Pressures rising in SME sector

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Pressures rising in SME sector

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Charbel Kadib 4 minute read

Managing finance and cash flow is the most significant pressure point for SMEs, the latest research from Bank of Queensland has revealed.

According to a research in Bank of Queensland’s 2018 Business Balance Report that involved a survey of 520 small business owners across Australia, pressures associated with finance and cash flow management increased from 37 per cent in BOQ’s 2017 survey to 46 per cent.


The research also found an 8 per cent increase in the number of SMEs wanting financial help and guidance from a financial expert who understands the landscape, rising from 14 per cent to 22 per cent.

Further, the survey found that most SME owners (57 per cent) are spending considerable time worrying about the threat of local and international competition, which the report stated has had a negative impact on an individual’s physical, mental and business health.

Another key finding identified by the survey was that there are more business owners in 2018 feeling isolated from their family and friends due to business demands compared to 2017, rising from 12 per cent to 18 per cent.

Moreover, the research found that younger SME owners, aged between 18 and 29, are most likely to regret starting their business (52 per cent), followed by respondents aged 30 to 39 (32 per cent), with more than half (52 per cent) of small business owners aged 18 to 29 and close to one-third (32 per cent) of respondents aged 30 to 39.

When assessing the impact of stress by industry, BOQ found that those in the technology and web industry were more likely to have experienced a relationship break-up due to the stress of business management, with 23 per cent admitting that their business concerns led to a separation, as opposed to just 6 per cent across all other industries.

The research reported that, overall, diagnosis rates for depression, stress and anxiety among SME owners also increased in 2018, rising from 10 per cent in 2017 to 13 per cent in 2018.  

Reflecting on the results, group executive of BOQ Business Brendan White said that it was important to understand the pressures faced by small business owners to ensure they are receiving the support they require.

“Small business is the backbone of the Australian economy and it’s important to raise awareness of the issues that impact small business owners and provide support through the difficult times,” the executive said.

“By raising awareness of the pressures faced by small business, we are hopeful that the small business owners will feel more comfortable talking openly about the impact these financial pressures have on their health and emotional wellbeing.”

However, the research also found that the number of small business owners willing to seek professional help increased, rising from 15 per cent in 2017 to 19 per cent in 2018, with 81 per cent of small business owners admitting that they haven’t previously sought professional advice.

CEO of Mental Health Association Australia Jody Wright noted that she was encouraged by the increase in SMEs willing to seek professional help, but she stated that more needs to be done to promote mental wellbeing.

“We are encouraged by the results of this year’s report as there is an increased willingness in small business owners to speak out and share their experiences,” the CEO said.

“We want to get the message out that there is so much support and advice available to small business owners to ensure they are putting their mental wellbeing first.”

Mr White added: “It’s my hope that BOQ’s 2018 Business Balance Report can help show Australia’s small business owners they are not alone.”

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, or you’re worried about someone else and feel that urgent professional support is needed, contact your local doctor or one of the 24/7 crisis agencies below.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

beyondblue: 1300 22 4636

For insights into how you can improve your mental wellbeing, visit wellnessdaily.com.au.

[Related: In Focus: Mental health and wellbeing int he financial services sector]

Pressures rising in SME sector
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Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib is a journalist on The Adviser and Mortgage Business.

Before joining Momentum Media in 2017, Charbel held roles with public relations agency Fifty Acres, and the Department of Communications and the Arts. 

Email Charbel on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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