Agriculture is one of the most essential industries globally. The need for expert and specialised knowledge in this sector is pretty prominent, as the challenges faced by workers in agriculture continue to grow. 

If you’re thinking of starting an agricultural consulting business, then your knowledge and expertise could prove valuable for many. However, before you start helping out others, it’s important to make sure your agriculture consultancy is well set-up and protected. 

What Does An Agricultural Consultant Do And How Do I Become One? 

So, what exactly is an agricultural consultant? An agricultural consultant is someone who has specialised and expert level knowledge of the farming industry. The farming industry is extremely broad, so consultants tend to have areas of expertise. They might focus on areas like livestock, equipment, production or land. The job of an agricultural consultant often involves visiting their clients, exploring and analysing their situation, coming up with solutions to better their conundrums and then helping implement those strategies. 

Agricultural consultants are well qualified and experienced. They usually have attained the relevant tertiary qualifications in agriculture, plus have real life work experience. This background allows them to have the type of knowledge to act as a consultant. 

How Do I Start An Agricultural Consultant Business? 

If you have the relevant qualifications and experience, plus starting your own business is something you aspire to do – then starting an agricultural consultancy is probably the right path for you. 

The first step to starting an agricultural consultant business (or any business for that matter) is creating a good plan! It’s important to take the time to research what the market looks like, the kind of services you will offer, the financial aspect of the business, how you will conduct marketing, what regulations may impact your business and anything else relevant, then put it all down in one place. 

A business plan doesn’t need to look professional or formal but it does need to make sense to you. That way, you have something you can always look back on when you need to keep yourself on track.  

Once you have a plan that you are happy with, you can start the process of registering your agricultural consulting business. 

How Do I Get An ABN For My Agricultural Consultancy Business? 

There’s three main types of legal structures that businesses in Australia opt to get registered as: sole trader, partnership or a company. 

Each one has its advantages and disadvantages but in most cases, you’ll need an Australian Business Number (ABN) no matter which one you choose to go for. 

To get an ABN, you need to do the following:

  • Hop online and go to the Australian Business Register
  • Select the option to register for an ABN
  • Start the application and fill out all the relevant information
  • Finish and submit your application 
  • Receive an email containing your ABN

It’s a fairly simple process that shouldn’t take too much of your time. Once you have your ABN, you’ll be able to start business as a sole trader. However, if you plan on using a name other than your personal one for business, then you will need to take the additional step of registering a Business Name. After that, you’re all set to go. 

Often, the simplicity and ease of setting up as a sole trader attracts many budding business owners. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that a sole trader business offers little to no legal protection. As a sole trader, your business has no legal separation from you personally, therefore you’ll be liable for everything that happens with the business. Moreover, a sole trader business structure can put limitations on any future business growth opportunities you may be interested in. 

It’s important to carefully weigh these points prior to committing to a specific structure. If a partnership is what you had in mind, then the same process and reasoning applies for all partners. However, we highly recommend discussing how the partnership will work with all partners then having everything in a written document, like a Partnership Agreement, for the security of all partners and the business. 

What If I Want To Register My Agricultural Consultant Business As A Company? 

Registering a company is a bit more complicated and time consuming, compared to registering as a sole trader or partnership business. However, for all serious business ventures, a company structure is by far the better option. A company (once it’s properly set up) functions as a legal entity on its own. 

This means, the company is able to do many things that a legal person would be able to do. For example, a company can own or sell property, be involved in court matters as well as earn a profit or work up a debt. As a result, you have a lot more legal protection as your liability can be limited with a company. Furthermore, if you’re looking to expand your agricultural consultant business in the future (for example, open up a franchise), then it’s best to have a company structure right from the start. 

To register a company, you will need to follow the regulations set out by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Overall, setting up a company means figuring out your company directors and shareholders, working out how the company will be run, ensuring you’re ready to keep up with ongoing obligations and much more. Once you have figured all this out, you’ll need to register your company with ASIC – if it’s approved you will attain an Australian Company Number (ACN). After you’ve done all that, you still need to apply for taxes and get an ABN (like we discussed above). 

Registering A Company can sometimes be an overwhelming process for business owners. It’s best to get a legal expert to help out with this, as they can make sure everything is done the right way.

