Economy, industrial relations

SMEs reveal what they would change if they were PM for a day

Martin Kovacs /

Small and medium business operators would streamline the reporting requirements for Business Activity Statements (BAS) and change the Fair Work Act if they had prime ministerial powers for a day, according to a survey from Scottish Pacific.

The September 2017 Scottish Pacific SME Growth Index, polled 1200 SME leaders across Australia and asked what their priorities would be if they were in charge of the nation.

According to the index, if SMEs were PM for a day, their top priorities would be: streamlining BAS reporting (24%), changing the Fair Work Act (22%), reducing company tax (21%) and compliance (10%), and removing payroll tax (8%).

Meanwhile, for both growth and non-growth SMEs the top three hindrances to further growth were: high or multiple taxes (75%), conditions of credit (69%) and availability of credit (64%). When only the responses from growth SMEs were taken into account, more than 60% pointed to cash flow as an issue hindering growth efforts.

Of the businesses surveyed, 48% of SMEs are predicting revenue to rise through to February next year. On average the businesses are forecasting a 4% growth.

Negative growth is expected by 23% of SMEs and 28% indicated their revenues would be stable or consolidating.

Meanwhile, the businesses surveyed say dealing with staff is their top productivity barrier

SMEs pointed to productivity as being most affected by employment regulations (29%), excessive red tape (23%) and leave provisions (11%).

Scottish Pacific chief executive Peter Langham said in a statement that since 2014, the average number of full-time employees working for the businesses included in the index has fallen from 88 to 75.

Langham points to “a disconnect between SMEs and regulatory authorities if bringing on new employees, replacing staff or dealing with staff issues is having such an impact on the productivity of the sector”.

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in announcing his innovation agenda, rightly pinpointed that startups and small business would power Australia into the next 25 years of growth,” Langham stated.

“To fulfil the PM’s vision, SME pain points around dealing with staff issues, and the red tape and reporting burden that comes with employing staff, must be addressed. Our leaders need to recognise that many business owners don’t have the resources to deal with difficult staff issues and this makes them hesitant to employ new staff.”

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Martin Kovacs

Martin Kovacs is a journalist with experience covering the IT, consumer electronics, retail, finance and energy sectors.

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