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SMBs have their say on economic prospects

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
14 December 2016 29 minute readShare
Andy Scott, Momentum Intelligence

With speculation mounting about Australia’s economy approaching a recession, amid global factors such as Brexit and Trump’s election victory, just what are SMBs expecting for the future?


Andy Scott, Momentum IntelligenceMomentum Intelligence head of research Andrew (Andy) Scott joins the My Business Podcast to discuss the results of the inaugural SMB Sentiment Survey.

Undertaken in the first quarter of the 2016-17 financial year – the same quarter that Australia’s economy went backwards, according to GDP figures from the ABS – the survey provides a snapshot of the thoughts of business owners on the performance of government, global economic forces, hiring intentions and profitability forecasts.

Andy also explores the satisfaction and expectations of employees in smaller businesses, in terms of pay rises, promotions and job-hopping.

Is it all doom and gloom, or are business owners optimistic about their fortunes in the months ahead? And are employees happy to stay where they are or do they plan to re-enter the job market? Tune in now to find out, or take a read of the full transcript below!




Transcript with Andy Scott, Momentum Intelligence

Phil Tarrant: G'day everyone. Welcome to the My Business Podcast, thanks for tuning in. It's Phil Tarrant here, I'm the editor of My Business and I am joined by my regular co-host Adam Zuchetti. Adam, how are you going?

Adam Zuchetti: Hi Phil. I'm recovering from a serious dose of the man flu so…

Phil Tarrant: Really?

Adam Zuchetti: I'll be a bit…

Phil Tarrant: A bit sniffly.

Adam Zuchetti: Yeah, I am a little bit.

Phil Tarrant: You need more echinacea.

Adam Zuchetti: Yeah, well yeah. Vitamin C, the works.

Phil Tarrant: Vitamin C, bit of sunshine, it's all good.

We're going to change it up a little bit today and get a bit heavy with the numbers. I'm excited about this podcast, because I think with our guest in the studio today, we're going to explore a lot of the issues that small to medium enterprises or business owners face, and hopefully give you guys some market intelligence as you plan for the coming Christmas period and also into the new year.

We've got Andrew Scott in the studio. Andy heads up a department of a business called Momentum Intelligence, which is a research house. Andy, how are you going?

Andrew Scott: I'm well Phil, thanks for having me on. Good afternoon, Adam. How are you?

Adam Zuchetti: G'day.

Phil Tarrant: So can you tell me a little about the research that you guys are just about to release. We're getting the first look at it here, which is very good, so thank you for sharing that stuff with us Andy. Can you run us through the process that you've just undertaken to try and extract some key demographic enabler information out of the SME market?

Andrew Scott: Yeah, absolutely. So the Australian SMB Sentiments Survey is a quarterly survey that we run. We talk to approximately 1,500 business owners across the country through our research database and we ask them a range of questions on how their business is looking, where they're looking to go for in terms of their revenue, their profitability etcetera and of course any concerns and threats that they see coming into the business as well.

Phil Tarrant: Okay. Good. What we have in front of us here is a table full of spreadsheets and graphs and charts and our challenge Andy, I feel, is going to be working out what we chat about and what we don't chat about.

Just so our listeners know, just before we come on air, I had a quick flick through all this and this is hot off the press this stuff. I've pulled out some areas which I feel are very important. Now, looking at the methodology that's taken place with this survey Andy, and correct me if I'm wrong, you've got some insights from both SME, let's call them SMB, owners, small and medium business owners, and also you've got some insights from their employees as well, se've got two bites to the apple here: we can look at what SME owners are thinking and feeling and we can also look at the people within their businesses and how the information we can give our listeners today can help shape the way in which business owners can prepare for period ahead. Fair assessment?

Andrew Scott: Yeah that's absolutely correct Phil. What we've also done with this survey, with the results that I've presented with you guys today, is that I've actually taken out anything from firms over 50 employees. Any owners of firms over 50 employees, their sentiments aren't included in that. Likewise employees with firms larger than 50 employers, their sentiments aren't included in that. So this is a real focus in the SMB space, and really gives you a rich understanding from both sides of that business, both the people within it and of course the owners, on the feelings and attitudes and where they think it might be going.

