Just over half of Australian businesses (51%) experienced no revenue growth in the 2012-13 financial year and 62% are dissatisfied with the level of support from the federal government, a new survey finds.
The Australian Business Growth Monitor survey, conducted by serviced and virtual offices provider Servcorp, looked into 441 Australian businesses, of which 90% were SMEs. It found that just 25% increased staff count over the period, while 79% reported experiencing significant barriers to growth.
Of those surveyed, 42% of respondents had suffered difficult economic conditions, with 33% reporting a reduction in consumer spending.
Around a quarter (26%) responded that they had experienced increased competition in their local market, with 46% missing out on a major deal due to their price being undercut by a competitor.
Dissatisfaction with the current federal government was solid, with 45% responding that they thought their business would be better off under a Coalition government.
Servcorp chief operating officer Marcus Moufarrige told SmartCompany this morning that the results were in line with what he had seen from talking to clients.
“We have seen a sentiment of lack of confidence in the Australian economy, particularly in the lead up to Christmas 2012,” he says.
“There were a few reasons for that, particularly with uncertainty about taxes and wages.”
Moufarrige says the lack of confidence in consumer spending was a key issue for businesses. Also worrying was the fear of competition coming in from foreign markets, due to the attraction of Australia for international companies when the dollar was high.
With the election result looking tighter than previously forecast, Moufarriage says businesses want government stability. He says the turnaround of business ministers, of which there have been six in the past three years, suggests small business is not being taken seriously enough by government.
However, the outlook of the SMEs surveyed was not all grim, with 60% reporting they expected to achieve revenue growth in the 2013-14 year. One third of the companies that had revenue loss in the 2012-13 financial year forecast a turnaround in the next 12 months.
Staff levels are not predicted to rise, with the survey suggesting that 63% expect no increase of staff in the year ahead. Increased investments in technology such as websites, social media, cloud services and mobile technology were priorities.