bigstock d Illustration Of Crisis And 356904227 e1607309007682 - SME sector fared better than expected during lockdowns

New research by conducted by LinkedIn in partnership with Kantar reveals that despite the fact 71 per cent of Australia’s SMEs were affected by lockdowns through much of the year, 38 per cent of them actually performed better than in an “average year”.

The report also revealed that 63 per cent of SMEs are feeling positive about the future and are actively seeking technology and financial services partners, with 60 per cent saying they will invest in a new business strategy to help unlock growth in the post-pandemic economy.

CRM, cloud computing, data analytics, e-invoicing and eCommerce are the top investment priorities among the 70 per cent of SMEs who say that they are planning to increase their tech spend. Meanwhile, 60 per cent are planning to increase their use of financial services such as banking and insurance. And to help achieve these future goals, 30 per cent are considering accessing business loans for the first time.

The report also highlighted that government support has played a vital role in supporting SMEs throughout the pandemic, with 66 per cent increasing their use of government services and 54 per cent saying that they expect to increase their use of government services in the next year.

“As Australia’s SME sector emerges from lockdowns, there is a great reset underway,” LinkedIn’s Director of Enterprise in SEA, KR and ANZ Marketing Solutions, Prue Cox, said. “A significant number of SMEs have continued to thrive, despite the slowdowns of the pandemic. Even those who were impacted feel they are emerging from COVID as more resilient businesses, with a better understanding of where they need to invest to grow.”

The research highlights seven top priorities for SMEs as they emerge from the pandemic:

  1. new business strategy (60 per cent)
  2. software (54 per cent)
  3. skills and training (54 per cent)
  4. digitisation (52 per cent)
  5. technology services (52 per cent)
  6. marketing (47 per cent)
  7. hardware (43 per cent).

“The small-business landscape in Australia has fundamentally changed,” Cox said. “We are at a unique moment in time with a majority of SMEs now actively looking to invest and capitalise on post-pandemic economic conditions.

“Policymakers and large enterprises servicing the SME market need to understand that priorities have shifted,” Cox added. “This research shows a great SME reset is underway, offering an important opportunity for Australia to accelerate the development of a major engine of economic growth.”

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