Xero’s study shows SMBs’ biggest concerns as they head to polls

Joseph Lyons, Managing Director, Australia and Asia at Xero

Xero, the global SMB platform, revealed the biggest concerns for Australia’s small business owners in the lead up to the 2022 Australian Federal Election, with technology, supply chain pressure and staff challenges top of mind in the lead up to casting their vote on 21 May.

Research of more than 500 small businesses across Australia, commissioned by Xero, uncovered small business owners are highly engaged with issues that affect their industry and broader community. It found over forty percent of respondents say policies that support small businesses are their top factor in considering what political party to vote for.

The insights also revealed tech adoption is lagging for small business owners, with the vast majority of respondents (78.6%) having concerns about, or not considering tech important, in the success of their SMBs. Alongside this, 40% of small business owners surveyed don’t feel prepared to move to technologies such as eInvoicing, presenting a clear opportunity for them to be brought on a journey of digitisation and technology uptake over the next period.

What were the key insights of Xero’s research?

These were the key insights of Xero’s survey:

  • Further concerns for small businesses surveyed include supply chain disruptions (23.7%), cost of wages (22.6%), and staff shortages (21.3%)
  • 32% of small businesses surveyed are concerned about COVID-19 in 2022, however feel more optimistic – claiming it will be better than previous years
  • A third of respondents (33.1%) believe a cash rebate or grant to spend on technology would help them make use of more digital tools in their businesses
  • 65.7% of respondents believe their business data is very important, and want full control over it and who they share it with.

“SMBs are central to our communities and the success of our economy. As we come to a democratic decision for the nation, it’s vital their needs are taken into account. These survey results reveal a clear opportunity to help small businesses take advantage of technology to carry them into the future,” says Joseph Lyons, Xero Managing Director, Australia and Asia.

“As the way we do business evolves, digital tools and solutions like eInvoicing will ultimately help small businesses be more effective and navigate future challenges. SMBs have adapted to the disruptions of the pandemic, however we must now find ways to help them thrive.”

“By prioritising digitised business processes, we can help simplify regulatory compliance and support more SMBs to experience the advantages technology brings,” added Lyons.

Where does COVID-19 recovery rate amongst SMBs?

COVID-19 recovery is still a big priority for small business owners, with 25.5% of respondents concerned they will not recover to pre-COVID levels within a year, and a quarter (24.9%) concerned about a need for support packages for future COVID-19 challenges.

The effects of closed borders and limited skills have had a knock on effect on SMBs too, with 40% of respondents noting their business suffered from a tech skills shortage over the last two years, while nearly a quarter (24.7%) of small business owners surveyed have noted they are relying on a new government and policies to hire new people for their business.

“Technology, upskilling and digital support for small businesses have been focusses of the election campaign from both sides. As these progress, we hope to see small business owners, and the accounting and bookkeeping community that supports them, championed throughout discussions. We look forward to seeing how the election outcome will better serve the small business community in the long term,” concludes Lyons.