Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the country are now more important than ever as they drive innovation, create jobs and contribute to exports. Two years on from the global financial crisis, agile and dynamic companies are still standing and even beginning to thrive. Employing more than five million workers, the collective size and scale of the SME market in Australia is impressive and the success, struggles and decisions of SME owners have had a profound influence on overall consumer confidence, investment and productivity.
Having worked with Australian SME owners for close to 90 years, we understand the vision and hard work that goes into running your own business, as well as the long-term strategic actions that need to be taken to maintain a successful rate of growth. As trusted advisors, we work with business owners through all stages of the business life cycle, from the initial start up, through periods of growth, in times where the business may be struggling and finally in assisting business owners to exit the business and move onto their next personal or business challenge.
Since 2005, RSM Bird Cameron has been conducting thinkBIG, a study of SMEs across Australia, to gain insights into what drives success in these businesses. This study measures the pulse of the Australian SME sector, benchmarking business confidence and identifying the attitudes of SME owners towards wealth creation, retirement and succession planning.
The results of the 2005 study revealed that business owners face two common challenges of creating wealth to support a successful growing business, and realising wealth to fund personal wealth and retirement plans.
In 2007, the challenge of retirement planning for SME owners was highlighted, with most owners tending to postpone planning for retirement until very late in the business lifecycle and then struggling to realise their wealth from the business.
In 2009, the economic climate changed dramatically, with the world facing the Global Financial Crisis. Many SME owners revealed the great difficulties they were experiencing in accessing capital to finance growth, adding to overall business frustration and high levels of dissatisfaction.
In 2010, the survey looked at the SME sector in the midst of recovery. This report presented views on how SME owners had coped with challenging business conditions including cashflow management.
The survey in 2011 reveals only a marginally higher level of optimism amongst SME owners about their company’s medium term prospects, with a majority reporting that government policies had minimal impact on their businesses in the last 12 months.
In this edition, we also feature some of the faces of Australian small and medium-sized business with the inclusion of the real-life stories of these SME owners from around the country, charting their triumphs and disappointments.
We hope you enjoy the read.
National Director Business Solutions
RSM Bird Cameron