Small businesses in Australia interactive infographic

Small businesses in Australia interactive infographic

Small businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy, accounting for a large percentage of employment and productionii. This interactive infographic gives an overview of small business figures by state, explains how Australian small businesses use social media, looks at common challenges, and lists some of Australia's most successful startups.

Proportion of small businesses by business sector

The most common industries for small business are construction (17%), professional, scientific, and technical services (12%), and rental, hire and real estate (11%).i These industries also hold the largest share of total small business employment, and most significant industry value.ii

Number of Small businesses by Industry (%)

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Agriculture, forestry and finishing 8%
Construction 17%
Retail 6%
Accommodation and food 5%
Rental, Hire, Real estate services 11%
Professional scientific and technical services 12%
Health care and social assistance 6%
Other 36%

Number of small businesses per state

Of the 2,116,877 small businesses operating in Australia at the end of financial year 2016-17, more than half were located in New South Wales and Victoriai. For more state-specific small business figures, click on the buttons below the graph.

Number of small businesses by state

How small businesses use social media

Social media can be used by small businesses as a powerful way to not only stay in touch with existing customers, but also to build new business, increase brand visibility and gain valuable customer insights. Click on the icons below to see which social media sites are being used most by small businesses in Australia.

Key challenges to startups and SMEs

Starting your own small business comes with a variety of challenges that can be hard to navigate if you don't know what to expect. Once you're up and running, the challenges don't stop coming: they simply change. Here are a few tips on managing the initial stages and continuing operation of a small business.v

Know your market

Before you determine what product or service to sell, you need to understand your market. Find a niche area for your business to operate, and invest in market research and defining your target market.

Invest in branding

Decide what your brand stands for, and make this part of your marketing strategy. Make sure you tell the story of your brand on the platforms that your customers use to engage, such as your website, and social media.

Build a quality digital presence

As you’ve seen from the statistics above, social media is an important channel for businesses to connect with customers. Digital channels are not just a great way to reach customers outside your geographic area, but an opportunity to creatively showcase your brand personality, and products or services.

Find partnerships

Your business can’t, and shouldn’t do everything. Focus on doing what your business does best, and find partnerships and external resources for what you can’t. The best partnerships not only allow your business to grow, but add to the customer experience as well.

Focus on customers over costs

Customers are what will drive your business and help you to expand. It’s worth investing in a customer-first approach when your business is still starting up, rather than being too concerned about cutting overheads.


i ABS, 2017, Businesses by Main State by Industry Class By Employment Size Ranges,

ii Treasury, 2017, National Small Business Statistics,

iii ABS, 2017, Survival of Businesses by Main State by Subdivision By Employment Size Ranges,

iv Sensis, 2017, Sensis Social Media Report,

v Entrepreneur, 2017, How SME’s can overcome five key business challenges,