Small businesses make a grand contribution

World SME Day

International SME day on 27 June recognises the contribution smaller businesses make to Australia’s economic, cultural and commercial health

Australia is a nation of small businesses.

By June 2018, 2,259,098 small businesses were registered in Australia. These organisations make up almost 98% of the 2.31 million businesses in Australia and employ approximately 4.8 million people.

Small businesses contribute more than $400 billion annually to the Australian economy and around 300,000 new small businesses begin operations every year.

The contribution small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) make to Australia’s employment, production of goods, innovation, training, knowledge diffusion and income provision is critical for the success of our economy.

However, it’s not just in Australia where the SME market is so pivotal to the economic health of a nation. SMEs play a key role in national economies around the world.

The contribution of ‘micros’, start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs to the world’s economy is so important that come 27 June 2019, SMEs around the world will be formally recognised for their impact on local and global communities, as part of International SME Day.

The United Nations General Assembly voted to designate 27 June as a day to celebrate the global SME sector in 2017.

Tom Walley general manager for Corporate Traveller Australia, said he was proud to be working for a business that supported the needs of the country’s SMEs.

“The United Nations Assembly did a great thing to formally acknowledge the contribution and importance of the SME sector to a nation’s economic, cultural and commercial health,” Mr Walley said.

“As a travel specialist in the SME sector, our team works with a broad range of small to mid-sized organisations. We know more than most people that while SMEs make a huge contribution to our economy, they operate in a tough environment and need all the help they can get.

“By helping SMEs to manage their travel more cost and time efficiently, we can help them to grow. Travel is considered one of the primary drivers of growth for the business sector. Face to face meetings, sales and client meetings that need to be done interstate or overseas are all growth drivers and by supporting our SME clients to travel smartly – they can travel more often, which facilitates growth and development.”

Mr Walley said that over the years Corporate Traveller had witnessed some remarkable stories of travel program transformations, which often went hand in hand with business expansion.

“The primary concerns for SMEs are generally around cash flow and money management, the economy, and finding and keeping staff,” Mr Walley said.

“We can help SMEs alleviate some of these problems simply by travelling smarter and finding ways of helping them to save time and money. A company with a good travel policy and program is always looked upon favourably in the job market or by prospective staff.”

Depending on the business, travel can be the second or third most controllable expense in an organisation, and if not managed properly can negatively impact profitability.

“If we can help an SME find a more efficient way to book their travel with the help of an online booking tool, help them to manage their cash flow better with a travel invoice account, keep their travellers happy with excellent service or make expense management and reconciliation a seamless experience for their accounts department – this is going to help foster growth, development and success for an SME.”

Mr Walley said his team of travel managers and account managers knew how tough it is for small business owners or smaller teams trying to manage everything on their own.

“We are talking to the business owners, the family run companies and the CEO who is looking after everything from staff recruitment to social media,” he said.

“We know the landscape and recognise that while the SME sector is often considered to be the backbone of many economies, it’s a tough environment and SMEs at some stage need to outsource or implement new technologies to become more efficient.”

The business sector defined:

According the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS): 

  • Small businesses employ fewer than 20 people 
  • A medium-sized enterprise employs between 20 and 199 people

    Australian SME sector snapshot:

    • 2,259,098 small businesses in operation
    • 98% of Australia’s 2.31 million businesses are SMEs
    • 70% (approx.) are family owned
    • $393 billion contribution to the national economy
    • 4.8 million people employed by SMEs
    • 44% market share of total employment in (select) private sector 
    • Key industries include construction; professional, scientific and technical services; rental hiring and real estate services


      1. ABS cat. no. 8165.0
      2. KPMG Enterprise and Family Business Australia, Family Business Survey 2018
      3. ABS, Australian Industry, cat. no. 8155.0
      4. Geoff Gilfillan, Small business sector contribution to the Australian economy, Research paper series, 2018–19.