"Over the past two years, SMEs predicting revenue decline have almost doubled (13.2 to 24.2 percent), while those predicting increases have halved their growth forecasts (8.6 to 4 percent),” Scottish Pacific chief executive Peter Langham said.
SMEs forecasting positive growth (48.4 percent) are now also outnumbered by SMEs forecasting negative growth or no change (51.6 percent).
Scottish Pacific chief executive Peter Langham said the latest results show that SME confidence has taken a hit despite the resilience of the sector.
“The current environment is clearly placing pressure on Australia’s small-to-medium business community,” said Mr Langham.
Cash flow was identified as the most stressful element of business in the survey with SMEs citing credit conditions as a key barrier to growth.
"With the Index highlighting that cash flow keeps 72.5 per cent of respondents awake at night, it’s crucial for these leaders to find the right funding to support their business.”
The survey also indicted businesses are looking beyond the banks for finance with the survey showing a 30 per cent increase in SME owners planning to fund their growth using a non-specialist lender.
Business owners are also putting in long hours according to the survey with a 50-hour week standard for most SMEs at 88.8 per cent while almost half of SME owners and senior managers are working 60-80 hours a week at 43.7 per cent.