Canberra named as Australia’s online microbusiness epicentre

Venture Forward, GoDaddy’s international research initiative that studies the economic impacts of small businesses and the attitudes of their owners, has designated Canberra as the epicentre of online microbusineses (businesses employing 10 or fewer people) in Australia.

Based on the concentration of online microbusinesses relative to a city’s population density, Venture Forward found that Canberra has the highest ration at 31.9 online microbusinesses per 100 residents as of December 2023, surpassing larger cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.

The research also shed light on Australia’s entrepreneurial landscape and its positioning against other markets studied as part of GoDaddy’s research initiative. For example, the UK’s microbusiness epicentre which is Greater London had 17 online microbusinesses per 100 residents, which is just over half the number that Canberra reported.

Sarah McPhillips, a serial entrepreneur behind hair salon Matriarch Hair, consulting business Sarah McPhillips Consulting, and Trichology, believes Canberra is a unique place to run a business.

“It’s primarily a public service town, so entrepreneurs are able to get an amazing support network of government and other small businesses through bodies like the Canberra Business Chamber or Canberra Women in Business, of which I’m a member,” McPhillips said. “This support means entrepreneurs get the help they need to navigate the challenges of running their own business while positively contributing to local communities. It also means that people are inclined to enjoy both the benefits of a public service salary and the flexibility of a side hustle.”

Rounding up the top five cities in terms of online microbusinesses representation are the Gold Coast with 11.5 online microbusinesses per 100 residents, followed by Adelaide with 5.6, and Sydney and Melbourne registering 5.4 and 4.8 respectively.

The top 20 regions for online microbusiness density show representation across most states. New South Wales is home to seven of the highest-placed regions, closely followed by Queensland with six regions and Victoria home to five regions on the list. 

The research also found that online microbusinesses generate significant earning potential for Australian entrepreneurs, with a notable 21 per cent earning over $10,000 a year. Moreover, findings revealed that 40 per cent of online microbusinesses serve customers nationwide, while 29 per cent primarily cater to local markets within their own state or territory.

In terms of employment, 40 per cent of microbusinesses reported that they have achieved full employment and 35 per cent planning to hire 1-3 new employees within the next year, providing promising employment opportunities across Australia.

“Venture Forward microbusiness density data demonstrates the sheer prevalence of online microbusinesses across Australia,” Suzanne Mitchell, Australia Market Lead for GoDaddy, said. “They have the power to help grow the economy, and also the potential to provide new jobs and opportunity in their local communities. This data suggests that right now, our capital Canberra is the heart of a thriving online microbusiness community.”