Australian small business employers to prioritise wages growth


2nd May, 2023

Cost of living, small business support are key concerns, research shows

Cost of living a top concern as 8 in 10 Australians say small business support is key lever to mitigate recession, MYOB Federal Budget research shows.

Eighty-four per cent of Australians agree that supporting small business in the upcoming Federal Budget will be key to help drive economic recovery and stop a recession, according to a new survey commissioned by MYOB.

The survey of 600 Australians, released in the week ahead of Federal Budget, revealed 54% want to see more support for small businesses than big businesses.

However, only one third of those polled are confident this Budget will deliver a positive outcome for small businesses.

Cost of living pressures

With cost of living hitting Australians hard, it’s the top measure respondents would like addressed in this year’s Budget (73%), followed by consumer rent relief and affordable housing (50%), tax cuts (43%), investment in the environment (32%) and childcare rebates (27%).

MYOB Chief Employee Experience Officer, Helen Lea, said cost of living pressures hit small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) twice, and it is no surprise Australians want to see more support for them in the Budget.

“When times get tough, the country’s 2.5 million SMEs feel it in their own personal finances, as well as facing a decrease in discretionary consumer spend,” Ms Lea said.

“Australians understand the pressures on small businesses, and their place within the business landscape. SMEs make up more than 99% of Australian businesses and play a crucial role at the heart of our communities, as well as contributing $700 billion to our GDP. The research shows 80% of respondents are more conscious of shopping locally in this economic climate.”

Small business GST mistakes to avoid

However, when it comes to the cost of living, 88% of respondents have already adjusted how they spend.

The most common action is spending less on entertainment and events (54%), followed by sticking to a personal budget (51%), and spending less on meals out and food delivery (51%). Thirty-one per cent said they are saving for a possible recession.

“It’s a challenging time for consumers and small businesses alike; the former are tightening their belts, which means SMEs face growing costs, inflation and rate rises as well as a reduction in foot traffic and spend,” Ms Lea said.

“Anecdotally, local cafes are seeing their regulars come in less frequently, and high street restaurants and shops say people are spending less. This research reflects those patterns.”

Measures needed to assist SMEs

In the face of economic tightening, the top Budget measures consumers believe will assist small businesses to keep the economy growing are tax cuts (52%), support for hiring workers (46%), and subsidies to get small businesses online and using digital products (46%).

“Digitally advanced SMEs are 50% more likely to grow their revenue, they’re eight times more likely to create jobs and seven times more likely to scale,” Ms Lea said.

“MYOB modelling found that helping SMEs with low or no levels of digitisation get online could lead to a $10.5 billion gain for the economy.”

The Technology Investment Boost, and the Skills and Training Boost, designed to help SMEs digitise, were announced in the Federal Budget last year, but have not been passed as yet.

“We encourage the government to both legislate and extend the Technology Investment Boost and the Skills and Training Boost, to enable SMEs to make the most of the benefits afforded by digital tools,” Ms Lea said.

“Ensuring all small businesses – and the 7.4 million Australians they employ – have access to digital tools, and the skills to use them, is essential to building a resilient economy.

“This Budget is an opportunity for the government to reinforce its commitment to SMEs and give business owners the confidence to invest and grow.”