Empowering Small Businesses: The State of Small Business Survey 

13 November, 2023

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The State of Small Business Report

In November, we, Localsearch, in partnership with Thrive PR & Communications, conducted our second annual State of Small Business Survey, connecting with our extensive client base of over 28,000 small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Our goal was unambiguous: to delve deep into the minds of SMBs and gain a profound understanding of the issues that shape their day-to-day operations. From the persistent skilled worker shortage to the impending cloud of economic uncertainty, and from the intricacies of marketing their businesses to the forthcoming Privacy Act changes, we set out to capture the essence of the challenges they face. 

“Australian small businesses, particularly those in regional areas, confront unique challenges. Amidst a whirlwind of unexpected changes over the past few years, with more transformations seemingly on the horizon, it becomes imperative for us, as businesses servicing other businesses, as a nation, for our government entities and the wider community, to comprehend the ramifications of these shifts… Our goal is to utilise the gathered information and data to enhance our support for Australian small businesses, and to encourage our communities to do the same.” 

– Daniel Stoten — Localsearch Executive Chairman

The State of Small Business Report

The State of Small Business Key Findings 

The report reveals crucial findings, shedding light on significant aspects of SMB operations. Including insights into hiring practises, internal training and marketing.  

  • 85% of small businesses remain unaware of pending changes to the Privacy Act. 
  • 20% have expanded their online presence in the last year. 
  • 79% use websites as a key tool in their marketing strategy. 
  • 56% struggle to find the talent needed for their day-to-day operations. 
  • 74% have hired between 1 and 3 new employees this year. 

Hiring & The Skilled Worker Shortage

Small businesses are adapting their hiring strategies to address the challenges presented by the continuing skilled worker shortage. Many are now focusing on work/life balance incentives and valuing work ethic over experience when making hiring decisions. 

Training & Development

The report emphasises the growing importance of skills development and training within Australian businesses. Surprisingly, less than half of Australian businesses currently provide upskilling opportunities for their existing employees. However, there is a notable increase in businesses offering new certification training and establishing in-house training compliance teams. 

Security & Privacy Cybersecurity

Readiness and privacy education are critical. While 78.5% of small businesses have managed to evade the negative impacts of fraud and cybercrimes, a significant portion remains unaware of the imminent changes to the Privacy Act, emphasising the need for prioritising cybersecurity and privacy education. 

Support & Resources for Tougher Economic Times

Small and medium-sized businesses in Australia are advocating for greater tax cuts, government-backed subsidies for staff training, and initiatives to offer higher wages to skilled workers. These demands reflect the need for financial assistance and workforce development to remain competitive in a challenging economic landscape. 

Marketing & Advertising

Despite numerous challenges, SMBs in Australia are actively seeking to stay competitive. The report highlights the increase in marketing investments, the expansion of online presence, and the adoption of social media and websites as essential marketing tools. It’s become clear SMBs are aware of the importance of Marketing themselves to reach their communities.  

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