Smart50 defy the downturn and hire 900 staff in 2009

50awards09-250The resilience of Australia’s SME community has been highlighted by the announcement of the Smart50 awards, sponsored by Westpac.

This is the first list of Australia’s fastest-growing SMEs to be published since the end of the 2008-09 financial year.

In a year in which the economy was rocked by numerous corporate collapses and many sectors battled falling sales, the companies on the Smart50 produced average growth of 91% (as measured by average annual growth over the past three years). That’s even better than last year’s average growth rate of 61%.

And while many Australian employers have been cutting labour costs, 84% of the companies on the list have hired in the last 12 months, adding a total of 900 jobs.

In order to respond to the downturn, the companies on the Smart50 have moved quickly to trim costs, increase marketing spending to boost sales, and focus on new sectors. But more importantly, these companies are preparing for the recovery by training up staff, investing in IT and setting their sights on export markets.

“In all seriousness, the recovery is going to be scary,” Correct Solutions founder Wayne Small says. “We will most likely have scaling issues at the top of the recovery to fill all of our clients needs. We have taken on extra staff so we can have them trained and up to speed by the real recovery.”

The winner of the Smart50 award for the fastest growing company was software company Nintex, which recorded an average annual growth rate over the past three years of 278%, with revenue hitting $10.1 million in 2008-09. It’s a particularly impressive result given over 80% of the company’s revenue comes from exporting to the crisis-hit markets of North American and Europe.

Other highlights include:

  • Total revenue of the companies on the list was $701 million, down from $1 billion last year.
  • The average age of the companies on the list was six years.
  • Companies from the information technology sector dominate the list, followed by property and business services and retail.
  • The companies on the list employ 3,232 people.
  • 84% of the companies on the list have employed new staff members in the last 12 months. A total of 900 new staff were employed. On average these companies added 21 staff, although three companies added 552 staff.
  • The average age of the founders of the companies on the list was 37 years.
  • 10 of the companies have founders or co-founders, down from 13 last year.
  • Companies from New South Wales account for 40% of the list, while 14 companies are from Victoria.
  • Just six companies are franchisors, with an average of 45.5 franchisees.
  • 36 of the companies were started from home.
  • 32 of the companies had start-up costs of less than $100,000.
  • 60% of the companies are using social networking to grow their business.

Other award winners:

The award for the top franchise was awarded to Aussie Farmers’ Direct, which operates a network of 110 franchises delivering milk, bread and other fresh food to households. The company ranked third on the Smart50, recording growth of 205.8%, with revenue of $64.9 million.

The award for the top innovator was given to Inovia IP, which has developed a world-leading, web-based process to help patent attorneys all over the world negotiate the complex patent approval process.

The top exporter award was claimed by Dynamiq, which provides emergency management, corporate travel insurance and security advice to companies around the world, including Rio Tinto, Reuters and Cricket Australia.

The award for top website went to digital production and advertising company Media Movers, which has developed a unique live support function where customers can chat online to get instant assistance.

Read all the Smart50 profiles below:

1 Nintex
2 E3 Style
3 Aussie Farmers Direct
4 Apricus Australia
5 Mint Wireless
6 Viking Rentals
7 Skye Recruitment
8 Pearson Trueman
9 Pizza Capers
10 Intellect Systems
11 Bravura Solutions
12 Dynamiq
13 Revolution IT
14 catchoftheday
15 Marble Group
16 Camerasdirect
18 Crust Gourmet Pizza
19 IF Telecom
20 Assetivity
21 OBS
22 SumoSalad
23 Executive Channel
24 inovia IP
25 Rob Nixon
26 Hypoxi Australia
27 VroomVroomVroom
28 Amblique
29 Cordelta
30 IP Payments
31 Quinntessential Marketing
32 villa & hut
33 Hiflow Industries
34 Lift Shop
35 The Physio Co.
36 Evolution Traffic Control
37 Matesrates Australia
38 Travelcorp
39 iQuest Consulting
40 Mieza Consulting
41 Media Movers
42 ARW Chartered Accountants
43 Refund Home Loans
44 APEX Insurance
45 South Coast Holidays
46 2it Consulting
47 eNerds
48 Correct Solutions
49 IT Leaders Group
50 My Coffee Shop


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