Australian small businesses lack confidence of their Asia-Pac neighbours: survey

Australian small businesses are less likely to be growing, creating jobs and innovating when compared with New Zealand and Asia.

CPA Australia’s Asia-Pacific survey of small businesses (those with 20 employees or less) reveals a salient message for Australian practitioners: they need your help.

Australian small businesses are less likely to be growing, creating jobs and innovating when compared with their counterparts in New Zealand and Asia, according to the seventh CPA Australia Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey (PDF). 

It’s not surprising, therefore, that Australian small business owners are also significantly less confident than their counterparts across the ditch and in five Asian countries with just over half expecting to grow in the next 12 months.

New Zealand reported the highest jump in confidence of all countries surveyed: 71 per cent of respondents expect growth, and in Asia on average nearly three-quarters of respondents have expectation of growth. 

These results may reflect respondents’ expectations of growth in their local economies, with a mere 38 per cent of Australian businesses predicting economic growth. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, macro-economic growth expectations are 52 per cent and in Asia 65 per cent. 

Across all eight markets increasing staff costs and competition had a detrimental effect on business performance over the previous year, along with a general lack of access to finance.

 Small businesses from Australia compared with New Zealand and the survey average from Asia. Source: CPA Australia 2016 Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey, New Zealand.

Customer loyalty, staff and satisfaction all rank high

On the good news front, businesses overall cited customer loyalty, good staff and customer satisfaction as having a positive impact on business over the previous 12 months. 

Those businesses that reported “increased customer satisfaction” along with improvements in business strategy and management also reported a major positive impact on their results. 

Businesses with younger owners – that is, under 40 – are more likely to be growing, exporting, innovating and investing in social media and training. 

Half of Australian businesses do not use social media for business, compared with 40 per cent in New Zealand and an average of 10 per cent in Asia. Only 14 per cent expect to focus on training this year, while in New Zealand nearly a quarter of respondents report a focus on training. On average 45 per cent of businesses in Asia see the need for more training.

6 lessons from growing small businesses

Source: CPA Australia 2016 Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey.

Read next: This group is driving the future of small business in the Asia-Pacific.

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