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Small business finds it tougher, but resilience shines through

With small business surveys by industry groups such as the ACCI and CPA Australia showing insufficient demand, slower growth and weaker business conditions, the latest American Express survey of small business owners found that three quarters believe that it’s getting harder to run a small business, with two in five unsure if they’ll be around five years from now.

This is according to the Australian Attitudes to Small Business Report commissioned by American Express in September as part of its national Shop Small campaign, which aimed to reconnect consumers with small businesses during November.

The latest findings in the American Express Report show that small business owners are implementing a raft of new strategies to ensure they remain competitive – testament to their resilience and tenacity.

These include:

• 41% – investing in an online or social presence

• 29% – price discounting

• 26% – increasing marketing and advertising

• 26% – negotiating better deals with suppliers

• 26% – increasing the range of products sold

• 23% – forming alliances with other businesses

• 19% – investing in new technology

• 15% – considering longer opening hours

Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson MP called on all Australians to unite to support small businesses. He made his appeal against a backdrop of empty storefronts in Bridge Rd, once a booming high street small business district in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond.

“Bridge Road was at its best when a diverse array of energetic small businesses competed with each other, delighting consumers and enticing them with variety, quality produce and great service,” said Mr Billson.

ACCI CEO Kate Carnell commented on the ACCCI’s latest September quarter survey.

“Small business continues to feel the brunt of poor sales and profit results and so they lack the appetite to take risks and expand. Worryingly, their expectations are getting worse, and while there has been a little improvement in some aspects of the survey, most small business operators are concentrating on just keeping their heads above water,” she said.

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