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Credit: AAP Image
Source: AAP

Federal Election is no Easter treat for Australia’s small business community

Australia’s small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are bracing for a double whammy of disruption from the back-to-back Easter/Anzac Day public holidays coupled with a Federal election.

  • 59% of SMEs say major political events such as elections have impacted their business in the past.
  • 27% of SMEs expect the 2019 Easter/Anzac holiday period to negatively impact their business, with 52% needing to juggle staff leave.
  • 59% of SMEs say improved access to cashflow would help their business weather disruptive events.
  • 44% of SMEs will consider an online lender as a source of cashflow funding to be better prepared

New research commissioned by OnDeck, a leading online SME lender, confirms that Anzac Day’s proximity to Easter combined with the upcoming Federal election will negatively impact many SMEs.

The stars have aligned for the nation’s employees, who can look forward to a 10-day holiday at the cost of just three days’ annual leave, thanks to this year’s confluence of Easter and Anzac Day.

However, it’s not so positive for SMEs, which are already bracing for the impact of the Federal election.

The research found that 59% of SMEs surveyed say their business has been impacted by previous major political events, notably elections.

Over one in four (27%) SMEs expect the Easter/Anzac Day period to disrupt normal trading. SMEs operating in the accommodation/food services sector buck this trend, with 59% expecting an uptick in business over the extended holiday period.

Mr Cameron Poolman, Chief Executive Officer, OnDeck Australia, says, “Negativity around the proximity of Easter/Anzac Day is likely being driven by the need to manage employee leave requests. One in two (52%) SMEs expect staff to take leave over the period, with one-third (31%) of these business owners expressing concerns about possible staff shortages. A similar proportion (29%) are expecting their cashflow to shrink over the public holiday period.”

Federal election brings uncertainty

Along with the disruption of the upcoming public holidays, the research found that six out of ten (59%) small business have been impacted by political events such as Federal elections.

Of these SMEs, 47% experienced a slowing of normal business operations, and 30% reported a drop in revenue.

Mr Poolman notes, “The possibility of a change in Federal government often sees consumers and businesses put major purchases or projects on hold – at least until the polls have delivered a clear result. While that’s understandable, the SME sector bears the brunt of this ‘wait-and-see’ approach.”

Improved cashflow would allow SMEs to be better prepared

Many SMEs are ill-prepared for major disruptive events. The survey found that just one in three (36%) are completely prepared for annual calendar events such as public holidays.

Just 17% of SMEs are completely prepared for political events, which have a less certain outcome. One survey respondent summed up the view of many, asking, “How can you prepare for the unpredictable?”

Three of out five (59%) SME owners agree that improved access to cashflow would help their business weather a major event, a figure that rises to 69% among SMEs with annual turnover exceeding $200,000.

SMEs are willing to explore a variety of options to access additional cashflow:

  • 57% will consider trying their luck with a bank
  • 46% will explore dipping into their personal money
  • 44% will consider using an online lender
  • 27% will potentially resort to a credit card
  • 17% may turn to family or friends.

Mr Noah Breslow, Global CEO of OnDeck, says, “Cashflow is the lifeblood of many SMEs. So it makes sense that additional funding can help SMEs navigate difficult the trading conditions that can accompany a critical event – be it a Federal election or back-to-back public holidays.

“We know however that SMEs face a high rejection rate from mainstream banks: 23% have been knocked back for bank funding in the past. Among those that have sought finance, 29% say the protracted application and approval process has negatively impacted their activities – so it’s not a seamless solution. Moreover, 65% of SMEs were negatively impacted by being turned down by a bank for finance.

“Online lenders offer a quick and easy application process, and we are not just a positive option for SMEs rejected by their bank. Online lenders such as OnDeck also offer the advantage of speed and convenience for those businesses that would be eligible for bank lending, and this can be a critical advantage in preparing for events that are likely to have a short-term impact,” concluded Mr Breslow.

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Loren Webb

Loren Webb

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