Rapid growth in side hustle and “me” businesses

Growth in sole proprietors - Newsreel
Nearly 100,000 extra sole proprietor businesses were registered over the past four years. | Photo: Yongyuan (iStock)

A growing number of Australians are setting up “me” businesses as aspirations around self-employment and testing side hustles take off.

Business count figures released this week show that the number of sole proprietors in Australia grew by nearly 100,000 between 2019 and 2023. This represented a 14 percent increase.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 784,744 single-person businesses at the end of 2022-23, compared with 687,568 four years earlier.

Over the same period, the number of partnership businesses went in the opposite direction, falling from 240,000 to 223,000.

And the rise of “me” businesses met with a mixed success rate. Of the sole proprietors who set up in 2019, only 52 percent were still operating four years later.

During 2022-23, 35,509 businesses converted from “employing” businesses to non-employing. In total, the number of businesses that did not employ anyone increased by 4.2 percent (64,265).

The financial year also saw a 3.3 percent (23,990) decrease in “micro” businesses employing one to four people.

At June 30. 2023 there were 2,589,873 actively trading businesses in the Australian economy, the ABS said. This represented a two percent or 50,149 increase in the total number of businesses during the year.

The industries with the largest percentage increases were:

  • Health Care and Social Assistance (increase of 6.7 percent to 185,260 businesses)
  • Transport, Postal and Warehousing (increase of 4.2 percent to 218,662 businesses)
  • Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services (increase of 2.9 percent to 8,582 businesses)

The full details are on the ABS website.