Small business survey reveals confidence and plans for growth

More than 850 small businesses across WA have been surveyed to gauge the current state of small business – and the positive news is that more than half (55 per cent) have plans to grow and improve in the future.

First conducted by the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) in 2012, the annual State of Small Business Survey is designed to monitor a series of key business indicators so services and initiatives can be developed to meet the specific needs of WA small businesses.

Small Business Commissioner David Eaton said the survey provided a valuable insight into the sector, which accounts for nearly 97 per cent of all businesses in the State.

“Confidence was highest among businesses involved in manufacturing and information, media and telecommunications, as well as newer businesses and those based in the Perth metropolitan area,” he said.

“The survey also found small businesses are becoming increasingly confident in their business acumen with 20 per cent fewer stating that they required training compared to 2012.

“A majority of respondents (77.1 per cent) felt their employees were either at the required standard or substantially above that standard.”

Other survey results included:

♦  Small businesses are becoming more customer-focused: 81.6 per cent have strategies in place to attract new and retain existing customers – an increase of 6.1 per cent from 2013.

♦  More than half (59.3 per cent) of survey respondents reported using advertising to attract and retain customers while 30.5 per cent increased their product range and 26.5 per cent offered discounts.

♦  Of those who felt they needed training, the area they considered would be of most benefit was online marketing, followed by business planning.

♦  The number of businesses not generating any sales through online channels increased by 27 per cent from 2013 to 67.5 per cent.

♦  However, businesses that are selling goods online are becoming more confident that their systems and processes can manage the logistics of online sales (60.8 per cent, an increase of 27.2 per cent from 2013).

“Even though 68.3 per cent of respondents have a corporate website and just over a third (35.3 per cent) are using social media, this is not necessarily translating in sales,” Mr Eaton said.

“These results may indicate that small businesses are not fully realising the potential e-commerce could unlock for them.

“This could be a result of trialling it unsuccessfully for a few years and deciding online sales don’t work for them, or not understanding how to do it properly.

“The SBDC has just launched two new workshops covering website basics and online marketing to help small businesses better understand these areas.”

The State of Small Business Survey was conducted by the SBDC during April 2014 and included non-employing businesses and those employing up to 49 staff. The sample included regional and metropolitan small businesses across all 20 Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classifications (ANZSIC).