Welcome to module Ten

Key Legal Considerations For Social Entrepreneurs.

Gain a clear understanding about how to best protect your Intellectual Property. Understand legals and get contracts right. We'll talk business structures, tax and what’s best for your social enterprise. Experience has shown there is no, one, perfect legal fit for all social enterprises and ultimately, we believe you need specialised advice to ensure you set the right foundation to move forward.






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Setting up.

Navigating the legal requirements of your social enterprise can be arduous at times, especially as there isn’t really a ‘one stop shop’ to get all the right information, complete any registrations, apply for permits, lodge business activity statements, and well, you get the idea!

Finding a good lawyer and accountant who understands the territory and can guide you, may seem costly, but can save you a lot of time and headaches, especially if you’re doing this for the first time. Finding an appropriate grant, such as this one (now closed, but keep your eyes open for the next round) or trying to get work done pro-bono could save you a lot of money.

It is important however, that you’re familiar with the basics and that you know where to go to find further information.

This Module really focusses on pointing you in the right direction to get specialised advice and resources. Due to the scope of social enterprises needing specialised advice, (and the fact that we’re not lawyers!), it’s best that you research the specific legal considerations for your social enterprise. You’ll find advice from local, state and the federal governments, with a number of resources available (some of which are clunkier to than others...).



Brisbane City Council has a dedicated 24 hour a day, seven day a week, 133 BNE (133 263), hotline to support business in Brisbane. The hotline is a one-stop-shop for businesses of all sizes seeking information and advice on Council services and is a convenient way to get all your questions answered in one phone call.

Council’s aim is to make starting or running your business as easy as possible. Call to access information on a range of topics including:

  • food licensing including food safety permits

  • home businesses

  • planning and development applications and advice

  • business opportunities

  • working with Council including tenders and procurement

  • advertising sign advice and permits

  • filming in Brisbane including permits

  • festival and event permits

  • commercial activities on public land.


If you’re trading with a name other than your full legal name, you’ll need to register that business name. ASIC provides this service and have further information on their website.

When setting up domain names for your website, you’ll be unable to secure domains if you don’t hold that business name registration. We’d recommend securing key domain extensions (such as the .com, .org, etc in order to protect your brand. Likewise, are the different social media handles available, and whether you intend to use them or not, is it worth registering the accounts?


Without an Australian Business Number, you aren’t going to be able to trade. Occassionally when invoicing or contracting others, you may need to find someone’s ABN and can also do this on the ABR website.


The Federal government’s business portal (shown below), is also set up to provide you with the necessary information you need for starting, running or exiting your business.

Do you have a partnership agreement in place if working with co-founders? Do you have contracts for your volunteers?


Legal structures.

According to the FASES report, when looking at the legal structure of the 20,000 social enterprises in Australia:

  • 33% are incorporated associations,

  • 32% are companies limited by guarantee,

  • 18% are proprietary limited (PTY LTD) companies.



The guide to the right provides some excellent in-depth knowledge about the legal issues to consider when setting up a social enterprise, guiding you through a number or case studies and examples.

Further social enterprise legal structure case studies can be found here.

Social Traders offer social enterprise certification and also help to match you with potential buyers (typically government and corporate buyers who are looking to procure socially).

Many social enterprises are also now looking to get B Corp Certification. If you’re still setting up, understanding the B Corp requirements may help you align now, in order to make possible registration at a later date easier.

Getting assistance.


Along the way, there’s a strong chance you’ll need to set up contracts, consider how to deal with your Intellectual Property and if you’ve got a website, you may even need to include terms and conditions and a privacy policy.

The Allen’s A-Suite (to the right) provides some excellent templates, free of charge. Lawpath (shown below), is a service that also provides support and advice.

Lawpath (shown below), is a service that also provides support and advice.

If you’re operating as a not-for-profit social enterprise, you may find this Not For Profit Law website useful, which provides free and low-cost legal resources, training and advice.


IP and brand protection.

If another social enterprise were to start using your name, do you have measures in place to protect your brand? Patents, design registrations or trademarks are often considered assets and can be used to help value an enterprise.

IP Australia have a thorough website (shown below), which provide examples, advice and clear summaries of the different types of IP, and ways to protect your brand.

Some mechanisms, such as trademarks and design registrations are relatively easy to apply for and more affordable than patents. Saying that, a patent is only as strong as your ability to defend it, but overall, many of these mechanisms serve as deterrants to competition not to infringe on your IP.

When working on confidential projects, or talking about specific products which are in development, you may consider using Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs - a template of which you will find in Allen’s A-Suite).


For more tailored advice and templates, Myoni have recommended Business Kits as a provider of good legal templates and support.

Good luck Elevators!

Navigating the legal side of your social enterprise can be both tiring and costly. We’d recommend seeking a grant to help set up the necessary legalities of your enterprise or find pro-bono support from willing law firms. Doing this work at the beginning of your project can greatly reduce the chance you end up in hot water... whilst you may be entering into this with family or friends, having contracts and agreements in place can provide you with a great activity to communicate and understand how you would deal with things if there were a change of circumstances.


The information contained within this Elevate+ Module is intended solely for you and we kindly ask that you do not email, distribute, copy, modify or print this document.

You retain sole responsibility for actions and decisions, regardless of whether they are based on options or suggestions provided by Impact Boom. Any information contained should not be construed as legal advice.

Thank you for the fantastic energy you bring to the Elevate+ cohort.