Australian small businesses lagging behind global markets

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According to a new survey, released by global accounting body CPA Australia, small businesses in Australia are crawling behind other markets on the key drivers of growth.

The survey demonstrated that growing small businesses are likely to be focussing on innovation, e-commerce, social media, training and exporting. Yet, Australia came last out of the eight markets surveyed on these factors.

On the measure of innovation, only 5% of Australian small businesses reported planning to introduce a new product or service in the next 12 months. Every other market outranked Australia: Indonesia (48%), Vietnam (31%), China (29%), and New Zealand (11%).

CPA Australia chief executive, Alex Malley said even though there are innovative businesses in Australia, the gap between Australia and other markets is worrying.

He added, “As a nation we are investing significantly in driving a more innovative culture. We would hope to see this being reflected in Australia’s small businesses, but that does not seem to be happening yet.”

“Many Australian small business owners may be happy with things as they stand and they are not looking to actively grow their business, but in the longer term a lack of focus on the drivers for growth may undermine the value of their business.”

The survey showed only 37% of Australian small businesses reported earning revenue from online sales, below the average of 69%. And only 46% of Australian small businesses actually use social media for business purposes. Whereas in China 96% of small businesses reported using social media for business purposes. This is a concerning comparison.

Australia ranked last on the list of markets surveyed growing in the last 12 months:
* Indonesia (91%)
* China (74%)
* Hong Kong (62%)
* New Zealand (58%)
* Australia (44%)

Malley said, “The differences in results reflect the differing challenges for mature versus developing economies, and the uncertain global environment.”

“We would not expect to see the very strong growth reported in developing economies in Asia to be replicated in an advanced economy like Australia. However, Australia is lagging behind the other developed economies in the survey including New Zealand.”

“Small business is a critical driver of the Australian economy and these results would suggest there are opportunities that are not being exploited. These results are a wake-up call to Government to ensure the policy settings in place actually support our small businesses to innovate, embrace the digital economy and grow.”

Australian small business owners tend to be older than small business owners in Asia. With only 12% in Australia are 39 or younger in comparison to the survey average of 51%.

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