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Business Builders

The Sage Forum for Business Builders

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

As part of Sage Forum for Business Builders’ mission to be the voice for 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 business prospects in 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 that they are fairly represented in the current political system in Australia. They would particularly welcome business support, for example, grants and export opportunities, improvements to the tax environment and better local services such as transport and waste collection.

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

Confidence is 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 Irish small to medium businesses (45%) facing into 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 high, with 97% of Irish business owners saying they are either fairly or very confident in their business, and 68% of those surveyed stating that they plan to grow their business in the next three years.

Among the other key findings are:

  • More than half of businesses have grown in the last 12 months. 57% reported growth in turnover in the previous year.
  • According to business in Ireland, the top five obstacles they face are: competition (44%); taxation (34%); cash flow (32%); employing and retaining talent (24%); and Brexit (24%).
  • Business said that the main issues hurting them right now are: exchange rates (37%); tax (36%); and inflation (28%).
  • The top five political events that will have the most negative impact on business are considered to be: Brexit (50%); changes in the Euro (44%); Irish Government changes (26%); currency fluctuations (22%); and the results of the US elections (19%). Note, interestingly, 17% of businesses think that political events will have no impact on their business.
  • Of all the political and economic changes in 2016, Brexit is believed be the most challenging, with 50% of respondents saying that they believe it will have a negative impact on their business. 44% consider fluctuation in the Euro to be a negative impact risk.

Jacqueline de Rojas, MD, Northern Europe, Sage added: “A gear change is urgently needed on digital to maximise trading opportunities both at home and exporting overseas.” 68% of the businesses we 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, 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 the majority of entrepreneurs in Ireland (73%) are happy to be their own boss and would not change from being self-employed to being an employee in someone else’s business.”

Uncovering small business sentiment around the US. Election

In 2016, the changing political landscape in the US created major concerns and sentiment from business owners in North America. 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 a separate page, Sage partnered with leading survey firm, Qualtrics to survey more than 400 small to medium businesses. The survey revealed 63% of respondents said they are "discouraged" and 61% said they are "disgusted" with what is happening in Washington, D.C."

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

Armed with a better understanding of small business sentiment, Sage plans to ensure the small business community has the support it needs in 2017.

Read the full report