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Business builders

The Sage Forum for Business Builders

Sage research shows that the majority of small business owners in Australia are confident about their business prospects

As part of the Sage Forum for Business Builders mission to be the voice of small business owners and entrepreneurs, Sage Australia recently conducted a survey to get a sense of how small business owners are feeling.

The research revealed that 66% of small business owners feel more confident about their prospects over the next six months, with 35% planning to launch a new product and 32% planning to hire more staff.

However, only 54% of small business owners feel they are being fairly represented in Australia's current political climate. They would particularly welcome business support (e.g., grants and export opportunities), as well as improvements to the tax environment and better local services (e.g., transport and waste collection).

Other key findings from the survey can be consulted in our infographic.

Confidence is running high among Irish entrepreneurs despite global uncertainty

Research conducted by Sage in December 2016 revealed that political uncertainty, both globally and locally, is the most pressing cause of concern for almost half of small and medium-sized Irish businesses (45%) in looking toward the new year.

Additional information on separate page - Despite these concerns, Ireland is open for business and preparing to increase trade, with 53% of businesses planning to increase their export activity during 2017. Confidence is running high, with 97% of Irish business owners surveyed saying they are either fairly or very confident in their business, with 68% stating plans to grow their business in the next three years.

Among other key findings, let's mention the following:

  • More than half of businesses have grown within the last 12 months: 57% reported a growth in sales over the previous year.
  • According to businesses in Ireland, the top five obstacles faced are: competition (44%), taxation (34%), cash flow (32%), employing and retaining talent (24%), and Brexit (24%).
  • Businesses claimed that the main issues hurting them at present are: exchange rates (37%), taxation (36%), and inflation (28%).
  • The five political events that will have the most negative impact on business are considered to be: Brexit (50%), Euro exchange rate volatility (44%), an Irish government shakeup (26%), currency fluctuations (22%), and US election results (19%). It is interesting to note that 17% of businesses believe that political events will have NO impact on their business.
  • Of all the political and economic changes taking place in 2016, Brexit is considered the most challenging, with 50% of respondents believing it will have a negative impact on their business. 44% consider fluctuations in the Euro to have a negative impact.

Jacqueline de Rojas, MD, Northern Europe, Sage added: “A gear change is urgently needed in the digital sector to maximize trading opportunities both at home and when exporting overseas. 68% of the businesses surveyed are currently not equipped to sell online. Embracing technology and the cloud will help these businesses negotiate the changing landscape, whatever changes a post-Brexit world brings.”

Eamonn O’Brien, founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club and Sage Business Expert added: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the Irish economy, so it’s really heartening to see that most entrepreneurs in Ireland (73%) are happy to be their own boss and would not change their self-employed status to become an employee in someone else’s business.”

Uncovering small business sentiment around the U.S. Elections

In 2016, the changing political landscape in the US created major concerns and unease among North American business owners. To identify and champion small business concerns in a new year with a new president, Sage first sought to better understand small business opinion and confidence in the region.

Additional information on separate page - Sage partnered with the leading survey firm Qualtrics to survey 400+ small and medium-sized businesses. According to their survey, 63 percent of respondents reported being "discouraged" and 61 percent indicated their "disgust" with what is happening in Washington, D.C.

As a small and medium-sized business champion, we wanted to take the pulse of US small businesses, especially during this major election year, to better understand the issues they would like Washington to address," noted Connie Certusi, executive vice president and managing director of Sage US. "Small businesses deserve a bigger voice, so Sage wants to make sure their opinions are being heard. And this survey makes it clear that small business owners, regardless of political affiliation, are dissatisfied with government leadership."

Armed with a better understanding of small business sentiment, Sage is intent on ensuring that the small business community has the support it needs in 2017.

Read the full report