How small businesses can keep positive and keep growing

Keep growing your business by taking care of your team and your clients.

Small-business owners could be forgiven for losing morale in recent month, with numerous surveys published shedding a dark shadow over the small business world. Data from Westpac’s Melbourne Institute has shown there are reasons to be positive if you run a small business.

According to the Westpac Melbourne Institute SME Index, recruitment and investment are on the rise across SMEs in Australia. Over the last 12 months, 6.1 per cent of SMEs in Australia have hired more staff, while 14.4 per cent have increased investment.

The metrics bring an optimistic outlook to the nation’s small businesses – especially those assessing their capacity to scale over Q4 and beyond, and looking to the economy for direction. Indeed, the significance of the trend was highlighted by Westpac’s senior economist Matthew Hassan.

“Perhaps the most promising aspect of the survey is the solid rise in employment reported over the last year,” he said. “It suggests the positive forward view is not just a hope but something small businesses are actively planning for.”

Growing me, growing you

When looking at the future health of the small business community, it’s always worth considering the focus of its successful advisory firms. It stands to reason: they only grow when their clients grow.

Steph Hinds is the founder of Growthwise – an accountancy firm that helps small businesses scale smartly – and she is seeing no signs of things slowing down.

“Enquiries for help have gone through the roof over the last few weeks,” she said. “Eight enquires and conversion of six new clients in a week is nearly a record for us. It’s great to see such enthusiasm in the business industry, both from people really wanting to grow and start up.”

The dual focus on people and technology

By putting a spotlight on technology solutions, businesses are enjoying increased efficiencies, a deeper understanding of data, targeted new clients and, importantly, the time to foster deeper relationships across teams and clients. This modern approach is helping small businesses to look more effectively into the future.

“We listen closely, and spend time educating our clients and community to ensure they have an awesome head start in comparison to other businesses,” Hinds said. And it’s working. “Our business has been growing consistently over the last seven years in terms of number of clients, average revenue per client and the number of services we offer.”

Campbell King, Partner at Melbourne-based accountancy firm mi-fi, encourages small businesses to embrace new systems as they look to grow.

“We expect to increase our own headcount by 50 per cent in the next six months, and we see our growth as a result of doing great work for clients,” he said. “We are reaping the rewards of our focus – on building a great team and investing in technology systems like Xero and its wider ecosystem of applications that can boost our firm and clients alike.

“Great people, both from a team perspective and the clients we work with, are no doubt what keeps the momentum going. For us, it’s all about keeping a smart dedicated team, and finding clients with vision.”

Trent Innes, Managing Director, Xero Australia

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