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Productivity needs to be a priority for the nation's SMEs, says MYOB

Less than half (47%) of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are currently measuring productivity in their business, according to the latest MYOB Business Monitor, despite preparing for a challenging economic period ahead. Fifty-four per cent believe the economy will decline, and 27% anticipate their revenue will be down in the next 12 months.

The survey of 1000 SME owners and operators, released bi-annually by business management platform MYOB, reveals more than half (57%) of the respondents have not experienced a recession in the time they have been operating, but 74% say they know what the impact of one will have on their business.

The nation’s 2.4+ million SMEs have weathered significant challenges in recent years and have shown resilience throughout. However, with further difficulties anticipated, small businesses will need to focus on productivity as they try to achieve more with less, according to Emma Fawcett, General Manager of SME at MYOB.

“We know this is a challenging environment for SMEs, with 40% already impacted by rising interest rates. The increasing cost of living has led to an increase in the cost of doing business, affecting profits for 38% and, for almost a third (30%), resulting in price increases for their customers. The survey results indicate that many small businesses are being cautious and holding steady, rather than investing in their business growth.”

The survey reveals one in four (25%) respondents have digitised more of their operations in the last 12 months and 37% of these businesses have been more productive as a result. Thirty-four per cent of those who have adopted digital tools say it helped them to work remotely and collaborate.

“Digital capabilities are closely linked to productivity, helping SMEs save time, money and improve accuracy in their business operations, as well as drive economic growth in uncertain times, but cost remains a barrier.

“While many SMEs are unlocking the power of digital tools, we know it’s not always easy to make investments. Twenty-three per cent of respondents said government support would help incentivise digital adoption.”

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said the best way to help drive the productivity of their employees is to improve skills and training programs available, followed by free tertiary education for in demand professions (28%), and government grants to help improve employees’ skills and training (26%).

“The findings suggest that while SMEs are cautious about their current position and the economic environment, additional investment to help them to improve and upskill themselves and their teams would assist with productivity. 

“The last few years have shown Australia’s small and medium businesses can carry on in unprecedented times and this data shows they are preparing for what’s to come. To protect against all the risks businesses face, SMEs need to adopt productivity tools and embrace technology. Driving this adoption will not only help SMEs thrive, it will also build a stronger economy that will positively impact Australia’s economic outlook.”


Media contact:

Sarah Green, Character + Distinction, 
Selina Ife, MYOB,  

About MYOB

MYOB is a leading business management 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 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 1029  business owners, managers and directors (operators), conducted from 28th March to 24th April, 2023. 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).