So how are start-up firms learning vital new skills?

IF you are in small business and you are learning by trial and error, you are not alone.

MYOB's monthly SME Snapshot survey on Friday revealed that trial and error was the No. 1 method for gaining business skills in the start- up phase.

The monthly survey by leading cloud accounting provider, MYOB, quizzes more than 400 of their SME customers around issues affecting SMEs.

MYOB CTO Simon Raik-Allen said that some 38 per cent of the SMEs surveyed revealed that when it came to the running of their new business, trial and error provided them with the best learnings. 

Other important sources of information advice were accountants and financial advisors (32 per cent) and professional networks (also 32 per cent).

"Start-ups are basically learning on the job, and tapping professionals around them for advice. When you combine this with our last SME Snapshot finding that showed that some 78 per cent of SMEs think that you don't need a degree to run a business, we can see a real opportunity emerging to provide practical training for entrepreneurial types," Mr. Raik-Allen said.

The Snapshot also asked about the change in Prime Minister in mid-September.

"45 per cent thought the change in PM would have no impact at all, although this might reflect the warm reception the 'SME package' the Federal Budget received under previous leadership.

"Some 35 per cent thought Prime Minister Turnbull would have a positive impact on their perception of the government's support for SMEs, while just 5 per cent thought the impact would be negative."

Attracting talent and the SME working culture

The survey also looked at SME views around how to compete with bigger companies when attracting talented staff. 38 per cent of respondents said that employment flexibility was the key seller in attracting valuable talent, while 21 per cent claimed that it was the culture that SMEs provide that appealed to potential candidates.

"Today's small business owners are appealing on the personal front - being a great place to work - rather than salary packages,'' Mr Raik-Allen said.

"At a time when skilled workers are hard to find, this shows that bringing a bit of heart to the equation can inspire loyalty and win out over the big guys."

"SMEs do flexibility really well; we know it's a major motivator in going out on your own. Making this part of your offer to employees is likely to give you the inside running in attracting quality talent."