Small businesses the key battleground for Federal Election, according to MYOB Business Monitor

24 Jan 2019

Less than a third (31%) of Australian small businesses are satisfied with the level of support they’re receiving from the Federal Government, according to MYOB’s latest Business Monitor report.

MYOB CEO, Tim Reed believes winning the favour of the small business sector by putting policies forward that will make it easier to do business in Australia, not harder, will be on the minds of small business operators as we head toward a May Federal Election.

“There are more than two million small businesses in Australia* employing some 5.7 million Australians; they really are the backbone of the Australian economy,” he said.

“While the Federal Government has made some positive progress over the last three years in providing practical support to the small business sector – including a reduction in company tax, the extension of the instant asset write-off, the introduction of single touch payroll and a commitment to ensuring all small businesses are paid on time – there is some way to go before Australia becomes one of the easiest, most progressive countries in the world to do business.”

MYOB’s Business Monitor report, which surveys the opinions of 1000 Australian small businesses, also found that Australia’s small businesses expect to enjoy stronger revenue return in 2019, thanks to service diversification and increased online presence.

While more than a quarter (26%) of Australian small businesses reported revenue was up last year, this year is expected to be a rosier one, with one third (33%) of businesses surveyed expecting revenue to increase in 2019.

Drilling into the changes businesses are making this year to achieve that goal, nearly a quarter (24%) said they will diversify their product range by adding more variety, and 25% of businesses will increase sales online. For some, this will be a major step-change, with 37% of those surveyed reporting they don’t currently have any kind of online presence.

However, while businesses are excited for the year ahead, they’re less troubled about how they will get there, with just over one third (36%) reporting they’ve written a business plan for 2019.

“It’s encouraging that small businesses are feeling positive about the year ahead, but I would urge caution to those that haven’t yet committed those dreams to paper with a documented business plan,” said Mr Reed.

“Business plans are essential tools for any business, big or small, in mapping out your goals and sticking to them. They don’t have to be long and complex, often one page outlining the challenges, opportunities and planned actions can help bring clarity to a small business.  Profits can be won or lost on a plan, so taking time now to reflect and forecast will be a job that always pays off in the end.”

In its ninth year, the MYOB Business Monitor dissects key factors affecting small business. Topics include financial stability, business pressure points and online engagement.

When it comes to online engagement, small businesses have some catching up to do, with just 17% saying they have both a business website and a social media profile. Meanwhile, of those businesses which have invested in an online presence, 44% report their digital footprint generates more customer enquiries.

While the outlook for the year ahead is more positive than the year that’s been, respondents did admit to having some worries going into 2019. The top issues most likely to cause Australian small businesses a lot to extreme concern this year are fuel prices (46%), utility costs (38%) and jointly price margins, attracting new customers and competitive activity (each 29%).

Deep Dive Snapshot

·       Retailing rewards: the retail and hospitality industries posted the most positive year of any industry, with 32% of respondents saying revenue was up in 2018. These industries were also most likely to report revenue will be up in 2019 (38%)

·       Constructive criticism: the construction industry was most dissatisfied with how Government has helped small businesses this year (34%)

·       A late harvest: just one fifth (20%) of primary producers said revenue had gone up in the last 12 months. However, 32% forecast revenue will be up in 2019, promising a better year ahead

·       City success: mirroring this, city and metro dwellers were more likely than rural residents to report a revenue increase this year (28% versus 19% respectively)

·       State standouts: in both looking back and looking ahead, Victoria had the most positive outlook on revenue, with 30% of Victorians saying they’d increased revenue in 2018 and 36% saying revenue will be up in 2019. Meanwhile South Australia was the most pessimistic, with 35% of South Australians saying revenue decreased in 2018 and 34% saying revenue will continue to plummet in 2019

·       Millennial marvels: Millennial owners are looking forward to increased profits in 2019, with 45% reporting a forecast for revenue up next year. This outlook declines by generation: 32% of Gen X and 23% of Baby Boomers are looking forward to a positive year ahead

“This year will be an interesting one for small business owners,” concluded Tim Reed. “While an election will change the goal posts, the key for Australian small businesses will be to keep informed, make a plan, and think ahead to create a foundation for success.”

Some state-specific findings


Revenue up in 2018

Forecast revenue up in 2019

Written a business plan for 2019

New South Wales








South Australia








Western Australia





An interview with Tim Reed and more information about the state findings are available on request.


For further comment or other information please contact:

Collette Betts, Australia PR and Corporate Affairs Manager, MYOB

M: +61 406 947 551/ E:

About the MYOB Business Monitor

Now in its ninth year, the MYOB Business Monitor is a national survey of 1,000+ Australian small and medium business owners and managers, from sole traders to mid-sized companies, representing the major industry sectors. The Business Monitor researches business performance and attitudes in areas such as profitability, cash flow, pipeline, technology usage and the government. It has run since 2009, commissioned to independent market research firm Colmar Brunton. This most recent survey ran in November 2018. The businesses participating in the online survey were both non-employing and employing businesses. All data has been weighted by industry type, location and number of employees, which are in line with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS - Counts of Australian businesses, including entries & exits - 8165.0).


About MYOB

MYOB 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 three core segments – Clients and Partners (business solutions to SMEs and Advisers); Enterprise Solutions (larger businesses) and Payment Solutions. We also provide ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. We are committed to ongoing innovation, particularly through our Connected Practice Strategy and through the development of the MYOB Platform. For more information visit or follow @MYOB on Twitter.

* Source: ABS