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Hi there,

I don’t think it will be possible to do what you’re proposing. A business name itself is not a legal entity, rather an alias for whoever carries on the business and it would link to a single ABN. The situation you describe sounds like a partnership even though you are trying to avoid some of the potential headaches that could arise with a partnership. E.g. you will both be trading under the same business name, from the same domain name etc and working together to provide the outcomes to clients…

A sole trader is an individual – so, here you have two individuals and therefore two legal entities and two ABNs. Together you form a partnership, entitled to an ABN for the partnership and therefore linking to the business name/domain name etc as that partnership.

You have voiced reservation on the partnership in case it doesn’t work out.. however, if something didn’t work out even as two individuals ‘sharing’ a website etc, how could you then be certain that would stay as is without one partner becoming upset etc?

I would suggest either going the partnership route, ensuring you have a properly drafted partnership agreement between the two of you, as this will handle a lot of the issues you are concerned about should the partnership end at some point in the future. OR operate two businesses as sole traders under your separate ABNs where you can then invoice each other for works etc.

Hypothetically you might have similar business names still and could jointly (as two individuals) register any key/distinctive element as a trademark. Then you continue operating your own businesses ‘as normal’ but enjoy the joint benefit of the core brand name being registered to both of you as a trademark. I would suggest even then you might consider an agreement to be in place in the event one individual wants to move away from that ‘brand’ in the future and run the business separately.

Ultimately I think you need advice from your accountant as to the best structure for you both – e.g. continue as sole traders? Joint directors in a company? Partnership etc – and, also some advice and assistance from an appropriate solicitor to help draft a partnership (or other agreement) as deemed necessary.

NB: The above is information/food for thought and is not legal advice.

All the best!