Phil Tarrant: Okay so you've capped at 50, so we're looking at the smaller end of the SME space. We like to consider SMEs, Adam, up to about 200 people, which is pretty much the government definition, but as you get closer to the 200 you get a lot less businesses in there.

Adam Zuchetti: Yes.

Phil Tarrant: So I think what Andy's done is probably really representative of the small to the lower end of the small and medium space. That's a very vibrant part of our economy and it's a part of our economy that our government is focusing on in terms of the innovation economy that we're in right now.

I'm going to rattle through some findings here for our listeners. Just to give some background of some of the numbers that have come out here, and stuff which I feel as though is important: the survey is for Q1FY17, so this is the first quarter of the financial year Andy so that's from July to the end of September. If I got my maths right.

Andrew Scott: Correct.

Phil Tarrant: Okay.

Andrew Scott: I thought I'd leave you hanging there, see if you could get to the end of that.

Phil Tarrant: I'm used to writing it, so it’s generally quite easy.

Let's have a quick look at these numbers. I'll quickly rattle through these and then we can come back and maybe look at some of the key factors. I'll start down here at the government side of things. We've got a question here, "Are you happy with the government's current management of the economy?" Remember for our listeners, these are business owners who are responding to these. So, "Are you happy with the government's current management of the economy?" Yes is 18.3 per cent, no is 52.7 per cent, and indifferent is 29 per cent, so that's a pretty resounding negative sentiment of business owners towards what the government is doing. Andy?

Andrew Scott: Yeah, absolutely. I think that possibly doesn't really come as surprise to a lot of people, seeing those figures. Something to make clear about this; for a question like that for the answer to be yes, to be a larger than 50 per cent answer, is spectacularly hard for any business, any government to do that. I think we do have to give whoever is in government at the time a little bit of slack. This is never going to be a figure that's going to 70, 80, 90 per cent of people saying absolutely everything is brilliant.

The very nature of the economy, particularly the Australian economy, is that it's multiple speed and so where some people will be doing well, others naturally are going to be in a bit of pain. It's a very hard thing to manage in that regard. All that said, if you're sitting in the government and one in two small business owners thinks you are doing a bad job, that's something I think of great concern for any politician, particularly in areas and constituencies where those figures are going to even higher, the 70/ 80 per cent of business owners who think the government are doing a bad job.

Phil Tarrant: Just running off the back of those comments Andy, we have a question here which is, "Do you think the government's current management of the economy will stimulate growth?" Now, if one or two reckon that they're not doing a good job, it'll be interesting what these findings are. And surprisingly 21 per cent of people think their government is managing the economy in a way in which it will stimulate growth, but surprise surprise, 58.5 per cent of people say the government is not doing what it needs to be doing to stimulate growth. We've got 20 per cent of our respondents to this survey don't know what's happening. It's very much in line with our original question, our original findings, Andy. What's your comments on this? It's just expected?

Andrew Scott: Well yes it is. I always think it's great for these questions and I love to put the answer "don't know" in there, because I think a lot of us like to complain about things, and I think that's always something that we need to be wary of, and I think that's why sentiment is so very important as well. People can sometimes recognise what the problem is, but they can't necessarily recognize what it is to fix it.

To step those things back, 21 per cent of people think the government are doing an all right job and is going to stimulate growth, and 20.4 per cent are saying, "You know what? I don't know", but that's very different to saying, "No its not, not its not". I think there's a lot of people, and this is what we've said, because of the nature of different businesses within different economies, it's quite a specific question and if the government aren't actively doing something focused on the area of business that you're in, it's easy to sit there and think, you know what they're not doing anything to stimulate growth. That becomes then really the emphasis on business owners themselves to take care of where they can affect change and look to drive that growth themselves.

