During the past decade (1984-1994), Australia experienced its worst recession since the depression of the 30's, followed by a no-growth period and an unemployment rate hovering around nine per cent. The awareness of Commonwealth and State Governments of the need for specific policies to stimulate new ventures and support small and medium enterprises (SME's), was increased by a range of reviews which resulted in a variety of initiatives. However, two key national initiatives, licensed Management and Investment Companies (MIC's) and the Second Board Stock Market, which aimed at making access to funds easier for new ventures, failed to provide sustained financial support to new innovative firms. Small businesses in Australia account for some 80 per cent of all businesses and 50 per cent of employment in the private sector. While many factors contribute to the successful establishment and growth of new businesses, a key factor is the availability of and access to affordable finance. The major objective of this study was to identify key success/failure factors in new venture creation and to review in detail the rise and fall of the Second Board Stock Market (1984-1992) - arguably one of the most significant Government initiatives during the 80's to provide access to equity funds. A survey of Melbourne companies listed on the Second Board was to provide valuable information on the success/failure of the Second Board Stock Market and to illuminate desirable Government initiatives meeting SME's survival needs.