The Small Business Specialists
Phone: 13 12 49
Have Your Say allows the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) to consult small business owners and managers via regular online questionnaires, on topical issues of importance.
While this is not a formal survey process, the results from these polls act as an effective litmus test of the sentiment of the small business sector and enables the SBDC to "keep a finger on the pulse" regarding current and emerging issues.
At the end of each calendar year, the Small Business Development Corporation surveys a range of small businesses to ascertain their opinions on a range of issues and in particular, how they expected their business to be impacted over the coming 12 months. The SBDC has been conducting this survey annually since 2004.
This latest survey was completed by 61 individuals, with a summary of these responses outlined below. Comparisons have been made with previous years.
48% of survey respondents recorded positive expectations for the economy and its impact on their businesses over the next 12 months. This level of positivity is a 10% increase from 2013 and has not been recorded since 2011.
The majority of survey respondents (75%) indicated that they expected the sales or revenue of their business to increase over the next 12 months. This is the highest recorded level in four years.
When compared to last year, there was a marked increase in the number of respondents expecting the cost of materials and supplies to remain the same or actually decrease in 2014. However, there was still a substantial proportion (62%) of respondents who expected their costs to increase.
There were an equal proportion of respondents that indicated their selling prices would either increase or stay the same for the next 12 months (44%). As can be expected given increases in the cost of utilities and rent etc, only 11% expected their selling prices to decrease.
There was a 15% increase in the number of respondents who indicated they expected their business profitability to increase over the next 12 months. This is the most positive response recorded since 2011 and is an encouraging indicator of the confidence of small businesses at this current point in time.
As has been the trend every year, respondents once again expect that the costs associated with employment will increase in 2014. When compared to last year, there was actually a 10% decrease in the proportion of respondents who indicated they expected an increased cost for employment.
Compared to the previous three years, 2014 survey respondents were considerably more optimistic about the recruitment of staff over the next 12 months (13% compared to 2% in 2013). Regardless, there was still a third of respondents who indicated they expected recruitment to be more challenging in the coming year.
2014 survey respondents recorded the highest level of confidence (18%) in four years in regard to retaining staff over the next 12 months. Even though this is the case, there was a larger proportion of respondents that indicated retaining staff would be more challenging (21%) or no change at all (31%).
When respondents were asked what changes they anticipated making to their business, the most frequently cited responses were exploring new markets (43%), updating existing equipment or technology (31%) and employing more staff (28%).
Over the next 12 months, respondents anticipate that the challenges their business will be faced with include attracting new customers (46%), increasing operating costs (41%) and wage costs (34%).
Respondents were given the opportunity of commenting more generally about their business expectations for the year ahead, with some of the comments outlined below.
“[The] retail market continues to struggle. Low consumer confidence, high rents, high wages. Probably some time yet before a return to pre GFC sales. Positives: easier to source and retain viable staff. Hopefully a return to a weaker Australian dollar will attract more international tourists. Negatives: Unsympathetic rent hikes continue although the city's tenant occupancy rates are v[ery] low. High wages, rents and services translate into expensive products”.
“The GST and import duties are a problem for bricks and mortar stores. WE pay GST and duties on 80% of our products as we are the direct importers and retailers - we also sell online - Currently if someone buys online from overseas web sites we know that they don't pay GST under $1k. What about the duties - no one seems to mention this? We in effect pay an additional 20% on our cost price (GST and duties) whereas some overseas competitors may have that 20% saving on that same cost price. The revenue from overseas web sites also goes out of the country! This is a unfair playing field”.
“I am not that confident that conditions are going to improve, if we can manage to stay the same as this year I will be happy. The light at the end of the tunnel is a candle flickering in the distance. I enter 2014 with very little confidence and almost zero optimism”.
“I expect my business to grow, but the cost of doing so will also rise, I will work longer and harder to make same income”.
If you would like to know more about Have Your Say, please contact:
Policy and Advocacy
Small Business Development Corporation
Telephone 13 12 49