The majority are lagging in digital adoption and hope for increased government support post-election, a survey finds.
Small business ill-prepared for tech hurdles
Australiaʼs small-business owners are facing technology challenges, supply chain pressure and staff shortages in the lead-up to the federal election, the latest Xero survey found.
It revealed technology adoption was lagging for small-business owners, with the vast majority of respondents (79 per cent) having concerns about, or not considering technology important, to the success of their small business.
Alongside this, 40 per cent of small-business owners surveyed felt unprepared to move to technologies such as e-invoicing.
Xero said this suggested there was an opportunity to recruit them to digitisation and technology in future.
Xero managing director for Australia and Asia Joseph Lyons said as businesses evolved, digital tools and systems such as e-invoicing would ultimately help small businesses be more effective.
“Small businesses have adapted to the disruptions of the pandemic, however we must now find ways to help them thrive,” he said.
“By prioritising digitised business processes, we can help simplify regulatory compliance and support more small businesses to experience the advantages technology brings.”
A third of respondents thought a cash rebate or grant to spend on technology would help them make use of more digital tools.
Almost two-thirds of small businesses also believed their data was very important, and wanted full control over it and who they shared it with.
“These survey results reveal a clear opportunity to help small businesses take advantage of technology to carry them into the future,” Mr Lyons said.
“Small businesses are central to our communities and the success of our economy. As we come to a significant, democratic decision for the nation, itʼs important their needs are taken into account.”
COVID recovery still a priority
Emerging out of the pandemic, further concerns for small businesses surveyed include supply chain disruptions (24 per cent), cost of wages (23 per cent), and staff shortages (21 per cent).
COVID-19 recovery was still a big priority for small-business owners, with 25.5 per cent of respondents concerned they would not recover to pre-COVID levels within a year, and a quarter concerned about a need for support packages for future COVID-19 challenges.
Closed borders and the talent drought had a knock-on effect on small businesses too, with 40 per cent of respondents saying their business suffered from a tech skills shortage over the last two years, while nearly a quarter said they were relying on new government and policies to recruit.
“Technology, upskilling and digital support for small businesses have been focuses of the election campaign from both sides,” Mr Lyons said.
“As these progress, we hope to see small business owners, and the accounting and bookkeeping community that supports them, championed throughout discussions.
“We look forward to seeing how the election outcome will better serve the small business community in the long term.”
The survey was commissioned by Xero Australia and undertaken by Pureprofile to analyse the sentiments and expectations of small businesses ahead of the election.
In March 2022, Pureprofile conducted an online quantitative survey, interviewing more than 538 sole traders and small businesses with fewer than 20 employees. The sample was representative of Australia by state, in line with the 2016 ABS census data.