8127.0 - Characteristics of Small Business, Australia, 2004  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/04/2005   
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Business operator(s)

There is no standard definition of a small business operator and other ABS publications do not use the term, or provide statistics about small business operators as a group. However, the expression 'small business operator' is one that is often used in research and policy debate and is generally taken to include the following group of people:

The person or persons who own and run the business. Generally these business operators can be identified as:

  • the proprietor of a sole proprietorship
  • the partners of a partnership
  • the working director(s) of an incorporated company.


Includes personal computers (PCs), laptops, note books, mainframes and mini-computers.


Electronic mail is a facility which allows network users to exchange messages (including text and attachments).

Full-time operator(s)

A full time operator is one who usually works 35 hours or more a week in the business.

Home based businesses

Where the person(s) usually conducts most of their work at or from their residential address. Refer also to Chapter 3 - Introduction, for additional clarification.


A world-wide collection of computers which are linked together to form a repository of stored information and to provide a range of communication services. These services include, but are not limited to, the World Wide Web (www), Internet Electronic Data Interchange and Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP).

Length of operation

The length of time the business has been operated by the current operator.

Operated at home

A home based business where most of the work of the business was carried out at the home(s) of the operator(s).

Operated from home

A home based business where the business had no other premises owned or rented other than the home(s) of the operator(s).

Part-time operator(s)

A part time operator is one who usually works less than 35 hours a week in the business.

Small business

Small businesses (excluding agricultural businesses) are those businesses employing less than 20 people. The categories presented in this publication are as follows:

  • non-employing businesses - sole proprietors and partnerships without employees
  • businesses with 1-4 employees
  • businesses with 5-19 employees.

Together, these three groups form the small business category - those businesses employing less than 20 people.

Note that because operators of all incorporated businesses are considered employees of that corporation, all incorporated businesses will be classified as employing businesses.