8127.0 - Characteristics of Small Business, Australia, 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/04/2005   
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  • Small Business Operators Ageing: ABS (Media Release)


April 28, 2005
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Small Business Operators Ageing: ABS

The most common small businessperson is a middle-aged man working between 35-50 hours per week from home and without any staff, according to the results of a household-based survey released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Small business operators reflected the national trend of an ageing population. In June 2004, 31% of all operators were older than 50 years, compared with 23% of all operators in February 1995 when the survey first began. The proportion of male operators aged more than 50 years increased from 25% to 32% and female operators, from 19% to 29% over the same period.

Since 1995, there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of full-time operators working between 35 and 50 hours per week, increasing from 60% in 1995 to 65% in 2004. Over the same period, the proportion of full-time operators working 51 hours or more per week has dropped from 40% to 35%.

Most Australian small businesses do not employ staff (56%). Of those that do, the majority employ fewer than five people. Since February 1995, the proportion of businesses that do not employ staff has risen from 48% to 56%, whilst the proportion of businesses that employ 5-19 people has dropped from 18% to 11%.

This household-based survey showed that 1.7 million people operated small businesses in Australia at June 2004. More than 1.1 million of the operators were male and the majority (65%) operated home based businesses.

More details are available in Characteristics of Small Business, Australia (cat. no. 8127.0).

Media note: This household-based survey is useful for analysing the characteristics of small businesses and their operators. It should not be used to analyse changes in counts of business. Other business-based ABS surveys are more suitable for this purpose.