According to the latest results from the MYOB Business Monitor bi-annual national survey, more than three quarters of Australian SMEs feel secure about their sales prospects for the November 2015 to January 2016 quarter.
The long-term outlook, however, is not as promising, with 45 per cent of the 1,000-plus respondents expecting the economy to experience a decline over the next 12 months.
MYOB CEO Tim Reed noted that while the short-term outlook remains solid, the survey results indicated that SMEs were pessimistic about the Australian economy in 2016.
“We found that 45 per cent of SMEs expected the economy to decline and only 23 per cent expected it to improve. Not surprisingly, those who had experienced increased revenue in the preceding 12 months were more optimistic, with 46 per cent expecting an improvement,” he said.
“This sentiment about the overall economy flowed through to a less optimistic outlook for expected medium term-revenue compared to six months ago."
The MYOB Business Monitor also revealed the top pressure points and challenges now faced by the small business sector, with attracting new customers proving to be the biggest hurdle.
Increasing cash flow, profitability and price margins also reared their heads as challenges to the SME sector, particularly among those businesses that reported a revenue fall in the previous 12 months.
Mr Reed noted there were five areas of business in which small business operators were most likely to increase their focus in 2016: prices and margins on products sold; customer retention; product variety; customer acquisition; and employee payment.
“While SMEs are cautious about the year to come, they’re carefully considering and investing to protect and grow their businesses,” said Mr Reed.
“These results are significant in the face of our earlier finding that a quarter of SMEs had taken up the Government’s $20,000 instant asset write-off,” he added.