With the introduction of the carbon tax just around the corner, new research from MYOB has found that nearly half of Australia’s SME operators are uninformed about how the legislation will affect them.
According to the March 2012 MYOB Business Monitor, which surveyed 1,043 SMEs to, 42 per cent still did not have a good grasp of how the incoming carbon tax could affect their business. Conversely, 37 per cent overall understood ‘quite well’ and 17 per cent understood ‘very well’ how the carbon tax will affect their business, and four per cent didn’t know. When asked if they believed the impact on their business would be positive or negative, 50 per cent of SMEs said negative; 33 per cent saw no impact; and only 11 per cent expected a positive impact. Five per cent didn’t know.
Comparing results by industry, the most uninformed were those in agriculture/forestry/fishing and construction/trade (51 per cent each), while the most informed were those in the finance/insurance (34 per cent). There was also a distinct knowledge gap between the sexes, with 36 per cent of males versus 51 per cent of females stating that they were ‘uninformed’ about the impact of the tax.
“It is deeply concerning that our research has found such a low level of awareness about the carbon tax impact on business amongst SMEs,” MYOB CEO Tim Reed says. “This is a major piece of legislation that will have a lasting effect on all business owners. What many don’t realise is that the carbon tax could very well be a positive experience for those who take action now to research, plan ahead, health-check their business fundamentals and capitalise on the opportunities.
“Business owners must recognise that, although the carbon tax will have flow-on effects to goods and services they need, there are practical steps that can be taken now to minimise the impact.”
Six MYOB steps for carbon tax preparedness
1. Review your current expenses and those incurred over the past year, identifying energy intensive costs that will be affected by the inevitable energy price rises. Direct costs may be fuel, electricity and gas, and indirect costs may be business travel, freight and waste removal.
2. Gain a deeper understanding of where additional costs may be incurred by asking suppliers about the effect on their business and when they will be able to tell you their price impacts.
3. Consider locking in contracts with key suppliers now, at pre-carbon tax rates.
4. Review your important business processes and identify areas where you could be operating more efficiently by, for example, changing processes, upgrading equipment and re-training staff.
5. Analyse your current pricing and assess how the additional costs may impact your profit margins. You need to justify any price increases not only to your customers, but also to the ACCC if asked.
6. Ensure your accounting software is up to date so that the carbon tax changes are seamless.
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