Australian SMEs struggling?

small_business_w250A newly-released Asia Pacific survey by business, finance and accounting body CPA Australia claims Australian small businesses lag their South East Asian counterparts in commercial procedures and optimism for the future.

The CPA Australia Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey 2009 compared 1000 small business operators with employees of less than 20 in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. It showed a higher proportion of Australian business operators (24%) were unaware of the level of interest paid on business loans, compared with Singaporean owners (7%), Hong Kong owners (3%) and Malaysian owners (6%).

It also indicated Australian owners were the least likely to undertake basic management activity (such as stock and debtor control) and the least likely to seek additional investment funds. One third of Australian businesses (32%) surveyed said they’d encountered difficulty in obtaining additional funding over the next year.

small_business_2_w250Malaysian owners (44%) were the most bullish about growth prospects and staff expansion, followed by Hong Kong (20%), Singapore (17%); and Australia (4%).

Coverage of the survey in Fairfax media quoted CPA Australia president Professor Richard Petty as saying businesses that were more thorough in their management processes tended to be more optimistic about their growth prospects.

“As a result, the Australian sector will not be a source of employment growth or a source of unemployment in the near future,” he said.

Jaye Radisich, CEO of Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA), said the Australian small business sector had been maintaining employment levels despite the change in employment laws, and continued to strongly contribute to the economy against the odds.

Radisich added she’d like to see more training programs from government, and initiatives for small business.

“There’s a long way to go for many small businesses. There’s a big role for industry bodies, the government and the media too.”

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