Is the slowdown beginning to bite?
A survey by Regus , a global workspace provider, has found cash flow to be the top concern of startups and SMEs, amid a broad global slowdown. As much as 57% of Australian business leaders in the online poll listed it as the biggest barrier to their growth.
“Retaining cash remains key for successful startups. This underscores the need for small businesses to invest wisely and use flexible, scalable and pay-as-you-go business services wherever possible,” said Jacqueline Lehmann, country head of Regus Australia. “By remaining nimble, new businesses can invest where they need it the most: in finding and developing customers.”
Among other concerns, 49% counted customer acquisition; 28% listed marketing and promotion costs; and 21% cited infrastructure.
According to latest statistics, small businesses comprise 96% of all businesses, account for nearly half the employment and contribute 35% of industry value added.
Mentoring on wish list
For policymakers, the message from the survey couldn’t be clearer. Besides heightened worries about the health of the SME sector, the businesses also articulated an unambiguous view that the government was simply not doing enough.
A majority 73% said the government needs to provide tax incentives to SMEs, besides creating a more favourable business environment. Their wish list included low interest loans (51%) and mentoring (34%).
“It is not just a question of start-ups wanting government handouts,” said Lehmann. “In fostering the growth of start-ups, the human element is often overlooked, and it is encouraging to see SMEs valuing support such as mentoring, information and networking as key to their business growth,” she added.
It’s time for the government to act before it’s too late.