31 incredible facts about the state of business in NSW

- July 2, 2019 3 MIN READ



The NSW government released a new report today from the state’s Innovation and Productivity Council (IPC) looking into the state of business there.

The IPC’s Business Size Report cast its eye over more than 1.17 million businesses, from sole traders to large companies. It is based on 2015 data from the ABS BLADE and Business Characteristics survey. The IPC was looking to gain a better understanding of what drives business growth in NSW and the role innovation plays in driving that success and jobs growth.

In the end they put aside the nearly 80% of businesses in the state without employees to focus on what was happening in the other 271,000 companies employing workers.

Here are 31 things that stood out in the report, giving a snapshot of the state of business in NSW.

Flying solo

  • There are 904,000 non-employing businesses in NSW – by far and away the most populous of all business sizes.
  • They include sole proprietors, partnerships and trusts, and are greater in number than the sum of all employing business.
  • In NSW there were 904,000 non-employing businesses in 2015, compared to 271,277 employing businesses (i.e. micro, other small businesses, medium and large combined).
  • They are more common in industries such as financial services, health and construction, and least common in capital investment and asset-intensive industries such as mining, manufacturing, and utilities.

Micro businesses (between 1-4 FTE employees)

  • Micro businesses make up 77% of all employing businesses (209,003) in NSW.
  • Micros stand out in terms of their overall contribution to profits.
  • Only just over one third of micro businesses were innovation-active.
  • Only 40% of micros had an internet presence with which to engage with customers, compared to 65% of remaining small businesses.
  • 36% used predictive analytics in their business.
  • They are present in the majority of all sectors, in particular, agriculture, forestry and fishing (90%) and construction (83%).


Other Small businesses (between 5-19 FTE employees)

  • These other small businesses make up 17% of all employing businesses (46,716) in NSW.
  • They hire 13% of all employees.
  • More than 50% of other small businesses were innovation-active.
  • They have a relatively high internet presence (65%).
  • Two-thirds used Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure their business performance.
  • They are most common in the electricity, gas, water and waste sectors (28% of all businesses), followed by manufacturing.

Medium businesses (between 20-199 FTE employees)

  • Medium-sized businesses make up 5.5% of all employing businesses (13,939) in NSW.
  • They consistently make up around 20% of all employing business’ total turnover, exports, jobs and profits in NSW.
  • 61% of medium businesses are involved in any innovation activity.
  • 73% use data analytics in their business decision-making.
  • 80% use KPIs to track their performance. 

The report split the category into two equal subcategories: Medium (-) (20-109 FTE employees) and Medium (+) (110-199 FTE employees)

  • More than 10 times as many medium businesses that had 20–109 staff as those with 110–199 staff
  • Cross-referencing data, the IPC concluded the barriers for innovation for Medium (-) businesses are very similar to those of small businesses, while Medium (+) businesses’ concerns more matched those of large businesses.
  • Medium (-) businesses and Medium (+) businesses are most represented in public administration and safety.
  • Medium (-) businesses are also well-represented in manufacturing and wholesale trade, and Medium (+) businesses in education and training and mining.


Large businesses (200+ FTE employees)

  • Large businesses make up 0.6% of all employing businesses (1,619) in NSW.
  • Despite this, they earn 72 cents in every dollar of total employing business turnover.
  • They were the most innovation-active (70%) and unsurprisingly were the top investor in research and development ($9.5bn).
  • Most large businesses had a written business strategy (72%).
  • 86% used predictive analytics.
  • They are most commonly found in public administration and safety, as well as the mining and utilities sectors, where large amounts of capital or economies of scale are needed.