Digital marketing skills and financial literacy top SME wishlist

A new study of small business owners in Australia reveals they need digital marketing skills and improved financial literacy to manage and grow their business in FY2020.

The YouGov Galaxy research, commissioned by online small business lender Prospa, showed that 75 per cent of small business owners are personally struggling with one or more areas of business management. 1 in three (35 per cent) small business owners are struggling with digital marketing and 30 per cent are struggling with finance, including tax, accounting and budgeting. 1 in 5 (22 per cent) also singled out debt collection and managing overdue invoices as areas they need help with.

When asked which investments would have the biggest impact on their ability to manage and grow their business, a marketing campaign to engage customers was the most popular item on the list (26 per cent), ahead of options such as hiring more staff (13 per cent) and better equipment (14 per cent). 

The report also highlighted the flow on effects of wearing so many hats at once, with 90 per cent of small business owners admitting they work long hours in order to manage the different aspects of their business. As a result of struggling with one or more aspects of their business, 1 in four small business owners (25 per cent) experienced cash flow issues that brought them close to going out of business. Small-business owners also lost opportunities to grow their business (34 per cent), were forced to spend money on expert help (29 per cent) and lost revenue or customers (27 per cent).

Co-founder and joint CEO of Prospa Beau Bertoli said, “Being a small-business owner is a tough but rewarding gig. They start out with a vision to be their own boss or follow their passion but need a wide range of skills to keep the business moving. Whether they’re a plumber or a retailer, small business owners need to understand social media, people management, regulations, accountancy, cash flow and debt collecting to be competitive. Having run a small business myself, I know how overwhelming this can be. While small business owners are time-poor, there are ways to build skills and confidence in these areas.”

Ben Yusop, small-business owner and Creative Director at Ben Yusop Design Studio, commented, “As a small-business owner, I have to do everything myself. It’s crazy how much time it takes working on parts of the business that are outside my passion – design – but I do want to learn the skills. As a growing business, being visible and discoverable online is non-negotiable. I had to learn a lot from my own research about nailing SEO and creating a user-friendly website. I’ve tested out marketing strategies with Instagram, which is great because it’s so visual, but I’m keen to explore how platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Houzz can also help grow my business.”

Chair of the Small Business Digital Taskforce and founder and Chairman of Yellow Brick Road, Mark Bouris added also, “Adopting digital technologies doesn’t just improve productivity for small business owners, it can enhance customer engagement and open up new opportunities to increase revenue. Customers today expect to be able to interact with businesses of any size online, yet only half have a web presence and less than 40 per cent use social media.[1] In an increasingly digital Australian economy, it’s vital we equip small businesses with the right skills to grow.”

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