Taxes, interest rates and red tape top problems list for small business

Small and medium business owners in Australia would like to see a ‘Small Business Ombudsman’ established to help deal with problems affecting them, with small business owners rating taxes, interest rates and government red tape the biggest problems they face in a national survey conducted by COSBOA and Telstra released today.

The second annual Back to Business Survey commissioned by Telstra Business and the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) found small business confidence in the Australian economy is significantly lower than it was a year ago.

New taxes, higher interest rates and government red tape are the issues troubling business owners the most and they’re not expecting any improvement in confidence in the short term.

Telstra Business Group Managing Director, Deena Shiff, said the survey was a useful ‘stocktake’ to those charged with looking after small business.

“The overall level of dissatisfaction evident in the survey is concerning when you consider small and medium businesses generate more than 80 percent of our economic growth and our economy is one of the strongest in the world,” Ms Shiff said.

“However on a more positive note, fewer businesses have strong concerns on key issues such as their ability to raise finance and deal with staff shortages.  It’s a sign of the resilience of small businesses that saw them weather the Global Financial Crisis and their capacity to find ways to work smarter will come to the fore once again.”

COSBOA CEO, Peter Strong, said the message for politicians from the survey was they need to do more to build confidence.

“Business is clearly dissatisfied with the elected officials at the federal level which is possibly why there is such overwhelming support for a dedicated small business ombudsman,” Mr Strong said.

“They are suffering from disproportionately high business loan rates, increased red tape, depressed consumer confidence, uncertainty around interest rates and onerous workplace laws.

“Last year was not easy for small business and there is a long way to go before small business confidence and performance are back to healthy levels.  While small business owners are normally an optimistic lot, they do not look upon 2011 with any joy.”

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