How do Australia’s small businesses perceive the economy?

As all the talk of late has been centred on the government budget, it can be easy to get lost in a muddle of statistics. In the business world, it's much easier to garner an understanding of how finances are being dealt with by putting an ear to the ground and finding information that can help companies make better decisions.

For small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular, keeping track of company budgeting, and how the wider economy is performing can often be a tricky process. In the case of the latter in particular, what are the perceptions of SMEs?

Well, their opinions are not especially glowing, according to research collated by Sensis. In fact, many small enterprises believe that the economy is slowing rather than growing.

Almost half of Australia's SMEs are confident in their prospects for the year ahead.

Slow economy, high confidence

To the contrary, the Sensis Business Index (SBI) also takes into account the confidence that SMEs are currently feeling, with many ascertaining that their business prospects are in fact not suffering despite the variable economic conditions.

The SBI aggregates the opinions of around 1,000 Australian SMEs. Of that number, almost half (49 per cent) were found to be confident in their prospects for the year ahead.

Twenty-two per cent claimed they were worried about a number of factors, with Sensis CEO John Allan highlighting a number of reasons for the partial negativity.

"Key issues such as consumer confidence, interest and exchange rates, as well as global, state and regional economic concerns play heavily on the minds of SMEs when considering their perceptions towards the economy," he explained. 

More on the SBI and the consequent facts and statistics can be found via this tweet:

The importance of SMEs

The Australian government has often noted the important role SMEs have in the wider economy. Not only was there a recent raft of tax breaks announced – as part of the budget – that will benefit SMEs, their significance to exports in particular has been highlighted.

In fact, figures from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education noted that nearly half (41.6 per cent) of all Australian exports are from SMEs.

While many may be worried about the potential of a regressing economy, it appears that, twinned with the apparent confidence highlighted by Sensis, Australia's SMEs could be set for a period of prosperity and remain just as important in the future.

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