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Small businesses being ‘outperformed by a significant margin’

Australian small businesses are lagging well behind their Asia-Pacific counterparts when it comes to innovation, e-commerce and social media, new research has revealed.

The Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey released by accounting body CPA Australia obtained responses from nearly 3,000 small business operators throughout the region, measuring business confidence, hiring intentions, innovation and the adoption of technology and social media.

Alex Malley, chief executive of CPA Australia, said that when it comes to innovation, Australian small businesses are being “outperformed by a significant margin”.

“Yes, there are some very innovative small businesses in Australia. However, they are unfortunately the exception rather than the rule,” he said.

Results of the survey indicated that only 5 per cent of Australian small businesses are seeking to introduce a new product, service or process over the next 12 months, compared with 46 per cent in Indonesia, 32 per cent in China and 29 per cent in Malaysia.

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Mr Malley also cited a failure to integrate new online technologies within small businesses, with only 50 per cent of Australian operators using social media, compared with 93 per cent of businesses across Asia.

“We’re lagging when it comes to e-commerce. Across Asia, 83 per cent of small businesses generate revenue from online sales, while here, little more than a third do,” he said.

Mr Malley, the recent innovation agenda outlined by the federal government has the potential to enhance innovation capacities and develop a country-wide appetite for embracing technology.

“Recognition of the issues is one thing – actually operationalising the promised incentives to create a culture of innovation and boost business competitiveness is the real challenge for the Government,” he said.

[Related: Confidence eases among SMEs]

Small businesses being ‘outperformed by a significant margin’
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