Media releases

Survey reveals small business has a big identity crisis

The small business sector needs support to counter widely held misconceptions, a Victoria University expert said today.

A Roy Morgan telephone survey of 652 people nationwide, commissioned by VU, showed community views are stuck in the past.

It found that the public views small business as predominantly retail, despite this sector representing only 20 per cent of the two million small businesses in Australia.

Just over half of the public (54 per cent) said they would encourage their children to go into small business, but long hours and lack of access to finance were perceived drawbacks.

VU Head of Small Business Research Professor John Breen said the internet had allowed more people to start successful home businesses, but the poor community perception of the sector was stifling future growth and employment opportunities.

He said it was vital the federal government did more to ensure the best and brightest were being attracted to small business.

"We need to do more to attract true entrepreneurs into small business because it will result in greater individual successes,'' Professor Breen said.

"This will lead to a more positive community perception and encourage more new operators who are best suited to such endeavours. Also, having more entrepreneurs will result in more business 'growers' rather than business 'survivors'.''

The survey also found:

  • 78 per cent of the public reported a negative perception of what it would be like to be in small business
  • Most people would let their children make up their own mind if they wanted to get into small business
  • Independence through being your own boss was identified as the major benefit of being a small business owner

Professor Breen said the profile of small business could be raised by ensuring a better representation of the sector in government and by celebrating the successes of small business in the community.

"The federal government needs to take a proactive approach to build entrepreneurial capacity in the community,'' he said. "This is especially important in regional areas, where small businesses provide the economic lifeblood of the community by supplying the majority of jobs and most of the economic activity.

"Improving the perception of small business would result in more vibrant and sustainable regional communities where younger generations are less likely to want to leave because their local community is able to offer jobs and opportunity.''

The full report can be found on the Centre for Tourism and Services Research Projects page.

For interview: Professor John Breen, Victoria University, on 9919 4641 or 0407 097 179

Media contact:

Daniel Clarke, Media Officer, VU Marketing and Communications Department, Ph: 9919 9491 or 0407 771 072 

See all media releases