Statistics on Small Businesses in Australia: 2024 Update

Written by

Raja Abbas


Small businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy in response to contributing immensely to economic growth. In this article, we will be going into all things related to small businesses: employment, industries, failure rates, and the aspects of business operations that drive growth and change. Small businesses. In this comprehensive exploration of small businesses in Australia, we aim to shed light on the intricate web of factors that shape their existence, growth, and challenges in an ever-evolving economic landscape.

Definition of Small Businesses

Most information on small businesses in Australia is provided by the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines small businesses in Australia as businesses that employ less than 20 people. Small businesses include:

  • Sole proprietors and partnerships (one or multiple owners without employees)
  • Micro-businesses (1 to 4 employees)
  • Any other business that has between 5 to 19 employees.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) uses the turnover of businesses as a guideline to define what a small business is, claiming a business with less than $2 million in aggregated turnover constitutes a small business. 

Small Businesses: Industries

A quarter of small businesses in Australia operate in the construction industry, followed by the professional, scientific, and technology sector of work. 

Businesses: Employment

In Australia, the majority of the workforce are employed under small-to-medium enterprises.

In response to the rise of E-commerce and technological advancements, microbusinesses who

Annual Employment Change

From 2022 to 2023 there has been changes in the employment size within different business sizes, with microbusinesses having a 3.5% change in employment and large businesses having an 8% increase in employees.

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Businesses: Industries and Profitability

As of 2023, the mining industry has the highest earnings of all sectors within Australia and generates significantly more earnings than any other industry followed by rental and real estate services and construction. Before starting a business, it is important to develop an industry analysis in order to prevent business failure.

The most profitable industry in Australia is the property and real estate sector, followed by ore mining. The basis for the real estate industry having the highest profit margin is in response to factors such as an increase of demand for houses and overseas migration

Small Businesses: Entry/Exit Rates

60% of businesses in Australia will fail within their first three years of operation, with 20% of businesses failing in their first year of operating. Whilst the exit rate of businesses in Australia is extremely high, developing an exit strategy for your business can assist in minimising financial detriments.

As of 2022-2023, there has been 406,365 business entries and 386,392 business exits.

According to the Australian Banking Association, the reasons for small business failure include:

  • Insufficient leadership and management.
  • Inadequate market research.
  • Poor financial management.
  • Underestimating competitors.
  • Product and services issues.

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Growth in Industires

In response to industrial expansion and rising middle-class incomes, there has been a constant and increasing demand for mineral and energy consumption which has led to mining businesses generating the highest average earnings of all businesses.

Geographic Location

Over the past year, small businesses have increased by 7%. As of 2023, most small businesses operate in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland.

The geographic location of businesses can be vital to success.

The capital city of states in Australia are usually triple the amount of those businesses operating in regional areas.


Overall, small businesses have an imperative role in the Australian economy. Making up the largest portion of businesses in Australia, small businesses have a vital role in employment, industry operations, and economic growth. There are various factors that determine the failure and/or success of a business with these enterprises operating in both metropolitan and geographical areas.

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