Once you have your startup structure in place, you will need to establish a bank account in your company’s name. To do this, you will need to take your company incorporation documents and your identification to the bank to establish the account or accounts. Speak to the bank about what accounts are best for what you want to do.
If you are adding your own money into your startup, it is important to ask your accountant whether you should characterise that injection of funds as a loan, or as a capital contribution. You must also maintain records for small loans you make to the company for things such as office stationery, hosting, software licenses, business cards and travel. The company must ensure to pay this money back to you personally.
If you lend the company any significant money at the start, we recommend making a loan agreement between yourself and the company. You will remember a company is a separate legal entity from you, so you can contract with it. This documentation is essential, especially if the ATO requires clarification on the transaction.
Also, if you are seeking investors, you need to show them all loans to the company, including the loan you made that the company must repay. By showing potential investors proper documentation such as loan agreements, investors and lenders will know you are responsible and competent.
When paying bills, pay from your startup (company) account. Avoid paying from your personal account. Believe me, when you start mixing accounts, it will likely cost you more time and money, is confusing to investors and very hard to explain to shareholders. It can be easy to lose track when you pay from different accounts. I have done it in my younger days, and I don’t recommend it.
If you have a two-company structure, i.e., a holding company and a trading company, you need to be aware of how the money flows in and out of which company and for what purposes. It is usually the trading company that pays the bills and receives the income from the day-to-day operations. While the holding company, which holds the assets such as cash and IP, receives funds from investors and income from license fees. Your will need to speak to your accountant about how the money should flow between entities.
It is a good idea to speak to your bank about setting up multiple accounts for your company. You may wish to have a separate bank account for GST. 10% of income to the receivable account may then be automatically transferred to your GST account.
I advise that you take full responsibility for your startup’s bank account(s) in the early stages of your startup. Founders must control the spending and the payments. Do not hand your account over to staff, until you get a CFO who can put checks in balances in place to manage the company’s financial risk.