THE PRESSURE on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from economic decline due to COVID-19 is felt by 35 percent of SMEs, down 20 percentage points compared to this time last year, however past pressures are creeping back to pre-pandemic levels with some increasing 6 percent in the past six months, according to the new MYOB Business Monitor.
The latest research of more than 1,000 Australian SME owners and operators found top business concerns to be cashflow and the cost of utilities, felt by 32 percent of respondents. The greatest increases include access to finance, a pressure for 26 percent of respondents up from 20 percent in December, and late payments from customers increased to 29 percent from 25 percent.
As some businesses return to normality, traditional business concerns are creeping back in, according to Emma Fawcett, MYOB’s general manager SME.
“It’s an unfortunate return to ‘business as usual’ for the country’s 2.29 million SMEs with 14 of the 16 business pressures measured by the MYOB Business Monitor increasing in the last six months," Ms Fawcett said. "This demonstrates that as COVID-19 pressure subsides other business pressures increase.
“SME concerns with payment times and old bugbears associated with physical presence – such as utilities like electricity and gas – are back on the table. It seems these issues were temporarily superseded during the pandemic but are increasingly back on the radar now for many SMEs.”
The research, conducted before Victoria’s latest lockdown, found overall business owners were feeling positive about the year ahead, with 57 percent predicting an uplift in Australia’s economy and almost half (48%) predicting their revenue will be up a year’s time.
The latest Business Monitor shows a marked difference in confidence for the coming year by industry, with 78 percent of finance and insurance SMEs predicting the economy will improve in the next 12 months, compared with a national average of 57 percent. Retail and hospitality are at the other end of the spectrum with only 46 percent predicting uplift.
Queensland SMEs are the most confident with 60 percent predicting an improvement in the economy in the year ahead, followed by Victorians, at 59 percent when the survey was conducted prior to the latest lockdown. In New South Wales 58 percent believed the economy would improve as did 55 percent of Western Australian SMEs.
Nationally 30 percent report an increase in revenue on a year ago, up from 19 percent in December. The likelihood of a revenue increase in 12 months time is up 11 points to 48 percent compared with 37 percent at the end of last year.
In the next 12 months SMEs are looking to increase the prices and margins on what they sell (30%), retaining customers (29%), as well as customer acquisition, employee payments and marketing/advertising online (all 28%).
“After a challenging trading year, it’s encouraging to see SMEs looking to explore new revenue opportunities over the next 12 months,” Ms Fawcett said.
“It’s concerning those operational pressures are on the rise as the country recovers from COVID-19, however an overall confidence in the economy as well as SME revenue, is a good sign for a sector that makes up 95 percent of Australian businesses.”
MYOB is a business platform with a purpose of helping more businesses in Australia and New Zealand start, survive and succeed. MYOB delivers end-to-end business management tools and accounting solutions for SMEs and the mid-market, direct to businesses, as well as a network of accountants, bookkeepers and consultants. MYOB operates across four key segments: small and medium enterprises (SME), enterprise, financial services and practice. myob.com @MYOB on Twitter.
About MYOB Business Monitor
The MYOB Business Monitor researches business performance and attitudes regarding areas such as profitability, cash flow, pipeline work, technology usage and the government. This report presents the summary findings for key indicators from the MYOB Business Monitor comprising a national sample of 1,005 business owners, managers and directors (operators), conducted from March 17 to April 22, 2021. The businesses participating in the online survey were both non-employing and employing businesses. All data has been weighted by industry type, location and number of employees, which are in line with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS - Counts of Australian businesses, including entries and exits - 8165.0).