How to Start a Genealogy Business

When we learn we are good at something, we often think “can I earn money from this?”. If you can earn an income from a hobby you are passionate about, it can lead to an enjoyable career. If you have never owned a business before, however, it can be discouraging when you do not know where to start. For those who enjoy researching family trees, this article will teach you how to start your own genealogy business. To be honest, there are a lot of factors to consider. However, this article will break the process down into simple steps.

What is a Genealogy Business?

Genealogy businesses exist due to a demand of people wanting to connect with their heritage. A genealogy business typically involves researching a family history on behalf of the client. To do so, the genealogist will use various databases of historical data like birth or marriage certificates. Once the research is done, the genealogist compiles the information into a readable and clear document for the client.

To get started, the National Library of Australia has a vast amount of research tools available.

Legal Considerations

Choose the Right Structure

There are multiple structures available to a business so it is important you find the right one. If you are starting the business by yourself, the most appropriate choice is most likely Sole Trader. A Sole Trader is someone who operates the business alone and is legally responsible for all aspects of the business. Setting up a business as a Sole Trader has numerous benefits. You can use your individual Tax File Number (TFN) to lodge tax returns and setting up the business is fairly simple.

However, if you are looking to go into business with multiple people, a partnership may be more appropriate. A partnership involves 2 or more parties with shared control of the business. How much control and liability each partner has is dependent on the type of partnership agreed upon. As a result, outlining the terms of the partnership is important. To best protect your interests in the business, consider using a Partnership Agreement.

Depending on what structure you choose; your business may be subject to different tax obligations.

If you are interested in some of the other structures available, you will find more information here.

Register Your Business Name

You need to register your business name when it is not your actual name. For example, John Doe does not need to register a business name if he is operating under his own name. However, if his business is called “John Doe’s Genealogy Research”, he will need to. Thinking of a good business name is important. You want it to advertise what the business is about but also want it stay memorable. When a customer knows little about genealogy, it may be what separates you initially from your competitors.

If you are unsure how to register your business name, Lawpath offers services that will submit the application online.

Registering for an ABN

When starting a business, you should consider registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN). Registering for an ABN will help make your business official and will give you access to a range of government websites and departments. In addition, having an ABN will allow you to have a “.com.au” domain when creating a website.

Business Considerations

How Much Do You Want to Charge?

Deciding how much to charge is an incredibly important step for your genealogy business. Firstly, you need to consider the expenses of the business. How much you charge for your services needs to be higher than the cost of the business. Costs can include the fees you pay for genealogy databases, the cost of running a website or general stationery expenses involved. If you only charge enough to cover the costs of the business, however, you will only be breaking even. You want to charge a little more so that the business is profitable but also worth the time you will spend researching. Furthermore, it is helpful to look at your competitors’ prices as well. Looking at your competitors’ prices will give you an idea of what a fair price is for your services.

Marketing

Marketing is vital for a new genealogy business to thrive. You need to reach your target market in a method most appropriate. In addition, you want the public to know what your product is and why it is worth purchasing. A marketing plan can be a great way to achieve both of those objectives. A marketing plan outlines your businesses goals and lists strategies to best attain them. 

For a genealogy business, it may be useful to have a website that clients can refer to. The website can outline the various services your business offers as well as examples of the genealogy report they will receive. 

However, it is important to keep in mind the ongoing operational costs of marketing and advertising. When choosing the most appropriate method to market your business, make sure it is one your business can afford.

Be Prepared to Use Your Free Time

Starting up a genealogy business does not mean you have to give up your current employment. In fact, it is useful to have a consistent source of income while you are still waiting for clients. Although there has been generated interest over family history over the past few years, it is still a fairly niche service. If you are already passionate and enjoy researching family history, however, this can still be beneficial. You can turn what you do in your spare time for free into a profitable business over time.

Conclusion

If you have a passion and skill for genealogy, starting a business is simple. You want to choose the right structure for your business and consider registering the business name or ABN. You also want to make sure you have the right marketing plan in place so the right customers find you. Remember, starting a genealogy business does not mean you have to give up your current income. A genealogy business can be your source of extra income. To keep it that way, make sure you are charging enough to earn a profit but still be attractive to customers.

If you do have further questions about starting a business, it might be helpful to talk to one our business lawyers.

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