What is a Private Company: Roles, Responsibilities and Risks

Are you grappling with the complexities of starting a private company in Australia? 

Navigating the maze of responsibilities tied to being a director, shareholder, or even the company itself can be daunting. Often, business owners are left feeling overwhelmed by the stringent regulatory landscape. 

We understand your struggles, and we are here to help you understand and manage these roles effectively, in line with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and Australian Tax Office (ATO) requirements.

What is a private company in Australia?

A private company in Australia is a type of business entity that is not publicly traded on a stock exchange. Private companies, also known as Pty Ltd companies in Australia, are entities separate from their owners. It is owned by one or a few individuals or entities, and the shares are not available to the general public. 

Private companies are subject to less strict regulations than public companies, allowing for greater privacy and flexibility in their operations. 

They have unique legal rights and obligations, and involve various roles, including directors, shareholders, and company secretaries. Each of these roles has specific duties and responsibilities, making it essential to understand them for the smooth operation of your company.

Company’s Roles and Responsibilities

A private company is a separate legal entity, which means it has its own roles and responsibilities. These include timely reporting and payment of taxes, maintaining accurate financial records, and complying with regulations set by the ASIC and the ATO. 

The company must also protect the rights of its shareholders and ensure transparent communication about its performance and future prospects.

Roles and Responsibilities of Directors

Directors are the driving force of a company. 

They are responsible for steering the company towards its objectives while ensuring compliance with laws and regulations. 

Their duties include financial management, decision-making, and adherence to corporate governance standards on behalf of the shareholders. 

Failure to fulfil these responsibilities can result in penalties, making it vital for directors to understand their obligations. 

Directors can also be made personally liable for certain company liabilities. As such, selecting the correct individuals to undertake this role is crucial to ensure that personal assets are protected.

Shareholders’ Roles and Responsibilities

Shareholders are the owners of a private company. They have a stake in the company and stand to benefit from its profits. 

Their responsibilities include voting on critical issues at meetings, including the appointment of directors and changes to the company’s constitution. 

It’s important for shareholders to actively participate in these decisions, as they directly impact the company’s future. 

The financial liability of a shareholder is limited to any unpaid amount on the shares they own. If the shares are fully paid, the shareholders are not liable for the company’s debts.

Navigating the Risks

Running a private company comes with certain risks, including financial loss, regulatory penalties, and reputational damage. Mismanagement or neglect of director, shareholder, or company responsibilities can lead to serious consequences. However, understanding these risks and planning accordingly can help mitigate them and secure the company’s success.

Next Steps

Managing a private company is a complex task, but you don’t have to do it alone. 

Our expert accountants are here to guide you through every aspect of your business journey. 

Feel free to call us on 0755361960 or book an appointment online for a personalised consultation.


  1. What is the difference between a director and a shareholder?
    A director is responsible for managing the company’s affairs and making decisions on its behalf and is exposed to more financial risk, while a shareholder is an owner of the company who invests in return for a share of its profits.
  2. What are the legal obligations of a private company?
    Legal obligations of a private company include regulatory compliance, tax reporting, maintaining accurate financial records, and upholding shareholders’ rights.
  3. What risks do directors and shareholders face in a private company?
    Directors and shareholders face risks, including financial loss, legal penalties for non-compliance, and reputational damage. 

Directors can be liable for company debts in certain circumstances, so care needs to be taken when selecting the individual to handle this role so personal assets are not exposed.

Shareholders do risk the value of their investment in the company. Shareholders’ financial liability is limited to any unpaid amount on the shares they own. 


Understanding the intricate dynamics of a private company and the roles and responsibilities that come with it is essential for effective business management. 

Though it might seem overwhelming, with the proper guidance and support, you can confidently navigate your business journey. We hope this guide has brought clarity to your understanding of private companies. 

Feel free to reach out if you have any further queries or need assistance. We are here to help you simplify the complex world of private companies.

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