Australian small business lacking growth drivers

Peter Terlato 1 March 2017 NEWS

Cafe workers owners

There's an absence of urgency to develop opportunities.

A recent global survey found small businesses in Australia were struggling to take advantage of growth opportunities, ranking poorly against other international markets.

The research, released by accounting firm CPA Australia, reveals that out of eight countries, Australia ranked last in every key area of growth, from innovation and e-commerce to social media and training.

Just 5% of Australian small businesses said they planned on introducing a new product, service or process in the next 12 months. In comparison, Indonesia (48%), Vietnam (31%), China (29%), Malaysia (26%), Hong Kong (15%), New Zealand (11%) and Singapore (9%) all had greater ambitions to do so.

"Many Australian small business owners may be happy with things as they stand and they are not looking to actively grow their business, but in the longer term a lack of focus on the drivers for growth may undermine the value of their business," CPA Australia CEO Alex Malley said.

An average 69% of small businesses across the eight markets reported earning revenue via online sales. Just one third (37%) of Aussie businesses realised financial gain from operating within the digital space.

An even smaller proportion of Aussie businesses (9%) plan to grow their e-commerce presence significantly over the next year, well below the global average (34%).

In China, almost every small business (96%) utilised social media in the last year. In Australia, this figure is reduced to less than half (46%) of all small businesses.

Just over one in 10 Australian small businesses (13.6%) expect to increase their focus on training in the next 12 months, falling short of the international average (37.2%). Australian small businesses were also least likely to have boosted employee numbers in the last year (11%), far below the survey average (32%).

"We would not expect to see the very strong growth reported in developing economies in Asia to be replicated in an advanced economy like Australia. However Australia is lagging behind the other developed economies in the survey including New Zealand," Malley said.

There are many challenges facing small businesses in Australia, whether just starting or established. A recent government issue paper highlights one of the most formidable - late payments.

Discover how to kick-start your business or take the next step using our comprehensive comparisons guide. Alternatively, if you've got bad credit, compare lenders which specialise in these types of loans.

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