MYOB’s latest Business Monitor survey of more than 1,000 SME has highlighted continued growth and confidence going into the new financial year. The research shows strong signals that business will continue to improve over the coming year, with positive growth indicators including new jobs, wage growth and sales in the pipeline representing continued optimism and confidence.
Employing more full time staff and paying higher wages
Australian businesses are looking to employ more full-time staff and pay their staff more, according to the latest MYOB Business Monitor survey of more than 1,000 business operators around the country.
Employment growth is on the horizon for SME, with 15 per cent of businesses planning to increase the number of full-time staff in their business. This figure has increased from 11 per cent in the same Business Monitor survey of November 2017.
Just under a quarter (23%) of operators surveyed revealed they intend to increase wages and salaries paid to employees in the next 12 months. Pay increases are most likely in the manufacturing and wholesale industry (31%) and the retail and hospitality trade (29%).
Two in five operators (41%) expected their revenue to remain the same over the next 12 months, with a further 33 per cent expecting their revenue to increase in the next 12 months. For the next quarter, 40 per cent of operators indicated they had more sales/work in the pipeline for the June to August period.
SME indicated continued confidence and optimism going into the new 2018-19 financial year. 33% of Australian small and medium business operators expected the Australian economy to improve over the next 12 months, showing continued improvement since May 2017 when only 25% of Australian operators expected to see an improvement. Overall, satisfaction levels with the Federal Government are also up from 27% to 33% since May 2017.
Among the sectors, the manufacturing and wholesale industry are most likely to expect the economy to improve in the next 12 months (46%), and the construction and trades industry are least confident in predicting continued economic improvements (24%).
MYOB CEO Tim Reed said the results show the SME community is continuing to walk-the-walk.
“By putting people first and investing in human resources, SME are showing their confidence in the economy and their commitment to building better businesses. Investing in skilled workers is the means through which they will create future innovation and gain a competitive edge,” he said.
The great tech divide: regional Australia lags behind
There are still significant barriers for businesses in regional Australia. The research shows that rural businesses are amongst the most likely to be technology laggards. Up to 60 per cent of regional small business owners are operating without any online presence whatsoever, a statistic that is significantly higher than the nationwide figure (34%). Only 11 per cent of regional SME surveyed have both a business website and a social media account for their business.
By sector, the industry most likely to be based in regional Australia again lagged behind in technological adoption, with up to 64 per cent of agribusinesses operating without an online presence. Geographically remote Western Australia-based operators were also significantly more likely to be late adopters of technology (50% without an online presence).
Educational programs aimed at improving digital literacy are important for Australia’s economic prosperity.
“We absolutely encourage SME to continue to use digital tools for their business. Creating an online presence and using it to interact with and service customers is a simple, necessary step to helping your business succeed.
“Digital literacy programs that are inclusive of Australia’s geographically isolated SME operators will be important for removing barriers to business growth and success in the regions,” Mr Reed said.
“It is the responsibility of the government and leading corporate technology providers to do as much as they can to encourage upskilling and digital adoption across the small business community, no matter where you live.”