Entrepreneurial boom: Millions of Aussies wave goodbye to working for the man


Have your ‘networking drinks for entrepreneurs’ become more crowded as late?

We might know why. More than a million Aussies have ditched ‘working for the man’ to start their own companies over the last three decades.

There are now more than 2.2 million business owners in Australia, up from 700,000 in 1991, according to new analysis of ABS data by demographer Bernard Salt, who was paid by Xero.

Released Monday, Salt’s Boss Insights 2020 report finds there are now more than 1.4 million sole traders operating in Australia and more than 600,000 micro-business owners employing up to four staff.

To put that in perspective, there are now double the number of sole traders in Australia as there were business owners in total just under three decades ago.

And while starting a business is by no means risk-free, Salt says Aussies are continuing to demonstrate “relentless energy and determination” for entrepreneurship.

“Not all businesses survive but there is no shortage of Australians putting their hand up in pursuit of what is perhaps the ultimate Australian dreamthe quite ennobling ideal of being your own boss,” Salt said in a statement circulated Monday.

Let’s be frank, having a boss sucks and from that perspective working for yourself is attractive.

But there are plenty of other factors underpinning the meteoric rise in entrepreneurship in Australia, whether that’s flatter barriers to entry thanks to innovations like the internet, or new technologies creating a raft of new opportunities at a faster pace than ever before.

So, who’s starting all these companies? This is where things get interesting.

Salt finds two-thirds (66%) of new businesses created in Australia over the last decade were founded by women, and while men still outnumber women in business ownership in general, that gap is closing.

There are now more women-led businesses in the healthcare (59%), and education (58%) sectors than men, although women own just 9% of firms in the construction sector, and only 15% in the transport industry.

The ‘peak age’ for business ownership is 45-years-old, Salt finds, with almost 46,000 Australians in their mid-40s working as their own boss.

In other words, Aussie entrepreneurs aren’t stereotypical 20-something tech bros riding electric skateboards and wearing AirPods.

Rather, Salt finds entrepreneurs in their 30s are actually less likely to start a company now than they were in 2006.

The full report is available for a squiz here.

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