What do you think the year ahead looks like? That’s the question we asked over 340 businesses across Australia and New Zealand, as part of the Xero Small Spark survey. The results were encouraging, but also revealed some perceived challenges to work through in the year ahead.
Mixed outlook for 2017
Close to half of the Aussie small businesses we surveyed indicated they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely confident’ of growth in 2017. That’s a positive place to start from this year. But nearly one in three had a neutral outlook — believing their business will remain stagnant – and one in five had a negative outlook for 2017.
Out of this final group, 15 percent believe that it will be a ‘tough year ahead’ and 5 percent say they will struggle to survive in 2017.
The difference in the detail
This kind of detail is so important to uncover, because we know that Xero can make a real difference to businesses doing it tough. Statistics show that while only 51 percent of small businesses survive more than five years, 88 percent of those on Xero will still be around to celebrate their fifth birthday.
Given the survey also revealed that eight in ten small business owners start with no outside financial help, this drives the point home even more. By helping small business owners and connecting them to advisors, Xero can be part of the toolkit that makes it easier for a business to go from idea to implementation.
Start fast, start smart
That support is important, because in getting to know small businesses and their outlook for 2017, we also discovered that Aussies are fast starters.
Close to two in five of small business owners started their venture within a year of having the ‘spark moment’. That’s pretty amazing, and it’s no doubt fuelled by the fact that technology makes it easier than ever to start a business. And even more surprising was that more than one in five respondents started their business within just a month.
But younger Australians are the fastest movers of all. More than one in three millennials had started their business within just one week of having that initial spark of inspiration.
This burn to begin may explain why only one in five Australian small business owners had any form of outside financial help in getting their business off the ground. And seventy nine percent chose to start up on their own, relying on their own savings or starting on a shoestring.
The Australian spark is certainly burning bright, and technology is well-placed to keep it alive.
Nurturing the spark
Looking at these stats – and the respondents’ forecast for 2017 – it’s clear to me that Xero can continue to make a meaningful difference to the small business economy in the year ahead. By directly or indirectly nurturing these ideas through the supply of the right tools, support and an entire ecosystem, these sparks of an idea can become fully fledged ventures in less time – with less risk and, hopefully, less stress.
Running a business isn’t easy as these results may show, but the abundant optimism and accessibility within the Xero Small Sparks survey makes 2017 a very exciting time for us all.
Other insights from the Xero Small Spark survey include:
- More than half of Aussie (55 percent) small business owners cite wanting to be their own boss as the reason for starting their business
- A desire to increase their income was the second biggest reason with 42 percent of respondents indicating this is the reason they went out on their own
- More than two in five (41 percent) Aussie small business owners began their venture in search of more freedom and a better lifestyle
- More than half of Australian small business owners started their venture while in full time employment (54 percent)
- Almost one in two (49 percent) say they would go back to being an employee
- Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) admit they now work ‘much harder’ running their own business than they did previously.