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Small businesses are still being ignored as big business flocks to Davos

18 January 2017

Sage launches Forum for Business Builders to give entrepreneurs a voice  

18 January 2017, SYDNEY: Local research by Sage highlights that nearly half of Australian small businesses do not feel adequately represented by politicians in the country’s decision making. The data has been published in the run up to the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) where politicians and big business will gather in Davos to debate the global economic picture.

Sage’s CEO Stephen Kelly has boycotted this year’s Davos, lamenting the absence of small business issues on the agenda, and has called for greater representation, given that in most economies, entrepreneurs, or business builders, create 2/3 of all jobs.

The research was part of a global study which measured sentiment of small businesses in 2016 and their outlook for 2017. While overall Australian Small & Medium Businesses were slightly more optimistic than their global counterparts, the research still highlighted a lack of understanding of the issues and challenges faced by local Business Builders. 

While the policy makers and big businesses execs in Davos may have been ignoring them Australian small businesses were highly attuned to global political events.  

  • Only 29% felt more confident about the stability of the Australian economy and 50% of businesses had changed their business plans as a result of recent global political events such as Brexit and the US elections.
Other key findings included: 
  • 66% of small business owners were confident about their prospects in the next six months although somewhat contradictorily just 12% expected turnover to grow.
  • A touch over half feel that they will export more product to fuel their growth; in part due to a weakened Australian dollar.
  • 35% plan to launch new products and 32% plan to hire more employees
But it wasn’t all positive with businesses lamenting the amount of red-tape and administration, much of which is produced by Australia’s three tiered system of Government.
  • The top three issues that will create the biggest challenge for Australian businesses in 2017 were lack of business infrastructure (19%), too much Government bureaucracy (12%) and taxation rates (11%).
  • Nearly three quarters of small businesses feel that they dedicate too much time to administration and would rather focus on tasks that will spur growth.
  • Just 54% felt they were adequately represented by politicians.
Clearly the role of government in helping navigate uncertain economic and political times will be key.  
  • More than half (53%) singled out export opportunities and grants as being the most important thing that the government can do now followed by improvements to infrastructure (49%). and the tax environment (41%). 

In order to give business builders a platform to connect with policy makers, Sage is launching its ‘Forum for Business Builders’. The Forum brings entrepreneurs from around the world insights, events and policy-forming partnerships to give them a powerful collective voice that can be heard on the world stage. 

It builds on Sage’s ongoing commitment to bring governments together with business builders. In December, Sage hosted a successful event in Dublin with an Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Irish entrepreneurs, and in October visited Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Australia to discuss small business challenges. It also hosted two events in the UK gathering Ministers and trade associations to discuss the implications of the EU Referendum on entrepreneurs. 

Sage CEO Stephen Kelly, said: “Only too often when the world’s policy makers discuss the global economic picture, small businesses are excluded from the discussion. This is most evident with the annual World Economic Forum in Davos where small businesses aren’t an item on the agenda. Worse still, 60% don’t even know the event is taking place. It’s crazy when you consider that small businesses create two thirds of all the jobs in most economies, and represent over 98% of all businesses.”

Country Vice President, Sage Australia, Alan Osrin added: “Last year I was fortunate enough to meet with Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull.  I was encouraged by his desire to support small business and reduce red tape, but there is still much to be done. Governments at all levels cannot ignore the contribution of small businesses and entrepreneurship, with technology being their great enabler. If Australia is to succeed in a global market the voice of small business must be heard.” 

The Forum is open to all small businesses and will be refreshed regularly with diverse content and insights from guest contributors and advisors.

The Forum can be accessed here:

About Sage

Sage is the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems, supporting the ambition of entrepreneurs and business builders. Today, business builders measure success in strong relationships, partnerships, and communities. It‘s why Sage helps drive today’s business builders with the most intelligent and flexible cloud-enabled software, support and advice to manage everything from money to people. Daily, more than 13,000 Sage colleagues in 23 countries work with a thriving global community of over 3 million entrepreneurs, business owners, tradespeople, accountants, partners and developers to champion the success of business builders everywhere. And as a FTSE 100 business, we are passionate about doing business the right way, supporting our local communities through the Sage Foundation. 

Sage – the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems, powered by the cloud and supporting the ambition of the world’s entrepreneurs and business builders. Because when business builders do well, we all do. 

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