Phil Tarrant: I think it's also incumbent on our politicians to actually understand where those parts are within our economy, those business sectors in our economy, where the sentiment or the feeling is that the government isn't doing a good enough job. It’s about identifying where those points are and it comes down to federal, but also state and local government, to actually get the feelings for that, because only the local government is really going to understand the nuances or the particular situation as to what's happening at a real micro-level within communities. That needs to make sure it's pushed up into a state and federal. So hopefully some of these numbers ... They're very broad stroke, it's Australia-wide, but it's very much the sentiment at the moment.

Looking at how the global economy may influence or affect business growth, will stimulate business growth throughout the years ahead, Andy we've got two more relevant points here to help us paint a more macro view of what's happening in Australian business or sentiments of it at the moment.

The question was, "What effect do you think the global economy will have on your business in the next six months?" Now 12.8 per cent of people said "Positive". 24.6 per cent said "Negative," and 62 per cent of people are neutral. They're neutral about the impact of the global economy on their business in the next six months. This is a survey that took place prior ... It was right up in the lead-up to the US elections, so we're talking in a situation right now where if we did the same measurement, it would be interesting to see what this is like next quarter. We've got Trump in charge now. If you're looking at global markets right now, they've all rallied very much behind Trump's enthusiasm, Trump's focus for making America great again and how that is going to influence global economy. If you're looking at bond markets, they are looking a lot healthier. Looking at the economy price, commodity prices, oil prices are looking more favourable. Overall confidence, global confidence, is increased as a result of Mr. Trump.

Adam Zuchetti: This survey is also the quarter just after Brexit…

Phil Tarrant: Absolutely.

Adam Zuchetti: …the referendum there, so it's that in between period between two quite large-scale events globally.

Phil Tarrant: It is and I've done a lot of reading on the Trump effect recently and I'll be interested to see how it will play out in terms of the perception of Australian businesses towards global economy. When you crunch this down on some numbers here that Andy's given us, "In the next six months, which region's economy do you think will have the greatest impact?", Andy, where's that going to be?

Andrew Scott: Looking at this what we find, the first thing that comes up, is Asia at 31.1 per cent. That's closely followed by North America at 25.1 per cent. Then of course, I suppose in the indomitable Aussie spirit, the third highest answer is "none". Once again back in the ... As a citizen of this great shore, Aussies back themselves to do well in most situations, regardless of who they're up against.

I think, certainly Adam the point you make of, this survey came right between the sweet spot of post Brexit and the pre US election that you mentioned. I think it will be really interesting ... That's not had time to come through the wash. Let's face it, President Trump, or Trump is still President-elect as this stage, he's not actually sat into office, he's still forming his team and a lot of his policies are coming to fruition. Many of which he campaigned from will not come to fruition, I think people are realising, so I think it's going to be really interesting to see what that is, how that impacts things. With a number of Aussie trans-Atlantic deals that were on the go, that's going to look to change as well.

Phil Tarrant: I think also with the falling Aussie dollar against the US, and a lot of that's going to be continue to be perpetuated by Trump coming into power, exporting opportunities for Aussie businesses all over the place – whether it's us pushing our goods abroad or we're trying to attract very good business, so that's education and tourism – I think a lot of those businesses, Adam, and we saw this at the most recent My Business Awards, Aussie businesses which are trying to attract a global audience or global footprint are very excited about the period ahead.

Adam Zuchetti: Yes, they definitely are. They see a lot of opportunity out there.

Phil Tarrant: That's good. So we've given some macro-economic perceptions of Aussie business owners towards how the Australian economy is going to fare; their perceptions toward government. A lot of this stuff, and we say this quite regularly on the show: as business owners, don't worry or don't get too connected with the idea of trying to control the things that you cannot control. Can an Aussie business owner really control what's happening in government? Yeah you've got a voice, but there's a lot of thing you cannot control. Can you control the nation's economy? No. Can you control global economic forces? No. What can you control? And what you can control is how you react to these forces, how you react to these drivers, and how you react to these changes within the political or the economic situation to get the best for your business.

Now Andy you've got some really good findings here, which are sentiments of business owners towards how they're going to shape their business in the period ahead. The first thing here which really attracted me in terms of as a journalist and a headline is, "How many employees are you currently recruiting for?" Now, let's remember that your bracket for the size of businesses was up to 50 people on this, so just to give this some context. You asked them how many employees they're looking to currently recruit for. 74 per cent of people said they're not looking to recruit any at all. That's quite a high number.

