SMEs give thumbs up to Turnbull government, says MYOB report

DISSATISFACTION with the Federal Government has fallen from 33 per cent in March 2015 to 26 per cent in October, the lowest level of dissatisfaction recorded in the MYOB Business Monitor.

The MYOB Business Monitor, now in its sixth year, is a bi-annual national survey of over 1,000 SME business owners.

"This is more good news for the Turnbull Government, which is currently riding high in the polls. The earlier Federal Budget package for small business has been received well and SMEs are looking for further measures to make doing business easier," said John Moss, MYOB's Chief Strategy Officer.

"State governments can also take heart that SMEs generally are feeling happier with their work, with dissatisfaction levels having fallen to 30 per cent across the board. There was however a marked difference between the Queensland Government, which remains relatively high at 41 per cent dissatisfied and the NSW Government, which is much lower (20 per cent).

One of the reasons for this federal swing could be the $20,000 instant asset tax write-off announced in the Federal Budget earlier this year.

"A key initiative for SMEs this year was the $20,000 instant asset write-off. The Business Monitor found that 25 per cent had already taken advantage of this measure. Franchisors were the front runners here, with 51 per cent saying they had used it, followed by exporters (50 per cent) and importers (41 per cent).  One of the stated aims of the write-off is to help businesses grow, and 35 per cent of establishing business reported taking it up as against 19 per cent of established businesses," said Mr Moss.

Operators who had not used the incentive cited not needing to purchase anything as the main reason for not using it (38 per cent), followed by not having the available cash to purchase anything (19 per cent).

"While two-thirds of SMEs are yet to take advantage of the incentive, it has clearly struck a chord with operators.  It was Number 1 on the list of policies they would vote for.  Policies that significantly simplify the GST/BAS reporting process - an ongoing pain point for many SMEs - came a very close second.

"With MYEFO just around the corner and Budget planning well underway, Governments would do well to take careful note of this list."

Policies or initiatives that business operators would vote for:

  1. Keeping the $20,000 instant asset tax write-off for businesses under $2m revenue 63%
  2. Policies that significantly simplify the GST/BAS reporting process 62%
  3. Reducing the company tax rate from 30per cent to 28.5per cent 58%
  4. Assigning a proportion of Government procurement contracts to small businesses 57%
  5. Increased Federal Government funding for skills, training and apprenticeship programs 57%
  6. The establishment of an incentive bonus for businesses employing people over age 50 56%
  7. More Federal Government investment in transport infrastructure in our major States and cities 55%
  8. Increased Government funding for innovation, research and development by Australian businesses 53%
  9. Offering a wage subsidy for employing young Australians 51%
  10. Exempting FBT on the purchase of work-related portable electronic devices 50%

The MYOB Business Monitor also asked what impact they expected the weak Australian dollar, share market volatility and the free trade agreements with Japan, China and Korea would have on the cost of doing business and consumer confidence. In terms of the cost of doing business, operators felt these three issues would have no impact on the cost of doing business, with 54 per cent, 63 per cent and 59 per cent stating they would have no effect respectively. 

"We know the Federal Government is working hard to promote the benefits and opportunities the FTAs will unlock, particularly for SMEs, but this finding shows there's still some work to do. Operators aren't yet seeing how they will be able to capitalise on the FTAs, directly or indirectly in terms of costs," said Mr Moss.

At a time when innovation is a hot topic across government, one quarter of operators (25 per cent) expressed dissatisfaction with the speed of their internet connection, while 21 per cent expressed dissatisfaction with the cost.  Rural businesses were more dissatisfied with the speed of their internet connection (37 per cent). 

"The Government continuing to work on faster internet speed would go down well with a significant number of SMEs," Mr Moss said.