Abstract: In the past decade, there has been an increasing push for economic independence for Aboriginal people (SCATSIA 2007). However, despite improvements in Aboriginal employment rates, the labour force participation of Aboriginal Australians remains low (CYI 2007, SCATSIA 2007, SCRGSP 2007). The unemployment and underemployment problem in remote and desert areas is even more severe because of the lack of job opportunities in these areas. Micro, small and medium enterprises, or MSMEs, offer pathways to promote participation in economic activities and income generation and increase economic self-sufficiency. However, there is a high failure rate of small and medium enterprises, especially in the first five years. The situation is more challenging in desert areas because of the very nature of desert environments. These environments affect the way businesses operate and influence the performance of businesses. Desert regions in Australia are characterised by high variability, small population, lack of services and poor infrastructure. Many desert areas are located in remote areas and are often far from market centres. The lack of critical mass poses a challenge for businesses operating in desert areas. Nonetheless, there are MSMEs that have overcome the barriers of distance and remoteness and are thriving in the desert, showing that it is possible for businesses to succeed in desert areas if the necessary ingredients are present. Some of the critical factors that lead to successful businesses in desert areas are described below.