Small-business owners have high expectations towards the 2021-22 Australian Federal Budget, according to new research by small business platform Xero. The survey of over 500 sole traders and small businesses with 20 or fewer employees reveals that 27 per cent are looking for more government support, and a further 24 per cent are saying small business should be a high priority in the upcoming Budget.
When asked about their pain points, many businesses said they were still affected by COVID-19 restrictions (38 per cent), declining revenue (34 per cent) and cashflow management (29 per cent).
The survey also noted the top five priorities small-business owners say the government should focus on:
- Additional instant asset tax write-offs (26 per cent).
- Free or low-cost training to upskill and reskill (24 per cent).
- Relief packages relevant to COVID-19 lockdown impacts (23 per cent).
- Support for young entrepreneurs to grow their networks and experience (22 per cent).
- Skills training assistance to help with running the business (20 per cent).
Almost one in five (19 per cent) of business owners said that they need government support to continue trading, while18 per cent need such support for them to be future-ready. In addition, 24 per cent have also said that the government must do more to prioritise digitisation with more online tools and better technology and 31 per cent say that the government could be more supportive of women looking to start a small business.
“We know the government is releasing a digital economy strategy, but they’ll need to give significant assistance to the nation’s two million small businesses who are seeking to rebuild their operations after a year of uncertainty,” Angus Capel, Small Business Advocate at Xero, said. “Business owners have their eyes on the future and will welcome the already-flagged support for skills training and deregulation.”
The research highlighted that many small-business owners are focusing on the success of the COVID vaccine rollout, with 31 per cent saying that the threat of ongoing lockdowns is the major concern for the immediate future of their business.
But while business owners are still feeling the pain of COVID-19, the research also highlighed that are more hopeful about the future, with 58 per cent expecting their business to perform better over the next financial year. 64 per cent plan to focus on growing their business in the next three months through new customer acquisitions and expansion of existing offerings. Some 39 per cent plan to focus on keeping their business viable, while 17 per cent say they plan to use more digital technology in running their operations, continuing the future-ready theme.