting up a branch office in Melbourne, the steps that you must follow in order to grow your business and open an office in a new location depend on whether you run a company already registered in Australia or a foreign company that is not registered in Australia. 

  • You run a company already registered in Australia

If you run a company already registered in Australia, opening a branch office in a different state is not as difficult as it seems. Basically, you can open a new office without dealing with excessive bureaucracy, especially if you do not want to change your company’s registered address. I guess you have no reason to do that unless you plan to move to that new location and change your home address as well. Otherwise, registering your company with an address located in a city where you are not physically present does not make a lot of sense. However, if for any reason you want to change your registered business address, you will have to notify ASIC – Australian Securities and Investments Commission. 

Primarily, you should consider two key elements:

  1. Type of branch office 

You can choose between a physical branch office and a virtual branch office. Opening a physical branch office means paying high overhead and employee costs. Also, you will have to face an annoying and frustrating bureaucracy – such as; you will need to travel to Melbourne, spend time to find the perfect office space, and sign a rental or lease agreement. Of course, you will have to pay a few months in advance once you rent your new office space. Prepare to furnish it, find equipment, and spend time to recruit and hire new employees. That’s a big risk. Although, please don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that it won’t work. I don’t want to jinx it. I’m just saying that you will have to invest a lot of your time, money, and energy. 

Alternatively, you can open a virtual branch office at a fraction of a cost, with no time and effort. You don’t even have to travel to open it. Your company can get a near-instant presence in Melbourne and enjoy all the benefits of a physical office but without paying an exorbitant price for your new office and without investment risk. 

2. Institutions and bodies in Melbourne that you may deal with

As a business owner, you should know that you cannot eliminate bureaucracy completely. Every once in a while you must deal with statutory documents. If you open a branch office in Melbourne (assuming that the headquarters of your company are located in an Australian state different from Victoria), I recommend you make a list of the institutions and bodies in Melbourne that you will deal with.  

For example, the Australian Consumer Law regime is nationwide (if you run a business in Australia, you should already know that the Australian Consumer Law is the main law governing consumer protection). Nonetheless, the body that handles consumer complaints in Victoria is Consumer Affairs Victoria. Or, if you work in the construction industry you may deal with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Also, you may deal with different bodies and institutions in Melbourne according to your company’s industry. Be aware of these legal requirements when you set up your branch office in Melbourne.      

You can click here to learn more about business interstate expansion in Australia. 

  • You run a foreign company that is not registered in Australia

If you own a foreign company and you want to set up a branch office in Melbourne, you will need to deal with a bit of bureaucracy and requirements. Just as I mentioned above to business owners who want to open a branch office in Melbourne and have companies that are already registered in Australia, you can choose between a physical branch office and a virtual branch office. 

Opening a virtual branch office is legal in Australia. This is because a virtual branch office will provide your company with a virtual address that you are allowed to use as a registered business address. You can use as many virtual addresses as you want in different locations in Australia (you can click here to learn more about the legality of virtual addresses in Australia).  

No matter what type of branch office you choose for your foreign company (even if a virtual branch office would make the process of setting up an office in Australia a lot easier), you should know that your company must be registered with ASIC – Australian Securities and Investments Commission. I recommend you consider the following three steps:

1. Ensure that the name of your company is available with ASIC (meaning that no other Australian company has the same name as your company). Otherwise, you will not be able to register your company in Australia with the same name that you used to register your company in a different country. 

2. Once you find an available name for your company, you must register it with ASIC. You should start by filling out ASIC’s form 402 (Application for registration as a foreign company). Also, you must check on their official website and make a list of the documents that you need to submit to register your company. As a general rule, you should prepare a certificate of registration from the governing body in the country where you registered your company, a deed/certificate of incorporation, ASIC’s form 418 (Memorandum of appointment of local agent), and a memorandum stating your power as a director (if you are in a business partnership you must mention the position within the company of each of your business partners. Also, you must bring proof of your residence in Australia, if applicable). And last but not least, you must pay a fee for the registration of your company with ASIC. 

3. Make sure you are aware of all of your post-registration obligations. ASIC will inform you about them. As a general rule, you will have to appoint a local agent responsible for the doing of all acts and matters that the foreign company is required to do under the Corporations Act 2001.  Also, you will have to get from ASIC an Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN) which is a unique 9-digital ID number that must be displayed clearly in any company correspondence. 

Of course, do not forget that your company will be subject to Australian income tax for businesses at the current rate of 30% on profits attributable to the branch that you want to open. 

3. Why should you set up a virtual branch office in Melbourne?

Woman From Melbourne In A Branch Office

I know that I have already mentioned above some good reasons why you should consider a virtual branch office instead of a physical office. As I shared previously, with a virtual branch office you will be able to save a large amount of money that you would normally spend on overhead and save on employee costs, as they can work remotely – As you won’t need to pay for rent, maintenance, equipment, janitorial services, IT services, and more. 

But first, let me give you a complete understanding of a virtual branch office. 

A virtual branch office is an office that offers you the same services as a conventional branch office, but you don’t need to be physically present in that location (meaning in Melbourne, since I am talking to you about how to set up a branch office in Melbourne). For example, you will get a permanent business address in Melbourne and a business landline number. A premium virtual branch office provider will also offer you a secure business mailbox for your physical mail and parcels and 24/7 access to a keyless entry building where you can rent meeting rooms and boardrooms. For meetings with important customers and suppliers, the virtual branch office provider will give you access to a professional space where to conduct your business meetings. 

Outside of just helping you save a significant amount of money and reduce investment risk, you should consider a virtual branch office in Melbourne for the following reasons:

  • It gives great support for scalability. You don’t need a physical branch office from the very beginning. First, you must get to know your new market. You have to earn your customers’ trust. A virtual branch office offers you the chance to scale up as you grow. For example, you can get from the same provider a virtual receptionist for a personalised cost-effective customer experience. Also, a virtual branch office does not involve a long-term commitment. Once you win over customers in your new market, you are free to continue with the virtual branch office or get a physical office. 
  • It gives you the opportunity to cross-pollinate. Business cross-pollination does not mean that you need a virtual branch office to date someone in Melbourne. I’m just joking. Business cross-pollination is about business partnerships. A virtual branch office might be a great cost-effective strategy to share knowledge, especially if your company’s headquarters are located in a country different from Australia. Innovation comes from learning about different business styles and perspectives. You can do that without the hassle of opening a physical office.
  • It allows you to test the market. If you’re not sure about opening a new office in Melbourne, a virtual branch office gives you the chance to test your market first. With a low investment, you will have the opportunity to know your market and segment before launching your products or services in Melbourne. Once you get to know the profile of your customers in the new market, you can decide whether a virtual branch office can be a permanent business solution in the new area or you are ready to open a physical office.   
Melbourne Businessman In A Branch Office

To sum up, the steps that you must follow in order to set up a branch office in Melbourne depend on whether you own a company that is already registered in Australia or you must register first your foreign company with ASIC. In both cases, a virtual branch office can bring several benefits to your company as it can help you expand your business with a low-risk investment. 

If you think that a virtual office is a good strategy to reduce investment risk and you’re ready to rock the market in Melbourne, we would be more than happy if you could consider a B2B HQ virtual branch office for your growing company.     

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