South Australian SMEs dissatisfaction with State Government is highest in nation

12 Mar 2014

18% satisfied vs 51% dissatisfied, despite being most likely state to see revenue rise

New research released in the lead up to the South Australian State Election reveals more than half of local SMEs are dissatisfied with the State Government’s efforts to make things better for their business.

This is despite their strong revenue performance and expectations soaring to the highest level in five surveys.

The MYOB Business Monitor, commissioned to Colmar Brunton by Australia’s leading accounting software provider since 2004, found 51% of SA business operators are dissatisfied with the Labor party’s support over the six months to February 2014. While significantly lower than the 62% of those dissatisfied in August 2013, local operators are still the most dissatisfied of the mainland states. Only 18% are satisfied.

CEO Tim Reed says, “With one in two South Australian SMEs dissatisfied with State Government backing, there is much work to be done in making their business life easier.

“When we asked local operators what issues were important when working with government, dealing with knowledgeable people, simplicity and first time resolution were the key needs identified. Political parties of all sides have plenty to consider this election.”

Nationally, 36% of SMEs are dissatisfied with their respective State Government’s efforts to make things ‘better rather than worse’ for their business over the past six months. This too signalled an improvement, from 40% in September 2013. In the latest study, 23% are satisfied and 39% are neither satisfied/dissatisfied.

Dissatisfied 36% 29% 34% 39% 51% 48%
Satisfied 23% 24% 26% 25% 18% 17%
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 39% 46% 38% 35% 29% 33%
Don’t know 1% 1% 2% 1% 2% 2%

*Note: TAS, NT and ACT were excluded from the above table (though were in the national figures), as their sample sizes were too small.

Annual revenue growth & expectations at highest levels since 2012

Interestingly, SA operators were the most likely of the mainland states to see their annual revenue rise, despite being the most dissatisfied state. 29% reported a rise in the previous 12 months, the highest proportion reported by local SMEs since September 2011.

Further, SA was the second most likely state to expect revenue gain in the next 12 months, at 34%.

Mr Reed says, “I’m pleased to see many more local SMEs reporting revenue uplift - now more than one in three. With the same proportion expecting revenue gain and three in four expecting either increased or stable sales/work in their short-term pipeline, the results suggests 2014 will be a strong year for the region.”

Past 12 months – revenue up 22% 16% 28% 24% 29% 18%
Past 12 months – revenue down 34% 36% 31% 35% 34% 32%
Next 12 months – revenue rise expected 34% 29% 40% 33% 34% 32%
Next 12 months – revenue fall expected 22% 21% 21% 18% 23% 32%
3 month pipeline – sales/work up 33% 31% 38% 35% 25% 34%
3 month pipeline – sales/work down 21% 22% 17% 22% 20% 21%
3 month pipeline – sales/work steady 45% 46% 45% 42% 53% 44%

*Note: TAS, NT and ACT were excluded from the above table (though were in the national figures), as their sample sizes were too small.

Fuel prices a top pressure; prices & margins a top priority

Fuel prices was the top pressure expected in the next 12 months by SA operators, for the sixth survey in a row, followed by interest rates then price margins and profitability. While fuel prices also ranked number one for SMEs overall, cash flow and competitive activity were lower down the list.

Top five pressures for South Australian SMEs in 2014:

  1. Fuel prices – 43% (35% SMEs overall)
  2. Interest rates – 33% (21%)
  3. Price margins and profitability – 33% (25%)
  4. Competitive activity – 30% (26%)
  5. Cash flow – 28% (27%)

In terms of intended investment of time and/or money across various business elements, the areas local SMEs are most likely to increase their focus on over the next 12 months were:

  1. Prices and margins on products/services sold – 32% (26% of SMEs overall)
  2. Customer retention strategies – 27% (30%)
  3. The number or variety of products/services offered by the business – 24% (26%)
  4. The value of spending on marketing and advertising online – 24% (21%)
  5. The sales of products/services offline – 20% (22%)

Mr Reed says, “Likely buoyed by strong revenue expectations, South Australian business are exploring several ways to maximise their business potential in an increasingly competitive market. Their top priorities are closely linked to their top pressures, which indicates a realisation that focusing on strategies such as online marketing and advertising will help boost sales and alleviate some of the burdens.

“Price margins and profitability is a pain point for one in three local operators so it’s no wonder almost the same proportion intend to increase their focus on the prices and margins of their offering. Few businesses fail due to higher prices, but many have failed because their prices weren't high enough to cover costs or generate a profit. Developing an effective pricing strategy is critical in building sustainable sales revenue.”

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Sarah Putt


Tel: (09) 925 3515

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Gerard Blank

The Agency Communications Limited

Tel: 03 341 5841

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