Small Business

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Australian economy a major concern for small business: survey

The Australian economy is still worrying Australian small business owners and operators according to a survey of MySmallBusiness readers published today.

Of the 1791 readers surveyed in November last year 33 per cent say they are "very concerned" about how the Australian economy will impact on their businesses performance. 

The readers surveyed are all involved in owning or operating a small to medium business which employs less than 200 staff and has an annual turnover under $2 million. 

Aaron Smith, founder and chief executive of fitness business KX Group, says while the share market has dropped significantly in the last few weeks, he doubts it is affecting small business on a local level.

"Scare tactics from the media really dictate what small business see happening," he says. 

"In a small business you always worry because you get up every day to open your business and then you worry about what will happen the next day in the economy."  


The next major areas of concern cited by readers were cash flow problems and lack of finances which are very concerning for 27 per cent of those surveyed, followed by the cost of insurance and superannuation/retirement plans. 

The MySmallBusiness survey results reflect the latest Sensis business sentiment survey which shows perceptions of the economy remains negative even though sentiment of small and mid-sized businesses hit a five year high in December, led by the mainland states of Victoria and NSW.

Optimism surrounding the change in leadership has helped drive sentiment with 67 per cent of small business owners and operators saying they prefer Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister of Australia.

Bill Shorten was nominated as preferred prime minister by only 13 per cent of respondents and former prime minister Tony Abbott rated below Shorten. 

Smith says Turnbull's focus on innovation and entrepreneurs is welcome.

In a small business you always worry because you get up every day to open your business and then you worry about what will happen the next day in the economy.

Aaron Smith, KX Group.

"By having an entrepreneur as our leader it is only going to be a positive thing for small business and he understands more than anyone that small business runs Australia."   

However MySmallBusiness readers are divided over Turnbull's cabinet reshuffle which resulted in Bruce Billson's removal as small business minister and replacement with Kelly O'Dwyer.

O'Dwyer is the preferred Small Business Minister for 38 per cent of readers while 31 per cent would prefer Billson to have remained in the job and 31 per cent would prefer another candidate such as Peter Whish-Wilson or the Labor party's Michelle Rowland.  

Despite industrial relations shaping up to be a key battleground for the Turnbull government, only 8 per cent of those surveyed identified industrial relations as an area they are very concerned about and only 11 per cent nominated wages and awards as a concern. 

Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says confidence is up amongst small business.

"But people are still unsure and for good reason really," he says. "The Turnbull government has gone away from the negative language used by the Abbott government but more work is needed." 

Strong says Sunday penalty rates is still an area that small business wants reformed but the survey results show industrial relations has improved over recent years.  

"Maybe that's a feather in the cap to the Fair Work Ombudsman, the change from them in the last few years has been big," he says. "They work with small business to have things happen rather than seeing it as a war. I've got to give credit where credit is due there."   

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