Facts and statistics

Small business represents around 97 per cent of all businesses in Western Australia. They operate across a wide range of industries including manufacturing, business services, retail and transport.

According to the latest ABS Counts of Australian Businesses, as at June 2015 there were 2,066,806 small businesses nationwide, with 214,197 in WA.

Non-employing businesses at 136,839 continues to be the largest group of all WA businesses.

WA businesses by number employed
Graphic showing 97 % of all businesses classified as small


As at June 2015 industries with the largest number of small businesses in WA are:

  • Construction - 40,502 small businesses (18.9% of all small business in WA)
  • Professional Scientific and Technical services - 25,472 (11.9%)
  • Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services - 23,401 (10.9%)
  • Financial and Insurance Services - 19,494 (9.1%)
  • Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing - 17,051 (8.0%)
Graphic showing number of WA small businesses in each industry classification

Notes on statistics

  • We use the standard Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) definition of small business, which is any non-employing business or a business employing fewer than 20 people.
  • These statistics are provided by the ABS. As with any analysis based on data sets it is subject to a degree of error. Individual numbers or percentages should not be used as absolutes.

Business survival

42 per cent of non-employing small businesses entering in June 2011 were still operating in June 2015. For businesses employing between 1-19 workers this figure was 52 per cent.

Survival rates for small business are significantly higher in comparison to their larger counterparts over the same period, with a 24 per cent survival rate for businesses with 20-199 employees and zero per cent for businesses with 200+ employees.

Industry sectors with the highest small business survival rates in WA*

Non-employing businesses

Residential Care Services




Non-Metallic Mineral Mining and Quarrying


Property Operators and Real Estate Services


Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing


Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services


Businesses with 1-19 employees

Preschool and School Education


Non-Metallic Mineral Mining and Quarrying


Oil and Gas Extraction


Transport Equipment Manufacturing


Warehousing and Storage Services


Forestry and Logging


*Survival rates for new entrants as at June 2011 surviving to June 2015.

Rates for businesses that were already operating in June 2011 are higher than those listed above.


New businesses entering in June 2011 and still operating in  June 2015

Existing businesses operating in June 2011 and still operating in June 2015

Non employing businesses

42% 52%

Businesses with 1-19 employees

52% 71%

Businesses with 20-199 employees

24% 77%

Businesses with more than 200 employees

0% 53%

Notes on survival rates:

  • A business is said to ‘enter’ when registering for an ABN and GST, or registering for GST if they previously had an ABN but did not pay GST.
  • There were three entries in June 2011 for businesses with more than 200 employees, none were recorded as surviving the following year.
  • A business exit does not necessarily equate to a business failure; the business could have been sold or changed in some way (eg. merger or takeover).

For full details of how these figures are determined visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics.