Small Enterprises at Risk; Missed Opportunities Due to Low Economic Confidence despite Aust's Strong Performance

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AUSTRALIA'S small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) are headed for a series of missed opportunities in the second half of this year due to low confidence and ongoing cost-containment, according to a new report.

The fourth annual Business & Population Monitor, released today by PKF Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, reveals that despite Australia's strong economic performance compared with most other developed economies, SMEs are essentially aonce bitten, twice shya as concerns of global economic instability have stifled much-needed investment and business owners remain risk averse.

However according to PKF's national director Matt Field as the benefits of the minerals boom gradually spread to other sectors of the economy demand will return to a number of industry sectors. SMEs that fail to increase investment in time will miss out on capitalising on the expanded opportunities.

aIn between Australia's booming minerals sector and struggling trade-exposed industries sits the middle sector. These are SMEs that neither benefit directly from the minerals boom, nor face the challenges of the high exchange rate and weakened demand from advanced economies,a he said.

aThis sector includes commercial and industrial property, construction, housing, and a range of household services, business services and sectors servicing generalised business investment. Overall, these businesses account for just over half of the entire Australian economy. Many businesses in this sector are SMEs and for such a large part of the economy, they are receiving very little attention.

aMany businesses in the middle sector haven't regained the ground they lost during the GFC. In fact, capital expenditure growth for SMEs has fallen to its lowest level in 19 years, which indicates they haven't invested in staff, equipment or buildings over the last couple of years. …