To learn more about business structures, read a chapter from our free guide here

Do I Need Any Legal Agreements For My Agricultural Consultant Business?

Legal agreements are known to be the lifeblood of a business. The right documents can not only help protect your business in the present day but it also plays a role in securing your business’s future. It’s an important investment – we’ve listed a few key legal agreements for you to consider. 

Consultancy Agreement: A consultancy agreement is the central agreement you’ll have in place with your clients, which can be customised to suit your agricultural consultant business’s requirements. The document includes matters like scope of work, obligations, key dates, payment and termination. Having a well drafted consultancy agreement can ensure both parties are well aware of what they can expect from the arrangement. 

Privacy Policy: Collecting information from your business website’s users warrants the need for a privacy policy. Australian privacy laws give Australian’s the right to know what is being done with their data, which makes it your responsibility to have a privacy policy in place.  

Website Terms and Conditions: Unlike a privacy policy, a terms and conditions isn’t strictly legally required in most cases. However, you should still consider having terms and conditions on your website. Terms and conditions can help protect your website from the risks of being online. A Web T&C’s can help limit your liability and establish controls, making it much easier to  navigate the online world of business. 

Employment Agreement: If you plan on hiring employees, it’s crucial to have legal agreement in place with them. As an employer, you need to meet your obligations towards your employees and having a written employment agreement is one of the first steps in achieving that. Moreover, it’s important for both parties to establish their rules and expectations so the relationship can be off to a good start, which is always better for productivity. 

What Laws Apply To An Agricultural Consultant Business? 

Starting an agricultural consultant business means being aware of the laws that will impact your venture. To get some clarity, it’s always a good idea to talk to an expert in Regulatory Compliance, so they can provide advice that’s specific to your business. However, we’ve listed a few general legal considerations for you below. 

Australian Consumer Law (ACL)

As the owner of a business, it’s vital that your business practices are in line with the ACL. The ACL determines the rights of consumers when interacting with businesses and prohibits practices that are unfair, misleading or deceptive. More so, the ACL is also there to protect small businesses from being taken advantage of. Getting familiar with the ACL can help you learn more about both your rights and responsibilities as a business. 

Employment Law 

Hiring staff and expanding your agricultural consultant business’s team can be an exciting time. Although, it does come with more responsibilities and obligations. As an employer, it’s important to make sure your employees aren’t coming to any harm in the workplace. Furthermore, you need to make sure they are receiving their proper entitlements and awards. Talking to an expert in Employment Law can help clear everything up. Plus, you may want to look into getting some important documents like a Staff Handbook or Workplace Policy drafted. 

Data And Privacy Law 

When you decide to work with clients, you will likely be exposed to a lot of personal information about them, from where they live to their financial situation. If people are trusting you with their information, then it’s your job as a business owner to take reasonable measures to secure this information. Data and Privacy experts can help you work out what legal measures are available for you to ensure that all your data has been properly secured. 

Next Steps 

Starting an agricultural consulting business can be a worthwhile business venture. However, it’s important to take care of all the legal considerations to give your business the best chance possible. Reaching out to legal experts for their help and guidance is always a smart move. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Agricultural consultants possess specialised knowledge of the farming industry, focusing on areas such as livestock, equipment, production or land
  • Qualifications typically include relevant tertiary education in agriculture and real-life work experience 
  • When starting an agricultural consulting business, it’s a good idea to create a business plan that addresses things like market research, services offered, financial aspects, marketing and regulatory considerations 
  • Registering the business requires obtaining an Australian Business Number (ABN), with the process differing based on legal structures such as sole trader, partnership or a company 
  • Choosing a legal structure involves considering the trade-off between simplicity (as a sole trader) and legal protection and growth opportunities (as a company) 
  • Legal agreements, including a consultancy agreement, privacy policy, website terms and conditions, and employment agreement, are essential for protecting the business and establishing clear expectations with clients and employees 
  • Understanding and complying with relevant laws, such as Australian consumer law, employment law, and data and privacy law, is crucial for the success and ethical operation of the agricultural consulting business 

If you would like a consultation on starting an agricultural consultant business, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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