SMBs stressed, but confident about growth

Australian small business owners are feeling confident about growth prospects, despite coping with additional stress, a new study has found.

The ‘Bibby Small Business Barometer’ by Bibby Financial Services found 52 percent of business owners are more stressed now than 12 months ago, with just 17 percent reporting less stress.

The greatest single source of stress is managing cashflow – having enough money coming into the business, together with back-up funding, to ensure they could pay staff and other expenses on time.

According to the study, stresses have gained pace in manufacturing and professional services more than any other industry sector in the past 12 months.

“The uncertain economic outlook is creating increased anxiety among proprietors of small and medium size enterprises and is responsible for most of the specific worries that business owners identified,” Bibby Managing Director Greg Charlwood said.

Despite the challenges they face, half the owners surveyed report their businesses are growing, 29 percent are faring just as well now as 12 months ago, but 21 percent are contracting.

“Small business proprietors are optimistic and 71 percent are confident about the prospects over the coming 12 months. This is reassuring, as small businesses are the growth engine of our economy and the sector that employs the most Australians.”

Almost two thirds expect strong to moderate sales growth over the coming 12 months, whilst only 10 percent are pessimistic and expect a decline.

The most optimistic sectors are manufacturing and professional services, with wholesale, trade and transport businesses more pessimistic.

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