A new study released today by local services marketplace Service Seeking shows that a majority of small businesses are reluctant to adopt technology to make their business run more efficiently and owners are falling behind the pack when it comes to paying themselves superannuation.
The Business Confidence Report interpreted data from recent business confidence surveys which collated responses from over 1,000 small businesses across Australia.
The findings give insight into several key areas of business including administration, superannuation, business and economic conditions, tax and regulations, politics and government.
When it comes to administration and business management, the data reveals that 72 percent of small business owners do not use any form of administrative assistance, opting to handle all paperwork themselves. Nearly 60 percent do not use an online calendar and only 45 percent use accounting software for their business.
In seeking out new clients, the most common forms of advertising used by respondents was word of mouth referrals and online directories, following by car signage, flyers, Google Adwords, and traditional print and broadcast advertising.
Significantly, only 40 percent of small business owners are paying themselves superannuation. This trend was consistent across all age groups and shows that small business owners will be less likely to self-fund their retirements in contrast to the broader labour market that is subject to compulsory superannuation contributions.
Business confidence and economic conditions
Cash flow, local competition and slowing consumer demand were the primary concerns for owners. On a positive note, three quarters of businesses that participated in the survey reportedly maintained or increased their revenues in the previous 12 months and the majority of respondents expect their number of employees to remain constant over the next 12 months.
Respondents had relatively positive perceptions of the economy and increases in business revenue over the past 12 months. In prioritising economic issues for State and Federal Governments, the budget deficit and labour and housing markets were considered the highest by respondents while tax reform was lower.
Tax and regulations
Tax is a hot topic for small business owners which have seen changes to taxation in the last Federal Budget. A third of respondents believe that they pay an unfairly high level of tax. In analysing regulatory compliance burdens, around a quarter of respondents believe it is difficult to comply with licensing, certification and permit requirements for their professional field and a greater proportion finds it hard to understand and file their business taxes.
Politics and government
Since the change in political leadership in September 2015, nearly half of all respondents said that they felt more confident as business owners with Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister rather than Tony Abbott while 12 percent said they felt less confident and the remainder felt indifferent.
Perceptions of overall government support for small businesses came down to five key issues: tax, licensing, zoning/land use, workplace health and safety, environmental compliance and employment. Tax and zoning/land use ranked highest as issues which influence perceptions of overall support.
On a local and state level, 78 percent of respondents said that they don’t believe there is sufficient training and networking programs for small business owners.