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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 felt 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 felt that they were fairly represented in the current political system in Australia. They would particularly welcome business support such as grants and export opportunities, and 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 high among Irish entrepreneurs despite global uncertainty

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

Additional information on separate page. Despite these concerns, Ireland was open for business and preparing to increase trade, with 53% of businesses planning to increase their export activity in 2017. Confidence was high, with 97% of Irish business owners saying they are either fairly or very confident in their businesses, 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 had grown in the last 12 months: 57% reported growth in turnover on the previous year.
  • According to businesses in Ireland, the top five obstacles they face were: 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 were: exchange rates (37%); tax (36%); and inflation (28%).
  • The top five political events that would have the most negative impact on businesses were 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 thought that political events will have NO impact on their businesses.
  • Of all the political and economic changes in 2016, Brexit was believed be the most challenging, with 50% of respondents saying that they believed it would have a negative impact on their business. 44% considered fluctuations 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 better 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 U.S. Election

In 2016, the changing political landscape in the U.S. created major concerns and sentiments 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 opinions and confidence in the region.

Additional information on separate page. Sage partnered with leading survey firm Qualtrics to survey 400+ small and medium businesses. The survey revealed 63% of respondents were "discouraged", with 61% saying they were "disgusted" with what was happening in Washington, D.C."

As a small and medium business champion, we wanted to take the pulse of U.S. small businesses—especially during this major election year—to better understand the issues they want addressed by Washington," said Connie Certusi, executive vice president and managing director, Sage U.S. "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 planned to ensure the small business community had the support it needed in 2017.

Read the full report

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