Tech providing more support to small-business owners than policy

GoDaddy has released the results of a commissioned survey, showing that despite Australian small-business owners feeling misunderstood by policymakers, they have faith that technology and business ownership will help to safeguard them against the future of work and changing landscapes.

Having the freedom to work wherever, whenever and with whomever is an appealing notion for business owners, and technology is helping to make this more accessible to small-business owners and entrepreneurs. Two in three survey respondents (66 per cent) said that flexibility is the best thing about being a small-business owner and entrepreneur. This is overwhelmingly more important than money, with only 8 per cent of Australians saying earning potential is the best thing about being a small business owner.

When asked about the future of work, 44 per cent believe most workers will work remotely rather than in an office; 40 per cent believe most workers will have multiple jobs and multiple employers; 30 per cent believe workers will have a shorter work week; and 25 per cent believe university qualifications will become less important. Despite having a comprehensive understanding of the flexibility workers look for when seeking employment, over a third (42 per cent) find it difficult to identify and find talented workers.

Tara Commerford, Vice President and Managing Director of GoDaddy ANZ, said, “Despite the importance of small business to the economy, it is an extremely volatile sector and they have the lowest survival rate of all types of businesses in Australia. It is encouraging to see them utilising the technology at their disposal, but there is still work to be done to help make technology more accessible to help level the playing field amongst businesses. This includes accommodating the future needs of workers, so small businesses are able to attract the best talent for the roles they need to fill.”

Rather than working to remove the red tape that surrounds Australian small businesses, Australians believe policymakers are making small-business ownership more challenging now than it was in recent years. Over half (51 per cent) of small-business owners and entrepreneurs surveyed in Australia believe running a business is more challenging now than it was three to five years ago. One in five (20 per cent) said there had been no improvement. Despite the government focus on improving conditions for Australia’s 2.1 million small businesses, only 16 per cent of respondents say that running a business is now easier than it was three to five years ago. Further, one in three (35 per cent) believe that policymakers do not understand and appreciate the needs of small-business owners.

“Small businesses make up a large part of the Australian economy,” Ms Commerford said. “It’s important that they feel equipped to thrive, and a large part of this is facilitated by Australian policymakers. It’s my hope that the small business sector can continue working towards positive change to help make Australia one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business.”

Interestingly, Australian small-business owners do believe that AI, automation and robots will have an impact on the future of work. SME owners see technology as the key to their small business’ future, with three quarters (73 per cent) say they are less likely to lose their job or be negatively affected by AI and robots.

“One of the central talking points in discussions about the future of work is how to prepare workers so they are ready for the expected rise of automation, AI and robots,” Ms Commerford said. “Advances in technology may actually present more opportunities for individuals and businesses around the world to have access to meaningful work.”

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