6 key drivers of small business growth in the Asia-Pacific

Innovating businesses are more likely to be growing businesses

Research shows that if a small business has a focus on technology and innovation, it is more likely to be growing.

Survey data recently released by CPA Australia shows that small businesses across the Asia-Pacific that focus on innovation, e-commerce and exporting are significantly more likely to be growing and creating jobs than small businesses that are not.

The findings, from CPA Australia’s annual Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey, follow extensive surveying of nearly 3000 small business operators in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.

Small businesses across the Asia-Pacific have had a strong 12 months, with 68 per cent of respondents reporting that they grew over this period, up from 55 per cent in 2014.
Looking to 2016, the results are even more positive, with 71 per cent of small businesses across the region expecting to grow in the year ahead.

The survey found a strong correlation between the age of business owners and their adoption or investment in digital technology or innovation – the younger the owner, the more likely they were to innovate and take their business online.
“71 per cent of small businesses across the region are expecting to grow in the year ahead.”

Key survey findings include:

  • Innovating businesses are more likely to be growing: 29 per cent of respondents forecast they will grow in 2016 and definitely expect to innovate through the introduction of a new product, service or process – compared with 7 per cent of those who don’t believe they will grow.
  • Businesses investing in e-commerce are more likely to be growing: 41 per cent of respondents forecast they will grow in 2016 and expect to grow their e-commerce presence to a large extent – compared with 12 per cent of those that do not believe they will grow. 
  • Businesses expecting revenue from exports to grow are more likely to be growing: 25 per cent of respondents predict they’ll grow in 2016 and expect revenue from overseas markets to grow strongly – compared with 4 per cent of those that don’t believe they’ll grow.
  • Businesses selling online are more likely to be growing: 79 per cent of respondents that grew in 2015 earned revenue from online sales – compared with 46 per cent of those that did not grow.
  • Businesses using social media are more likely to be growing: 90 per cent of respondents that grew in 2015 used social media in their business – compared with 63 per cent of those that did not grow. 
  • Businesses focusing on improving business management are more likely to be growing: 32 per cent of businesses that grew in 2015 found that improved business management had a major positive impact on their business – compared with 12 per cent of those that did not grow.
  • Growing businesses are significantly more likely to be creating jobs: 55 per cent of respondents forecast they will grow in 2016 and expect to increase employee numbers – compared with 9 per cent of those that do not believe they will grow.
The results present a clear direction for small business – to grow, you need to innovate, increase e-commerce presence, use social media and export.

While it is understood that competition is ultimately good for business and the economy, businesses often worry it will have a negative impact. However, data from the survey clearly shows that competition encourages investment in innovation and e-commerce – both important drivers of future growth and critical to countering competition. 

The message is: Do not fear competition, counter it by investing in the future drivers of growth – innovation, digital technologies and exporting – so you’re better placed to respond to, and beat, the competition.

The CPA Australia Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey provides annual insights into the views of small businesses across the region and forms part of a longitudinal study that began in 2009. 

Read next: Asian small businesses lead the way on innovation


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