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Australian small businesses want more from government


Over two-thirds of small business owners say the current government isn't doing enough.

A majority of small businesses believe government red tape is the biggest barrier to creating a startup in Australia, and over 70% say the government doesn't do enough to support them, according to a study by accounting software provider Reckon.

With a federal election also on the horizon, 54% of small businesses identified tax concessions as their most desired policy, followed by a reduction in tax processes and compliance, reduced electricity costs and small business grants, according to the study of over 1,000 small businesses.

49% of small businesses also said they did not trust either major political party, and less than half reported that their business was more successful in 2018 than in 2017.

Funding is harder to come by

Sam Allert, CEO of Reckon, believes small businesses continue to face familiar hurdles around finance and regulation. "Financial uncertainty has made securing loans increasingly difficult and led to prolonged approval times. Alternative lenders provide fast and reliable loans that can help rapidly fill unforeseen gaps in cashflow or quickly get a deal over the line. Government policies that help small businesses to raise finance would be welcomed in 2019," he said.

With the banking royal commission leading to a tightening in lending, two in five small businesses identified access to finance as a barrier to doing business, and of those that had taken out a loan last year, 63% agreed the process has become increasingly difficult. Of those who received loans, 68% went through the traditional banks, with 18% using an online non-bank lender.

Too much red tape

Allert suggests small businesses are also hampered by regulatory rules, and policies to streamline administrative procedures would be welcomed at the election. "Most SMBs have seen growth but remain frustrated by extensive compliance requirements. Regulation is important, but overly complex and time-consuming processes limit time for SMB owners to grow revenue. While we have seen many businesses automate processes and reduce their admin burden, further change is still needed in this regard," he said.

"SMBs are a powerful voting force, and parties are keen to win their support at the ballot box. Whichever party gets elected in the coming months, a focus on digitising and automating regulatory procedures will help make business activities easier."

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