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Very small businesses not growth-focused and not using govt support, recent survey shows

Very small businesses in Australia are not typically bullish when it comes to growth and they are content with their size, according to new research from SMB tech provider GoDaddy. Modest ambitions, however, weren’t a sign of meekness; rather, GoDaddy found many operators are driven by flexible lifestyle – not profits –  and would ‘get back on the horse’ if a business failed.

GoDaddy surveyed 500 small business owners from Australia as part of a larger global study undertaken with Morar Consulting. Detailed below are some of the key insights about small business owners in Australia, who were asked questions about their aspirations, the impact of technology and awareness of government and industry support available.

  • Flexibility focused: more than half (54%) started their business to work flexibly, not earn more.
  • Desire to stay small: more than half (51%) said their ideal business size is five workers or less while only one in ten (8%) anticipate 50% growth in next 3 to 5 years.
  • Socially-responsible: three in five (59%) would accept profits to ensure their business was environmentally sustainable.
  • Resilient, undeterred: two in five 44% would try again if their business failed.
  • Locally minded: four in five (81%) don’t think it is overseas expansion is necessary for success.

Tara Commerford, Country Manager, GoDaddy ANZ, suggested to Dynamic Business that small business owners are content with generating repeat business from a smaller customer base due to a desire to lead a lifestyle-oriented career that affords flexibility and isn’t unwieldly.

“Compared with their peers in the Asia Pacific, Australia’s small business owners differ in their motivations,” Commerford said “In Singapore, Hong Kong and China, for instance, it’s a very different story: owners tended to be motivated by status, prestige and profitability, rather than lifestyle. Similarly, only 8% of small businesses anticipate growth of 50% more in the next 4 to 5 years, compared with 75% of small businesses globally, which feeds into the diea that their approach to growth is less bullish.”

  • A majority (85%) do not use any of the government’s SMB/start-up initiatives.
  • Two in three (67%) are not aware of the potential impact of the government’s newly-introduced National Innovation and Science Agenda on their business.
  • SMB owners believe more Government backing (34%) and industry collaboration (32%) will shift our entrepreneurship culture forward.

Commerford told Dynamic Business, “Small business owners in Australia are not taking full advantage of industry and government initiatives, whether that’s because they lack awareness of the support available, don’t believe the support is relevant to their business or – and this speaks to their resilience and resourcefulness – they believe they can go it alone. In any event, more needs to be done to raise awareness of – and educate the small business community about – the industry and government support available, such as the Incubator Support initiative, tax breaks and programs that help businesses commercialise their ideas.”

  • Tech advocates: 67% said technology has made it easier to become an entrepreneur and nearly half believe stronger tech infrastructure will shift Australia’s entrepreneurship culture forward.
  • Tech savvy: 65% manage tech themselves while 15% outsource to a friend. Only 14% outsource to a company or web professional.
  • Tool of choice: Websites ranked more highly (31%) than social media (18%) in terms of online tools are that are valued as critical platforms to drive online awareness.

Commerford commented, “Digital technology makes it easier and more cost-effective to extend any successful business idea to new markets without compromising on flexibility and maintaining the operating principles they value.”

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James Harkness

James Harkness

James Harnkess previous editor at Dynamic Business

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