The Long Tail of Small Business

Whenever we see “business” depicted on the news, we see images of office buildings, factories, coal mines… And yet of the 3 million active registered businesses in Australia, fully 72 percent don’t have any employees.

The median business is actually a single man or woman — likely to be a sole trader because sole traders are the most common form of businesses (39%), followed by proprietary limited companies (26%).

These non-employing businesses are likely to be in Property and Business Services (549,650 or 25%), Finance and Insurance (366,677 or 17%) and Construction with (348,814 or 16%) — at least in June 2004, says the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

And of the businesses with employees, the vast majority (754,504 or 90%) have only 0 to 19 workers. There were 77,656 (9%) businesses with 20 to 199 employees and 4,918 (1%) businesses with 200 employees or more.

4 Replies to “The Long Tail of Small Business”

  1. I know it’s just a rounding error, but that last percentage is way closer to half a percent that 1%. Still it surprised me a bit that there are less than 5000 businesses in Australia with more than 200 employees — we really are a very little big country, eh?


  2. @big: I know, I made it a whole 1% ‘cos I knew that if my rounded-off numbers didn’t add up to 100% then someone would whinge. Instead… [sigh]

    The numbers have actually changed a bit since these figures were published. The Australian Tax Office (was it them?) encouraged people to get off the business register if they were below the threshold for collecting GST. So the lower end of the numbers has been cleaned out a bit.

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