Andrew Scott: It is, and I think there's probably a number of reasons for that. The period of year that we're coming into, we've talked about some uncertainty globally, but obviously with peoples' attitudes towards how the government are doing with the economy to help their businesses as well, there's not a lot of confidence backing or from business owners that the government are doing the right thing and are going to help them support that. Phil, you know yourself as a business owner, in times of uncertainty, to suddenly load up your cost base with employees is not necessarily the wisest thing to go about and do, and it doesn't surprise me to see that reflected in this data.

Phil Tarrant: We're talking within post Brexit and pre US election, so President-elect Trump is waiting to come into power. I think when we do this again, and we have this conversation again in three months’ time, and you've got your next round of figures Andy for Q2FY17, we're really going to able to start painting some pictures around perceptions and actions of business owners. You have another point here that says, "Over the next six months do you expect your business's revenue to increase, decrease or stay the same?" 71 per cent of people said they're expecting revenue to increase, but if you put that side by side with hiring intentions with 74 per cent of people that aren't going to hire, that means people are expecting to make more money without having to put the staff on to achieve that, so they're looking for scale and efficiencies.

Andrew Scott: Yeah I think that's right. I think that also reflects the genuine upbeat sentiment that Aussies generally have to giving it a go and taking on business and doing well in conditions. I was also in the room at the Optus My Business Awards, which was a fantastic night. It was also great to see how positive and upbeat that room was. There were a lot of people in there, end of the night, whether they were just finalists or they won their awards, that were very, very positive about where their business was going. It wasn't conversations with people who had concerns on their horizons; it was people who had goals on the horizons and were confident they were taking the right steps to reach those.

Phil Tarrant: It's good, and we do appreciate your partnership or sponsorship of that awards program. At My Business, we focus on trying to deliver market intelligence to people, so information that Momentum Intelligence produces, in terms of giving business owners just a bit of an idea about what their peer group think or the actions or activities of other business owners, is really beneficial for us, so thank you Andy.

Running on this theme around business revenue increase, yes 71.7 per cent of people expect that. Interestingly you have a connectivity with profitability as well, so you've got 66 per cent of business owners expect profitability to increase over that period of time as well. I look at this and I think, business revenue to increase? Tick. Profitability to increase? Tick. But under the basis of no real aggressive hiring agenda. So people are out after efficiencies; they're out after trying to eek as much value they can out of their current workforce, to boost revenue and boost profitability, but at the same time, they're not investing in recruiting people. To me, that says business owners must be investing into the way in which they can provide a better workplace for their team, how they can provide better work prospects for their teams or their employees, how they can provide better culture for their teams and better leadership for their teams.

I'd expect to see that play out in terms of how these numbers, when we get to them, about employee sentiment towards growth opportunities moving forward, but let's just quickly go through these last couple of points here Andy. The question was, "Over the next six months do you expect cash flow to increase, decrease or stay the same?" 68 per cent said cash flow to increase. I guess that's because of increase in profitability, that's what I draw. "Over the next six months, do you expect your capital investment in your business to increase, decrease stay the same?" 57 per cent said stay the same, 34 per cent said increase, 8 per cent said decrease. The final one and this is about employer or business owner remuneration, "Over the next six months, do you expect your personal income to increase, decrease or stay the same?" 55 per cent expected increase, so hopefully some business owners are going to take some profitability of that business, take some of the gain out, and spend it on something. I'm not sure. Or they might want to reinvest it. I'm not too sure there. We can ask some people Adam, around that I think. Let's get some commentary from business owners.

Adam Zuchetti: Another third are expecting it to remain pretty stable.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, so it's pretty ... What's that? 55 and 33 that's 85-odd per cent of people think it's going to stay stable or increase. It’s quite funny, you've got some conflicting ... Sentiment surveys are very much like this Andy, you get some conflicting stuff that you can't sometimes add up. Everyone thinks the government's not doing ... Half of people think the government's not doing a good job, and this survey was conducted in a period of flux for the global economy: Brexit and Trump. Those global forces, no one really knows what's going on. Those macroeconomic or government forces, no one really is too sure what's going on. But my point that I made earlier about controlling the things you can control and not worrying about those things you cannot control, I want to say that most business owners are just getting on with in within the current-

Adam Zuchetti: They're just doing it.

