SME economic confidence drops while fuel price pressures rise
03 Feb 2022
As businesses move from pandemic panic into COVID normal, new MYOB data looking at how Australia’s small and medium businesses are thinking about the next 12 months reveals SMEs are not quite as confident about Australia’s economic future as they were six months ago, with 53% anticipating improvement in the next 12 months, down from 57% in June 2021.
Business management platform MYOB today released the latest bi-annual research of more than 1000 SME owners and operators, ranging from sole traders to mid-sized employing businesses. The latest research shows when it comes to the economy, the level of optimism varies by industry. The finance and insurance sector is most likely (70%) to anticipate economic improvement over the next 12 months, while construction and trades has moved down to the bottom of the list (41%), down from 56% in June. Sixty-eight per cent of the transport, postal and warehousing services believe the economy will improve, which could be due to the increase in online shopping during COVID.
Emma Fawcett, MYOB General Manager, SME, said as Australia’s 2.4 million businesses plan for the year ahead, they are not only thinking about Australia’s economic performance; traditional business worries are on the rise as they prepare for 2022.
“For the first time since COVID hit Australian shores, the pandemic is not the foremost pressure facing SMEs, with fuel prices returning to the top spot, causing 41% of respondents ‘extreme’ or ‘quite a lot’ of pressure. The pandemic is second on the list at 34%, followed by the cost of utilities at 31%, with both metrics roughly level with where they were in June 2021.
“Unsurprisingly, given the past two years we’ve had, business pressure points have been felt keenly by SMEs, particularly those with 20-199 employees (mid-sized SMEs),” Ms Fawcett said.
“In fact, more mid-sized SMEs felt ‘extreme’ or ‘quite a lot of pressure’ from the common business pressures overall, compared to the national average.”
While smaller businesses are concerned with fuel prices and utilities, the most notable differences in pressures facing mid-size enterprises are attracting new customers at 44% compared to a national average of 26%, upgrading IT software and systems at 35% compared to 16% national average, and exchange rates concerning 33% compared to a national average of 18%.
Small Business revenue remains steady:
Ms Fawcett said when it comes to the health of Australian small businesses over the last year, growth has slowed but revenue remained steady.
“Forty-one per cent of SMEs said their revenue is the same as it was a year ago, up from 30% of respondents who stated their revenue had maintained six months prior. Slightly fewer respondents saw their revenue increase (25%), compared to 30% last June. Revenue is down for 33% of SMEs in contrast to 39% six months ago, with the COVID-19 pandemic being the key driver for those who saw a decline (66%).”
“When asked about revenue predictions for the upcoming calendar year, our data shows 43% expect revenue to increase and 37% of respondents anticipate revenue to be the same in 12 months' time. Increased consumer demand accounts for 29% of those expecting an increase, and for 19%, their expected increase is due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Fawcett added.
“Following the challenges of the last 24 months, Australia’s small business operators will need to remain resilient as they plan for the year ahead. Hopefully 2022 brings a period of stability that will enable them to back their businesses, their revenue predictions and their growth plans, to ensure the success of a sector that makes up 95% of Australian businesses.”
For further comment or other information please contact:
Lauren Hunt, Senior Communications Consultant, Character + Distinction
Selina Ife, Communications Consultant, MYOB
MYOB is a leading business platform with a core purpose of helping more businesses in Australia and New Zealand start, survive and succeed. MYOB delivers end-to-end business, financial and accounting solutions direct to businesses employing between 0 and 1000 employees, alongside a network of accountants, bookkeepers and consultants. For more information visit myob.com or follow MYOB on LinkedIn.
About MYOB Business Monitor
The MYOB Business Monitor researches business performance and attitudes regarding areas such as profitability, cash flow, pipeline work, technology usage and the government. This report presents the summary findings for key indicators from the MYOB Business Monitor comprising a national sample of 1004 business owners, managers and directors (operators), conducted from November 10 – December 7, 2021. 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).