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Australian businesses express guarded optimism

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Australian business are upbeat about the future — or, at the least, they are putting on a brave face.

The latest MYOB Business Monitor — the accounting software firm has been putting out the report for six years — said 74% of businesses reported revenue levels at the same levels of a year ago, or higher. And 47% of the surveyed companies said they expect revenue to increase in the next 12 months.

The report, released Aug. 30, also said 47% of businesses indicated they have more work than usual in the pipeline over the next three months.

“These results clearly indicate that the engine room of the Australian economy has survived the global financial crisis and is now picking up speed,” said Tim Reed, MYOB chief executive officer. “Whoever forms government must look to support this momentum with some strong first-term business policies.”

Yes, politics and the national elections were front-and-center in the MYOB report. The uncertainty stirred up by the election results likely haven’t helped matters. The government, for instance, announced recently that the legal work for the national broadband network will be held up for about eight weeks.

Reed said businesses’ expectations from government are straightforward — please make doing business easier.

“Two key areas of concern were highlighted — having to deal with red tape and understanding how new legislation impacted their operations,” Reed said. “Both were regarded by almost two-thirds of businesses as having a significant impact on their success.”

Not everyone reported strong revenue growth. About 35% of Queensland businesses reported lower revenues over the past 12 months. Businesses nationwide indicated rising interest rates and fuel prices were two potential clouds on the horizon.

Other findings:

  • Forty percent of startup businesses — two years old or younger — reported revenue increases over the past year, compared to 26% for businesses in existence for 10 years or more.
  • Younger business owners (18-39) are more likely to report annual revenue increases than owners 40 and older (42% to 30%).
  • Businesses most confident about revenue increasing over the next 12 months are startups (59%), professional and business services (55%), firms in South Australia (52%) and firms with 20-199 employees (52%).

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