Phil Tarrant: They're just doing it, which is good. Let's have a chat Andy. If you can run us through some of these finding that you've got around what employees think. Now I know you've got quite a lot of information here about sentiments towards the economy and stuff, I don't really want to touch that. What I really want to have a look at is some of the finding you've got around their perceptions or attitudes about their workplace. Let's start off with this one up here about pay rises. It's quite alarming for business owners. They're going to have to get their wallets out are they?

Andrew Scott: Well, it might suggest that. I think really what the ... Just to give everybody the headline numbers first so the question was, "Are you expecting a pay rise over the next six months?" We have 40.2 per cent say yes and 59.8 per cent say no. As you've highlighted Phil, quite a lot of people are expecting to get a pay rise. That's two out of every five, which is potentially quite significant.

To me though, I think if we look at the context of what we've seen with owners about the business, and bear in mind in small organisations, employees are quite close to the owners of the business and they're quite close to seeing how the engine is running and how things are ticking along. It's not like being part of a multinational where you can be divorced from what's happening in the broader picture and the health of the company. With business owners recognising, or suddenly they're sentiment being, "You know what? Business is going well. Revenue are going up, profitability is going up." All those sort of things that you would tick as an indicator. It doesn't surprise me to see that the people who are going to be close to that situation, also probably recognising that and pick up on that and hell, let's be honest, sitting there thinking, well if everyone's doing better, I'd like to get my piece of that pie as well. I don't think it's necessarily surprising when you look at it through that prism.

Adam Zuchetti: It's still only two in five though. That's three in five that are saying, "Actually despite the growth in the sector ..."

Andrew Scott: I think the key point Adam is it's, "Are you expecting a pay rise?" not, "Would you like a pay rise?"

Adam Zuchetti: Oh, of course.

Andrew Scott: The question for that would be very different.

Phil Tarrant: I reckon we ask that next time. Also I'd like to ask, if you can Andy and whether it's possible to provide us with these details, whether or not business owners are going to be giving staff pay rises. Do you think you're going to have a staff pay freeze? Are you giving greater budget to employee pay rise in the period ahead? It would be nice to juxtapose those against each other and see how it all sits. No one's expecting a promotion really though, are they, from your findings?

Andrew Scott: No. I think, again if I look at my own personal experience of my time of being an employee, I think that reflects what a lot of employers and smaller businesses are. Promotion is a relative thing for employees of larger firms. Title, moving up in pay bands, is something that becomes much more important. I think with a smaller business, the employees generally know that their title is often in a constant state of flux. What it means, their role is to do a job that their boss wants, not necessarily what a title might deem. So I think to say that, "Yes I'm not necessarily expecting a physical promotion," but at the end of the day if you're in a firm of five people, how far can you progress up that chain really at the end of the day? I think the fact that that's reflected in people expecting a pay rise I think is probably why you see that.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah. I think also, and this is something that I've seen over the many years of working with SMEs, is that the type of employee attracted to an SME is very different than the type of employee attracted to a large multinational or a large corporate. Some employees are really well geared, or their make-up is perfect, for working in the SME environment. A lot of employees cannot cope with some of the dynamics or nuances of working within SMEs. I think you find that a lot of people that work within SMEs understand it's a different beast than working in corporate, but if they've got talent, if they've got drive, if they've got the right attitude and the right aptitude, promotion can come. It's normally a lot faster than what would happen in a larger corporation. Is that something you'd agree with, from your research findings?

Andrew Scott: Yeah, I think broadly. Promotion is two things: it's changing the name, going from assistant to getting rid of assistant; going from junior to having senior in your title. But promotion is also the range of responsibilities and things that you are allowed and expected to do within the business as well. Certainly within a small business, if you're an employee that's good for that business, employers recognise that, and slowly but surely will load up the responsibility that they have, and that in itself can be a promotion if you will – even if the name on their business card, if they have one, hasn't necessarily changed.

