Survey Participant Information - Business Characteristics Survey


Submitting Data
General Information
Basic Financial Information
Number of Employees
Other Information


Welcome to the help pages for the Business Characteristics Survey 2016-17.

This page contains information to help businesses that are included in the Business Characteristics Survey (1BCC1).

For general information about participation in business surveys, please see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and for assistance with using the online survey form, please see eSurvey - Help.

If your question is not answered on this page, or in the information provided on your form, you can also call 1800 681 979 (Freecall excluding mobile phones, 9am to 5pm AEST).

Please note that an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) officer may contact you for clarification on any data that you provide. This additional information helps to ensure that statistics produced by the ABS are fit for purpose and of a high quality.


How do I access the web form?
To access your web form, click on the following online link or copy into your web browser - To log in, use the six digit 'User Identifier' and then the 'Password' details that are included in your letter from the ABS. If you have misplaced your letter and log in details, please call 1800 681 979 (Freecall excluding mobile phones, 9am to 5pm AEST) to request a new password.

Can I save an unfinished web form?
Yes, there is a functionality to save the online form when partially completed so you can return to it later. To do this simply click the 'Save' and 'Exit' button at the top of the form. This will save your form and exit you from the system. You will receive a confirmation message. You can then log back in to complete the survey at any time. However, please ensure you submit your form once completed as data will not be available to the ABS until it is submitted.

Can I keep a record of my completed web form?
Yes, the ABS highly recommends that you keep a copy of your completed form for your own personal records.

    To print a copy of the form, click the 'Print' button on the receipt page when you submit the form

    A sample version of the form is available to preview by clicking 'Preview a PDF of survey questions' from the navigation menu

You may find it useful to have this copy available when seeking information from other areas of the business.

Can I get an extension or request assistance to complete the web form?
If you need assistance in completing the web form, or have difficulties in meeting the due date, an extension of time may be available. Please call 1800 681 979 (Freecall excluding mobile phones, 9am to 5pm AEST) and advise our staff of your situation.


What is the purpose of the survey?
The purpose of the Business Characteristics Survey (1BCC1) is to collect key measures on business characteristics to develop a better understanding of the business practices and behaviours that impact on business performance. This ensures the development of more relevant and effective government industry policies, supporting Australian businesses, particularly small and medium businesses. As well as producing population estimates, the data collected will support the Business Longitudinal Database and will be used to build a statistical longitudinal database for public and private sector analysts.

The Business Characteristics Survey is conducted annually. The 1BCC1 survey form includes a core component of characteristics questions with either detailed use of information technology (IT) or detailed innovation practices questions asked in alternate years). The 2016-17 iteration of the BCS has an innovation focus.

What is the survey reference period?
The reference period for the surveys is the financial year ended 30 June 2017. Number of employees is collected for the last pay period ending in June 2017.

What if my business did not operate during the reference period?
If the business you are reporting for has ceased operating or did not operate during the reference period please notify the ABS on 1800 681 979 (Freecall excluding mobile phones, 9am to 5pm AEST). In order for the ABS to determine the correct course of action for this business, you will be asked a few questions (for example, when did the business last operate?).

How was my business selected in the survey?
Details of businesses are obtained from the Australian Businesses register (ABR), which contains the names and addresses of all businesses that have a registered Australian Business Number (ABN) with the Australian Tax Office (ATO). A random sample of businesses has been selected from the business register based on their industry and employment size. Businesses in the sample are randomly selected to represent other businesses with similar characteristics such as income or number of employees. Some businesses must be included in the sample because they contribute substantially to their particular industry or group.

This form does not seem relevant to me, should I be in the survey?
Your business has been selected as part of a sample survey. It is crucial that all industries and business sizes are represented in this survey, as information collected will be used to gain an insight into various aspects of the business and will be used to assess the level of government support needed for respective industries and/or business sizes.

