Majority of SMEs unaware of their privacy obligations

A report reveals that 68% of businesses do not know about the Australian Privacy Principles, prompting the need for SME owners to remain proactive and stay informed about legislative or industry changes.

Australian law firm LegalVision’s inaugural SME and Online Business Insights Report 2016 provides fresh insight into the Australian business community with a strong focus on the privacy segment.

The survey, which collected responses from 200 businesses and analysed data from LegalVision’s custom-built CRM, highlighted a number of trends across the SME sector, and also identified common legal obligations that business owners may be failing to address.

Some of the keys insights revealed by the survey include:

  • The top three biggest challenges Australian Businesses face are: growing revenue/increasing profit (46%); cash flow (40%); adding/launching new products (37%);
  • Business structuring is the most common legal challenge facing SMEs (39%);
  • A staggering 68% of respondents were not aware of their obligations under the Australian Privacy Principles, which took effect on March 2014;
  • 40% of respondents plan to register a trade mark in the next 12 months;
  • 65% of survey respondents with a registered trade mark have never monitored, or very infrequently monitor, their trade marks for infringement, despite it being the responsibility of the trade mark owner to monitor for infringement;
  • 20% of respondents identified financing their business as a key challenge;
  • The biggest reason for respondents not to engage a lawyer when faced with a legal issue is unexpected high costs (50%);
  • The ease of starting an online business has resulted in greater small business growth, with LegalVision seeing a 120% increase in online business enquiries in 2015;
  • While businesses with a physical shopfront typically have an online presence, the opposite trend has also started to emerge, with 17% of online business respondents intending to set up an offline presence (i.e. physical shop-front or pop-up store) in the next 12 months.

Mr Lachlan McKnight, CEO of LegalVision, said the report highlighted the rapid growth in new Australian businesses, particularly online.

“Business owners now have greater access to information to help launch companies. Australian SMEs are taking charge by creating new products and improved services themselves, rather than waiting for someone else to do it,” he said.

McKnight added, “It’s important for businesses to understand that compliance with legal obligations should be an ongoing focus. Our report revealed that 68% of businesses did not know about the Australian Privacy Principles. To avoid landing in hot water, SMEs should be proactive and stay informed about legislative or industry changes.”

The SME and Online Business Insights Report 2016 can be downloaded from:

Inside Small Business

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