- New survey shows Aussie business owners oldest in Asia-Pacific.
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- Government urged to launch public inquiry into barriers limiting young talent.
Millennials and Gen Z are missing-in-action from Australia’s small business sector, according to a new survey from Australia’s leading professional accounting organisation.
CPA Australia’s latest Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey, released today, has revealed a concerning trend that challenges Australia’s future innovation and economic growth.
Of 11 regions and thousands of businesses surveyed, Australia had the highest percentage of small business owners aged 50 plus. When it comes to business owners under 40, Australia placed ninth out of eleven.
“Where have all the young business owners gone? They’re “Generation MIA” when it comes to small businesses,” CPA Australia Senior Manager Business and Investment Policy Gavan Ord said.
“Australia has been ranked among the worst in Asia-Pacific for attracting young people into small business ownership since we started our survey in 2009. We need the Federal Government to launch a public inquiry to find out what is stopping young people from launching businesses.
“The survey results show that young business owners and founders are a necessary ingredient for Australia’s economic future, our digital capabilities and future innovations. We need Australians of all ages running and owning small businesses. Diversity brings huge benefits to the economy. The absence of young people has long-term implications.”
Australian small businesses currently have a much lower level of digital capability than their Asia-Pacific peers and are among the least likely to innovate in 2023.
Almost a third (30.4 per cent) of small businesses in Australia don't use social media, compared to the survey average of 15.4 per cent.
Meanwhile, only 18.8 per cent of Australian small businesses sought advice from technology consultants last year. Businesses that did invest in technology were focused on updating their website and computer hardware rather than tapping into new and innovative options such as artificial intelligence.
“Australia’s small businesses are unlikely to innovate. Only 14 per cent are intending to introduce a unique product or service to the market in 2023. This is the worst result in Asia-Pacific.
“A lack of innovation is a drag on economic growth and productivity that we will feel for years to come. Encouraging new talent to launch small businesses can boost long-term innovation.
“The government needs to ensure running a small business is an attractive option for young people who can bring their digital skills to the sector.”
The lack of digital know-how within Australian small businesses extends into cybersecurity. Only a quarter consider cyberattacks to be a possibility in 2023, compared to an Asia-Pacific average of almost half.
However, there are some positive signs for future growth. Australian businesses had their best year in five years in 2022, with 47.6 per cent of small businesses growing. This year is likely to be even better for Australia with more than 55 per cent of businesses expecting to grow, despite growing economic challenges.
“It’s understandable that some young Australians are questioning whether business ownership is worth the stress and commitment. The pandemic, rising cost of living, high property prices and global uncertainty are adding to their doubts.
“We want young people to seize the opportunity to control their own destiny. This is a huge chance to inspire and encourage young people into the business community as Australia continues to recover. We want the government and current business owners to explore how to attract young minds into this critical sector.”
Jennifer Duke, CPA Australia External Affairs Lead on +61 438 502 389 or email: [email protected].
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