Small business sector mixed bag

The Australian small business sector is facing a major shake-up over the coming decade, with the highest proportion of small business owners aged between 45 and 59 years.

That’s according to the ‘Small Business Counts’ report released at the COSBOA National Small Business Summit by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell, which reveals 61 per cent of small business owners are approaching retirement age and that half report dismal earnings.

“The small business landscape will be transformed over the coming years with a significant number of older small business owners expected to retire, sell or move on,” Ms Carnell said.

“Overall, the ‘Small Business Counts’ report shows the small business sector is surprisingly large and vibrant, which is vital to the health of the Australian economy.”

Requirement for meticulous succession planning

“This generational shift presents a number of challenges for the sector and the economy more broadly.

“We know access to funding continues to be a barrier to small business operators, so some of the business owners looking to sell may find it difficult to attract a buyer.”

She adds that these figures show that there is a need for meticulous succession planning by small business operators who are planning to retire in the coming years.

Taxable income less than minimum wage

“The report reveals other challenges being faced in the sector, with more than half of small business owners reporting a taxable income of less than the minimum wage.

“Late payments continue to hamper small business viability, with half of all small businesses reporting late payments on 40 per cent of their invoices.”

Ms Carnell says these are just some of the issues captured in the report.

“The statistics, collected from various Australian government agencies, helps us gain a greater understanding of the small business sector, which is vital to the work we do.

“We know that small business is the most dynamic and fastest growing sector and yet it is often overlooked by all levels of government when setting the policy agenda.”

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