New research from American Express reveals the extent of personal sacrifices made by Australia’s small businesses, and reports that the sector feels consumers do not appreciate or even acknowledge the sacrifices that are made. The Economy of Shopping Small: Custom Counts report revealed small business owners are working above average hours at the expense of their own health and well-being. Worryingly though, the extra hours are not translating into greater customer loyalty, with over half of small business owners claiming that customers are actually becoming less loyal (53 per cent) and less polite (61 per cent).
With the Christmas shopping season upon us (and the National Retail Association (NRA) advising that Australians are poised to spend more than a billion dollars a day during the busiest trading period for the year) small business owners will be hoping for some of that seasonal cheer.
“One of the things that we underplay most with small businesses is the impact that they have on our lives,” said Melanie Cochrane, Senior Vice President Small Merchant, Global Merchant Services at American Express.
“(But) the fact small business owners are not downbeat about their prospects – considering the lengths many go to – is admirable, and testament to the sector’s can-do attitude.”
Small business in a precarious financial situation
A separate research report, released by REST superannuation, has has revealed gaps in small and medium enterprise (SME) owners’ financial and contingency planning, with one in five respondents admitting that their business would be unable to fund their livelihood and expenses for longer than a week in the event of their unplanned absence.
The figures come from Bridge the Gap, a whitepaper commissioned by REST to probe attitudes held by Australia’s entrepreneurs and their views on retirement.
According to the study, perceptions of entrepreneurs contrast starkly with reality. The general workforce most likely sees an entrepreneur as an innovator working in technology and challenging the status quo, while entrepreneurs themselves identify as older and as having learned their trade through years of work in an established industry.
“SME owners employ more than two in three Australians, and have a vital role to play in helping the majority of Australians prepare for a financially secure and comfortable retirement,” REST Chief Executive, Damian Hill.