SME confidence rising despite end of JobKeeper, says study

by Mike Wood29 Mar 2021

A new study has revealed that confidence is rising among SMEs, despite the impending end of JobKeeper.

March 2021 ScotPac SME Growth Index report has pointed towards green shoots of recovery in the SME sector, with more owners reporting that they wanted to accelerate their business in 2021 as opposed to the year before.

East & Partners spoke to over 1200 small businesses across Australia and more than half reported that they were looking to invest in their firm’s growth, with numbers slightly up on the previous edition of the report, which was dated to late 2020.

It wasn’t all good news, however: 65% of SMEs said that they were considering restructuring as a result of the pandemic or as a way of taking advantage in the near future. 25% said that they were unsure of how they would respond to the pandemic, while a similar number had experienced cash flow issues after being turned down by lenders.

“The fact that so many small businesses are looking to restructure provides a perfect opportunity for brokers to initiate discussions with their SME clients,” said Jon Sutton, CEO of ScotPac. “Ask them what changes they are looking to make in their business. See if they have a clear view on their working capital needs, and if there are shortfalls this might be a good time to look at new ways to finance the business.”

“Australia’s small business sector relies heavily on brokers and advisers. They understand that cashflow is the lifeblood of every SME,” he added. “In particular, businesses impacted by changes in the supply chain finance sector should be aware there are other working capital options to help them handle pressing cashflow challenges.”

“It can be hard for many small businesses to access bank funding – perhaps they haven’t got enough trading history, or don’t have or don’t wish to use personal property to secure business funding.”

“It’s important for trusted advisers like brokers to be able to have conversations with their small business clients about funding that can put the business much more in control of their cashflow, whether they need this extra working capital to replace JobKeeper funds, or to take advantage of growth opportunities.”