Four steps for Regional Business success: Understanding the statistics – Part One

Small businesses are the backbone of Australia’s economies.

They contribute 40 per cent of our national economic output and employ almost half of our workforce (Source: ANZ).

Beyond their economic contributions, small businesses are the very fabric of our regional communities. Our prosperity, health and well being regionally rests on the commitment, brilliance and resilience of our 802,000 regional small businesses (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Around 10 per cent of regional small businesses are doing incredibly well, leading their industries, innovating and setting an example for all to follow. You don’t need to look far to see these great Aussie regional businesses – like Birds Nest in Cooma, the Long Tack Pantry in Jugiong and the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory in Junee, just to name a few.

Sadly, however, these success stories are in the minority. The reality is that too many small businesses fail, or ever realise their true potential. Recent statistics tell us about half of all businesses started in Australia see their fourth birthday. By their tenth birthday, more than 70 per cent have failed (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics). For regional communities, that equates to 71,694 businesses failing each year (Source: NSW Small Business Commissioner).

That’s not okay.

Regional Australia, we have a problem: Regional small businesses contribute so much, but they are failing, and not enough is being done about this.

As a businessperson living and working in regional Australia, I’ve seen the real-life impact of small business failure. Far beyond the simple financial realities of a failed venture, there are human costs borne by the business owner, their family and their staff. Business owners often face mental health issues and family breakdowns. They often lose faith in themselves and face in the community.

This happens quietly, and then these people – these families – are forgotten. We see this unfolding frequently and it’s frustrating to know that things could be very different. As a family man and a regional business owner, I am deeply concerned and motivated to do more.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m in the business of regional business. In establishing the Regional Entrepreneur Academy – designed to help regional small business owners forge resilient, scalable and investment-worthy businesses – we started looking at the reasons behind business failure in our region. In fact, we invested a considerable amount of time trying to better understand the performance of regional business in Australia.

What we concluded from our research is, beyond the disciplines and mentoring we provide, regional business owners do benefit from taking the following four simple steps to ensure they don’t become a statistic. These steps include:

  1. GET REAL.
  4. STAND UP.

Over the coming days, we will be sharing these four steps in detail.

Our goal: To support regional businesses to thrive and avoid becoming a statistic.

You can join us on this journey by clicking the “Follow The Academy on Facebook” or “Connect with The Academy on LinkedIn” links, located at the bottom of this page, on the right hand side.

Jeremy Hutchings is a business development specialist and CEO and co-founder of the Regional Entrepreneur Academy. He lives in Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia, with his wife, Jane, and their four incredible children. You can contact Jeremy at


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