Number of small businesses rises for second year in a row

The federal government estimates the number of Australians becoming their own boss are now above the two million mark.


According to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there’s been a two year consecutive increase in the number of new small businesses being created.

Since opening eight months ago, Saba Alemayoh’s restaurant in Melbourne’s inner west has been busy.

Ms Alemayoh said it brought an authentic taste of Ethiopia to Melbourne.

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“I really would like for this place to be the cultural touch point for people when they are thinking about Ethiopia and what that they think of Ethiopia as a whole and the culture as a whole and to be able to touch on multiple points, rather than just the food,” she told SBS News.

“How we serve the food is very Ethiopian, at times – for some people – it can be quite confronting, but it’s the Ethiopian way to do it.

“From eating with your fingers, from the authenticity of the cuisine, from even the way we do service here and how we serve people is very Ethiopian.”

She said her family is involved in the business, including her mother who does all the cooking.

“I always knew I wanted to do something were my mum could be part of it and my sister, who is now a lot younger, eventually if she wanted to could all be a part of it, and I’ve got a few cousins and family in Melbourne that we could all be a part of it and grow that together,” Ms Alemayoh said. 

Ms Alemayoh said she had always wanted to celebrate her Ethiopian heritage and decided to go into hospitality.

The 26-year-old said she raised the capital to start the restaurant from savings she’d made from a previous small business she owned.

She said she was able to break even in the first month of opening.

“I actually work backwards in that I work out how much capital I have and how things are going to work back into it,” Ms Alemayoh said.

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“I just went, ‘this is all I’ve got, this is how it’s going to work’.

“We did the essentials first – the things that you have to have – and then kept all the nice things that we wanted but didn’t want to have until the last part of the list.”

And like Ms Alemayoh, more and more Australians are taking the risk to start their own businesses.

According to the federal government, there are two million small businesses in Australia, contributing more than $330 billion to the economy.

In recently released figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 21,000 new small businesses were created in the last financial year.

In Victoria there were nearly 9000 new small businesses registered.

Victorian Small Business Minister Philip Dalidakis said the rise in new businesses could be down to the government’s investment in people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

“One of the councils I’m most proud of is our Multicultural Small Business Ministerial Council,” he said.

“We’ve got a range of people from different ethnicities, all with wonderful stories – Greek, Italian, Ethiopian, we have people from Lebanon, Turkey, China … what we’re trying to do is open the doors for government to those communities as well.”

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Council of Small Business of Australia president, Peter Strong, agreed.

“A lot of small businesses will come with a wave of migrants,” he said.

“You saw that happen with Greeks, and Italians and they set up restaurants and cafes and a lot of other things.

“You saw that happen with the Vietnamese as they came in, and I think they’ve hit it on the mark again.”

Mr Dalidakis said he hoped other states could follow Victoria’s lead.

“If we’re doing something another state thinks they can do better, well maybe then there is something we can learn from them as well,” he said.

“I think there’s great opportunities for different states to compete in certain areas and spaces which hopefully drives innovation and public policy.”

Ms Alemayoh, she said the rewards for small business owners came from taking the risk.

“My experience is never going to be like someone else’s experiences, and their experiences will never be like my experience,” she said.

“I think you just need to do it. You’ll come across slightly different challenges, similar challenges, but I think you just need to do it.

“At the end of the day you really don’t have much to lose.”

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