As the Federal Budget approaches, small businesses are looking to the Government to introduce further measures that support the sector’s rebuild. At the top of their list is new business incentive schemes, with nearly one in three businesses (29%) hoping that’s what the budget will deliver.
We recently surveyed more than 500 Australian small businesses and nearly one third of respondents said they wanted the Federal Budget to include measures that provide support for young entrepreneurs to grow their network and experience, while more than one in five want research and development tax incentives for small business.
James Boston, Co-Founder and Director of Paperlust, is a Melbourne-based online retailer offering customisable stationery for events. The entrepreneur says his design and stationery business relies heavily on weddings and events. He initially saw a 75% drop in revenue during the first few weeks of the lockdown period in March-April. Our Xero Small Business Insights data also shows that Victorian-based businesses in arts and recreation are still struggling.
He says his business and others would benefit from greater investment in growing visibility within foreign markets.
“There’s plenty of opportunity for Australian small businesses to recover if we invest in our export programs now. Currently, businesses receive Export Marketing Development Grant (EMDG) funds 12 to 20 months after the investment has been made. Considering the challenging trading conditions small business owners currently face, a lengthy delay in payment is holding us back. The sooner EMDG funds are released to small business owners, the sooner we can collectively make investments to boost our export markets,” he explains.
Digitisation to fuel recovery
We have seen encouraging signs of business recovery, particularly in areas where COVID-19 restrictions have eased. However, more can be done to accelerate the pace of recovery and build long-term economic resilience. In particular, small businesses are looking to the Government for incentives to innovate and operate more efficiently.
Our research revealed the important role of technology to support small businesses in the post-COVID world. More than one in four small business owners think the budget should include incentives to enable businesses to use more technology, with nearly one third already planning to adopt more digital tools to help run their business if the Federal Budget outcome is favourable.
Rebecca Simmons, Co-Founder of Barc For Pets took on a digital transformation for her pet-minding business last year. She says it’s been the saving grace for their business due to the impacts of COVID-19.
“By using cloud-based solutions, we’ve been able to dramatically reduce the amount of time we spend on invoicing, compliance, customer relations and project management. The ecommerce platform has boosted our cash flow by enabling customers to pay online. Before this, we were regularly chasing up invoices for six months. With the backend processes of the business taken care of, we’ve had the time and space to regroup and focus on rebuilding our business during a challenging time,” says Rebecca.
She adds that introducing a free, online course when granting an ABN would put small business owners on the right track “from the get-go”.
Our research also revealed that while small businesses believe they should be a high priority on the Government’s agenda, they’d also like to see areas such as mental health, social welfare payments and transport infrastructure projects prioritised.