Research conducted by the Commonwealth Bank has found that the majority of Australian small businesses are postponing adopting new technologies in their day-to-day operations because the benefits are not immediately realised.
The Commonwealth Bank Small Business Study, undertaken by ACA Research, was conducted in May this year and results were compiled from an online survey of 500 respondents. The research examines three priorities through the eyes of Australian small businesses: technology, finance and work-life balance.
It found that 80 percent of small businesses delay the adoption of technologies that offer long-term benefits, despite more than half (58 percent) claiming to have a good personal knowledge and understanding of technology.
However, a knowledge gap still exists. The research found almost half (48 percent) are reluctant to adopt new digital technology due to a lack of understanding of how it works and the potential benefits.
While 55 percent have access to customer information that can feed into digital technology, the research also found small businesses are unsure about how data can enhance their business performance. Almost two-thirds (62 percent) are not looking to use it at all.
“With more than half of small businesses having ready access to customer data, it is imperative small business owners understand how data analytics can help them make better informed decisions,” said Karen Last, general manager small business, Commonwealth Bank.
“A significant number of small businesses are reluctant to implement data analytics due to cost, or they believe it has limited value, or belongs in the ‘too-hard’ basket. These are all preconceptions which must be addressed so the benefits for small businesses can be realised.”
Managing cash flow
Cash flow remains another stress factor for small business owners, with half of the respondents opting to not pay themselves a wage one or more times in the past year as a result of cash flow issues.
To mitigate the strain of cash flow management, most small businesses rely on sending invoices to customers on time (37 percent) or dipping into personal funds (32 percent). Small business owners also use credit cards (44 percent) as their primary tool to manage cash flow, working capital and business investment.
Wellbeing loses out
The personal wellbeing of small business owners is being compromised for the sake of their business, the study found. According to the research, 44 percent think they do not spend enough time on personal wellbeing and development – despite one in two believing that looking after themselves is crucial to ensuring productivity.
Interestingly, the percentage of those satisfied with their work-life balance decreases as annual turnover increases, with 55 percent satisfied when they’re earning less than $100k, 51 percent when earning $100-$250k, and 47 percent for those earning between $250k-$1 million.