A third of Australian business owners plan to increase activity in new markets in 2012, according to the latest MYOB report, although only 22% intend to increase their number of sales promotions.
The MYOB Business Monitor is based on a survey of 1,003 Australian business owners, from sole traders to mid-sized companies, representing major industry sectors.
When asked to identify the top 10 business elements they plan to increase activity for over the coming year, 33% of respondents identified business activity in new markets.
This was beaten only by an increased focus on customer retention strategies (39%), and an increased focus on customer acquisition strategies (34%).
MYOB chief executive Tim Reed says businesses appear to be increasing their level of activity across a broad range of sectors, although many are steering clear of retail.
According to Reed, it makes sense for SMEs to expand into new markets and compete on a global scale, exposing their businesses to larger, more diverse audiences.
“This is something the internet and cloud computing easily facilitate,” he says.
The report reveals only 22% of respondents plan to increase their number of sales promotions conducted over the year, with even less planning to increase the amount they spend on marketing and advertising their business online.
“The key is getting online, being found, communicating well to your online audience and – in doing so – getting solid access to the digital economy,” Reed says.
“Businesses that have a website are significantly outperforming those that do not. You’re far more likely to be in a business that’s growing its revenue if you have a website.”
According to the report, 49% of the business owners surveyed are aiming for client/revenue growth in 2012, an increase of 3% on the prior year.
Meanwhile, 32% hope to simply maintain their current levels, while 13% are focused on minimising losses in these areas. The remainder are unsure of their intentions.
Interestingly, female business owners are more intent on growing client numbers and business revenues this year. 54% of female respondents had this objective, compared with 45% of their male counterparts.
“Customers will understandably remain the core focus for Australian SMEs in maintaining and strengthening their business health in 2012,” Reed says.
“More than one third of businesses are set to increase activity around attracting customers’ attention and building their loyalty.”
“What I found especially interesting was the insight we received into the importance SMEs place on driving growth through diversification.”
“It makes sense for today’s business owners, many of whom face increasingly financially conservative consumers, to foster a ‘stickier’ customer by providing more products or services to whet their appetite.”
“For many, it will be the key to their survival in a two-speed economy.”