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Accounting SMEs have positive outlooks for 2017 as many prepare to acquire new customers, grow revenue and increase profits, research from one national mid-tier has shown.
The fifth The Voice of Australian Business Survey, which surveyed 314 micro, small and medium businesses, revealed that more than half of SME respondents were somewhat or extremely confident of their prospects in 2017.
The research found acquiring new customers was the most commonly held intention for 2017 (49 per cent), followed by growing revenue (34 per cent), growing profits (32 per cent), while overall the main business focus for SMEs was to improve profits (41 per cent) and to improve cash flow (23 per cent).
Managing director of Bentleys Perth Philip Rix said the results were “reassuring”. However, he expected the unstable political and economic factors at play throughout 2016 would still have “lingering effects” on SME owners.
“Given the instability we experienced in 2016, both politically and economically, it’s understandable that SME owners still consider the economy to be their biggest barrier to growth and success,” Mr Rix said.
“However, it’s reassuring to see, despite these external uncertainties, SMEs are starting to prepare for the remainder of the financial year and that there are signs of optimism.
“If this optimism can be sustained, then this will certainly translate into greater confidence for larger businesses to begin investing again which will then benefit the greater SME sector.”
Fifty-seven per cent of medium businesses and 39 per cent of small businesses indicated that hiring new staff was something they anticipated doing over the coming months (compared to 10 per cent of micro businesses), but for small and medium businesses, staffing issues were also a concern.
“The impact of staffing issues highlights the volatility of challenges micro and small businesses can face. One employee can have a more significant impact on the success and opportunity for growth in a smaller business than in larger ones,” Mr Rix said.
“We encourage SME owners to focus on the elements of the business they can control and improve. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to take stock and review your successes and failures. It may also be a time to consider new processes or operations that can lower costs and improve revenue.”
Mr Rix said outsourcing to the Philippines, Vietnam and India would be an increasing trend for SMEs in 2017.
Key areas for SMEs to focus on in 2017 include – taking time to think strategically about your business; opening up discussions with new business alliances; ensuring timely internal reporting of monthly actuals against budget, and engaging with a business mentor or coach, such as your trusted accountant or experienced business adviser, to help “keep you on track”, Mr Rix said.