Phil Tarrant: What I've seen, the employees within SMEs that do the best are the people that take on the responsibility themselves. A business owner doesn't say, "Okay this is your new job. You need to do all these type of things." People get promoted because they show that innate ability to make stuff happen, and that's what works well within SME space, they're the people that do very well. Interestingly though, I guess it's connected with the last two questions or points here Andy is, "Are you planning to look for another job in the next six months?" The findings of this, I think, would be quite reassuring for many SMEs, but also there's a little bit of an alarming factor as well. The findings are that 74 per cent of people are not looking for another job in six months, whereas 26 per cent of people are. So one in four people are going to look to move if they can, an organisation in the next six months. I know you've produced some other reports in some vertical industry sectors and that's probably on the low side. Is that fair?

Andrew Scott: Yeah, it is quite low across the board, and certainly compared to some of the niche verticals that I've looked at, that's much higher. To me what they really says is, I suppose it’s just another reflection of the overall confidence that there is in that sector out there.

As a general rule of thumb, why do people look to move their jobs? Because they hate what they're doing, or they think they can get more elsewhere: they're genuinely the two drivers. We look back on ... We've got business owners saying that their business is strong, that it's going well, they're expecting all the metrics that they track to go up. We've got employees who are also recognising that they are expecting a promotion and their wages to go up as well. In that context, I can get the growth that I'm looking for and I can get the value I'm looking for staying right where I am. Consequently, by the very nature of being in a small business, at some point you do reach the point where I've gone as far as I can go as an employee here, perhaps I do want to step up. And that may mean starting again with another small business, because I love that entrepreneurial spirit, or it may mean moving across into a larger organisation as well.

That's something that you can't see through the sentiment but I think it's ... As I said as a business owner I think the thing that it always comes back to is you've got to identify who your good talent is, and you've got to decide when you nurture and keep them, and when you're just going to have to accept that your great people are often going to move on and there's not a lot you can do about that.

Phil Tarrant: I think that's a very important point, and I'd probably add to that also that as an SMEn people will outgrow you, point number one, but also the business will outgrow its people, so these two things run hand in hand. You find, and I see it all the time chatting with SMEs, is that it will get to a point where they're really good people ... It might be a $100,000 job that needs getting done and therefore the maximum anyone's ever going to get paid for that particular role is $100,000. Someone might get to a point where their skills and capabilities is worth $150,000, so the natural thing is for that person to move on. I know a lot of SME owners, they struggle with this proposition, because they don't want to lose people who have been with their business for quite period of time, but they know that they need to let them go to let them grow and evolve for the needs of the business.

The other side is that, and I've seen this many times, is that businesses who are fast growing or businesses which are very aggressive and entrepreneurial in terms of growth, often outgrow their people. Some people can work well within the confides of a particular type of business, particular type of business structure or particular dynamic, but growth businesses change so quickly that some people just can't catch up and they get left behind. That's another time when people need to leave organisations or leave people.

Luckily here, and I think this is quite a bullish response Andy, job security over the next six months, most employees, 75 per cent, aren't concerned about it at all. I think that's really reflective of an economy, let's be fair, it's in reasonable shape. I think, and this is some dialogue I've had with some economists recently, I was just only down in Melbourne with the chief economist at NAB, Alan Oster, and he was very upbeat about the prospects for us moving forward, about job prospects, unemployment coming down, wage growth increasing, just the wider global opportunities for Australian businesses. And we touched very briefly on the Trump effect and what's going on there. So I don't think Aussies should be too concerned about their employment moving forward, as long as they're doing a reasonable job and adding value to the company that they're working for. I'm speaking right like a business owner right now aren't I?

Andrew Scott: Alert but not alarmed I think is the phrase you're looking for there, Phil.

Phil Tarrant: Alert but not alarmed. Not at all. Andy I really appreciate this. Can you come back in three months’ time to give us the Q2 findings?

