What's it like to be a small business owner? It depends where one is based, according to the latest data. In Europe, small businesses are feeling optimistic about global expansion and use of cash management technology is up, while, in Asia, support from regulators and accountants is key for a positive outlook. In Australia, meanwhile, cash flow challenges have muted entrepreneurs' positivity and ability to plan for the long term. In the U.S., the latest reports show increases in small business (SMB) loan application approvals across the board for big banks, alternative lenders and other providers. Dive into the data of small business performance in our B2B Data Digest below.
Seventy-three percent of businesses only plan for the short-term future, according to the small business accounting company Xero in a new Australian survey. These entrepreneurs are only planning six months ahead, while just 6 percent of SMBs said they have a five-year plan, said Xero, which described the findings as "alarming." Australian entrepreneurs are also largely conservative when it comes to their growth expectations: 61 percent said they are not focused on long-term growth. The survey did not delve into why, exactly, that is, but Xero noted that cash flow issues and challenges to access financing may play a role in the matter.
Sixty-two percent of entrepreneurs remain confident about doing business outside the U.K. despite Brexit, OFX found in its annual survey of 500 small business owners in the country. The research, covered in Wales 247, suggests entrepreneurs largely remain optimistic about their abilities to grow globally, even with Brexit-related uncertainty: 46 percent said this uncertainty had no impact on their appetite for cross-border trade. Respondents said that Western Europe is their top export target for 2018, surpassing the U.S. in a stark reversal of trends found last year, when the U.S. was most attractive and only 20 percent of SMBs eyed Western Europe for exporting.
Fifty-five percent of small businesses said they're now using high-performance payment flow software, significantly up from 36 percent in 2015, according to researchers at Germany's Fachhochschule des Mittelstands' (FHM) SME University in Bielefeld. Demands for heightened liquidity management capabilities are driving small businesses to embrace software and technology, analysts noted, though the report found that bank-offered cash management products largely dominate over those offered by FinTech firms and non-bank players.
Forty-seven percent of small businesses have asked their accountants for help understanding foreign regulation, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) revealed in a new survey targeting SMBs in the ASEAN region. Reports in the Singapore Business Review covering the survey noted that small businesses in the area are increasingly trading across borders, as importers, exporters and their accountants are key sources of advice and knowledge. Nearly a third said they turn to their accountants for help with foreign exchange. Twenty-eight percent said they were most likely to obtain international advice from their accountant, though government and personal networks surpassed accountants as top sources of guidance on global expansion, the ACCA found.
More than 26 percent of SMB loan applications sent to big banks were approved in June, the latest Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index revealed. It marks the ongoing growth of U.S. small business lending activity among large traditional lenders, while approval rates at small and community banks, alternative lenders and credit unions increased in June, too. According to Biz2Credit, institutional lenders set a new record for the Index, approving nearly 65 percent of small business loan applications. Increases across the board are a good sign for small businesses. Separate data in the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index found that, while optimism levels fell slightly between May and June, outlook remains strong among U.S. entrepreneurs. Twenty-nine percent of SMBs surveyed said the coming three months will be a good time for them to expand, while job creation rises and credit concerns remain low.