SMEs expect no growth at Christmas due to competition… despite inadequate planning

Christmas work

SME operators not only predict a lack of sales over the Christmas retail period, they also expect to be short on spare time, according to MYOB.

 The cloud accounting provider’s latest SME snapshot reveals that business confidence is down due to the threat of bigger and online retailers entering the market from overseas. The majority (77%) of owners predicted zero business growth for the Christmas period while nearly one in five (18%) expect it to be quieter than last year.

Tim Reed, CEO of MYOB said that although SMEs are concerned about the impact overseas competitors on customer footfall and revenue over Christmas, the snapshot showed not all owners had adequately planned or prepared for the ‘silly season’. Specifically, 37% only started planning for the Christmas period around two months out, while a third of businesses did not plan at all.

When asked about the main challenge they faced heading into 2018, the most common response was ‘maintaining work life balance’ (45%).

“The emphasis small business owners placed on the challenge of maintaining work life balance suggests they are expecting to spend more time on their business, potentially to save costs on hiring or rostering more help,” Reed said. “This comes as a concern to small business owner’s mental health as, for many, this time of year is often reserved for some down time, perhaps a break from work and time spent with friends and family.

“The good news is small business owners want to change this, with work life balance coming up as the top new year’s resolution with 27% stating they wanted to actively improve in this area.”

Although managing cash flow (39%) and operating costs (37%) were nominated as key challenges – and three in ten owners (28%) agreed that adopting new technology could help them manage their business finances better – only 12% of owners said that managing cash flow more effectively was one of their focusses in the new year. Nevertheless, one in two owners (52%) stated technology had enabled them to manage their cash flow effectively. In addition, they said technology had freed up time to work on new products or services (13%) and helped promote their business through social media (12%).