Held in conjunction with our sister title AccountantsDaily in March this year, the My Business survey attracted 647 responses from businesses in every state and territory in Australia. Most (58 per cent) said they have been operating their business for 11+ years.
Despite so much political and media speculation about the state of the Australian and global economies, according to our survey, things are actually looking pretty good for the majority of SMEs.
The overwhelming majority are forecasting higher profits this financial year. The biggest proportion (37 per cent) see growth of between 1 and 10 per cent, while 15 per cent indicated growth of 11-25 per cent or more than 25 per cent.
Of the remainder, 20 per cent suggested profit will remain the same, while 10 per cent believe their profit will fall. The remaining 3 per cent were unsure.
When it came to the biggest barriers to achieving growth, attracting new customers was cited by just over a third of all respondents, followed by availability of skilled staff or experienced managers and competition.
Attracting new customers was of much greater importance to smaller businesses than those with 26+ staff.
Arguably the biggest surprise among the results came from the responses to the question ‘How important to your business’ performance do you consider the following areas?’.
Accessing external finance was the area that received the highest ‘not at all important’ rating, despite this commonly being cited in discussions about SMEs as being a major constraint.
Instead, more than 40 per cent said people management is extremely important, followed by management of tax and regulation issues. Well over 80 per cent said operational improvement was either very or extremely important.
When split according to business size, nearly 80 per cent of respondents from businesses with 26+ people said people management was extremely important, easily eclipsing any other area. However, it was split fairly equally between people management and management of tax and regulation issues for businesses with one to five employees.