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Entrepreneurship is bouncing back after GFC and Australians are more entrepreneurial than most


No matter what your sense is, entrepreneurship in Australia is alive and well. That is the broad conclusion by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. It’s actually better than that. Entrepreneurship is kicking.

Among developed countries, Australia’s rate of entrepreneurship is second only to the United States, with 10.5% of the population engaged in some form of entrepreneurial activity. In terms of gender inclusiveness, too, it is second only behind the world’s richest country. But at 8.4% women entrepreneurs, the number is down from 2010 levels. Overall, total entrepreneurial activity rate has increased by 2.7 percentage points over the figure in 2010, suggesting Australia is bouncing back strongly since the global financial crisis.

“Australia compares well with other major economies in terms of the ‘quality’ of entrepreneurial activities being pursued. Indeed, it is not only the quantity of entrepreneurs but also the level of their aspirations and business goals that are important drivers for economic growth,” the GEM report said.

The Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research at the Queensland University of Technology conducted GEM’s research in Australia, interviewing 2,000 Australians aged between 18 and 64.  Overall, the GEM study was conducted across 54 countries, with interviews of over 140,000 adults.

Following are the other highlights of the study in Australia:

  • Australia had 1.48 million early-stage entrepreneurs in 2011; of them, 40 percent or 590,000 were women.
  • A third of the entrepreneurs, or 580,000, were expected to create at least five new jobs in the next five years; and 11%, or 170,000, were projected to create 20 or new jobs over the same period.
  • Australia was one of only three developed countries, along with the U.S. and the Netherlands, that ranked above average for both entrepreneurship rate and employee entrepreneurial activity.
  • Australia outperforms most developed countries on indicators of the quality and economic impact of its business start-ups. These indicators include growth aspirations, number of opportunity-driven start-ups and innovativeness.
  • The vast majority of start-ups in Australia are founded to take advantage of perceived opportunities, and only one in five is started out of the necessity to earn a living.
  • Australia also ranks above average for employee entrepreneurial activity. An estimated 5% of the adult population is engaged in developing or launching new products, a new business unit or subsidiary for their employer.
  • Only 12% of the Australian entrepreneurs target the international market, well below global averages. This is blamed on probable geographic distance.

So, what drives entrepreneurship’s high quantity and quality in Australia?

Besides self-confidence about their abilities – a high 50% believe they have the skills to start a business – Australians cite high media attention as a factor. Coverage of entrepreneurship apparently provides successful role models for prospective entrepreneurs.

Don’t we deserve a pat on our back?