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Christmas comes at a cost for SME owners


Over 50% expect to miss sleep and time with family over holidays.

Most Australian small business owners will be putting their businesses ahead of their personal wellbeing over the Christmas period, according to the new Small Business Report by Westpac and Deloitte.

According to the survey, 58% of small- and medium-enterprise (SME) owners said they would miss sleep over the festive season due to work, and 63% doubted they would have a chance to relax or wind down. To add to the stress, 40% of business owners will likely receive payments from debtors late and will spend an average of 8 hours a week chasing outstanding invoices to help with cash flow issues.

Westpac launches Biz Invoice

In order to help SME owners address invoicing problems, Westpac has launched the Biz Invoice, an integrated invoice payment platform that lets customers create and send invoices directly through Westpac online banking at any time. With cash flow and lack of time remaining the biggest issues facing small business owners, Westpac hopes businesses will be able to get a better handle on their cash flow during the holidays.

Ganesh Chandrasekkar, general manager of SME Banking at Westpac, believes Biz Invoice can improve business productivity over the Christmas period. "We know that many small businesses are doing it tough and making significant sacrifices to keep their business running over Christmas. This is a timely reminder for all of us when we're Christmas shopping to shop local and give back to the small business community because what they do is so vital to our economy," he said.

"In addition to sacrificing their wellbeing, small businesses are spending up to one working day every week chasing invoices. Cash flow is the life blood of any business and being able to manage it is extremely important, especially in the lead up to a busy period like Christmas. Westpac is here to help reduce a significant amount of time for businesses so they can have a more productive and relaxing Christmas, with our invoicing solution, Biz Invoice."

Compliance is also costing SMEs

Businesses also spend a lot of time dealing with compliance and regulatory paperwork, and Deloitte estimates the annual cost of regulation is $100 billion. Yet, despite the expected problems, one-third of business owners report feeling positive about the upcoming Christmas period.

According to Chandrasekkar, SME owners that focus on improving their businesses are the most likely to get ahead. "We found the businesses that experienced growth in sales, profitability and productivity were those that are 'innovation active'. They tend to put effort into significantly improving their operations or offering new goods and services, and considering the big picture rather than the day to day of running a business," he said.

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