May 19, 2020

Australian small businesses thrive despite a hard slog

Xero Australia
Trent Innes
Managing Director
Xero Australia
Harry Allan
3 min
Australian small businesses thrive despite a hard slog

Xero, a global online accounting company, has released new findings from its Small Spark survey, which uncovers how and why Australians are starting their own small businesses.

Surprisingly, only two in ten (21 percent) Australian small business owners had any form of outside financial help in getting their business off the ground. The overwhelming majority (79 percent) chose to fly solo, relying on their own savings (46 percent of self-starters) or simply diving in on a shoestring (33 percent).

“This is an incredible figure — that eight in ten small business owners get started with no outside financial help,” said Trent Innes, Managing Director, Xero Australia.

“It’s astonishing that they’re able to survive and thrive, and there’s no doubt they are doing it the hard way. This success and determination makes us so proud to help small business owners around the country, and continue to build tools and partnerships that make it easier than ever to turn an idea into a business.

“This shows that by continuing to work on new ways of funding small businesses, we’ll be able to help ignite this important part of the Australian economy.”

How ideas are turned into thriving small businesses

The survey, which canvassed the experience and opinions of more than 340 small business owners, revealed a number of interesting insights behind how small businesses actually launch, including:

• Aussies are fast starters

Close to two in five (39 percent) Aussie small businesses owners started their own venture within a year of having the ‘spark moment’ — when they had their first inspiration to start a business — while more than one in five (21 percent) started their business within one month. Younger Australians are more likely to move faster on their dreams with more millennials (38 percent) starting their business within one week of having a spark moment than any other generation

• Doing it on their boss’ time

More than half of Australian small business owners started their venture while in full time employment (54 percent)

• Aussies go alone on funding

46 percent of respondents said they received no financial help in starting their business and used their own savings while one in three Aussie respondents took the plunge on a shoestring. Surprisingly, just 11 percent of Aussie small business owners took out a loan from a bank to fund their business. This was followed by receiving financial support from family or friends, at 8 percent of respondents

• Small business owners work hard

Almost half of Aussie respondents (48 percent) admit they now work ‘much harder’ running their own business than they did previously, and almost one in two (49 percent) would go back to being an employee

2017: A mixed outlook

The Xero Small Spark survey also polled small business owners on their business confidence heading into the New Year and uncovered a mixed outlook for 2017.

Close to half of Aussie small businesses surveyed (49 percent) indicated they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely confident’ of growth in the next 12 months, however nearly one in three had a neutral outlook — believing their business will remain stagnant.

One in five (20 percent) Australian respondents had a negative outlook for 2017, with 15 percent believing that it will be a ‘tough year ahead’ and 5 percent claiming they will struggle to survive in the next 12 months.

Will Taweel, Founder, Generation Real said, "I'm incredibly confident that we will grow in the next 12 months. I think it's very important for any small business owner to understand the drivers that are required for business progression or growth. We've spent a large part of 2016 focussed on delivering great results for our clients and business partners, which has set us up to grow in the coming year. I'm looking forward to a very positive 2017.

Business Review Australia's January issue is now live. 

Follow @BizReviewAU and @MrNLon on Twitter. 

Business Review Australia is also on Facebook.


Share article

Jun 13, 2021

Seo JungJin: Who is EY’s World Entrepreneur of 2021?

Kate Birch
3 min
From just US$45,000 capital in 2003 to a world-leading biopharma giant with revenues of US$1.69bn today, Seo JungJin is crowned EY World Entrepreneur 2021

Seo JungJin, founder of biopharma firm Celltrion, which most recently developed an antibody treatment for COVID-19, has been named the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, becoming the first South Korean in the award’s 21-year history.

Regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates visionary and innovative leaders from across 60 countries who are transforming the world and fostering growth.

JungJin, who is now honoroary chairman of Celltrion Group, was up against a worthy cast of entrepreneurial competitors, taking the crown from among 45 award winners across 38 countries and territories.

Speaking during the virtual event, JungJin described his own interpretation of entrepreneurship as something that brings together “a group of people toward a common vision, embracing challenges as opportunities and committing oneself to contribute to the greater good”.

Why was JungJin crowned King Entrepreneur?

A South Korean native and now 63 years of age, JungJin founded biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion in 2003. In the nearly two decades since its founding, Celltrion has lived up to its goal of advancing health and welfare for all by developing ground-breaking drugs to treat autoimmune disease, various forms of cancer and, most recently, COVID-19.

The company, which JungJin started with just US$45,000 and five of his colleagues, has since growth to more than 2,1000 employees with sales permits in more than 90 countries and revenues exceeding US$1.69bn.

According to the panel, JungJin’s story is a shining example of the power of an unstoppable entrepreneur to change the world with the pandel moved by both his incredible story and his purpose-driven leadership, innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.

Described by the chair of the EY judging panel Rosaleen Blair as “representing everything an unstoppable should be” from taking on the world’s biggest health care challenges to consistently creating long-term value for his company, JungJin’s story is one of incredible tenacity and perseverance that the judging panel felt most represented the entrepreneurial spirit.

“He’s taken breathtaking risks, both personal and professional, to found Celltrion and grow it into one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies,” says Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader. “His passion for creating affordable, life-saving health care and flair for tackling global problems has led to many treatments that have helped millions of people worldwide and was especially evident this past year through the creation of a COVID-19 antibody treatment.”

How did JungJin get there?

JungJin's entrepreneurial journey started at an early age when he worked as a taxi driver to get himself through Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. After studying industrial engineering, he rose through the ranks of Daewoo Motor Co. before losing his job amid the carmaker’s financial troubles following the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

Following this, JungJin started collaborating with colleagues to explore business opportunities in different industries, though none delivered lasting success. The turning point came after he attended a talk hosted by renowned scholars, which inspired him to focus on the biopharmaceutical sector.

And so he founded Celltrion with just US$45,000 of his savings. The launch of Remsima, credited with being the world's first antibody biosimilar, quickly moved Celltrion up the ranks of the country's fairly underdeveloped pharmaceutical sector. Celltrion followed this success with the launch of drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that today are being used worldwide.

With ambitions to be the world’s first in different areas, Celltrion has pioneered numerous uncharted areas to great success over the past two decades, most recently responding to the global pandemic by successfully developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19 and working to ensure a timely supply of the safe and effective treatment.

“When I first started, my vision was to help patients gain access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and thereby enhance the quality of people’s lives,” explains JungJin. “The success of Celltrion has enabled me to expand on this while finding new ways to fuel my entrepreneurial drive.”


Share article