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 2016 there were 2,171,607 small businesses nationwide, with 218,152 in WA.

Non-employing businesses at 140,054 continues to be the largest group of all WA businesses (62 per cent of all businesses).

WA's small businesses are distributed as follows *:

  • Perth metropolitan area 75.4%
  • South West 6.9%
  • Wheatbelt 4.4%
  • Peel 3.7%
  • Great Southern 3.1%

WA businesses by number employed

In 2014-15 small business contributed $39.7BN to the economy; accounting for 19.7 per cent of WA's gross state product (GSP). If WA's small business sector was considered an industry, it would rank second only to mining ($64.4M) in terms of industry gross value added.

The $39.7BN is comprised as follows:

  • Construction 23.4%
  • Mining 10.1%
  • Professional, scientific and technical services 9.6%
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing 8.0%

Small businesses accounted for 23% of total wages and salaries.

37 per cent of Perth small businesses sell entirely within their own region, with a further 37 per cent limiting sales to within WA. Fewer than one in ten WA small businesses export to international markets. 37.1 per cent of all exports (by value) are to Asia.

As at 2015, WA small businesses employ 512,000 people (41 per cent) of private sector employment.* 

 Business size - number of employees % of all businesses in WA Number of businesses at June 2016 % change from 2015 Number of businesses at June 2015
62.2% 140,054 +2.3% 136,839
1-4  25.1% 56,403 +0.8% 55,918
5-19  9.6% 21,695 +1.2% 21,440
20-199  2.9% 6,428 -0.6% 6,473
200+  0.2% 413 +3% 401
Total 100% 224,993 1.7% 221,071

Graph showing WA businesses by number employed comparing the previous 4 years

 

ABS Business Counts image

Value that small business adds to the WA economy

As at June 2016 industries with the largest number of small businesses in WA were:

  • Construction - 41,502 small businesses (19% of all small business in WA)
  • Professional Scientific and Technical services - 25,917 (11.9%)
  • Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services - 23,827 (10.9%)
  • Financial and Insurance Services - 20,190 (9.3%)
  • Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing - 16,600 (7.6%)

Graph showing 97% of all businesses are classified as small

Small businesses as a percentage of all businesses – by industry

Industry % that are small businesses
Accommodation and Food Services 88%
Administrative and Support Services 94%
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing 98%
Arts and Recreation Services 96%
Construction 98%
Currently unknown 99%
Education and Training 93%
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services 91%
Financial and Insurance Services 99%
Health Care and Social Assistance 97%
Information Media and Telecommunications 97%
Manufacturing 92%
Mining 91%
Other Services 98%
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 98%
Public Administration and Safety 90%
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services 99%
Retail Trade 94%
Transport, Postal and Warehousing 98%
Wholesale Trade 95%

Business survival

The ABS also reports on the survival rate of businesses, focussing on two types of business survival; the rate of those businesses that entered in the 2013-14 financial year, and the survival rates for businesses that were already operating as at June 2012.

Business size (by number of employees) Number of businesses that started in 2013-14 Number of businesses that survived to June 2016 Survival rate
0 17,691 8,931 50.4%
1-19 7,406 4,698 63.4%
20-199 146 100 68.5%
200+ 6 6 100%

 

Business size (by number of employees) Number of businesses already operating in June 2012 Number of businesses that survived to June 2016 Survival rate
0 139,107 78,175 56.2%
1-19 76,206 53,567 70.3%
20-199 6,194 5,121 82.7%
200+ 391 319 81.6%

Notes on statistics

  • The SBDC uses 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 except for data marked with * which has been sourced from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre May 2017 report The Engine room for Growth? The Role, Performance and Future Prospects of Small Business in Western Australia. 
  • 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.