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State of the Nation 14

State of the Nation Report 14: Spotlight on Small Business.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan ResearchOn Friday morning, February 22, 2013, Roy Morgan Research CEO, Michele Levine, launched the State of the Nation report (No. 14), which looks at the latest Australian trends within society, technology, the environment, politics and the economy. This Report includes a special focus on Small Business, revealing demographic profiles of owners and operators, their attitudes to national and personal issues, business performance and outlook factors, finances and B2B relationships and intentions.

Roy Morgan’s State of the Nation reveals long-term, up-to-date trends on social attitudes and behaviours through over 720,000 face-to-face interviews with Australians of all demographics. Supplementary to these findings, the latest report contains analysis of the results of over 30,000 separate interviews with business decision-makers nationwide.

Businesses with fewer than 20 employees constitute 95.6% of Australian businesses and employ 47% of the workforce. As the backbone the economy, the attitudes and behaviours of small business owners and operators are of integral importance to understanding Australian society as a whole.

Significant findings include:

  • Small businesses are experiencing a modest recovery from a period of relatively low Business Confidence and overall performance from mid-2011 through to late 2012.
  • The population of small business operators has changed over the last 10 years. The fastest growing age group of over the last 10 years has been the over 50s, who now account for 45.7% compared to 38.8% in 2002.
  • Small business operators today are also much more likely to be tertiary educated than was the case a decade ago.
  • Businesses and their operators have high average levels of assets relative to debt, indicating relative financial security.
  • Technology and internet adoption varies widely by industry, not region. Agricultural small businesses are much less likely than others to have fixed Internet services while those in the Mining industry are the most likely.
  • Small business opinion of the National Broadband Network (NBN) is clearly negative overall. Four in ten owners do not expect any benefit from the Federal Government’s $37.4 billion infrastructure project compared to 29% who do, with uncertainty levels still high.
  • Opinion of the Federal Government’s performance in fostering business growth is also highly negative, with the majority rating the government “Very Poor” since mid-2011 when the Carbon Tax was passed.

Michele Levine, Chief Executive Officer, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Apart from providing almost half of all paid employment, small businesses generate competition, entrepreneurialism and creativity that can offset economic imbalances created by big business, government or international economic conditions.

“Our extensive research into Australian businesses—and over 50,000 consumers annually—across all regions and industries provides unparalleled insight into how they operate, their concerns, outlook and intentions, and their opinions on government and its policies.”


Click here to purchase the State of the Nation Report 14 — Spotlight on Small Businesses in Australia or visit the Roy Morgan Online Store.


For comments or more information please contact:

Michele Levine, CEO

Telephone:          +61 (3) 9224 5215



About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.


About Roy Morgan’s State of the Nation Reports

The Roy Morgan State of the Nation Report provides a 15-year perspective on Australian Society based on over 720,000¹ interviews conducted between July 1997 and December 2012 — incorporating the decade of major economic growth that ended in late 2008 with the Global Financial Crisis, followed by the gradual recovery of the economy over the following two years, which is now showing signs of considerable volatility once again due to unstable conditions overseas.

In the quarterly Roy Morgan State of the Nation Reports we have measured a broad range of issues affecting the nation, plotted them over time, and explored in more detail how they have played out, in terms of Society, Technology, Economy, Politics and Environment.

Click here to view all Roy Morgan State of the Nation Reports.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate



25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%


























¹ Each week a carefully selected sample of Australians is interviewed face-to-face in their homes.  The samples are nationwide stratified random probability samples designed to provide a good cross-section of the population aged 14 and over.