How long will it take to complete the survey?
As businesses vary enormously in size and complexity, it is not possible to estimate precisely how long this will take. For the majority of small and medium businesses, a single person should be able to answer all questions and it will take less than an hour to complete the form online. In larger businesses, collating the information from several areas of the business may be required. Once information on all these areas has been collated, it is expected that filling in the survey form online would also take less than an hour.

The Business Characteristics Survey 1BCC1 form has 72 questions and covers 10 different areas of business activity.

How long will I be on the survey?
The length of time that a business is selected in any particular survey will depend on factors such as the size of the business and how significant the business' activity is to the overall results. Larger businesses have a higher probability of selection in multiple ABS business surveys. Due to their significance to the overall survey results, they will usually remain in a survey on an ongoing basis. Smaller businesses may be included for up to five years; although there can be some exceptions to this rule.

The Business Characteristics Survey - Management Capabilities Module is a one-off user funded survey.

What information can I be expected to provide?
The Business Characteristics Survey collects information on the characteristics of the business, including:
  • Basic financial information
  • Structure and operations
  • Finance
  • Markets and competition
  • Information related to new goods, services, processes or methods and related practices (innovation)
  • Barriers to general business activities or performance
  • Skills that are used by the business or in shortage or deficiency
  • Use of information technology (IT)

In most small and medium sized businesses the owner or manager will be able to complete the survey without need to undertake significant information sourcing. However, in larger businesses survey respondents may need to seek information from others within the business to answer some of the questions.

A sample version of these forms is available to preview on the online form by clicking ‘Preview a PDF of survey questions’ from the navigation menu.


Period covered by financial information on the form
This form is for the financial year ended 30 June 2017. If the business has a different financial year, please report for a 12 month period which ends between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017.

How accurate do the figures need to be?
For the purposes of this survey, careful estimates of financial items are acceptable. You do not need to seek exact figures from your accountant.

I did not conduct my business for the full financial year. Do I need to complete the form?
If you did not conduct the business for the full financial year, you will still need to complete the form for the period you traded. However, you should not report for a financial period which commenced before the 1 January 2016 nor report for a period which extended beyond 30 September 2017.

My business activity changed during the year. Do I still need to complete a form/which activity should I answer the questions for?
Yes, you still need to complete a form provided that the new activity was also conducted under the ABN specified. Business conducted under any other ABN should not be included on this form. At Question 2, report the activity from which the business derived its main income as at 30 June 2017 and, include a comment at the end of the form to advise that the activity changed during the year. Consider your entire year's business operations and structure when answering the other questions, irrespective of the change of activity.

Why is my financial information required?
Business income and expenditure are often used to size businesses in much the same way as employment is. This is generally used by research analysts when comparing characteristics of businesses at an aggregate level.


The number of employees is a count of all employees who received pay for any part of the last pay period ending on or before 30 June 2017. It excludes casual or seasonal employees who are on the payroll, but did not work during this pay period. Refer to the employment question on the survey form for a full list of employees to be included/excluded.


How can I access the results of the ABS survey?
Business Characteristic Survey results are freely available on the ABS website. Releases from the Business Characteristics Survey include:
Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business (cat. no. 8166.0)
Innovation in Australian Business (cat. no. 8158.0)
Business Use of Information Technology (cat. no. 8129.0)
Selected Characteristics of Australian Businesses (cat. no. 8167.0)

Management and Organisational Capabilities of Australian Businesses, 2015-16 (cat. no. 8172.0)

These results and any other of our useful statistics can be accessed by visiting our website

What use will the survey results be to my business?
Businesses may find it useful to benchmark their characteristics, performance and management capabilities against that of businesses in comparable industries or employment size groups.

Your obligation and the ABS Obligation
The Census and Statistics Act 1905 authorises the ABS to ask the questions included in this survey. Under the Act, you are obliged to provide the information being requested. Your business may be subject to a fine if you do not do so. The ABS is required by this Act to keep your information confidential and use it only for statistical purposes.


The ABS is grateful for the cooperation of businesses in submitting completed forms promptly to enable early processing and timely release of results from our surveys. We look forward to your continued support.