Home business and Australia’s future

There are two types of home-business owner. Who’s being represented at the 2020 summit? JANE SHELTON

Jane Shelton

By Jane Shelton

As we move towards Kevin’s 2020 futures forum in a couple of weeks – yes, I’m one of the disappointed 7000 who did not get an invite – I’m wondering how many working family representatives and self-employed home-based workers will be there.

As a nation we know almost nothing about the scale of the workplaces that are supposed to generate our prosperous future (home-micro, small, medium or large). What is the impact of unionisation? What is the household composition of home-based businesses?

To achieve our national growth rates in a competitive Asia Pacific region we need high-performing organisations that can reach markets faster and more efficiently than our rivals overseas.

But high performance management practices have been taken up only moderately, according to a recent study on Australian SME employee management by the University of Southern Queensland.

The study showed low application of participative practices, low unionisation, and a low incidence of collective relations, indicating that many SMEs need a make-over if they are to meet the demands of competition. We need to know more about why SMEs are not taking up high performance management practices if we are to improve Australia’s future rate of innovation.

Follow-up studies I’ve done with material from Roy Morgan Research have found that there are quite distinct differences between two home-based workforce segments. About 25% of one segment, those who employ fewer than 10 employees, is earning $70,000 or more. Of those employing more than 10, just under half (45%) earn more than $70,000 a year.

What does it take to make the shift to success in monetary terms and what can make a bottom line difference for organisations? What are the key success factors that sort out the home-based businesses that grow from those that fail? What are factors that shift home-based workers in micro/small businesses with less than 10 employees to medium businesses that need to shift out of a home environment?

Those that employ less than 10 are pre-dominantly family oriented business units. There are about 1.2 million workers in them, of whom about 7% are union members. My marketing analysis shows them to be more from the “value hunters”, “cautious investors” and “elderly wealthy” mindsets.

Those that employ more than 10 are more likely to be better educated, better paid and more professional self-employed business units. They employ about 1.6 million workers of whom around 30% are trade union members. My marketing analysis shows them to be more from the “trend setters” and “affluent families” household mindsets.

I found that those business owners who employ more than 10 are less stressed, less likely to feel that they need more hours in their days and more likely to believe that the fundamental values of our society are under threat.

Those that have fewer than 10 employees are more likely to believe in taking risks, that computers and technology give them more control over their lives, and they are more likely to consider themselves a leader rather than a follower.

These findings suggest that we need to know more about the composition of the handpicked delegates for the 2020 forum in terms of where they come from in the land of business and their attitudes to innovation and change for the future.


 Dr Jane Shelton not only runs a business from home but is doing business research into people working from home. She is managing director of Marshall Place Associates, Melbourne’s independent think tank, and CEO (honourary) for ‘Life. Be in it.’ International. Shelton has a Doctorate in Business Administration at the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) at Swinburne University of Technology after a Master of Arts in Public Policy at Melbourne University and a Bachelor of Business in banking and finance at Monash University. She is the author of the book “No Workplace Like Home”.

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