Tradies dominate Queensland’s small-business sector

trades, building, tradies

The small-business sector in Queensland is predominantly composed of tradies rather than the typical online entrepreneurs and shop owners, according to research commissioned by Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ). The report, compiled for Queensland Small Business Month which runs throughout May, reveals that 75,000 of the 450,000 small businesses in Queensland are in the building and construction-niche, a figure that represents 17 per cent of all small businesses in the state’s economy.

The research also reveals that the number of small construction businesses in Queensland has increased by 5000 since 2015, an increase of eight per cent. And CSQ Research Director Robert Sobyra said that number is likely to continue growing with rise in the amount home building activity. 

“More small businesses have sprung up over the last five years, and we would expect this to continue even more so off the back of the current building boom,” Sobyra said. “While the construction industry is a massive employer – employing 225,000 Queenslanders – two-thirds of these people work in a small business.”

Sobyra pointed out that 90 per cent of Queensland’s construction businesses have a staff of fewer than five people, and that sixty per cent of them are working solo.

“The construction industry really is the home of small business in Queensland,” Sobyra said, citing the fact tradies can become their own boss more quickly in the construction industry as one of the key reasons for the sector’s growth.

“It is not uncommon to find a tradie in their mid-twenties who has set up their own business and will move on to employing staff before they reach thirty,” he said. “This is a much quicker trajectory than what you will find in a corporate setting. The building and construction industry rewards hard work and initiative and young people can quickly move into business ownership.”

Despite the growth, Sobyra sounded a warning about the serious challenges tradies face.

“Many of these new business owners do not have the professional experience and business management skills to run a business to its full potential,” he said. “They are also extremely time poor so don’t believe they have the space to study or train to get these business management skills.”

CSQ is encouraging small businesses in the industry to take up heavily subsidised training opportunities the organisation offers so they can bridge the gaps in their business.