MYOB’s first Business Monitor Report for 2017 says SMEs predict that attracting new customers will be their top business pressure in the next 12 months, followed by cash flow and late payments from customers. Most affected were franchisors and construction and trades businesses.

The results suggest the pressure on owners to grow their business is increasing, with Western Australian operators the most to report that attracting new customers would cause an extreme amount or quite a lot of pressure on their business in the next 12 months (45 percent), followed by small businesses (44 per cent) and operators who reported a revenue fall in the previous 12 months (43 per cent).

Up a staggering seven percent from last quarter was the 26 percent of SMEs reporting that late payments from customers were putting them under pressure. Cash flow struggles were also reported by 26 percent of respondents.

26 percent of SMEs report that late payments from customers were among their top pain points.

Tim Reed, MYOB’s CEO, referenced RBA’s data that the average time for an invoice to be paid is 45 days.

“For a small business owner who is managing professional and personal bills while also trying to invest in their business, this is too long – and part of the reason why we are pushing for a Prompt Payment Protocol.” – Tim Reed, MYOB

Despite the cash flow crunch, data compiled from the previous seven years of Business Monitor reports finds that some aspects of business operations are looking more positive—attitudes towards technology, for example, have improved.

In February 2015, 19 percent of SMEs considered the cost of online technologies a pain point; that has since dropped to 16 percent in 2017. Upgrading hardware or other equipment and upgrading IT software, systems or processes have also had a slight downwards shift in the pain scale.

“Traditionally, small businesses have been slower with technology uptake, so we’re pleased to see that more accessible, simple and cost-effective technology is changing the attitude around technology adoption.” – Tim Reed

Overall, MYOB finds SME pain points have dropped over the last seven years, a reflection of the resilience and flexibility of Australian SMEs operating in a changing economic environment.

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