Andrew Scott: Yeah of course, absolutely; h to come back and have a chat with you guys again about this.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah I'd really like, if you can, I'd really like to start painting a picture, so if we could do some comparisons about ... I know this is just a new report for Momentum Intelligence. I think it's absolutely brilliant and you're uniquely positioned, I feel, to be able to provide this information because your connectivity with the SME sector. So I'd really like to see you guys, if you can, paint some pictures or give us some commentary around some of the changes in perception that we see taking place.

Andrew Scott: Yeah absolutely. Happy to get involved in that Phil.

Adam Zuchetti: Do you have any particular forecasts? Particularly coming back to the Trump thing and bringing that in: do you expect to see certain trends in the next edition of the survey?

Andrew Scott: I would I suppose phrase that by two things. Yes, I do expect to see trends, but do I predict them? No I don't. I learnt many, many moons ago, mostly from losing money on horse races, that it's folly to predict the future with any degree of confidence. I do have my own personal opinions about some the things that will come to pass. Whether that will happen, again it's folly I think to make predictions, because there are so many moving parts that can get involved about this, that something can change it quite dramatically. I think broadly speaking though, there's nothing that I really see that Australians should be too alarmed with at this point. I think the conditions for Australian business and the economy in general, in a global perspective is okay, and I don't think there's any panic alarm bells that should be ringing, either broadly or with any specific parts of the economy where there's panics to be made.

Adam Zuchetti: Just overall Andy, you've surveyed owners, business owners and employees. Are they broadly in the same mind of where things are going?

Andrew Scott: As we've sort of been saying, I think what you look at here is a group of people who are employers and employers who recognise that things are going okay at the moment. I think that's probably what's recognised by these sentiments. I think the changes will start to come when those conditions aren't necessarily the same, be it for whatever reason: cost of living prices start to go up and then concerns evolve around the employees. Or be it conditions become even more onerous and difficult because of either decisions government make at this level, either state or federal, or of course things that happen overseas that start impacting on local businesses as well. Again, then you might see divergence and stuff as well, so I suspect you'll see a lot of coming together and going apart with these sort of figures as we move forward, depending against the backdrop of what's actually happening of the global, state and local level.

Phil Tarrant: We've got to wrap up this Andy, but what I'd also like to see, if you can find this information, is attitude towards business finance. I've been doing a lot of reading on this and chatting with people recently, and it would appear that we're at the bottom of the rate cycle. When you look and bond markets, and we had Christopher Joye in recently, fund manager who's also the contributing editor for the Fin Review, really smart bloke. You should listen to it: I think it was the last podcast we did. We spoke quite a lot about bond markets and how that's going to influence financing, both residential mortgage lending, but also business financing in the period ahead. What I'd really like to see is all this information filtered within the sentiments towards business financing, so if growth opportunities are available, I think business lending is probably going to get a little bit more expensive as well. So how are SMEs going to deal with those two things hand in hand, I think would be really good to see as well mate.

Andrew Scott: Great.

Phil Tarrant: Brilliant. Okay thanks for coming in mate, really enjoyed your insights. Thanks so much for sharing this information just with us. Don't send it to anyone else yet, we want a first run of this! It's pretty good.

Adam, thanks mate. Really good. I think there's lots of stories for us to write here and I'd really like to see some sentiments from business owners around these particular findings and just how they might be preparing their business, both reacting to employee sentiment but also how they're going to grow or evolve their business based on prospects for growth in the context of global opportunities and how that might play out at a domestic Australian level.

Thanks everyone for tuning it. I hope we haven't been too heavy with all these numbers and figures and facts. Go to the website, mybusiness.com.au, where we're going to be presenting all of them if we can manage to persuade Andy to share those things with us. He's sort of grinning and nodding and not being too committal.

Andrew Scott: Always happy to help.

Phil Tarrant: We'll see what we can do. Remember to check us out on all the social stuff. You can follow me @philiptarrant on Twitter. If you've got any questions write into us, whether it's about these findings or the podcast in general, or if you want to come on the podcast, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we'll get back to you as quickly as possible. We'll see you again next week. Bye bye.





SMBs have their say on economic prospects
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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