Small business owners, who are battling policy uncertainty in the face of the looming Federal election and staring down a retail apocalypse, have no shortage of things to worry about.
Indeed, the small business landscape seems set to shift in 2019, with new changes in store set to “make real waves“.
To make matters worse, less than a third of Aussie small businesses feel satisfied with the support they’re getting from the Federal government, according to MYOB’s latest Business Monitor report which surveyed 1000 small business owners.
While small business owners may find it tricky to go toe-to-toe with Amazon’s right to operate on Australian soil, there are other day-to-day worries that they can tackle.
Here are the five issues that rank highest on small business owners’ minds, and what they can do about them, according to MYOB:
1. Fuel prices
Nearly half of all small business owners (46 per cent) have expressed concern about the hike in petrol prices.
“Fuel is a fundamental lifeblood for many small businesses in Australia, particularly those operating in regional and rural locations,” Reed told Yahoo Finance.
“It’s a natural worry for business owners when they hear fuel supplies are running low and prices are likely to peak.”
2. Utility costs
This was second on the list of things small business owners were most concerned about, worrying nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) owners.
“Essentials like electricity or water are inevitable business costs for many and the rising pricing of such services can have a big impact on the bottom line,” Reed pointed out. For example, cafe owners will have to pay for lighting, refrigeration and water access.
“These costs can stack up and deliver a big blow to profits.”
3. Price margins
Price margins, attracting new customers, and competition were all voted equal third most concerning issues (29 per cent) for small business owners.
High input costs like fuel and utilities will drive down price margins, Reed explained.
“Being able to limit business costs where possible will allow small businesses to offer their customers a competitive rate in an increasingly choice-driven market.”
4. Attracting new customers
Business owners who pay attention to and focus on delivering what customers want are well-placed for success. Not only this, but businesses who have made the most of technology and establish a digital presence have created opportunities for growth for themselves.
But it seems most small businesses have a bit of catching up to do: while 44 per cent of those who say they have an online presence say it has resulted in more customer enquiries, more than a third (37 per cent) admit to not having any kind of online presence, according to MYOB’s report.
“Having an online presence levels the playing field; small business can compete with big business by attracting customers from near and far, providing they have the right offering that meets their customers’ needs.”
With technology creating more avenues for crossover between different sectors, business owners can’t afford to be complacent.
“Disruption is the order of the day and many companies are diversifying to take advantage of new market opportunities,” Reed warned. “[This] means the places your competition come from might surprise you.”
Business owners should take heed: nearly one in four (24 per cent) will diversify their product range, while 25 per cent will increase online sales.
What can small business owners do about this?
Reed urged business owners who hadn’t articulated their goals for 2019 to put pen to paper and write a business plan for this year.
“Business plans are essential tools for any business, big or small, in mapping out your goals and sticking to them,” Reed said.
“They don’t have to be long and complex, often one page outlining the challenges, opportunities and planned actions can help bring clarity to a small business.
“Profits can be won or lost on a plan, so taking time now to reflect and forecast will be a job that always pays off in the end.”