Research commissioned by QuickBooks Australia and conducted by YouGov has revealed that the coronavirus pandemic had negatively impacted two out of three small businesses even prior to the commencement of stage three restrictions, with an overwhelming majority reporting profitability concerns.
QuickBooks surveyed 510 small-business owners and managers in Australia with 19 or fewer employees, between 20 and 25 March.
The survey uncovered that while 41 per cent of small businesses have experienced a 50 per cent or more decline in revenue in the past one to two months, 12 per cent have considered cutting costs through staff layoffs.
Among the main concerns for small businesses right now are cash, the viability of their business and retaining customers. But many small-business owners are also worried about the health and wellbeing of their employees.
“This is undoubtedly one of the toughest times that many small businesses have faced. This research shows much of what we already guessed SMBs were feeling,” Natira Drayton, country manager at QuickBooks Australia, told My Business.
Confusion surrounding help
While the string of government announcements has provided some level of direction and support, helping small businesses make decisions, one in four has (26 per cent) admitted to not knowing what steps to take next.
Generally, the government support measures have been well received, with 60 per cent revealing they feel good about the help offered up to 22 March.
Small businesses admitted, however, that a bank stay on mortgages (27 per cent) and landlord stay on rent (24 per cent) would also be very helpful.
While speaking about ways to cut costs and ensure the future viability of their business, as many as 29 per cent of business owners admitted they have closed or have considered closing their businesses temporarily.
A further 20 per cent said they have reduced or are considering reducing the number of hours staff work, while 16 per cent said they are making their business more efficient by seeking business advice.
While small businesses are waking up to a new set of rules, a totally new economic environment and new assistance from the government, Ms Drayton has offered some advice that could help them pull through.
Her four-step plan includes:
- Adjusting to working “in the grey” and focusing on adapting to the ever-changing environment.
- Prioritising consistent and frequent communication with customers.
- Taking advantage of business tools that allow you to work from anywhere, anytime.
- Sourcing financial advice from an accountant or bookkeeper.