Small Business – A Big Deal


Small businesses are on the move.

Not up, and not necessarily bigger.

The momentum and directions are not uniform. Indeed, in many instances they are in conflict, and are contradictory.

The mere segmentation label, small business, is confusing and inappropriate.

The self- interest, needs, aspirations and philosophies of the owners of 2.1 million small Australian entities are largely misunderstood, over-serviced and not supported by governments, regulatory authorities and by many sectoral associations. It is not possible to segment 2.1 million entities into a single grouping.

Based on a full-time professional consulting career which extends over 36 years, I can accept that each small business owner believes, arguably correctly, that their circumstances, goals and philosophies are unique and different.

Significantly, less than one in ten small business owners seek to grow their operations, elevating them into the category of a medium sized business, and even less onto being big.

In many instances, growth is focused on, and limited to turnover, profits and quality-of-life reflected in, and determined by life-balances.


Persons who claim the status and presence of public representatives for small businesses lack justification and substantiation.

For small businesses there is no singly hymn or prayer-book. There are many perspectives, paradigms, frameworks and goals that need to be recognised, respected and articulated. It seems impossible for one to speak for all.

Experienced and astute politicians have long-known that it is difficult to marshall the forces of “the small business sector” to achieve a common outcome, including the election of a specific political party to occupy and control parliamentary Treasury benches.

Conversely, there is a capacity - and a record - for small businesses to come together to remove governments and to block legislative initiatives. They are the manifestations of a large collection of individual, independent entities which are in constant competition and tension for the interest, custom and patronage of key spheres-of-influence (read: government, ministers and consumers).


Let me be emphatic. There is no such entity or individual who or which can reasonably lay claim to being a small business specialist.

A specialist for a specific sector under the umbrella classification, small business, is a different proposition.

Be careful of shallow, hollow siren calls and above all, recognise, respect and be sensitive to the differing natures, needs and assertions of each small business.

Barry Urquhart
Business Analyst


Barry Urquhart, MD Marketing Focus, Perth, is the author of Australia's top two selling books on customer service and is an internationally recognised authority on consumer behaviour and creative visual marketing.

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