The latest Bibby Financial Services Barometer survey has found that the struggle to achieve an improved work life balance remains a major challenge for a third of Australian SME business owners.
According to Bibby, time management is the next biggest challenge for 31 per cent of Aussie SME business owners, followed by high fuel costs (30 per cent), increased competition (27 per cent), and reduced consumer spending (26 per cent).
Mark Cleaver, Managing Director, Bibby Financial Services Australia and New Zealand, said SME owners face a distinctive work-life balance challenge.
“SMEs are generally concerned about a decline in the Australian economy over the next 12 months and the consequent impact on their ability to spend time away from their business,” Cleaver said. “Unlike managers of large organisations, SMEs can have fewer resources to contend with and operate in an intensely competitive environment."
Further figures from the Bibby survey suggest that only 37 per cent of SMEs are expecting strong or moderate sales growth in the next 12 months, down from 47 per cent in February. There has also been an increase in the proportion of SMEs who expect sales to remain flat, up to 35 per cent in July, from 29 per cent in February. In order to improve cash flow over the next 12 months, 22 per cent of SMEs intend to stop trading with a customer who consistently pays late, while a further 21 per cent intend to spend more time chasing invoices.
“Developing a firm business foundation and structure has to be a priority to minimise chaos,” Cleaver said. “SMEs need to make sure accounts are under control, bad debtors are under control, cash flow is strong and risk-management procedures are in place. This provides a stable platform from which to execute further time-saving innovations such as automation.
“Many processes have been developed to help improve work-life balance. For example, automation is a perfect solution for small and medium-sized businesses because it doesn’t involve sacrificing one important part of life for another. Many business functions can be automated, ranging from marketing to operations to administration. It is also becoming increasingly cost-effective as the price of technology falls.”
An inforgraphic displaying the findings of Bibby’s Financial Services SME Barometer can be found here.
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