Are Aussie start-ups set for an export boom?

Given the strength of the Australian dollar, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s not the ideal time for diving into export markets.

But a new study has underlined the opportunities available to start-ups that do get it right. The survey, by workplace services provider Regus, found that 63% of Australian firms that export overseas have increased profits compared to just 36% of companies that trade domestically.

Jacqueline Lehmann, country manager for Regus Australia, says: “With the number of exporting SMEs doubling in the last two years, our survey really does show the benefit of overseas expansion for our nation’s economy.”

“There are substantial differences in both revenues and profitability which are clear to see – and in today’s digital world it is getting easier and easier to establish business in overseas markets.”

Ian Murray, executive director of the Export Council of Australia, doesn’t think it’s quite that easy to link exporting to increased profits, but agrees that Australia has a growing market on its doorstep.

“The margins vary hugely and there’s no doubt that industries such as IT are being squeezed by the high Australian dollar,” he tells StartupSmart.

“But there are several sectors that will benefit from the enormous growth we are seeing in south-east Asia. The opportunities are there. We’ve just got to be competitive because we aren’t the only ones looking at this market – businesses in the US and Europe are too.”

Murray says that budding entrepreneurs shouldn’t just think of China when they think of export opportunities in Asia. Countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam are “equally important” he says.

Indeed, Accenture recently estimated that the purchasing power of south-east Asia will hit US$1.5 trillion by 2020.

It appears that Aussie businesses are cottoning on, according to the Regus study. Business leaders asked which areas will be the most profitable for export expansion in the next two years, south-east Asia has come out on top.

Regions seen by Australian companies
as the most profitable for expansion
in the next two years

South-East Asia






Other Asian countries




North America


Middle East


South America




Central America


“The standard of living is growing hugely in these countries,” Murray says. “The middle class in these countries is bigger than the entire Australian population. And that opportunity is only going to grow.”

Story continues on page 2. Please click below.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments