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  • Small business cash flow education research 2017

    The Small Business Cash Flow Education Research 2017 focusses on the story of small businesses that have been operating for over 10 years, and provides significant insights on their experiences and behaviours. This longer term perspective on how mature businesses continue to manage and respond to financial and cash flow challenges further informs our understanding of the education needs of existing small businesses and options for providing them appropriate and targeted support.

    Survivor Characteristics

    Due to the significant number of businesses with ten or more years’ experience (78% of surveyed small businesses ≥ 11 years), this research profiles successful mature small businesses in relation to their cash flow and business management. These successful mature small businesses share the following characteristics:

    • They understand cash flow is important and monitor it daily or weekly.
    • They have a desire to learn more about business and financial management and are interested in improving their cash flow management.
    • They are willing to adapt to new management practices for example, adopting online accounting tools.
    • Their perceived knowledge has increased considerably over time when compared to how they rated themselves when they first went into business.
    • Those who reported increased financial knowledge also rated their business as financially neutral to growing, giving support to the notion that knowledge and success are closely linked.

    Small Business Cash flow Perspectives

    Around half of the surveyed mature small businesses had experienced cash flow issues (51%). These small businesses reported that cash flow issues had arisen in the first two years of operations or after five years of operation.

    The surveyed successful mature small businesses:

    • Clearly identify that cash flow management is part of their job (87%)
    • Are interested in improving their cash flow management (58%)
    • Believe having a better understanding of cash flow would be beneficial to planning (53%)
    • Felt they had more to learn about cash flow (52%)
    • Stated they have the time to learn (50%)
    • Believe having a better understanding of cash flow would reduce stress (46%)
    • They could afford to learn about cash flow (63%).

    These results do not support time and cost as potential barriers to learning for this group. This research suggests that mature small businesses, regardless of the length of time in business, are receptive to improving their knowledge about cash flow. This provides the ATO with an opportunity to develop education for small businesses of all ages.

    Most of the surveyed mature small businesses managed their cash flow using software or web based accounting tools. The majority of mature small businesses surveyed said the reports from accounting software packages helped them understand cash flow. While only 26% of surveyed tax practitioners believe their clients are capable of fully understanding the reports from accounting software packages in relation to cash flow management, it is important to note that the tax practitioners were commenting on their client base as a whole, and not only successful mature small businesses. It does suggest however, that there is an opportunity for tax practitioners to expand their coaching and mentoring services for small businesses in this area.

    Mature small businesses highly rate their ability to do the fundamental activities of managing the financial affairs of a business, such as cash in and out, invoicing and outgoing payments.

    Mature small businesses rated their current abilities of the following as good or very good:

    • Awareness of cash coming in and out (92%)
    • Managing cash flow (95%)
    • Managing invoicing (86%)
    • Managing payments incoming (84%)
    • Managing payments outgoing (93%).

    Improving knowledge

    Earlier research focussing on new small businesses1 found that improving their knowledge about business and financial management is important for this group (89% < 1 year; 81% 1-3 years). Improving their business and financial knowledge remains a priority even for established businesses, with 60% of mature small businesses indicating it is very important or important to improve their business and financial knowledge.

    Some of the reasons for this were:

    • To be better informed (46%)
    • To be more in control of their business (42%)
    • To save money (9%).

    Those who didn’t think it was important to improve their business and financial knowledge felt they were already competent (40%), that it wasn’t important to them (34%) or they weren’t interested (18%).

    Most mature small businesses appear to have some capacity to spend time and resources learning more about cash flow, as they:

    • Were interested in improving their cash flow management (58%), felt understanding cash flow better would allow them to plan ahead (53%), and would reduce their stress levels (46%)
    • Were not too busy to learn (50%)
    • Felt they could afford (financially) to learn cash flow (63%)
    • Felt there was more to learn about cash flow (52%)
    • Felt it was their job to understand cash flow management (87%).

    Relationship with trusted advisors

    Mature small businesses were asked where they go for information or advice relating to financial management. The majority of the small businesses surveyed (82%) stated they would contact their professional financial advisor.

    The mature small business surveyed typically interact with their business advisor/ tax professional on a quarterly basis, trust them, use them for compliance, and believe the services offered are affordable. These small businesses did not identify any reasons inhibiting their interaction with advisors. While the surveyed business advisors and tax professionals believe cost and time are inhibiting factors, it is important to note the tax practitioners were commenting on their client base as a whole, and not just mature small businesses.

    While more than half of the mature small businesses believed having a better understanding of cash flow would enable better forward planning and reduce stress level, only 14% of small business could identify this as a service offered by their main provider of advice. This suggests limited awareness about the range of potential services offered by their advisor.

    1 New Small Business Education, Winangali/Ipsos for Australian Taxation Office, September 2016

     

    The following information outlines the small business cash flow education research for 2017. You can also download in a PDF version Small business cash flow education research 2017 (PDF 1.3MB)This link will download a file.

    Disclaimer: Please note that the data contained in this report has been prepared for the specific purpose of addressing the items contained in the project contract between IPS Management Consultants for the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). It may not be suitable for other applications.

    Executive summary

    Small businesses comprise the majority of Australian businesses and account for 33% of Australia’s gross domestic productFootnote2. Nearly 40% of small businesses fail in the first four years of operation with those most vulnerable owned by sole traders.

    The ATO seeks to understand how small businesses manage their cash flow, and who they turn to for advice on financial and business management matters. Developing this understanding enables the ATO to develop and implement effective education strategies to assist small businesses in succeeding.

    Building understanding

    In 2016, the ATO commissioned a research project to understand the education experiences of new small businesses (up to three years old) to determine if small business owners choose to undertake tax and superannuation tasks independently or whether they choose to use tax professionals for some or all tax and superannuation tasks (IPSOS, 2016)1. The New Small Business Education Research (2016) found new small businesses were generally motivated to learn about tax and superannuation requirements, but barriers such as time, cost and other priorities inhibited engagement in educational opportunities. The research also found learning about tax and superannuation was often reactionary and ad-hoc, with small business understandably being more focused on the day-to-day running of their business.

    To build on established knowledge, the ATO commissioned this research to ascertain where small business sought financial and business management help and how they interacted with tax professionals, particularly in relation to cash flow. Some further exploration of the New Small Business Education Research was explored within this research, specifically what education small business owners sought and their understanding of business and financial management. Emphasis was placed on their understanding of cash flow and associated issues. The research also investigated how small businesses wanted to receive information to inform and educate the ATO of the best education delivery approaches. Equipped with this knowledge, the ATO would be in a better position to design and develop engagement strategies and education products that meet small business needs.

    A story of survivors

    This research has a significant focus on the story of small businesses who have been operating for over five years and many with more than a decade in operation. The 460 small businesses who participated represent diversity in age of business and industry. However, broadly consistent with the age of businesses more generally, 78% of participating small businesses were 11 years or older and 10% were five years old or less as shown in Figure 1. Two-thirds of the business owners who participated said this was their first business, with the remainder having owned another business in the past. Nearly half had more than 21 years of experience owning a small business and the majority of business owners had 11 years or more experience in management roles.

    While the 2016 research focused specifically on businesses up to three years old, the inclusion of mature businesses has provided significant insights of their experiences over many years. This longer term perspective on how businesses, that survive the critical first four years, manage and respond to financial and cash flow challenges has further informed our understanding of the education needs of both new and existing small businesses and options for providing appropriate and targeted support.

    Figure 1: Length of time in business.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Less than 1 year 2%, 1 to 2 years 4%, 3 to 5 years 4%, 6 to 10 years 12%, 11 to 20 years 26% and more than 21 years 52%.

    Source: SB A6 How long has your main business been in operation? (n=460)

    In other respects, the sample is similar to the general population of small businesses. The industries represented included retail trade, professional, scientific, and technical, accommodation and food services and manufacturing. Most of the small businesses were sole traders or family owned, with around a quarter being partnerships.

    Survivor characteristics

    The significant number of mature businesses (ten or more years) in this study allows us to develop a profile of these businesses in relation to cash flow management, what they have learned/done to help them both survive and grow their business. These businesses share the following characteristics:

    • They understand cash flow is important and monitor it daily or weekly.
    • They have a desire to learn more about business and financial management and are interested in improving their cash flow management.
    • They are willing to adapt to new management practices e.g. adopting online accounting tools.
    • Their perceived knowledge has increased considerably over time when compared to how they rated themselves when they first went into business.
    • Those who reported increased financial knowledge also rated their business as financially neutral to growing, giving support to the notion that knowledge and success are closely linked.

    Small business perspectives on cash flow

    Small business participants understand that cash flow is important. Figure 2 summarises some of those perspectives.

    Figure 2 - Small business perspectives on cash flow

    Small business participants understand that cash flow is important. Their perspectives are summarised as:

    • 94% said they keep track of their cash flow
    • 51% have experienced cash flow issues (source SB C3)
    • 60% believe it’s very important or important to improve their knowledge about business management and financial management (source SB D1)

    Half (51%) have experienced cash flow issues (source SB C3). Reasons given for these issues included a downturn in the economy (34%), personal circumstances (11%), change in the business (9%), and tax or superannuation obligations (6%).

    Small businesses surveyed reported that cash flow issues usually arose in the first two years of operation (42%) or after five years of operation (26%). Tax professionals (63%) believed the majority of small businesses have issues during the first two years of operation.

    The most common causes of cash flow issues experienced by the surveyed small businesses were identified as related to volume of sales (47%), issues with payment from customers or clients (26%), and expenses (23%). This was consistent with tax professionals who also identified these three factors as the primary causes of cash flow issues for their clients.

    Small businesses took a range of actions to resolve their cash flow issues. The main themes related to taking action around planning, work volumes, borrowing, payment issues, costs and expenses, as shown in the Figure 3. The range of actions and the relatively even spread across the top six reflects the diversity of businesses and the fact that different levers work for different business situations and circumstances. However, it is unclear how aware small businesses are of all of these options. This provides the ATO with the opportunity to develop an education strategy to communicate the range of options available to assist cash flow management.

    Figure 3: Actions taken by small businesses to resolve cash flow issues.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Improved planning/management 21%, Expanded volume of work 18%, Reduced expenses 18%, Borrowed money 17%, Efficiencies in staffing costs 13%, Improved payments from customers 12%, Reduced or deferred costs for stock or supply 7%, Reduced costs for business equipment 7%, Pricing 6%, Made an exit plan 2%, Other 8%, Unsure 9%, Prefer not to say 1%.

    Source: SB C7 What action did you take to help resolve your cash flow issues? (n=234) Note: multiple responses were permitted.

    Most small businesses managed their cash flow using software or web based accounting tools. Also used were online banking, pen and paper, and excel spreadsheets. The majority of small businesses have said the reports from accounting software packages helped them understand cash flow. Only 26% of tax professionals surveyed believed their clients are capable of fully understanding the report from accounting software packages in relation to cash flow management.

    Improving knowledge

    Sixty percent of small businesses said it is very important or important to improve their business and financial knowledge. Some of the reasons for this were:

    • To be better informed (46%)
    • To be more in control of their business (42%)
    • To save money (9%)

    Those who didn’t think it was important to improve their business and financial knowledge felt they were already competent (40%), that it wasn’t important to them (34%) or they weren’t interested (18%).

    Most businesses:

    • Were interested in improving their cash flow management (58%)
    • Felt understanding cash flow better would allow them to plan ahead (53%) and would reduce their stress levels (46%)
    • Were not too busy to learn (50%)
    • Felt they could afford (financially) to learn cash flow (63%)
    • Felt there was more to learn about cash flow (52%)
    • Felt it was their job to understand cash flow management (87%)

    Small business knowledge and confidence

    When reflecting on the start-up phase of their business, the majority sought advice from their accountant (44%). The level of business, financial and cash flow management knowledge respondents reported during the start-up phase of their business showed that while some viewed their knowledge as poor or very poor, a roughly proportional number reported their knowledge as good or very good. Each aspect of management was closely mirrored in relation to knowledge during start-up. (It should be noted the majority of small businesses surveyed had been in business for more than 10 years and this may impact their recall of their knowledge of these areas during the start-up phase of their business).

    In addition to knowledge, the research sought to understand small business owners’ confidence relating to a number of financial aspects including accessing business advisors and tax professionals, managing finances, using accounting software and being tax and superannuation compliant.

    The data shows that 20% of respondents are not confident with accounting software, although 81% said they are confident their finances are well managed, suggesting they depend on other means of managing their finances.

    Financial state and age of business

    Participating small business owners were asked to describe the financial state of their business. Three quarters (75%) of respondents noted that their business was financially neutral to growing. This data was then compared to the age of business to determine any relationship, where it was found that age of business was not related to the reported financial state. In other words, some new businesses reported growth and, some mature businesses reported they were under financial pressure.

    Within the 2016 study it was found businesses facing financial pressure also reported a lack of confidence in relation to tax and superannuation knowledge and experienced cash flow issues. Half of participating small business owners reported experiencing cash flow issues within this study. Common reasons thought to cause cash flow issues, according to small business owners and business advisors/ tax professionals, included the volume of sales, client payment delays and business expenses. Cash flow issues were not limited to businesses’ early operating years. Of the businesses that reported cash flow issues (n=234), a third reported that they experienced cash flow issues in the first year of operation and nearly half of the businesses reported experiencing cash flow issues as established businesses being five years or older. This was in contrast to the views of business advisors and tax professionals who indicated businesses five years or younger were more likely to experience cash flow issues.

    Although the majority of these businesses have been operating for 10 or more years they feel they have more to learn about cash flow. They are interested in learning and while the time and cost barriers are not as prominent as in the 2016 research, they were an issue for approximately half the participants.

    Relationship with trusted advisors

    Small business owners typically interact with their business advisor/ tax professional on a quarterly basis stating they trust them, use them for compliance, and believe the services offered are affordable. Small business owners did not identify any reasons inhibiting their interaction with advisors; however business advisors and tax professionals believe cost and time are inhibiting factors. When linking these findings to small business owners’ views on various aspects of cash flow, it was interesting to find that more than half believed having a better understanding of cash flow would enable forward planning and reduce stress level, but only 14% of business owners identify this as a service offered by their main provider of advice. This suggests an interest in better understanding their cash flow but a lack of awareness about the range of services offered by their advisor.

    Small business owners prefer to seek knowledge and advice on financial management from their business advisor, accountant or bookkeeper (54%). Results from the 2016 study showed small businesses relied on their tax agent, accountant or other owners in business for advice on taxation and superannuation. Small businesses preferred methods of obtaining knowledge about business and cash flow management that were online-based, followed by face-to- face interactions.

    Business advisors and tax professionals report assisting small business with cash flow issues through coaching and mentoring and encouraging clients to ask more questions.

    Business advisors’ perceptions on cash flow issues

    Business advisors (63%) surveyed feel most small businesses experience cash flow issues in the initial two years. They stated that causes are mostly payment delays (36%), expenses (32%), and volume of sales (25%). Forty two percent of small business respondents indicated issues in the initial two years, and 26% declared cash flow issues after five years of operation.

    Most business advisors indicated that improved planning and management could resolve cash flow issues (61%). Other methods for solving cash flow problems identified by business advisors include improved payments from customers (28%), and reducing expenses (25%).

    Most business advisors (71%) believe it’s very important for small businesses to improve their business knowledge and finance management. Business advisors play an active role in education mostly through coaching and mentoring (68%) and encouraging their clients to ask more questions (23%). Seventy nine percent believe small businesses prefer to go to their accountant or bookkeeper for advice on financial management. The qualitative research highlighted that tax professionals believe that small business owners often don’t realise they need advice and knowledge on cash flow management until a crisis point is reached, such as getting into debt or making a loss.

    Project aim

    Indigenous Professional Services was engaged in February 2017 by the ATO to deliver the Small business cash flow education research project. The objectives and requirements underpinning the project were:

    To provide a deeper understanding of what drives small business cash flow issues, how effectively they manage cash flow and its related issues and who helps them. In addition, the research aims to identify the broader financial management education needs of small businesses, with a focus on cash flow, when they need this education and how they want it.

    Research aims

    • Identify small business perceptions of what influences and drives cash flow issues.
    • Explore small business perspectives of cash flow issues, including potential solutions.
    • Explore the tax professionals’ perspectives on cash flow issues.
    • Explore in more depth the relationship and engagement between small business and their tax professionals and how behaviour towards cash flow management can be changed with intermediaries.
    • To provide actionable information to help pre-empt small business needs in financial management, and provide prompts for businesses to access the right resources at the right time in their preferred ways.
    • To provide a powerful evidence base to develop and implement the most effective education offering for small business.
    • To provide a benchmark for future tracking research in this area.

    Methodology

    Small businesses and tax professionals across Australia were surveyed to establish a current understanding of cash flow management and associated practices within small business to inform the broader financial management education needs of small businesses. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were utilised to provide a deeper understanding of what drives small business cash flow problems. The research explored how effectively small businesses manage cash flow and related issues and who they ask for help.

    The structure, design and content of both the qualitative and quantitative surveys were developed by IPS in collaboration with the ATO’s Small Business Engagement and Support (SBES) project team and external stakeholders.

    Definitions

    Small Business: An active business that has an ABN and a turnover of less than $2 million. Please note that during the course of this research, the ATO’s definition of a small business changed to include businesses with less than $10 million aggregated turnover. To enable comparison to 2016 research, the definition for this research remained as an active business that has an ABN and a turnover of less than $2 million.

    Business advisor: A person or entity that provides advice and / or services to small businesses including but not limited to taxation professionals, accountants, book keepers, BAS agents, business, financial and legal advisors.

    Reader Guidelines

    Please note that all quotes within this report are obtained from participant comments within the qualitative phase, unless otherwise referenced.

    Sample

    There were two phases of data collection. The first was in-depth qualitative interviews and the second was a broader quantitative phase. Within the two phases, two populations were targeted, small business owners and tax professionals. Participants were selected across Australia using a reliable commercial sample listing sourced from Q&A Marketing Research Pty Ltd.

    Geographical quotas were set to ensure a representative sample was obtained.

    There was diversity within the sample in terms of sector, education, length of operation, previous experience, number of employees and location.

    Overview of the Research Design and Reporting Structure

    Engagement and scope

    Stage 1: Discovery

    Stage 2: Measurement

    Stage 3: Analysis and reporting

    1. Collaboration with internal stakeholders

    2. Literature Review

    3. Instrument Development

    1. Qualitative Survey: development and execution

    2. n=31 Small business owners and n=12 business advisors

    3. Analyse and prepare Topline report

    4. Present Topline report

    1. Quantitative Survey: development and execution

    2. CATI interviews: n=460 Small business owners and n=150 business advisors

    1. Draft report

    2. Incorporate feedback into final report

    3. Submit final report

    Qualitative research

    The qualitative interviews were designed to ascertain small businesses’ level of understanding in regards to cash flow management from the perspective of both small businesses and tax professionals. A total of 43 in-depth interviews were conducted in geographically diverse regions (both metropolitan and regional, Figure 4) in all states and territories across Australia except Tasmania and the ACT (Figure 6). Figure 5 provides a breakdown of tax professionals’ area of expertise.

    Figure 4: Participants

    Participant

    Small business

    Tax professional

    Total (n)

    Regional participants

    13

    4

    17

    Metro participants

    18 (4 Indigenous)

    8 (2 Indigenous)

    26

    Total

    31

    12

    43

    Figure 5: Tax professional area of expertise

    Tax professional area of expertise (single response)

    Total (n)

    Tax

    3

    Business advice

    3

    Bookkeeping

    2

    Accounting

    2

    Superannuation

    1

    Financial Management

    1

    Figure 6: Geographic range of interview participants

    Map of Australia, with dots representing the locations of survey participants

    Participants surveyed represented in the regions of Darwin, Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Hunter Valley, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Bunbury and Northam.

    Data Collection and Analysis

    Two discussion guides were prepared and used to collect data – one for small businesses (Appendix 2) and one for tax professionals (Appendix 3). The discussion guides focused on a number of key areas designed to explore and provide a deeper understanding around cash flow management issues, including:

    • Business and financial management experience, including understanding of cash flow.
    • Relationships with tax professionals, accountants, tax advisors, small business groups, the ATO and other networks.
    • Access and use of training and support mechanisms.
    • Tools currently used to manage small business cash flow.

    Thirty-four interviews were conducted face to face and nine were conducted by phone. While this could be considered a limitation, interviewers and researchers reported no loss of quality in data collection via phone interviews.

    Each interview was transcribed and coded using NVivo, providing analysis of key themes emerging from the interviews. NVivo enabled content analysis to verify data expressed as themes, as analysed in the transcripts.

    Quantitative research

    Q&A Marketing Research Pty Ltd conducted recruitment of 150 tax professionals and 450 small business owner participants for the quantitative survey. Small businesses were sourced via a commercially purchased list. The small business sample was supplemented by a further 10 participants obtained from two lists provided by the ATO to increase the number of new businesses within the sample. All small business participants were owners or part owners of the business. Tax professionals were sourced using a list provided by the ATO. Participants were randomly selected from the lists via the Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing software (CATI) survey system. A total of 460 small businesses and 150 tax professionals across Australia participated (Figure 7). Quotas for the small businesses were set for each state to ensure an adequate representation in relation to ABS demographic data. Figure 8 provides a summary of tax professionals’ areas of expertise; multiple selections were permitted. Note that the small business sample represents survivors as the majority were established businesses 10 years or older. Also, tax professionals were considering their client base when responding.

    Figure 7: Quantitative participants

    Participant

    Small business

    Tax professional

    Total (n)

    Regional participants

    222 (5 Indigenous)

    62

    -

    Metro participants

    238 (3 Indigenous)

    88

    -

    Total

    460

    150

    610

    Total (n) = 610

    Figure 8: Tax professional area of expertise

    Tax professional area of expertise (n=150, multiple selections)

    Total (n)

    Tax

    123

    Accounting

    68

    Business advice

    54

    Bookkeeping

    44

    Preparation of financial reports

    25

    Superannuation

    19

    Strategic advice

    15

    Transactional advice

    8

    Payroll

    2

    BAS

    2

    Compliance

    2

    Real estate / property management

    2

    Auditing

    1

    Global financial crisis

    1

    Source: TP A3, n=150

    To ascertain small businesses’ level of understanding in regards to cash flow management, two quantitative surveys were designed. The first survey was for small businesses (Appendix 4) and the second was for tax professionals (Appendix 5).

    After collaborative development of the surveys and prior to implementation, the surveys were piloted and IPS’s behavioural psychologist Dr Pauline Arnold undertook cognitive testing. Q&A Research then conducted the surveys via the CATI survey system. The small business survey took about 11 minutes to complete and the tax professionals survey took about 14 minutes to complete. The surveys were approved by the Australian Government Statistical Clearing House, approval number: 02548-01.

    Research findings

    Small businesses and tax professionals across Australia were surveyed to establish their current understanding of cash flow management and associated practices within small business to inform the broader financial management education needs of small businesses.

    Financial knowledge

    During their start-up phase small business owners reported they sought advice from a number of different people and professions. Figure 9 shows the majority received advice from their accountant (41%) and around a third (36%) of small businesses reported setting up their business themselves without help. Advice from a family member was also sought by 21% and other small business owners were approached by 14% of respondents. It should be noted the majority of small businesses surveyed had been in business for more than 10 years and this may limit their recall of all advice sought at that time.

    Figure 9: Where small businesses sought help during start up

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Accountant 41%, I did it myself 36%, Family member 21%, Other small business owner 14%, Lawyer/Solicitor 6%, Industry group 5%, Bookkeeper 4%, Mentor 4%, Small Business Centre 3%, BAS agent 2%, Other 6%, Don’t know 6% and Prefer not to say 0.

    Source: SB B1 Thinking about when you first started your business, who helped you set up your business? (n=460, multiple selections permitted)

    The level of knowledge respondents reported during the start-up phase of their business showed that while some viewed their knowledge as poor or very poor, a roughly proportional number reported their knowledge as good or very good (Figure 10). The figure shows each aspect of business management, financial management and cash flow management were closely mirrored. It should be noted the majority of small businesses surveyed had been in business for more than 10 years and this may impact their recall of their knowledge of these areas during the start-up phase of their business.

    Figure 10: Small business owners self-reported knowledge

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB C8-C10 Thinking about when you first started in business, how would you rate your knowledge of the following, where 1 is very poor and 5 is very good also with the options of ‘not applicable’ and ‘unsure’? (n=460)
    See full data table for figure 10

    Small businesses were also asked to rate their ability now in relation to specific types of tasks which are a fundamental part of managing the financial affairs of a business (Figure 11). Generally, they rated their current abilities of the following as good or very good:

    • Awareness of cash coming in and out (92%)
    • Managing cash flow (95%)
    • Managing invoicing (86%)
    • Managing payments incoming (84%)
    • Managing payments outgoing (93%)

    Respondents did not rate their knowledge relating to forecasting their business finances highly, with 17% selecting poor or very poor and only 51% good or very good.

    Small business owners highly rate their ability to do the fundamental activities such as cash in and out, invoicing and outgoing payments.

    Figure 11: Small business owners’ self-reported ability

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB C11-C16 How would you rate your ability now, in relation to the following, on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is very poor and 5 is very good also with the options of ‘not applicable’ and ‘unsure? (n=460)
    See full data table for figure 11

    To gain a deeper understanding of how small business owners feel regarding the finances of their business, respondents were asked specific questions relating to their knowledge and confidence of various financial aspects using a scale type response (Figure 12). The data shows most small business owners are confident their business is tax and superannuation compliant (94%) and the majority know how and where to get advice relating to tax and superannuation (81%). Interestingly, the data shows some respondents (20%) are not confident with accounting software although most said their finances are well managed, suggesting they depend on other means of management.

    Figure 12: Small business owners’ self-reported knowledge and confidence

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB B13-B19 For each can you rate how well it describes you as a business owner / manager. A rating of 1 indicates that the statement does not describe you at all. A rating of 5 indicates that the statement describes you very well also with the options of ‘not applicable’ and ‘unsure’? (n=460)
    See full data table for figure 12

    Advisors to small business

    Small business owners were then asked who provided them with professional advice for their business (Figure 13). Nearly half (49%) noted their accountant and 38% said they did not ask anyone for advice.

    In the New Small Business Education Research (2016), 80% of the new businesses said their main provider of advice was tax agents and accountants. The more established small businesses surveyed in this research were seeking professional advice less, with 49% likely to use an accountant.

    Figure 13: Who small business owners seek advice from

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Accountant 49, Bookkeeper 2, Business advisor 3, Financial advisor 1, BAS agent 1, Legal advisor 1, No one 38, Other 4 and Prefer not to say 1.

    Source: SB B3 Who is the main provider of professional advice for your business? (n=460)

    Responses from small businesses during the qualitative phase of the research indicated they obtained advice from a range of other sources, including industry groups, family, informal networks online sources and through social media including Facebook.

    Question: Do you use any informal networks for business information and advice?

    Answer: I’ve been to the Small Business Advisory Centre for special networking events. I’ve contacted Supply Nation about courses.

    Question: Have you ever called the ATO for advice?

    Answer: No, I haven’t thought of them as a resource.

    Answer: Yes, I have, but it takes a long time to get through when you ring the 1800 number.

    Question: Who are you likely to seek advice from?

    Answer: I think I would go to the ATO, possibly call an accountant

    Small businesses were asked where they go for information or advice relating to financial management. The majority of the small businesses surveyed (82%) stated they would contact their professional financial advisor, 8% said they would look for online resources and 5% would contact their industry association or body. Five percent would consult family or friends, 3% mentioned they would contact the ATO, 2% would talk to another business in their sector and 1% would contact a government agency (local, state, federal).

    The small businesses surveyed were asked about the people or organisations they relied on for advice about tax and superannuation (Figure 14). Tax agents and accountants are relied on always or sometimes by the majority of the small businesses surveyed (71%). Around a third relied always or sometimes on a bookkeeper (32%) or other owners in their business (28%). The least relied on included other business owners (15%), government departments (16%) and business advisors, coaches or mentors (16%).

    Figure 14: Who small business owners rely on for advice regarding tax and superannuation

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB B2 For each person or organisation, please indicate on a score of 1 to 5, where 1 is never rely on them for advice and 5 is always rely on them for advice, about tax and superannuation also with the options of ‘not applicable’ and ‘unsure’? (n=460). Note: each respondent provided an answer for each person or organisation.
    See full data table for figure 14

    Given that small businesses identified they sought financial advice from tax professionals, particularly tax agents and accountants, they were then asked how often they interacted with their main provider of professional advice (Figure 15). The data shows small business owners typically interact with their main provider either monthly or quarterly, accounting for 59% of respondents.

    Figure 16 shows how often the tax professionals surveyed reported interacting with their clients and while there are subtle differences, tax professionals also indicated interaction predominantly occurred on a monthly or quarterly basis.

    Figure 15: How often small businesses interact with their main provider of advice.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Once a year 4%, twice a year 8%, Quarterly 30%, Monthly 28%, Fortnightly 7%, Weekly 10%, Continuous communication 5%, As needed 4%, Other 3% and unsure 1%.

    Source: SB B4 Thinking about your main provider of professional advice for your business, how often would you interact with this advisor? (n=282)

    Figure 16: How often tax professionals report interacting with their small business clients.

     

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Once a year 1%, twice a year 9%, quarterly 40%, monthly 17%, fortnightly 5%, weekly 6%, continuous communication 7%, as needed 15%, other 0% and unsure 1%.

    Source: TP C1 On average, how often do you your small business clients interact with you? (n=150).

    Small businesses were asked what services their main provider of professional services provided. Figure 17 shows the majority of services small business owners report as being provided by their main professional advisor includes tax obligations (57%), tax information (48%) and financial management (33%). Only 12% identified that their advisor offered assistance with business strategy and 9% identified cash flow. Only 2% identified that their provider offered services relating to pricing strategies. This is concerning as incorrect pricing strategies are potentially one of the drivers for cash flow issues.

    Tax professionals were asked what services they provide to small business (source TP C4, n=150). Tax obligations (85%) and tax information (75%) were the main services provided and is consistent with the views of small businesses. Other services provided by tax professionals included cash flow management (38%), dealing with government regulators (35%), financial management (33%), business strategy and planning (31%) and system set up and maintenance (28%). While there are some differences in representation between tax professionals and small businesses, small business views of the services offered by their provider are reasonably consistent with the services identified by tax professionals. With regard to cash flow however, 38% of tax professionals identified it as a service, however, only 14% of small business owners identified it as a service offered.

    Figure 17: Services small business owners identified as offered by their main provider.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Tax obligations 78%, tax information 57%, financial management 33%, dealing with government/regulators 23% business strategy/planning 20%, cash flow management 14%, staff related advice 10%, system set up 9%, pricing strategies 3%, research and development 2%, marketing 2%, don't know 1%, exit strategy, prefer not to say  and other 0%.

    Source: SB B6: What services does your main provider of professional advice for your business provide? (n=282). Note: all respondents responded either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each service.

    To further explore small business engagement with their main provider of professional advice, more specific questions were asked using a scaled response. Figure 18 shows that of the small businesses surveyed, the majority agree or strongly agree that they trust their business advisor’s advice (95%) and use their business advisor for compliance (90%). The data also shows the majority of small business owners believe their business advisors understand their business (92%) and are affordable (77%). Respondents were less likely to agree or strongly agree that they use their main provider of professional advice for planning (53%) or cash flow issues (37%).

    Figure 18: Small business owners’ responses to a serious of questions relating to their business advisors.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB B7-B12 I am going to read a series of statements and I would like you to rate your response on a scale of 1 – 5, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree also with the options of ‘not applicable’ and ‘unsure’ (n=282). Note each participant provided an answer for each statement.
    See full data table for figure 18

    Figure 19 shows the majority of business owners said there was nothing (75%) preventing them from interacting with their main provider of professional advice, suggesting they believe they interact with their advisors when necessary. Cost (14%) and time (8%) were identified as reasons by only a small number of small businesses.

    Figure 19: Reasons small business owners don’t interact with their advisor.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. No reason 75%, cost 14%, time 8%, unsure of their services 1%, they don't understand my business 0%, not offering value for money 0%, other 1%, unsure 1% and prefer not to say 0%.

    Source: SB B5 What is the main reason, if any, that prevent you from interacting with your main provider of professional advice for your business as often as you’d like to need to? (n=282)

    In contrast to the small businesses, tax professionals believe that cost (41%) and time (33%) are major reasons why clients do not interact with them as often as they should (Figure 20).

    Figure 20: Tax professionals’ reasons why small business owners don’t interact with their advisors as often as they should.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Cost 41%, time 33%, not knowing the services we offer 6%, don't want my advice 10%, other 8%, I don't know 2% and prefer not to say 0%.

    Source: TP C3 What do you believe is the main reason that prevents your clients interacting with you as often as they should? (n=63)

    Small business financial state and cash flow

    With a solid understanding of whom small business owners seek information from in relation to business and finance management, it became important to understand how they viewed the financial state of their business, particularly cash flow. Respondents were asked to rate the financial state of their business right now (Figure 21) using a scale from one ‘under pressure’ through to five ‘growing strongly’. Forty percent of respondents rated their businesses’ financial state as four to five (growing strongly). Twenty-five percent identified they felt they were under financial pressure (1 or 2 on the ratings scale). Approximately one third gave a rating of ‘three’.

    Figure 21: Small business views of the financial state of their business.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Under pressure 12%, Growing strongly 16%, within both these figures there are ratings of 2 at 13%, 3 at 35% and 4 at 24%. Not applicable and unsure are 0%.

    Source: SB C1 On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you describe the financial state of your business right now, with 1 being under pressure and 5 growing strongly also with the options of ‘not applicable’ and ‘unsure’ (n=460)

    Figure 22 shows the age of business compared to their reported financial state. The data shows a relatively even spread of businesses across each category regardless of age. The exception to this is businesses aged 21 years or more which have greater percentage within the steady or growing categories.

    Figure 22: Age of business and self-reported financial state.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB A6 How long has your main business been in operation? and SB C1 On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you describe the financial state of your business right now, with 1 being under pressure and 5 growing also with the options of ‘not applicable’ and ‘unsure’? (n=460).
    See full data table for figure 22

    Figure 23 compares the self-reported financial state of small business ‘right now’ and business owners’ self-reported ability to managing cash flow. The data shows businesses who reported a three, four or five in relation to their financial state are also those who believe they have ‘good’ or ‘very good’ ability to manage cash flow.

    Figure 23: Small business current financial state and their ability to manage cash flow.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB C1 On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you describe the financial state of your business right now, with 1 being under pressure and 5 growing also with the options of ‘not applicable’ and ‘unsure’ and SB C11 How would you rate your ability now, in relation to the following, on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is very poor and 5 is very good, also with the options of ‘not applicable’ and ‘unsure’? (n=460) Note there were zero responses within the ‘very poor’, ‘poor’, ‘not applicable’ or ‘unsure’ options.
    See full data table for figure 23

    Small Business Cash flow Perspectives

    Small businesses who participated in the survey understand cash flow is important. Ninety-four percent said they kept track of their cash flow (source SB C2). When asked how much time they spent managing their cash flow 95% of businesses surveyed said they manage their cash flow weekly or daily. The following figure 24 shows how often small businesses report managing their cash flow.

    Figure 24: How often small businesses manage their cash flow.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB C17 On average how much time (hours) do you spend managing your cash flow (per day, week, fortnight, month, quarter)? (n=460).
    See full data table for figure 24

    A summary of how often small business owners manage their cash flow is shown in figure 25.

    Figure 25: Summary of how often small business owners manage their cash flow.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Daily 29%, weekly 66%, fortnightly zero, monthly 1%, quarterly zero, do not know 3% and prefer not to say 1%.

    Source: SB C17 (n=460)

    Small business owners were asked if their business had ever experienced cash flow issues (SB source C3, n=460). Fifty-one percent of participants said they had experienced cash flow issues. Small businesses reported that cash flow issues usually arose in the first two years of operations or after five years of operations. Figure 26 shows the responses for small businesses and Figure 27 shows responses for tax professionals regarding how soon after starting do small businesses typically start having cash flow problems. The data shows that tax professionals (63%) believed that the majority of small businesses have issues in the first two years of operation.

    Figure 26: When do small businesses start having cash flow issues?

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Less than 1 year 30%, 12 months up to 2 years 12%, 2 years up to 5 years 17%, 5 years or more 26%, do not know 15% and prefer not to say zero.

    Source: SB C4 How soon after starting your business did cash flow issues arise? (n=234)

    Figure 27: Tax professionals’ observations of when businesses experience cash flow issues.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Less than 1 year 35%, 12 months to less than 2 years 28%, 2 years to 5 years 17%, 5 years or more 8%, don't know 13% and prefer not to say zero.

    Source: TP B2 From your observations, for those clients who have cash flow issues, how soon after starting in business to they typically start having problems? (n=150)

    The qualitative research found tax professionals believe small business owners realise they need assistance or training with cash flow management at points of crisis.

    “When they realise they don’t have cash”
    “When they make a loss”
    “When they get themselves into debt”

    The typical causes of cash flow issues were identified by small businesses as volume of sales (47%), payment delays (26%) and expenses (23%) (Figure 28). This was consistent with tax professionals who also identified those three factors as the primary causes of cash flow issues (Figure 29). Further research into this could focus on whether small business owners connect pricing strategies to volume of sales and the subsequent impact on cash flow.

    Figure 28: Typical causes of cash flow issues as identified by small businesses.

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Volume of sales 47%, payment delays 26%, expenses 23%, staff costs 7%, money tied up in assets 6%, paying for stock/supplies 5%, pricing 3%, other 8%, dont know 3% and prefer not to say zero.

    Source: SB C5: What were the causes of cash flow issues? (n=234) Note: respondents were asked whether or not each issue caused cash flow issues.

    Figure 29: Typical cash flow issues as identified by tax professionals

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Payment delays 36%, expenses 32%, volume of sales 25%, money tied up in assets 10%, pricing 10%, staff costs 9%, paying for stock/supplies 9%, other 25% and dont know or prefer not to say zero.

    Source: TP B4 What do you believe are the typical causes of cash flow issues for your small business clients? (n=150) Note: respondents were asked whether or not each issue caused cash flow issues

    Analysis of the ‘other’ responses thought to cause cash flow issues (source SB C5), given by small businesses, included a downturn in the economy (34%), personal circumstances (11%), a change in the business (9%) and tax or superannuation obligations (6%). The remaining respondents who experienced cash flow issues could not identify a specific reason. Tax professionals’ ‘other’ responses included a lack of planning, GST, finance availability and a lack of knowledge (source TP B4).

    The small business respondents who identified having had cash flow issues were asked what actions they took at the time to resolve the issue (Figure 30). Figure 31 shows tax professionals’ responses when asked what advice they typically give to small businesses to help them better manage their cash flow.

    Figure 30: Actions taken by small businesses to resolve cash flow issues

     

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Improved planning/management 61%, improved payments from customers 28%, reduced expenses 25%, efficiencies in staffing costs  9%, reduced or deferred costs for stock or supply 9%, reduced costs for business equipment 7%, pricing 7%, borrowed money 7%, expanded volume of work 6%, made an exit plan 1%, other 3%, unsure and prefer not to say zero.

    Source: SB C7 What actions did you take to help resolve cash flow issues? (n=234)

    Figure 31: Advice tax professionals give to small businesses to better manage their cash flow

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Improved planning/management 61%, improved payments from customers 28%, reduced expenses 25%, efficiences in staff costs 9%, reduced or deferred costs for stock or supply 9%, reduced costs for business equipment 7%, pricing 7%, borrowed money 7%, expanded volume of work 6%, made an exit plan 1%, other 3%, unsure zero and prefer not to say 2%.

    Source: TP B5 What advice did you typically give to clients to help them better manager their cash flow? (n=150)

    The data shows tax professionals believe the major issue for small business is their lack of planning or management (61%). Small business responses show they use a variety of actions to resolve their cash flow. The range of actions and the relatively even spread across the top six responses means there a variety of levers available to small businesses to resolve cash flow issues. However, it is unclear how aware small businesses are regarding these options. This provides the ATO with an opportunity to develop an education strategy to communicate the variety of options available to assist with cash flow management.

    Cash flow tools

    The cash flow tools reported by small businesses (Figure 32) included software or web based accounting tools (50%), online banking (17%), pen and paper methods (13%) and Excel spread sheets (10%). The tools recommended to small businesses by tax professionals (Figure 33) were predominantly software or web based accounting tools (59%) and Excel spreadsheets (26%).

    Around three quarters (77%) of small businesses surveyed use web based tools. Given the majority have been in business for over 10 years, this suggests that small businesses are adaptive as most of the tools have only become widely available in the last 5-10 years. The qualitative research also supported this notion:

    “So in say the last three years we moved to XERO, it’s a cloud based accountancy program, it’s fantastic, it does reporting, so we know our position with the ATO, what we have coming in, coming out, live bank feeds everything so it gives you a really good reporting in that respect.”

    Figure 32: Cash flow tool used by small businesses

    Bar chart showing detailed figures. Software or web based accounting tool 50%, industry based cash flow tool 1%, Excel/spreadsheet 10%, online banking information 17%, pen and paper methods 13%, other 1%, none 8% and prefer not to say zero.

    Source: SB C18 What is the main tool (if any) that is used to track cash flow? (n=460)

    Figure 33: Cash flow tools recommended by tax professionals to their entire small business client base

    Bar chart showing detailed figures. Software or web based accounting tool 59%, Excel/spreadsheet 26%, online banking information 3%, pen and paper methods 2%, industry based cash flow tool 1%, other 5%, none 2% and prefer not to say 2%.

    Source: TP B16 What is the main tool you recommend clients use to manage their cash flow? (n=150)

    The use of pen and paper methods (13%), Excel and spread sheets (10%) was notable within small business respondents (Figure 32). It may be business advisors are using Excel as a stepping stone to assist small businesses transition towards web based tools.

    Given the preference for software or web based accounting tools, both small business owners and tax professionals were asked whether the reports generated by software programs were easily understood and helpful in managing cash flow. Small business responses to the scaled question are shown in Figure 34. The majority of small businesses stated the reports helped them understand cash flow (77%). Twenty-six percent of tax professionals believe their clients are capable of understanding the report in relation to cash flow management (Figure 35). Further research could explore the level of understanding of reports.

    Figure 34: The reports generated by software programs are helpful in managing cash flow as perceived by small businesses

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Strongly disagree 2%, neither 14%, within these figures there is a rating of 2 at 4%, strongly agree 41%, within this figure is a rating of 4 at 32%, not applicable 6% and dont know/unsure 1%.

    Source: SB C19 On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree, are the reports generated by your software of web-based systems helpful in understanding cash flow? (n=355)

    Figure 35: The reports generated by software programs are helpful to small businesses in managing cash flow as perceived by tax professionals

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Strongly disagree 4%, disagree 29%, neither 38%, agree 22%, strongly agree 3%, not applicable zero and dont know or unsure both 4%.

    Source: TP B17 On a scale from 1 to 5 where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree, do the majority of your clients understand the reports generated by their software? (n=150).

    The qualitative research found when small businesses were asked to consider their preferred cash flow management tool in an ‘ideal world’, online options were very popular.

    “Online so you could access it so you had the question you needed answered.”
    “I think online support with a real person you can talk to is the best thing.”
    “Online is usually best, I can access it from anywhere.”

    Figure 36 shows while there are subtle differences between age groups for each tool, the age of business does not account for the popularity of these cash flow management tools. For instance, 10% of the youngest and oldest business categories each use Excel or spreadsheet.

    Figure 36: Age of business and cash flow management tool used

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB A6 How long has your main business been in operation? and SB C18 What is the main tool (if any) that you use to track your cash flow? (n=460) Note: each age group total represents 100%
    See full data table for figure 36

    The qualitative research offered further insight into the support and education small business owners thought most useful for managing their cash flow.

    “If the ATO could offer small business owners some kind of program that would be something I would be willing to look at, whatever is on offer.”
    “If there are services that are already on offer that are free, they should be advertised more.”
    “One on one support from the ATO or small business centre saying these are the things to look out for and some of the options available to you.”
    “I would like to attend more ATO sessions, I just never know when they’re on.”
    “I know the ATO hold workshops for new business owners. I think a tool that is easy to use, with training and support on how to use it would be really good.”
    “A portal or website, a small business part that outlines in laymen’s terms, plain English that everyone can understand.”
    “It would be good for the ATO to send links to a business when they register, with the local options for assistance.”

    Small business owners responded positively towards seeking help and advice from the ATO within the qualitative survey. Many were aware the ATO offered workshops and other resources, whereas others highlighted the need for more awareness of ATO offerings. From some comments it would seem a beneficial process for the ATO to offer various services directly to small businesses and increase awareness of what is already on offer as a way of building positive relationships between small businesses and the ATO.

    Developing business and financial knowledge

    Sixty percent of small businesses believe it is important or very important to improve their knowledge about business management, while 17% didn’t think it was important (Figure 37). Figure 38 shows tax professionals (94%) believe knowledge improvement is important or very important, regardless of the age of a business.

    Figure 37: View of small businesses improving knowledge about business management

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Not important 9%, very important 40%, within both these figures there are ratings of 2 at 7%, 3 at 23% and 4 at 20%. Not applicable zero and unsure of 1%.

    Source: SB D1 On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being not at all important and 5 being very important, how important is it to improve your own knowledge about business management and financial management right now? (n=460)

    Figure 38: Tax professionals’ view regarding the importance for small businesses improving their knowledge about business management

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Not important zero%, very important 71%, within both these figures there are ratings of 2 at 1%, 3 at 5% and 4 at 23%. Not applicable and unsure are both zero%.

    Source: TP D1 On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is not at all important and 5 is very important, how important is it for businesses to improve their knowledge of business and financial management? (n=150)

    Small business respondents that selected a four or five (n=272) were asked why they believed it was important to improve their knowledge. Forty-six per cent claimed they wanted to be better informed, 42% wanted to be more in control of their business, 9% wanted to save money and be able to do it themselves and the remaining 3% did not offer an answer.

    Small business respondents who selected one or two (n=74) were asked why they didn’t rate improving their knowledge as important. The most common responses were; participants already felt competent with business knowledge and financial management (40%), it wasn’t important to them (34%), they were not interested in learning this aspect of the business (18%) or they had an employee who managed those areas (5%). The remaining 3% did not give an answer.

    Small business respondents were then asked specific questions relating to cash flow, their knowledge, application and perceived barriers to improving their understanding. Figure 39 shows most small business owners clearly identify that cash flow management is part of their job (87%). More than half are interested in improving their cash flow management (58%) and felt they had more to learn about cash flow (52%) even though the majority of the sample have been in business for more than 11 years.

    Fifty-three percent believe having a better understanding of cash flow would be beneficial to planning and reducing stress (46%) with 50% indicating they were not too busy to learn about cash flow and 63% say they could afford (financially) to learn about cash flow. These results do not support time and cost as potential barriers to learning as identified in the qualitative research. The majority of businesses in the quantitative research have been in business for greater than 10 years but feel they could further their knowledge on cash flow. They want to learn more and are willing to put time and money into this. The data suggests most small business owners would be receptive to improving their knowledge about cash flow and this provides the ATO with an opportunity to develop education for small businesses of all ages.

    Figure 39: Small business and cash flow

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB D4-D10 On a scale of 1 to 5, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree also with the options of ‘not applicable’ and ‘unsure’? (n=460)
    See full data table for figure 39

    Given both small businesses and business advisers identify the need for improved small business knowledge, establishing the best delivery source and format is essential to the development and implementation of successful education. Tax professionals and small business owners were asked what their most preferred source for information or training was, and where small business owners go for financial management advice and training. Figure 40 shows an accountant/ bookkeeper as the preferred primary source identified by 54% of small businesses and 79% of tax professionals (Figure 41).

    Figure 40: Preferred source for information and training by small businesses

    Bar chart shows detailed figures. Accountant/bookkeeper 54%,  industry body or association
6%, ATO 6%, private training 5%, other government department 3%,  business support organisation 2%, other (online) 14%, don’t know 9% and prefer not to say 1%.

    Source: SB D24 What would be your most preferred source for obtaining cash flow and financial management information or training? (n=460)

    Figure 41: Tax professionals’ view of small business’ preferred sources for obtaining cash flow and financial management information or training

    Bar chart shows detailed figures. Accountant/bookkeeper 79%, private training 13%, industry body or association
10%, ATO 3%, business support organisation 3%, other government department 1%, other (online) 50%, don’t know 5% and prefer not to say 1%.

    Source: TP D10 In your opinion, what would be your client’s top two most preferred sources for obtaining cash flow and financial management information or training? (n=150)

    To see if tax professionals are addressing the present needs of small business in relation to financial advice, they were asked how they helped small business owners develop their knowledge of cash flow. Figure 42 shows tax professionals take an active role in education via coaching/ mentoring, and encouraging business owners to engage and ask more questions.

    Figure 42: How tax professionals assist small business

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Coach and mentor 68%, offer suggestions 62%, encourage them to ask more questions 23%, refer to Accounting software help page/tutorial 5%, refer to training course 5%, refer to ATO website 3%, refer to industry groups 3%, refer to ATO education product 3%, via our business Facebook or webpage 1%, I do not seek to increase small business knowledge of cash flow 8%, other 6%, prefer not to say 1% and refer to YouTube clips, via linkedin and refer to Facebook groups are zero.

    Source: TP D2 How do you currently assist small businesses to increase their knowledge of cash flow? (n=150) Note: respondents said ’yes’ or ‘no’ to each option.

    The diversity of small business industries coupled with the various platforms available for education and individual learning preferences, highlights the importance of offering a variety of education formats. Small businesses are not homogenous and have a variety of learning styles. This view was supported by small business within the qualitative data.

    “I think that people learn in all different ways and that having a variety of options is equally important. Online people can do it whenever they want, like early morning, late at night, in their lunch break, whatever. Some people just like that and other people like that face to face. For it to be effective it has to be offered in a variety of formats.”

    To determine the best platforms for education, small businesses were asked their preferred method of obtaining knowledge about business and cash flow management (multiple selections were permitted). Figure 43 shows online-based options were most preferred, followed by face-to-face interactions, with phone consultations being the least preferred option.

    Figure 43: Most preferred method of obtaining knowledge

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB D12-D22 On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is least preferred and 5 is most preferred, please indicate your preferred method of building your business and financial management knowledge, including tax and superannuation (n=460)
    See full data table for figure 43

    The primary reasons business owners wanted to improve their knowledge was to be better informed and to be more in control of their business. The preferred method for small businesses to receive information on business and financial management revolved around online channels, such as emails and tools/calculators on a websites. The preferred method for small businesses to receive education that builds their business and financial knowledge was online, training and face to face/'live' formats.

    In conclusion, this research has added to the foundation built by prior research. In 2016 it was found small businesses were motivated to learn and preferred to gain knowledge from their accountant or business advisor, a finding consistent with this research. The preferred method of delivery was also constant with online courses and face-to-face training being most favoured. The in-depth exploration of cash flow within small business coupled with a more comprehensive look at the relationship between small business and their advisors provides the ATO with further opportunities to develop tailored education products. With this breadth and depth of understanding the ATO is well positioned to trial new products and conduct follow up research to track changes in attitude, knowledge and financial management.

    Appendices

    Appendix 1: Demographics

    The geographical spread of participating small businesses is summarised in Figure 44. The sample reflects the predetermined quotas to ensure each state was adequately represented in accordance to ABS demographic data. New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland account for the majority (72%) of surveyed businesses.

    Figure 44: Where is your main business located?

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. NSW 30% Victoria 24%, QLD 18%, WA 12%, SA 8%, ACT 4%, Tasmania 3% and Northern Territory 1%.

    Source: SB SQ2 Where is your main business location? (n=460)

    Age of small business

    Businesses surveyed ranged in age from less than one year to more than twenty-one years (Figure 45). The majority of participating businesses (78%) in the sample had been operating for eleven years or more. Nine businesses (2%) within the sample were less than one year old and 10% in total were five years old or less. This sample of mainly older businesses allows us to draw significant insights from their survivor stories which are valuable to understanding the segment, and learning from their stories to provide insights for new businesses.

    Figure 45: Age of small business.

    Bar chart showing detailed figures. Less than 1 year 2%, 1-2 years 4%, 3-5 years 4%, 6-10 years 12%, 11-20 years 26% and more than 21 years 52%.

    Source: SB A6 How long has your main business been in operation? (n=460)

    Business life stage

    Participating businesses were asked to describe the current stage of their business. Table 1 shows the age of small businesses compared to how they describe the current stage of their business. Five percent of businesses were in their early, start-up phase and 68% were established businesses. Fourteen per cent described their business as about to go through a major change such as expanding, downsizing or changing direction. The remaining 13% said that they were considering exiting the business.

    Table 1: Age of business and their reported stage of business

    Age of business

    Start-up phase

    Established

    Going through a major change

    Considering exiting the business

    Don’t know / unsure

    Business age

    5%

    68%

    14%

    13%

    >1%

    Less than 1 year

    5

    3

    0

    0

    0

    1 – 2 years

    14

    5

    0

    0

    0

    3 – 5 years

    4

    10

    3

    0

    1

    6 – 10 years

    0

    42

    8

    6

    0

    11 – 20 years

    1

    86

    15

    16

    1

    21 + years

    1

    163

    37

    37

    0

    Source: SB A6 How long has your main business been in operation? and SB A7 Which of the following best represents the stage your main business is currently in? (n=460)

    Businesses less than one-year-old and one to two years old were either in their start-up phase or viewed as established. A small number of businesses aged three to five years were noted as going through a major change but none were noted as being under consideration for exit. No businesses aged six to ten years were identified as being in the start-up phase, with most being established and some going through a major change. This is the first age group where a proportion of business owners reported they were considering exiting the business. Businesses aged 21 years and more were mostly reported as established with a proportion undergoing change and a similar number of business owners reported that they were considering exiting the business.

    Number of employees within each small business

    Small business participants were asked how many employees worked within the business, not including contractors, voluntary staff or the business owner. Figure 46 shows the results; please note that owner operator businesses are represented by the ‘0’ employees result of 15%.

    Figure 46: Number of employees within the small business

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Zero 15%, one 13%, two 12%, three 12%, four 9%, five 9%, six 8%, seven 5%, eight 5%, nine 2%, ten 2%, 11 or more 8% and prefer not to say zero.

    Source: SB A3 How many people are currently employed in your business, not including contractors, volunteer staff or yourself? (n=460)

    Annual turnover of small business

    Eighty-three percent of the 460 businesses surveyed had an annual turnover greater than $75,000, and 17% had an annual turnover of $75,000 or less (Figure 47). This is in contrast to the 2016 research which saw 93% of small businesses recording an annual turnover of less than $75,000. It is likely the age of businesses played a part in this finding. Businesses aged five years or less accounted for 10% of the sample for this research. Of those small businesses (n=45), 42% reported a turnover of $75,000 or less and 58% reported a turnover greater than $75,000 (Figure 47).

    Figure 47: Annual turnover of participating small businesses

    Bar chart showing detailed figures. Under $75,000 is 17% and between $75,000 and $2 million is 83%.

    Source: SB SQ1 What was your approximate turnover for the financial year 2015 - 2016? (n=460)

    Education level

    The education level of small business owners surveyed showed the majority (67%) had either completed senior school or a certificate/ trade qualification (Figure 48).

    Figure 48: Small business participants’ highest level of education

    Bar chart showing detailed figures. Postgraduate university degree 17%, undergraduate university degree 16%, certificate/trade qualification 31%, secondary school/senior school 35%, primary school/junior level 1% and prefer not to say zero.

    Source: SB A5 What is the highest level of education you have achieved? (n=460).

    Business ownership and experience

    Small businesses surveyed were asked if their current business was their first business. Sixty-seven per cent stated it was their first business and the remaining 33% had owned business/es prior to their current business.

    Small businesses surveyed were found to have a range of experience owning a small business (Figure 49). Of the respondents, 15% had five years or less experience. Fifteen per cent had six to ten years of experience, 25% had 11-20 years, 41% had 21 years or more experience owning a small business and 4% preferred not to say.

    Figure 49: Years as a small business owner

    Bar chart showing detailed figures. Less than 1 year 1%, 1-2 years 7%, 3-5 years 7%, 6-10 years 15%, 11-20 years 25%, 21 years or more 41% and prefer not to say 4%.

    Source: SB A9 How many years have you been a small business owner, not just in your current business? (n=460)

    Responding small business owners were asked how many years of experience they had in business management roles, including businesses they didn’t own (Figure 50). Eight percent of respondents reported that they had five years or less of management experience. Ten percent had six to ten years in management roles, 22% had 11 – 20 years and 55% had 21 years or more experience in a management role and 5% preferred not to say.

    Figure 50: Small business participant experience in business management

    Bar chart showing detailed figures. Less than 1 year 2%, 1-2 years 2%, 3-5 years 4%, 6-10 years 10%, 11-20 years 22%, 21 years or more 55% and prefer not to say 5%.

    Source: SB A10 In total, how many years of experience have you had in business management roles, including businesses you did not own? (n=460)

    Indigenous owned businesses

    Small businesses were asked if their business was 50% or more Indigenous owned. Of the sample, eight (2%) identified as being Indigenous owned businesses. Due to the low number of Indigenous small businesses surveyed, separate analysis of this group could not be conducted.

    Industry

    A variety of industries were represented within the sample of small businesses (Figure 51). Retail trade comprised the majority of respondents (27%) with professional, scientific and technical services at 12% and accommodation and food services at 11%.

    Figure 51: Types of industries

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts in colour which is also described in a data table.

    Source: SB A4: What is the main industry sector in which you operate? (n=460)
    See full data table for figure 51

    Ownership structure of small businesses

    The small businesses surveyed were predominantly owned by an individual (38%), family owned (24%) or comprised of a partnership (23%). The remaining ownership structures included; employee owned (4%), publically owned (3%) and contractor or franchise at 1% each (Figure 52).

    Figure 52: Ownership structure

    Bar chart showing detailed amounts. Sole owner/manager 38%, family owned company or trust 24%, partnership 23%, other 6%, employee owned company 4%, publically owned company 3%, contractor 1%, franchise 1% and prefer not to say zero.

    Source: SB A1 Which of the following best describes the ownership structure of your business? (n=460)

    Appendix 2: Small business qualitative interview discussion guide

    1. Introduction (5 minutes – The purpose of this section is to clarify the reasons for the research and build rapport with the participant.)

    • Introduce self
    • Thank participant for their time
    • We are an independent research company doing some research for the ATO
    • The purpose for this research is to find better ways to support small businesses, especially in managing their cash flow
    • This will be a completely confidential and informal discussion and there are no right or wrong answers. I’d ask you to be as honest as possible with your answers. The final report will show the combined responses of the people we speak to. Nothing you say will be attributed to you or your business.
    • If you’re comfortable, I would like to record the interview to assist with preparing our report. We adhere to the privacy principles of the Australian Market and Social Research Society.
    • If you require further details of the project, please feel free to refer to the following:
      ATO website: https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Research-and-statistics/Our-research/Current-research-projects/
    • Contact: Angie Kelly, Small Business Engagement and Support, ATO on (07) 3213 3728 or angie.kelly@ato.gov.au  

    2. Business context (10 minutes – The purpose of this section is to enable the participant to ‘open up’, speak freely and to learn about their specific business and knowledge of financial management, including cash flow)

    Tell me a little bit about your business.

    • How long have you run this business?
    • Do you have any employees? If so, how many?
    • Have you had any informal support while running your business (such as short info sessions from CCI, mentoring, online advice etc.)?

    What is your business background?

    • How long have you been a business owner for, in total, including this current business?
    • Have you owned a business prior to this one?
    • Have you ever undertaken any formal education or training – to what level?
    • How long ago did you do this study?
    • Did it cover business management or financial management?

    How is your business currently positioned?

    • Are you expanding (growing), consolidating, declining (making a loss/shrinking/struggling) etc.?
    • Does this change throughout the year or from year to year?
    • What is the cash flow position of your business? (positive, negative, in debt, don’t know)

    3. Advisors (5 minutes – The purpose of this section is to gain clarity about their formal or informal business networks)

    Do you use an accountant or Business advisor?

    • What role does your accountant/Business advisor play in your business?
    • What motivates you to pay for their advice (if they do seek their advice)?

    Do you use any informal networks for business information or advice?

    • If so, who?
    • What role do they play in your business?

    4. General information (10 minutes – the purpose of this section is to gain clarity about the types of support, information or training that may be useful)

    Have you ever sought support, information or training for anything while running your business? (doesn’t have to be on financial or business management)

    What support, information or training did you find or receive?

    Did you believe the support, information or training you received helped you in your business?

    • If yes, how?
    • If no, why not?

    5. Motivations – financial management (10 minutes – The purpose of this section is to gain clarity about their knowledge and understanding of financial management)

    Have you ever sought assistance or training for financial management?

    • When did you seek assistance or training with financial management?

    Why did/didn’t you seek training or improving your knowledge on financial management? (i.e. what deterred or prevented you from seeking this knowledge)

    What assistance or training did you find or receive? (Accountant, online, friends etc.)

    Did you believe the assistance or training you received helped you?

    • If yes, how?
    • If no, why not?

    What would be the advantages of learning more about financial management?

    Would you consider going to your accountant or Business advisor to learn about financial management?

    • Would you be prepared to pay for that service?
    • If no, what stops you?

    6. Exploring cash flow management practice (10 minutes – The purpose of this section is to explore how they practice cash flow management in their natural systems)

    • Do you keep track of your cash flow? How do you do this?
    • Do you have any tools you use to manage your cash flow?
    • Are you likely to seek advice about managing your cash flow?
    • Who are you likely to seek that advice from?
    • How are you using cash flow management strategies to plan and manage in your everyday business activities?
    • Or aren’t you? And is there a reason for that?
    • What type of cash flow management tools would you like to use? (e.g. online, checklist, prompt cards)
    • Has the way you manage your cash flow changed during the time you’ve owned your business? How? Was it for the better?
    • What advice would you give to a person who is starting a new business as far as managing their cash flow?

    7. Barrier reduction (10 minutes – The purpose of this section is to understand how they can be better supported in relation to improving their cash flow management)

    • Reflecting on your answers, what do you think could be done to make it easier for businesses to access support or training for cash flow management?
    • What would have encouraged you to seek support on how to manage your cash flow?
    • What sort of support would be useful for managing your cash flow?
    • How would you like cash flow management support and services to be provided – in an ideal world? (online, face to face etc.)
    • Have you ever called the ATO for advice?
      • If no, why not?
      • If yes, what has been your experience?
       

    8. Questions specific to Cash Flow Management Program participants (5 minutes – The purpose of this section is to gain insights into the small business client experience with the Cash Flow Management Program)

    • What did you learn from the Cash Flow Management Program?
    • What changes did you make to your business as a result of the Cash Flow Management Program?
    • What impact did each change have on your business?
    • Has the Cash Flow Management Program helped you to improve the cash flow of your business? Explain
    • Now that you have been using the package for a while, what specific resources within the package were most useful? (e.g. the canvas, action cards etc.)

    9. Close (5 minutes)

    Do you have anything you would like to add?

    Do you have any questions for us?

    [Thanks, incentive and signature/acknowledgement of incentive.]

    Appendix 3: Tax professionals' qualitative discussion guide

    1. Introduction (5 minutes – The purpose of this section is to clarify the reasons for the research and build rapport with the participant.)

    • Introduce self.
    • Thank participant for their time.
    • We are an independent research company doing some research for the ATO.
    • The purpose for this research is to find better ways to support small businesses, especially in managing their cash flow.
    • This will be a completely confidential and informal discussion and there are no right or wrong answers. I’d ask you to be as honest as possible with your answers. The final report will show the combined responses of the people we speak to. Nothing you say will be attributed to you or your business. The information you provide will not be used for compliance purposes. The data will be de-identified and only reason any identifying information will be collected is for reimbursement purposes only. Identifying information and data collected will be kept separate from the final report.
    • If you’re comfortable, I would like to record the interview to assist with preparing our report. We adhere to the privacy principles of the Australian Market and Social Research Society.
    • If you require further details of the project, please feel free to refer to the following:
      ATO website: https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Research-and-statistics/Our-research/Current-research-projects/  
    • Contact: Angie Kelly, Small Business Engagement and Support, ATO on (07) 3213 3728 or angie.kelly@ato.gov.au
      mailto:angie.kelly@ato.gov.au  

    2. Business context (10 minutes – The purpose of this section is to enable the participant to ‘open up’, speak freely and to learn about their specific business)

    Tell me a little bit about your business.

    • How long have you run this business?
    • Do you have any employees? If so, how many?

    What is your professional background?

    • How long have you been a Business advisor?
    • Have you had a previous career or profession prior to becoming a Business advisor?
    • Do you own your own business as well as being a Business advisor?
    • Can you tell me about your formal education and training? Did this cover business/financial management qualifications as well as tax?

    What is your specific area of expertise?

    • Do you cover multiple areas?

    3. General services provided (10 minutes – the purpose of this section is to gain clarity about the types of services provided and how these are received)

    • What types of services do you provide to small businesses?
    • How do they respond to these services?
    • Is cost an issue?
    • What services and advice do you think clients are willing to pay for?
    • What services and advice do you believe they expect?
    • Do you provide any training or support to clients to help them understand financial or business management?

    4. Motivations – cash flow management (10 minutes – the purpose of this section is to gain clarity about their knowledge and understanding of cash flow management)

    • Do small business owners come to you of their own accord for cash flow management advice? Or is it in response to your suggestion/prompt?
    • What do you mean when you talk about cash flow?
    • Why do you think business owners decide to seek training and improve knowledge of cash flow management?
    • When do you think business owners realise they need assistance or training with cash flow management?
    • How do you help clients with cash flow issues? Are you:
      • Proactive – build your client’s skills/knowledge to be able to manage cash flow, before any issues arise
      • Reactive – focus on fixing immediate issues
      • Strategic – build their skills/knowledge more broadly around their financial management and business management practices.
       

    5. Exploring cash flow management practice (15 minutes – The purpose of this section is to explore how they practice cash flow management in their natural systems)

    • Do you think it is possible for small business owners to incorporate cash flow management strategies into everyday business activities?
    • Are there reasons this might not be possible or practical?
    • What tools do you currently recommend or see as being most effective for cash flow management?
    • What type of cash flow management tools would you like to see more widely used?
    • Any evidence of cash flow assistance: are they a traditional accountant or a value-add accountant?
    • Do you have any ‘good practice’ stories about assisting a client with cash flow issues?

    6. Barrier reduction (10 minutes – The purpose of this section is to understand how they can be better supported in relation to improving their cash flow management)

    • What do you think could be done to make it easier for businesses to access assistance and training for cash flow management?
    • What have been the most effective strategies for encouraging small business owners towards upskilling in relation to cash flow management?
    • How would you like to see cash flow management training provided?
    • What do you find are the most effective strategies for presenting cash flow management information and ideas to small business owners?

    7. Close (5 minutes)

    Do you have anything you would like to add?

    Do you have any questions for us?

    [Thanks, incentive and signature/acknowledgement of incentive.]

    Appendix 4: Quantitative survey for small business

    Questionnaire structure

    Section

    Objectives

    Length

    Introduction

     

    1:00 minutes

    Section SQ

    Screening questions

    0:30 minutes

    Section A

    Business demographics

    1:30 minutes

    Section B:

    Identify the motivations and barriers to small businesses seeking expert advice in regards to managing cash flow. Includes tracking from 2016 research.

    3:00 minutes

    Section C

    Identify what drives cash flow issues. Explore small business’s perspective of cash flow issues. Includes tracking from 2016 research.

    3:30 minutes

    Section D

    Understand small business education needs, preferences, motivations and barriers in regards to managing cash flow. Includes tracking from 2016 research.

    3:30 minutes

    Close

     

    0:30 seconds

    Total

     

    13:30 minutes

    Convention

    DNRO

    Do not read out

    RO

    Read out

    SR

    Single response

    MR

    Multiple responses

    INTRODUCTION

    Hello, my name is ___________________ from Q&A Research. We are calling on behalf of the Australian Tax Office to conduct a short survey of small businesses.

    The purpose of the survey is to better understand how small businesses manage their business finances and cash flow and how their advisors and the ATO can support them to do this effectively.

    The survey will take about 15 minutes. It can be done now or at a time convenient to the Business Owner. May I speak to the Business Owner please?

    [IF JOINT OWNERS, ASK FOR THE ONE THAT IS THE PERSON WHO MAINLY LOOKS AFTER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT AND CASH FLOW].

    [IF MORE INFORMATION ON RESEARCH IS REQUIRED]

    The ATO is seeking a deeper understanding of what drives small business cash flow issues, how effectively they manage cash flow and related issues, and who helps them. In addition, the research aims to identify broader financial management education and support needs of small business, with a particular focus on cash flow, when small businesses need this education and how they want it.

    This research will provide important information about how the ATO can better provide timely financial management resources and support to small businesses.

    [IF QUERIED ABOUT BONA FIDES OF RESEARCH]

    As a Market Research company, we comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act. Would you like me to read out the details of how Q&A complies with the Privacy Act?

    In accordance with the Privacy Act, once information processing has been completed, please be assured that your name and contact details will be removed from your responses to this survey. After that time, we will no longer be able to identify the responses provided by you. However, for the period that your name and contact details remain with your survey responses, which will be approximately 2 to 4 weeks, you will be able to contact us to request that some or all of your information be deleted.

    I can provide the names of people who will verify the legitimate nature of this research project:

    • The Australian Market and Social Research Society enquiry line on 1300 364 830 who can verify that we are a legitimate market and social research company.
    • The research project manager, Katina Law at IPS, the organisation managing this research project, is available to discuss the specifics of this research. Katina can be contacted on 0418 194 887.
    • You can also verify the authenticity of the research by contacting the ATO switchboard on 13 28 69 and asking for Sonia Ward extension 33084.
    • Alternatively, you can check the credentials for Small business cash flow education research (2017-70) on the ATO website:

    http://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Research-and-statistics/Our-research/Current-research-projects/  

    Section SQ: Business Screening Questions

    To start off with, I have a few questions about this business to help to determine if it is in scope of this survey.

    SQ1: What was your approximate turnover for the financial year 2015-2016?

    IF NECESSARY: Turnover is also known as ‘Gross sales’ or ‘revenue’
    IF NECESSARY: The financial year for this question relates to 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016
    RO

    Under $75 000

    1

    Between $75,000 to $2 million

    2

    Over $2 million

    3

    Thank and close – do not recruit

    Not currently operating a business [DNRO]

    4

    Thank and close – do not recruit

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    Thank and close – do not recruit

    SQ2: Where is your main business location?

    SR. PROMPT IF NECESSARY

    IF MENTION ‘OVERSEAS’, ASK: Where is the main location in Australia?

    IF MULTIPLE LOCATION IN AUSTRALIA, CLARIFY: This is where you have the largest part of your business.

    Sydney

    1

    NSW – other

    2

    Melbourne

    3

    VIC – other

    4

    Brisbane

    5

    QLD – other

    6

    Perth

    7

    WA – other

    8

    Adelaide

    9

    SA – other

    10

    TAS

    11

    NT

    12

    ACT

    13

    Check quotas. If quota achieved, thank and close - do not recruit.

    NSW

    132

    VIC

    107

    QLD

    83

    WA

    54

    SA

    38

    TAS/NT

    18

    ACT

    18

    Total

    450

    Section A: Business demographics

    A1: Which of the following best describes the ownership structure of your business?
    RO, MR

    Sole owner/manager

    1

    Partnership

    2

    Family owned company or trust

    3

    Employee owned company, that is, all shareholders work within the business

    4

    Publicly owned company, that is, shares in the company are traded on the Australian Stock Exchange

    5

    Contractor

    6

    Franchise

    7

    Other (please specify)

    8

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    A2: Is your business 50% or more Indigenous owned?

    Yes

    1

    No

    2

    Unsure/don’t know [DNRO]

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    A3: How many people are currently employed in your business, not including contractors, volunteer staff or yourself?

    Record number

     

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    A4: What is the main industry sector in which you operate?
    DNRO, SR

    Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

    1

    Mining

    2

    Manufacturing

    3

    Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services

    4

    Construction

    5

    Wholesale Trade

    6

    Retail Trade

    7

    Accommodation and Food Services

    8

    Transport, Postal and Warehousing

    9

    Information Media and Telecommunications

    10

    Financial and Insurance Services

    11

    Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services

    12

    Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

    13

    Administrative and Support Services

    14

    Public Administration and Safety

    15

    Education and Training

    16

    Health Care and Social Assistance

    17

    Arts and Recreation Services

    18

    Other Services

    19

    Other (please specify)

    20

    Unsure

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    A5: What is the highest level of education you have achieved? Is it …?
    RO, SR

    Primary school / Junior school

    1

    Secondary school / Senior school

    2

    Certificate / Trade Qualification

    3

    Undergraduate University Degree

    4

    Postgraduate University Degree

    5

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    A6: How long has your main business been in operation?
    DNRO SR

    Less than 1 year

    1

    1-2 years

    2

    3-5 years

    3

    6-10 years

    4

    11-20 years

    5

    21+ years

    6

    Don’t know/can’t remember [DRNO]

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    A7: Which of the following best represents the stage your main business is currently in? RO. SR

    My business is in the early stages (start-up phase)

    1

    The business is established

    2

    The business is about to go through major changes (e.g. expanding, downsizing, changing direction)

    3

    I am considering exiting the business (e.g. selling, closing, transferring ownership)

    4

    Don’t know/not sure [DNRO]

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    A8: Is this the first business you have owned?

    Yes

    1

    No

    2

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    A9: How many years have you been a small business owner, not just in your current business?

    Record Number of Years

     

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    A10: In total, how many years of experience have you had in business management roles, including businesses you did not own?

    Record Number of Years

     

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    Section B: Motivations and barriers to seeking expert advice

    We are now going to ask some questions to understand what motivates you to seek advice from experts, as well as what barriers may exist to stop you from doing this.

    B1: Thinking about when you first started your business, who helped you set up your business?
    RO MR

    Accountant

    1

    BAS Agent

    2

    Bookkeeper

    3

    Family member

    4

    Small Business Centre

    5

    Industry Group

    6

    Mentor

    7

    Other Small Business Owner

    8

    I did it myself

    9

    Other (please specify)

    10

    Don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    The next few questions will help us to learn how businesses develop their knowledge about business management and financial management, including tax and super, through a variety of formal and informal networks.

    B2: For each person or organisation, please indicate on a score of 1 to 5, where 1 is never rely on them for advice and 5 is always rely on them for advice, about tax and super.

     

    Never rely on for advice

     

     

     

    Always rely on for advice

    Not applicable

    Don’t know / unsure

    Business advisor, coach or mentor

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    Tax agent / accountant

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    Bookkeeper

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    Other owners in your business

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    Friends or family members

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    Other business owners, acquaintances or peers

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    Associations, industry bodies or the chambers of commerce.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    Government department or agency

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    Employee within your business

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6a

    98

    B3: Who is the main provider of professional advice for your business?
    DNRO, SR

    Accountant

    1

     

    Bookkeeper

    2

     

    BAS Agent

    3

     

    Business advisor

    4

     

    Financial advisor

    5

     

    Legal advisor

    6

     

    Other (please specify)

    7

     

    I do not pay anyone for business or financial advice

    8

    Proceed to B13

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    Proceed to B13

    B4: Thinking about your [insert response from B3], how often would you interact with this advisor?
    DNRO (prompt if needed), SR

    Once per year

    1

    Twice a year

    2

    Quarterly

    3

    Monthly

    4

    Fortnightly

    5

    Weekly

    6

    Continuous communication

    7

    As needed (when I have a problem/issue or want to discuss something)

    8

    Other

    9

    Unsure

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    B5: What is the main reason (if any) that prevents you from interacting with your [insert response from B3] as often as you’d like or need to?
    DNRO, SR

    Cost (I don’t have the money to use them that often[DNRO])

    1

    Time

    2

    I’m not sure what they can help me with

    3

    I don’t think they understand my business enough

    4

    I don’t think they offer me value for money

    5

    Nothing prevents me. (I contact them as often as I’d like or need to.)

    6

    Other (please specify)

    7

    Unsure

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    B6: What services does your [insert response from B3] provide?
    DNRO (but can prompt if required), MR

    TAX OBLIGATIONS e.g. such as income tax return, BAS, Pay As You Go Withholding, Super, Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT), Payroll Tax

    1

    TAX INFORMATION e.g. advising on tax regulations, legal changes, updates, general tax advice/planning

    2

    DEALING WITH GOVERNMENT/REGULATORS e.g. Tax audits/company audits

    3

    BUSINESS STRATEGY AND PLANNING/STRUCTURE e.g. dealing with changes in my industry, competition, economic conditions

    4

    RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT e.g. product development/getting IP registered

    5

    MARKETING e.g. website/online presence/digital strategy/advertising

    6

    SYSTEMS/RECORDS SET UP AND MAINTENANCE e.g. business software, record keeping

    7

    FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT e.g. advice on capital raising and other business financing options (loans), planning around major business asset purchases

    8

    CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT e.g. advice on managing payments in/out, expenses

    9

    PRICING STRATEGIES e.g. advice on costing of jobs, product pricing strategy. discount policy, loyalty programs etc.

    10

    STAFF RELATED ADVICE/SERVICES e.g.planning around staffing levels legal issues around employees services in relation to recruitment advice on/manage processes and obligations when staff commence

    14

    Selling the business/business exit strategy

    15

    Other (please specify)

    16

    Unsure/don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    I am going to read out a series of statements and I would like you to rate your response on a scale of 1- 5, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree:

     

    Strongly disagree

    Disagree

    Neither

    Agree

    Strongly agree

    Not applicable

    Don’t know/ Unsure

    B7: I use my [insert response from B3] to make sure I am not doing the wrong thing.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B8: My [insert response from B3] understands my business.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B9: I trust the advice of my [insert response from B3].

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B10: I use my [insert response from B3] to help plan my business.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B11: I can afford to pay for the advice I require from my [insert response from B3].

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B12: I use my [insert response from B3] to plan cash flow strategies in my business.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    I am going to read out another list of statements. For each can you rate how well it describes you as a business owner/manager. A rating of 1 indicates that the statement does not describe you at all. A rating of 5 indicates that the statement describes you very well.

     

    Poor match

     

     

     

    Perfect match

    Not applicabl e

    Don’t know/ Unsure

    B13: I am good at accessing and using professionals like accountants, tax agents and business advisors for my business

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B14: I have a good understanding of accounting and bookkeeping.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B15: I am confident that my business finances are being well managed.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B16: I am confident using accounting software to manage my business.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B17: I know how and where to get information for my business tax and super needs as it changes or grows.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B18: I understand how tax and super works and feel equipped to manage these areas of my business.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B19: I am confident my business is tax and super compliant.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

     

    Section C: Understanding cash flow and related issues

    C1: On a scale from 1 to 5, how would you describe the financial state of your business right now, with 1 being under pressure and 5 growing strongly

    Under pressure to growing strongly

    Not applicable

    Unsure

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    7

    C2: Do you keep track of your cash flow?

    Yes

    1

    No

    2

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    C3: Has your business ever experienced cash flow issues?

    Prompt if necessary: Cash flow is often described as the money going in and out, required to operate a business

    No

    1Proceed to C8

    Yes

    2Proceed to C4

    Unsure/don’t know [DNRO]

    98Proceed to C8

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99Proceed to C8

    C4: How soon after starting your business did cash flows issues arise?
    (DNRO)

    Within the first year of being in business

    1

    12 months – less than 2 years

    2

    2 years – 5 years

    3

    5 years +

    4

    Unsure/don’t know [DNRO]

    98

    Prefer not to say (DNRO)

    99

    C5: What were the causes of these cash flow issues?
    DNRO (unless prompts are required), MR

    PRICING
    e.g. didn’t charge enough to cover my costs had to reduce prices to compete

    1

    ISSUES WITH PAYMENTS FROM CUSTOMERS/CLIENTS
    e.g. customers/clients didn’t pay/didn’t pay on time I gave people too long to pay
    I didn’t chase up payments

    2

    VOLUME OF WORK/SALES
    e.g. increased competition in my market changes in my industry
    economic conditions/downturn

    3

    EXPENSES
    e.g. unexpected expenses/increase in expenses high overheads

    4

    COSTS/TIMING OF PAYING FOR SUPPLIES/STOCK
    e.g. suppliers reduced the time I had to pay bought more stock/supplies than I needed

    5

    STAFFING COSTS
    e.g. too many/not enough staff not the right staff mix – inefficiencies staff turnover

    6

    MONEY TIED UP IN BUSINESS EQUIPMENT/ASSETS
    e.g. business equipment/vehicles under-used cost of buying business equipment/assets

    7

    Other (please specify)

    8

    Don’t know [DNRO]

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    C6: And was there a particular event or circumstance that led to, or contributed to, the cash flow issues?
    DNRO (unless prompts required), MR

    Made a change to the business e.g. expanded or reduced; took on a new line of business/product, took on employees

    1

    When I had to pay tax and/or super obligations

    2

    Personal circumstances e.g. sickness, death, relationship change, natural or other disaster (fire etc.)

    3

    Fraud/crime against my business

    4

    Other (specify)

    5

    None

    6

    Unsure/don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say (DNRO)

    99

    C7: What action did you take to help resolve your cash flow issue/s?
    DNRO (unless prompts are required), MR

    PRICING
    e.g. increased my prices focused on most profitable products/customers improved service/quality/value for customers

    1

    IMPROVED PAYMENTS FROM CUSTOMERS/CLIENTS
    e.g. reduced payment terms for clients sent out invoices more promptly gave a discount for clients paying early followed up late payers

    2

    EXPANDED VOLUME OF WORK/SALES
    e.g. expanded my range of products/services expanded my market (new territory/area) marketed my products/services

    3

    REDUCED EXPENSES
    e.g. reduced discretionary spending negotiated better deals e.g. utilities, finance costs

    4

    REDUCED OR DEFERRED COSTS FOR SUPPLIES/STOCK
    e.g. negotiated better terms with my suppliers improved my ordering system

    5

    EFFICIENCIES IN STAFFING COSTS
    e.g. improved rostering to match demand employed/rostered staff with better mix of skills focused on attracting/retaining good staff

    6

    REDUCED COSTS FOR BUSINESS EQUIPMENT/ASSETS
    e.g. sold some business assets refinanced assets/sell and lease back)

    7

    BORROWED MONEY
    e.g. got a loan from bank/family/friends

    8

    IMPROVED PLANNING/MANAGEMENT
    e.g. improved records to keep track of things planned better for future payments got a book-keeper or accountant to help me

    9

    Made a plan to exit the business

    10

    Other (please specify)

    11

    Unsure

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    Thinking about when you first started in business, how would you rate your knowledge of the following, where 1 is very poor and 5 is very good?

     

    Very poor

    Poor

    Neither

    Good

    Very good

    Not applicabl e

    Don’t know/ Unsure

    C8: Business management knowledge

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C9: Financial management knowledge

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C10 Cash flow management knowledge

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

     

    How would you rate your ability now, in relation to the following, on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is very poor and 5 is very good

     

    Very poor

    Poor

    Neither

    Good

    Very good

    Not applicabl e

    Don’t know/ Unsure

    C11: Managing cash flow

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C12: Awareness of cash coming in/cash going out

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C13: Managing invoicing

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C14: Managing payments I need to make (e.g. to suppliers, bank, ATO)

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C15: Managing customer payments (so I am paid promptly)

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C16: Forecasting (business finances)

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C17: On average, how much time do you spend managing your cash flow?
    [DNRO] Allow participant to answer, then clarify e.g. hours per day/week.
    Record answer in hours - add hours to most appropriate column.

     

    Per Day

    Per Week

    Per Fortnight

    Per Month

    Per Quarter

    Per Six Months

    Per Year

    Record Hours

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say

    99

    C18: What is the main tool (if any) that you use to track your cash flow?
    DNRO (prompt if necessary), SR

    Software or web based accounting tool e.g. Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks, Accelerate

    1Proceed to C19

    Industry based cash flow tool e.g. Clinico

    2Proceed to C19

    Excel/Spreadsheet

    3Proceed to C19

    Online banking information/app

    4Proceed to C19

    Pen and paper methods

    5Proceed to D1

    Other (please specify)

    6Proceed to D1

    I don’t use a tool for tracking cash flow

    98Proceed to D1

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99Proceed to D1

     

    C19: On a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree, are the reports generated by your software or web-based system helpful in understanding cash flow?

    Strongly disagree

    Disagree

    Neither

    Agree

    Strongly agree

    Not applicable

    Don’t know/unsure

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

     

    Section D: Understanding small business education needs

    D1: On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being not at all important and 5 being very important, how important is it to improve your own knowledge about business management and financial management right now?

     

    Not at all important

     

     

     

    Very important

    Not applicable

    Don’t know/ unsure

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

     

    ASK IF ANY SCORED LESS THAN 5 3 IN D1

    D2: Are there particular reasons why you are not interested in learning more about business management and financial management?
    DNRO, MR

    I have an employee who manages these areas

    1

    I have an external consultant/advisor who manages these areas

    2

    I feel competent in these areas and don’t think I need to learn more

    3

    I will ask for help from my friends/family or business acquaintances if I need to

    4

    I don’t have time to invest in learning about these issues

    5

    I am just not interested in this area of the business

    6

    It is not important right now

    7

    My business partners take care of these matters

    8

    I have employees who take care of these matters

    9

    I don’t know where to go to learn more

    10

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

     

    ASK IF ANY SCORED 4 OR MORE IN D1

    D3: Can you please tell me why it is important to you to improve your knowledge about business management and financial management?
    DNRO [SR]

    To save money

    1

    To be able to do some of it myself

    2

    To be better informed

    3

    To feel more in control of my business

    4

    To understand what my advisor/consultant is talking about

    5

    Other (please specify)

    6

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    On a scale of 1 to 5, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree.

     

    Strongly disagree

    Disagree

    Neither

    Agree

    Strongly agree

    Not applicable

    Don’t know / unsure

    D4: I am not interested in improving my knowledge of cash flow management

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D5: I am too busy to learn about cash flow management

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D6: Better understanding of cash flow management would allow me to plan ahead in my business.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D7: Having a better understanding of cash flow management would reduce my stress levels

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D8: I can’t afford to learn about cash flow management.

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D9: I know all I need to know about cash flow management

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D10: It is not my job to understand cash flow management

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D11: Where do you go for information or advice in relation to financial management?
    DNRO, MR

    Look for online resources

    1

    Contact a small business advisory service in my community

    2

    Contact my professional financial advisor

    3

    Consult friends or family

    4

    Talk to other businesses in my sector

    5

    Contact my industry association or body

    6

    Look on social media (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn)

    7

    I attend a small business expo/event

    8

    Contact the ATO

    9

    Contact another government agency (local, state, federal)

    10

    Other (please specify)

    11

    None of these things

    12

    Unsure/don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

     On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is least preferred and 5 is most preferred, please indicate your preferred method of building your business and financial management knowledge, including tax and super.

     

    Least preferred

    2

    3

    4

    Most preferred

    Not applicable

    Don’t know / unsure

    D12: Short face to face seminars

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D13: Phone consultations

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D14: Face to face group training courses

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D15: Online tutorials/training/videos accessible any time

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D16: Online tools, checklists and calculators

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D17: Live webinars (online seminars) with question and answer sessions

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D18: Case studies and examples

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D19: Emails with important and relevant information

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D20: Networking events e.g. small business expos/community events/business breakfasts

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D21: Websites

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D22: Self-guided books/manuals

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D23: Other (please specify)

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D24: What would be your most preferred source for obtaining cash flow and financial management information or training?
    DNRO SR. Prompt: if necessary

    An industry association or body

    1

    A business support organisation/advisory organisation in my local community

    2

    Accountant/bookkeeper

    3

    A private business education and training provider

    4

    ATO

    5

    Other government department – local, state or federal

    6

    Other (please specify)

    7

    I don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    Standard close

    Thank you very much for your participation in our survey. Just to confirm, all the answers you provided are treated in the strictest confidence and will be aggregated with other people’s answers for analysis. They will not be passed on to anyone or anywhere else.

    In case my supervisor needs to contact you to check the validity of this interview, could I please confirm some details?

    RESPONDENT’S FIRST NAME: ____________________

    PHONE (STD VITAL AS GOES INTO COMPUTER): ____________________

    COMPANY NAME: ____________________

    As a Market Research company, we comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act. Would you like me to read out the details of how Q&A complies with the Privacy Act (again)?

    In accordance with the Privacy Act, once information processing has been completed, please be assured that your name and contact details will be removed from your responses to this survey. After that time, we will no longer be able to identify the responses provided by you. However, for the period that your name and contact details remain with your survey responses, which will be approximately 2 to 4 weeks, you will be able to contact us to request that some or all of your information be deleted.

    Thank you for your time.

    Please read to participants:

    The Australian Market and Social Research Society’s Surveyline on 1300 364 830 is available for you to call if you would like to check that Q&A Market Research is recognised by the society as a bona fide research company.

    Termination script

    Thank you for your time. Unfortunately, we have reached the allocated quota for this study and I will need to leave the survey there.

    Just to confirm, all the answers you provided are treated in the strictest confidence and will be aggregated with other people’s answers for analysis. They will not be passed on to anyone or anywhere else.

    In case my supervisor needs to contact you to check the validity of this interview, can I please confirm some details?

    RESPONDENT’S FIRST NAME: ____________________

    PHONE (STD VITAL AS GOES INTO COMPUTER): ____________________

    COMPANY NAME: ____________________

    Appendix 5: Quantitative survey for tax professionals

    Questionnaire structure

    Section

    Objectives (from brief)

    Length

    Introduction

     

    1:00 minutes

    Section A

    Business Advisor Demographic Information and screening questions

    0:45 seconds

    Section B:

    Identify what drives cash flow issues. Explore Business Advisor’s perspective of cash flow issues.

    3:30 minutes

    Section C

    Identify the motivations and barriers to small businesses seeking expert advice in regards to managing cash flow.

    1:45 minutes

    Section D

    Understand small business education needs, preferences, motivations and barriers in regards to managing cash flow.

    3:15 minutes

    Close

     

    0:30 seconds

    Total

     

    10:45 minutes

    Convention

    DNRO

    Do not read out

    RO

    Read out

    SR

    Single response

    MR

    Multiple responses

    INTRODUCTION

    Hello, my name is ___________________ from Q&A Research. We are calling on behalf of the Australian Tax Office to conduct a short survey of business advisors.

    The purpose of the survey is to better understand cash flow issues facing small businesses, and how the ATO can better work with advisers and their clients to help small businesses deal with those issues.

    The survey will take about 15 minutes. It can be done now or at a time convenient. May I speak to somebody who has experience in providing tax and financial advice to Small Business Owners please?

    [IF MORE INFORMATION ON RESEARCH IS REQUIRED]

    The ATO is seeking a deeper understanding of what drives small business cash flow issues, how effectively small businesses manage cash flow and related issues, and who helps them.

    This research will provide important information about how the ATO can better work with advisers and their clients to help small business improve their knowledge of and ability to manage their business finances and cash flow.

    [IF QUERIED ABOUT BONA FIDES OF RESEARCH]

    As a Market Research company, we comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act. Would you like me to read out the details of how Q&A complies with the Privacy Act?

    In accordance with the Privacy Act, once information processing has been completed, please be assured that your name and contact details will be removed from your responses to this survey. After that time, we will no longer be able to identify the responses provided by you. However, for the period that your name and contact details remain with your survey responses, which will be approximately 2 to 4 weeks, you will be able to contact us to request that some or all of your information be deleted.

    I can provide the names of people who will verify the legitimate nature of this research project.

    • The Australian Market and Social Research Society enquiry line on 1300 364 830 who can verify that we are a legitimate market and social research company.
    • The research project manager, Katina Law at IPS, the organisation managing this research project, is available to discuss the specifics of this research. Katina can be contacted on 0418 194 887.
    • You can also verify the authenticity of the research by contacting the ATO switchboard on 13 28 69 and asking for Sonia Ward extension 33084.
    • Alternatively, you can check the credentials for Small business cash flow education research (2017-70) on the ATO website:

    http://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Research-and-statistics/Our-research/Current-research-projects/  

    Section A: Business Advisor Demographic Information and screeners

    For the purposes of this survey, we consider small businesses as those having an annual turnover of less than $2 million.

    A1: To begin with, could you please tell me where the majority of your small business clients are located?

    SR. PROMPT IF NECESSARY

    IF MENTION ‘OVERSEAS’, ASK: Where is the main location in Australia where you have small business clients?

    IF MULTIPLE LOCATION IN AUSTRALIA, CLARIFY: This is where you have the largest number of small business clients

    Sydney

    1

    NSW – other

    2

    Melbourne

    3

    VIC – other

    4

    Brisbane

    5

    QLD – other

    6

    Perth

    7

    WA – other

    8

    Adelaide

    9

    SA – other

    10

    TAS

    11

    NT

    12

    ACT

    13

    Check quotas. If quota achieved, thank and close - do not recruit.

    NSW

    35

    9

    VIC

    28

    7

    QLD

    22

    6

    WA

    15

    4

    SA

    10

    3

    TAS/NT

    5

    1

    ACT

    5

    1

    Total

    120

    30

    A2: How long have you been a Business Advisor?
    DNRO, SR

    Less than 1 year

    1

    1–2 years

    2

    3–5 years

    3

    6–10 years

    4

    11–20 years

    5

    21+ years

    6

    Don’t know/can’t remember

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    A3. What are your areas of expertise?
    DNRO, MR

    Bookkeeping

    1

    Tax

    2

    Accounting

    3

    Preparation of financial reports

    4

    Transactional advice

    5

    Business advice

    6

    Strategic advice

    7

    Superannuation

    8

    Other (please specify)

    98

    Prefer not to say[DNRO]

    99

    Section B: Understanding cash flow and related issues

    B1: Thinking about your small business clients, in terms of the financial state of their businesses, what proportion are under pressure, growing strongly or somewhere in between?
    RO, enter proportion (%) for each broad grouping

    Under pressure

    Insert %

    Somewhat under pressure

    Insert %

    Neither growing nor under pressure (in the middle)

    Insert %

    Growing somewhat

    Insert %

    Growing strongly

    Insert %

    Don’t know/Unsure

    98

    Prefer not to answer

    99

    B2: From your observation, for those clients who have cash flow issues, how soon after starting in business do they typically start having problems?
    (DNRO)

    Within the first year of business

    1

    12 months – less than 2 years

    2

    2 years – 5 years

    3

    5 years +

    4

    I don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    B3: For your small business clients who have had cash flow issues, are there particular events or circumstances that caused these issues?
    DNRO (unless prompts required), MR

    Made a change to the business e.g. expanded or reduced; took on a new line of business/product, took on employees

    1

    When they have to pay tax and/or super obligations

    2

    Personal circumstances e.g. sickness, death, relationship change, natural disaster and/or fire

    3

    Fraud/crime against the business

    4

    Other (specify)

    5

    None

    6

    Unsure/don’t know/don’t remember

    98

    Prefer not to say (DNRO)

    99

    B4: What do you believe are the typical causes of cash flow issues for your small business clients?
    DNRO (unless prompts are required), MR

    PRICING
    e.g. didn’t charge enough to cover their costs had to reduce prices to compete

    1

    ISSUES WITH PAYMENTS FROM CUSTOMERS/CLIENTS
    e.g. customers/clients didn’t pay/didn’t pay on time they gave people too long to pay they didn’t chase up payments

    2

    VOLUME OF WORK/SALES
    e.g. increased competition in their market changes in their industry economic conditions/downturn

    3

    EXPENSES
    e.g. unexpected expenses/increase in expenses high overheads

    4

    COSTS/TIMING OF PAYING FOR SUPPLIES/STOCK
    e.g. suppliers reduced the time they had to pay bought more stock/supplies than needed

    5

    STAFFING COSTS
    e.g. too many/not enough staff not the right staff mix – inefficiencies staff turnover

    6

    MONEY TIED UP IN BUSINESS EQUIPMENT/ASSETS
    e.g. business equipment/vehicles under-used cost of buying business equipment/assets

    7

    Other (please specify)

    8

    Don’t know [DNRO]

    98

    Prefer not to say[DNRO]

    99

    B5: What advice do you typically give to clients to help them better manage their cash flow?
    DNRO, MR

    PRICING
    e.g. increase their prices to cover costs focus on most profitable products/customers improve service/quality/value for customers

    1

    IMPROVE PAYMENTS FROM CUSTOMERS/CLIENTS
    e.g. reduce payment terms for clients send out invoices more promptly give a discount for clients paying early follow up late payers

    2

    EXPAND VOLUME OF WORK/SALES
    e.g. expand their range of products/services expand their market (new territory/area) market their products/services/market more

    3

    REDUCE EXPENSES
    e.g. reduce discretionary spending negotiate better deals e.g. utilities, finance costs

    4

    REDUCE OR DEFER COSTS FOR SUPPLIES/STOCK
    e.g. negotiate better terms with their suppliers improve their ordering system

    5

    EFFICIENCIES IN STAFFING COSTS
    e.g. improve rostering to match demand employ/roster staff with better mix of skills focus on attracting/retaining good staff

    6

    REDUCE COSTS FOR BUSINESS EQUIPMENT/ASSETS
    e.g. sell some business assets (e.g. if underused) refinance assets/sell and lease back)

    7

    BORROW MONEY/USE CAPITAL
    e.g. get a loan from bank/family/friends draw down on the business capital

    8

    IMPROVE PLANNING/MANAGEMENT
    e.g. improve records to keep track of things plan better for future payments/pay ahead make better use of professional services

    9

    Make a plan to exit the business

    10

    Other (please specify)[DNRO]

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    The next few questions relate to your client's knowledge and management of their cash flow.

    Thinking about when your clients first started in business, how would you rate their knowledge of the following, where 1 is very poor and 5 is very good?

     

    Very poor

    Poor

    Neither

    Good

    Very good

    Not applicable

    Don’t know/ Unsure

    B6: Business management knowledge

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B7: Financial management knowledge

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B8: Cash flow management knowledge

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    How would you rate your clients’ ability now in relation to the following, on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is very poor and 5 is very good?

     

    Very poor

    Poor

    Neither

    Good

    Very good

    Not applicabl e

    Don’t know/ Unsure

    B9: Managing cash flow

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B10: Awareness of cash coming in/cash going out

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B11: Managing invoicing

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B12: Managing creditors (people I owe money to)

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B13: Managing debtors (those who owe me money)

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B14: Forecasting

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B15: Do you recommend tools for managing cash flow to your small business clients? DNRO, SR

    Yes

    1 Proceed to B16

    No

    2 Proceed to B17

    B16: What is the main tool you recommend clients use to manage their cash flow?
    DNRO, SR

    Software or web based accounting tool e.g. Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks, Accelerate etc.

    1 Proceed to B17

    Industry based cash flow tool e.g. Clinico

    2 Proceed to B17

    Excel/Spreadsheet

    3 Proceed to B17

    Bank information – statement/online statement/banking app

    4 Proceed to B18

    Pen and paper methods e.g. template on paper

    5 Proceed to B18

    Other (please specify)

    6 Proceed to B18

    I don’t recommend a tool for tracking cash flow

    7 Proceed to B18

    Refused (DNRO)

    99

    B17: On a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree, do the majority of your clients understand the reports generated by their software?

    Strongly disagree

    Disagree

    Neither

    Agree

    Strongly agree

    Not applicable

    Don’t know/unsure

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    B18: Approximately, what proportion of your clients track their cash flow:
    RO, enter proportion (%) for each broad grouping

    On a regular basis

    Enter %

    Only some of the time

    Enter %

    Never/not at all

    Enter %

    Unsure

    98

    Prefer not to answer

    99

    B19: In your opinion, how much time should clients spend managing their cash flow?
    [DNRO] Allow participant to answer, then clarify. Option to add hours to appropriate column

     

    Per Day

    Per Week

    Per Fortnight

    Per Month

    Per Quarter

    Per Six Months

    Per Year

    Record Hours

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say

    99

    B20: On average, how many hours a week do you believe the average client spends managing their cash flow?

    Record Hours (DNRO)

    1 (insert hours)

    Don’t Know (DNRO)

    98

    Refused (DNRO)

    99

    Section C: Motivations and barriers to small businesses seeking expert advice

    C1: On average, how often do your small business clients interact with you?

    Once per year

    1

    Twice a year

    2

    Quarterly

    3

    Monthly

    4

    Fortnightly

    5

    Weekly

    6

    Continuous communication

    7

    Irregularly, but as needed

    8

    I don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    C2: Do you believe your clients interact with you as often as they should?

    Yes

    1 Proceed to C4

    No

    2 Proceed to C3

    C3: What do you believe is the main reason that prevents your clients interacting with you as often as they should?
    (SR, DNRO)

    Cost

    1

    Time

    2

    Not knowing the services on offer

    3

    Don’t want my advice

    4

    Other (please specify)

    97

    I don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say[DNRO]

    99

    C4: What services do you provide to small businesses?
    DNRO, MR

    TAX OBLIGATIONS e.g. such as income tax return, BAS, Pay As You Go Withholding, Super, Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT), Payroll Tax

    1

    TAX INFORMATION e.g. advising on tax regulations, legal changes, updates, general tax advice/planning

    2

    DEALING WITH GOVERNMENT/REGULATORS e.g. Tax audits/company audits

    3

    BUSINESS STRATEGY AND PLANNING/STRUCTURE e.g. dealing with changes in my industry, competition, economic conditions

    4

    RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT e.g. product development/getting IP registered

    5

    MARKETING e.g. website/online presence/digital strategy/advertising

    6

    SYSTEMS/RECORDS SET UP AND MAINTENANCE e.g. business software, record keeping

    7

    FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT e.g. advice on capital raising and other business financing options (loans), planning around major business asset purchases

    8

    CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT e.g. advice on managing payments in/out, expenses

    9

    PRICING STRATEGIES e.g. advice on costing of jobs, product pricing strategy. discount policy, loyalty programs etc.

    10

    STAFF RELATED ADVICE/SERVICES e.g. planning around staffing levels, legal issues around employees, services in relation to recruitment, advice on/manage processes and obligations when staff commence

    14

    Selling the business/business exit strategy

    15

    Other (please specify)

    97

    Don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    On a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements in relation to your small business clients?

     

    Strongly disagree

    Disagree

    Neither

    Agree

    Strongly agree

    Not applicable

    Don’t know / unsure

    C5: My clients use my skills only to manage their tax and super obligations

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C6: My clients understand the advice I give them

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C7: My clients follow my advice

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C8: I help my clients with their business planning

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C9: I help my clients develop cash flow strategies for their business

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C10: My clients feel I understand their business

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C11: My clients can’t afford to pay me for strategic advice

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C12: My clients don’t have the time to seek my advice on planning or strategy

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C13: My clients are unaware of how I can help them in their business

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    C14: I feel capable of helping my clients learn more about managing their cash flow

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    Section D: Understanding small business education needs

    D1: On a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is Not at all important and 5 is Very important, how important is it for businesses to improve their knowledge of business and financial management?

    Not at all important

     

     

     

    Very important

    Not applicable

    Don’t know/ unsure

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    ASK IF ANY SCORED 5 4 OR MORE IN D1

    Why do you believe it is important for small businesses to improve their knowledge of business and financial management?
    DNRO

    To manage their finances better

    1

    To be able to do some of it themselves

    2

    To be better informed

    3

    To feel more in control of their business

    4

    To understand the advice I provide to them

    5

    Other (please specify)

    6

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    D2: How do you currently assist Small Businesses to increase their knowledge of cash flow?
    DNRO, MR

    Coach and mentor small businesses

    1

    Offer suggestions

    2

    Refer small businesses to training course

    3

    Refer small businesses to ATO website

    4

    Refer small businesses to YouTube clips

    5

    Refer to small businesses industry groups

    6

    Encourage them to ask me more questions

    7

    Add information to my business Facebook page or website

    8

    Add information to my LinkedIn account

    9

    Refer them to Facebook Groups

    10

    Refer them to the Accounting Software Help Page/tutorials

    11

    Direct them to an ATO education product that helps manage cash flow

    12

    I do not seek to increase small business knowledge of cash flow

    14

    Other

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    On a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

     

    Strongly disagree

    Disagree

    Neither

    Agree

    Strongly agree

    Not applicable

    Don’t know / unsure

    D4: Small businesses need to learn cash flow management to be successful

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D5: Better understanding of cash flow management would assist my clients with their business planning

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D6: Having a better understanding of cash flow management would reduce my clients stress levels

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D7: My clients can’t afford to pay to learn about cash flow management

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D8: It is not my clients’ job to understand cash flow management

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D9: Most clients are interested in learning about cash flow management

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D10: In your opinion, what would be your clients’ top two most preferred sources for obtaining cash flow and financial management information or training?
    MR (2 responses). (DNRO)

    An industry association or body

    1

    A business support organisation in their local community

    2

    Accountant/bookkeeper

    3

    A private business education and training provider

    4

    ATO

    5

    Other government department – local, state or federal

    6

    Other (please specify)

    97

    I don’t know

    98

    Prefer not to say [DNRO]

    99

    On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is least preferred and 5 is most preferred, please indicate your clients’ preferred method of building their business and financial management knowledge, including tax and super.

     

    Least preferred

    2

    3

    4

    5. Most preferred

    Not applicable

    Don’t know / Unsure

    D11: Short face to face seminars

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D12: Phone consultations

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D13: Face to face group training courses

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D14: Online tutorials/training/videos accessible any time

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D15: Online tools, checklists and calculators

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D16: Live webinars with question and answer sessions

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D17: Case studies and examples

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D18: Emails with important and relevant information

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D19: Networking events e.g. business breakfasts

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D20: Small business expos and events

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D21: Community events

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D22: Websites

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D23: Self-guided books/manuals

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D24: Other (please specify)

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    98

    D25: None of these

     

    99

     

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    Termination script

    Thank you for your time. Unfortunately, we have reached the allocated quota for this study and I will need to leave the survey there.

    Just to confirm, all the answers you provided are treated in the strictest confidence and will be aggregated with other people’s answers for analysis. They will not be passed on to anyone or anywhere else.

    In case my supervisor needs to contact you to check the validity of this interview, can I please confirm some details?

    RESPONDENT’S FIRST NAME: ____________________

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    Tables

    Figure 10 - Small business owners’ knowledge of self-reporting

     

    1 Very poor %

    2 %

    3 Neither %

    4 %

    5 Very good %

    Not applicable %

    Don’t know / Unsure %

    Business management knowledge

    13

    23

    31

    18

    14

    1

    0

    Financial management knowledge

    9

    19

    35

    23

    12

    1

    1

    Cash flow management knowledge

    10

    16

    31

    27

    14

    1

    1

     

    Figure 11 - Small business owners’ ability to self-report

     

    1 Very poor %

    2 %

    3 Neither %

    4 %

    5 Very good %

    Not applicable %

    Don’t know / Unsure %

    Managing cash flow

    1

    1

    12

    40

    45

    0

    1

    Awareness of cash coming in /out

    0

    1

    7

    27

    64

    1

    0

    Managing invoicing

    0

    2

    8

    25

    60

    5

    0

    Managing payments (outgoing)

    0

    1

    7

    27

    63

    2

    0

    Managing payments (incoming)

    0

    2

    11

    28

    53

    6

    0

    Forecasting (business finances)

    5

    8

    29

    29

    18

    7

    4

     

    Figure 12 - Small business owners’ knowledge and confidence of financial aspects

     

    1 Poor match %

    2 %

    3 %

    4 %

    5 Perfect match %

    Not applicable %

    Don’t know / Unsure %

    I am good at accessing and using professionals like accountants, tax agents and business advisors for my business

    7

    7

    23

    24

    35

    3

    1

    I have a good understanding of bookkeeping / accounting

    7

    11

    29

    26

    27

    0

    0

    I am confident that my business finances are being well managed

    1

    4

    13

    31

    50

    0

    0

    I am confident using accounting software to manage my business

    14

    4

    14

    24

    38

    6

    0

    I know how and where to get information for my business tax and super needs as it changes or grows

    4

    4

    11

    28

    52

    1

    0

    I understand how tax and super works and feel equipped to manage these areas of my business

    7

    5

    24

    29

    33

    2

    0

    I am confident my business is tax and super compliant

    1

    1

    4

    18

    75

    1

    0

     

    Figure 14 - Who small business owners rely on for advice regarding tax and superannuation

     

    1 Never rely on %

    2 %

    3 %

    4 %

    5 Always rely on %

    Not applicable %

    Don’t know / Unsure %

    Tax agent / Accountant

    8

    8

    12

    24

    47

    1

    0

    Other owners in your business

    23

    4

    9

    6

    22

    36

    0

    Bookkeeper

    39

    6

    13

    13

    19

    10

    0

    Business advisor, coach or mentor

    50

    7

    13

    9

    8

    13

    0

    Friends or family members

    48

    13

    18

    7

    8

    6

    0

    Employee with business

    37

    15

    17

    7

    8

    16

    0

    Associations

    48

    14

    16

    10

    7

    4

    1

    Government department

    55

    14

    13

    8

    7

    3

    0

    Other business owners

    36

    19

    25

    12

    4

    4

    0

     

    Figure 18 - Small business owners' responses to a serious of questions relating to their business advisors

     

    Strongly disagree %

    Disagree %

    Neither %

    Agree %

    Strongly agree %

    Not applicable %

    Don’t know / Unsure %

    I trust my advisor's advice

    0

    1

    3

    20

    75

    1

    0

    I use my advisor for compliance

    1

    2

    6

    18

    72

    1

    0

    My advisor understands my business

    1

    1

    6

    28

    64

    0

    0

    I can afford my advisor's advice

    4

    5

    13

    21

    54

    3

    0

    I use my advisor for planning

    8

    16

    22

    20

    33

    1

    0

    I use my advisor to plan cash flow strategies

    22

    23

    15

    14

    23

    2

    1

     

    Figure 22: Age of business and self-reported financial state

     

    1 Under pressure %

    2 %

    3 %

    4 %

    5 Growing strongly %

    21 years or more

    5

    6

    18

    10

    10

    11-20 years

    3

    4

    8

    7

    3

    6-10 years

    1

    1

    4

    3

    2

    5 years or less

    2

    1

    3

    8

    1

     

    Figure 23: Small business current financial state and their ability to manage cash flow

     

    1 Under pressure %

    2 %

    3 %

    4 %

    5 Growing strongly %

    Neither

    3

    3

    6

    0

    0

    Good

    4

    5

    18

    11

    3

    Very good

    4

    4

    13

    13

    13

     

    Figure 24: How often small businesses manage their cash flow

     

    Day

    Week

    Month

    Zero hours

    4

    1

    0

    1 hour

    11

    7

    1

    2 hours

    6

    13

    0

    3 hours

    2

    10

    0

    4 hours

    1

    6

    0

    5 hours

    1

    7

    0

    6-10 hours

    1

    12

    0

    11-20 hours

    0

    6

    0

    21 hours or more

    3

    4

    0

    Note: Percentage of people who don’t know 3% and those who prefer not to say 1%

    Figure 36: Age of business and cash flow management tool used

     

    5 years or less %

    6-10 years %

    11-20 years %

    21 years or more %

    Software or web based accounting tool

    40

    42

    51

    44

    Online banking information

    10

    17

    14

    18

    Pen and paper methods

    10

    8

    14

    14

    Excel/spreadsheet

    10

    8

    7

    10

    Industry based cash flow tool

    0

    0

    0

    2

    None

    10

    8

    7

    8

    Other

    20

    17

    7

    4

     

    Figure 39: Small business and cash flow

     

    Strongly disagree %

    2 Disagree %

    3. Neither %

    4 Agree %

    5. Strongly agree %

    Not applicable %

    Don’t know / Unsure %

    I am not interested in improving my cash flow

    38

    20

    17

    11

    14

     

     

    I'm too busy to learn about cash flow

    25

    24

    22

    19

    9

    1

     

    Having a better understanding of cash flow would allow me to plan ahead

    9

    16

    22

    28

    21

    3

    1

    Having a better understanding of cash flow would reduce my stress levels

    14

    18

    19

    23

    22

    3

    1

    I can't afford to learn about cash flow management

    31

    30

    15

    11

    5

    4

    4

    I know all I need to know about cash flow

    22

    29

    16

    17

    14

    2

     

    It's not my job to understand cash flow management

    55

    30

    8

    3

    3

    1

     

     

    Figure 43: Most preferred method of obtaining knowledge

     

    Least preferred %

    2 %

    3 %

    4 %

    5. Most preferred %

    Not applicable %

    Don’t know / Unsure %

    Emails

    16

    9

    23

    25

    24

    3

    0

    Online tools, checklists, calculators

    23

    8

    21

    23

    21

    3

    1

    Websites

    17

    9

    28

    24

    19

    3

    0

    Online training (anytime)

    28

    10

    20

    20

    18

    4

    0

    Short face to face seminars

    33

    11

    19

    15

    17

    4

    1

    Face to face group courses

    28

    10

    25

    18

    16

    3

    0

    Case studies and examples

    24

    15

    24

    20

    13

    3

    1

    Live webinars

    34

    15

    22

    12

    13

    4

    0

    Networking events

    30

    14

    25

    15

    12

    4

    0

    Books or manuals

    28

    17

    24

    18

    10

    3

    0

    Phone consultation

    45

    17

    19

    10

    7

    2

    0

     

    Figure 51: Types of industries

    Retail trade

    27%

    Professional, scientific and technical

    12%

    Accommodation and food services

    11%

    Manufacturing

    10%

    Health care and social assistance

    9%

    Construction

    5%

    Financial and insurance services

    4%

    Rental, hiring and real estate services

    4%

    Education and training

    4%

    Arts and recreational services

    3%

    Transport, postal and warehousing

    2%

    Wholesale trade

    2%

    Agriculture, forestry and fishing

    1%

    Information media and telecommunications

    1%

    Electricity, gas, water and waste services

    1%

    Mining

    1%

    Administration and support services

    0

    Public administration and safety

    0

    Other services

    3

    Other

    0

    More information

    Acknowledgement

    Indigenous Professional Services would like to thank the ATO’s Small Business Engagement and Support project team for their contribution and support throughout the duration of the research project. The collaboration throughout the development of this research was extensively shaped by the contribution of the ATO stakeholders and key external stakeholders.

    Footnote 1
    Commonwealth of Australia (2016) Small Business Counts | Small businesses in the Australian economy IPSOS (2016) New Small Business Education

    Return to footnote 2 referrer

      Last modified: 03 Dec 2018QC 55963