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HomeUnderstanding Micro Business

Out now: Understanding micro business, 2012 – 2013

Given the economic uncertainty of recent years, you might assume Australia’s micro business owners to be in the doldrums. The reality is just the opposite!

While in agreement that it’s a tough business environment, 86% of micro business owners are happy in their work and they’re getting happier. Along with a sense of flexibility and independence, they enjoy incomes higher than Australian averages and feel increasingly enthusiastic about their businesses.

In fact, 90% of the business owners surveyed would not seriously consider working for someone else, even in a highly lucrative and suitable office job!

Conducted every two years and now in its third publication, this is the biggest survey of its kind. The results provide valuable data for Government, industry and the media, and help give the micro business community the authoritative voice it deserves.

A massive thank you to the 1,000+ Flying Solo community members who gave so freely of their time! Your help is invaluable to us both in terms of shaping Flying Solo’s future and spreading the word about Australia's largest business sector.

Results at a glance

Download our infographic (PDF) which summarises the key finding of the research.

The survey explores the challenges and opportunities as well as precise demographics, the moveable feast of technology, networking styles, outsourcing, marketing, exit plans and more, providing a clear snapshot of Australia’s largest business sector.

A full copy of the results is available exclusively to Flying Solo premium members.

To discuss any aspects of this research or the Flying Solo community, please make contact.

Anatomy of Australia’s micro business owner

While the world of micro business is tremendously diverse, with no such thing as a ‘typical’ business, let’s have a crack at outlining the anatomy of Australia’s micro business owner.

Here are seven key findings from the survey:

  1. We’re experienced. Of the 1,000+ survey participants, 80% fell into the 25-54 age bracket, with 46% in the 40-54 range.
  2. We’re established. 51% have been in business for more than 3 years (37% for 5+ years and 14% for 3-5 years).
  3. We’re doing okay financially. 24% of participants are in households with incomes $150k+ (compared to around 6% of the general population) and 18% earn more than $100k (compared to around 4% of the general population) That said, the constant battle of finding new clients/customers was still identified as the biggest challenge.
  4. We work from home, solo. Around 75% operate from a home base and do so as a lifestyle choice. Two thirds of us are the only person working in the business. 51% of us do not have children living at home with us.
  5. Most of us sell services. Over 60% sell services only (up 8% since 2010), versus 12% selling products only. The remainder sell both.
  6. We talk to each other. While online social networking is gaining popularity over offline networking - preferred by 11% in 2008, 16% in 2010 and 26% in 2012 - traditional word-of-mouth and repeat business continue to be the most effective source of new business. 
  7. We’re a happy bunch. 86% of respondents are happy in their work, enjoying running their own show and getting happier over time!  

Press releases

Big business to take leaf out of self-employed book if they want to attract and retain great employees

The top four things that first appealed to small and micro business owners when setting up their own business are flexibility (18 per cent), control (17 per cent), working from home (13 per cent), and improved lifestyle (12 per cent). In order to attract and retain talent, big business need to look at those key factors and better explore ways of offering them to existing employees – or face losing them. Read the full release.

Want to be happy and earn more money? The answer: work for yourself

The 2012 survey has discovered that 24% of soloists are from households with incomes $150k+ and 18% earn $100k+ a year. Comparatively, Australian combined household incomes of $150K+ sit at around 6% of the general population, with only 4% of individuals earning over $100k. Not only that, but despite consensus that business is tougher at the moment, close to 90 per cent of respondents said they were happy in their work and getting happier. Read the full release.

Networking the lifeblood for solo business owners - just not face-to-face

Society may point the finger at youth who hide behind technology and are over-reliant on SMS and Facebook – but here’s a warning for small and solo business owners! This survey has discovered that the popularity of face-to-face networking is on the decline amongst soloists, with respondents preferring online social communities when it comes to doing business. While soloists are embracing new technologies to help boost productivity – for example 40% are online most or all of the day and 67% constantly use smartphones – these technologies can also be responsible for keeping them isolated. Read the full release.

Past surveys

A full copy of the 2012 survey is available for download to Flying Solo premium members exclusively.

Download a full copy of the 2010 survey results report

Download a full copy of the 2008 survey results report





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For annual Business Class membership we also accept invoice payment via EFT. Contact us.


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  Payments are processed securely via PayPal. For annual membership we also accept invoice payment via EFT. Contact us