The small business (SME) sector in Australia is predicting a slow Christmas period, causing a lack of both sales and spare time for retailers, a new MYOB study has found.
The MYOB SME Snapshot research also uncovered SMEs are not adequately planning and preparing for the silly season at their own expense. As a result, they are worried about how they will meet customer demand and effectively manage things like business cash flow and operating costs.
Small business owners feeling the pinch at Christmas
Aussie businesses are feeling the pinch of a slow Christmas retail period and with the threat of bigger and online businesses entering the market business confidence is down. The majority (77 per cent) of small business owners are predicting they will see no growth in business during the Christmas period, and 18 per cent expect it to be quieter than last year.
“With the launch of a number of overseas retail outlets this year, our Aussie business owners are feeling apprehensive in the lead up to Christmas. Businesses are telling us they’re concerned about the impact this will have on customer footfall and revenue, especially given the wider global environment businesses are now playing in.” Tim Reed, CEO MYOB
Business owners working overtime to make up the gap
When asked about the main challenges SMEs face going into 2018, maintaining work life balance was the biggest struggle across the board (45 per cent).
“The emphasis small business owners placed on the challenge of maintaining work life balance suggests they are expecting to spend more time on their business, potentially to save costs on hiring or rostering more help. This comes as a concern to small business owner’s mental health as, for many business owners, this time of year is often reserved for some down time, perhaps a break from work and time spent with friends and family.”
The good news is small business owners want to change this with work life balance coming up as the top new year’s resolution with 27 per cent stating they wanted to actively improve in this area.
The devil is in the detail
Although managing cashflow (39 per cent) and operating costs (37 per cent) were nominated as key challenges, only 12 per cent of businesses said that managing cash flow more effectively was one of their focusses in the new year.
The good news is there is room for improvement for SMEs and steps to take to better prepare for the change in business during the Christmas period. The research found 37 per cent only started planning around two months out, while a third of businesses did not plan for Christmas at all.
Technology can ease business burdens
To take the pressure off during this time business owners can look to how technology can support their operations to free them up to focus on customers and business growth. While over a quarter (26 per cent) of operators found it difficult to manage costs and cashflow, a similar number (28 per cent) agreed that adopting new technology could help them manage their business finances better.
Small business owners surveyed said technology enabled them to manage their cashflow effectively (52 per cent), allowed them to focus on innovating through new products or services (13 per cent), and helped promote their business through social media (12 per cent).
“Our local retailers need to play to their strengths, and ensure they’re adequately prepared and continue to focus on being a strong and vibrant part of their community, and ensuring they provide unique experiences for their customers. This kind of innovation will ensure they continue to have strong presence both during Christmas and into the new year,” said Mr Reed.
For further comment or other information please contact:
Amy Kirkwood, Australian PR Manager, MYOB
M: 61427 822 088 / E: firstname.lastname@example.org
About MYOB MYOB Group Ltd (ASX: MYO) is a leading provider of online business management solutions. MYOB makes business life easier for approximately 1.2 million businesses across Australia and New Zealand by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB operates across four strategic segments – Small to Medium sized businesses (SMEs), Practices (accountants, advisers and bookkeepers), Enterprise (larger businesses) and Payments. It provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. MYOB is committed to ongoing innovation and delivering efficiencies and growth opportunities for its growing client base across Australia and New Zealand. For more information, visit http://investors.myob.com.au/Investors or follow @MYOB on Twitter.