June 25, 2024

NAB Business Pulse: What’s keeping business owners up at night?

NAB Executive business banking, metro and specialised Julie Rynski reveals what’s on business owners’ minds.

Just 1 in 20 SME owners and managers have absolutely nothing keeping them awake at night.  

It’s a somewhat startling finding and raises the question: what are the remaining SME owners and managers (a massive 19 out of 20 SMEs) losing sleep over? 

Labour shortages is a big concern, NAB’s latest SME Business Insights survey reveals, with 1 in 3 admitting it keeps them up at night. Government rules and regulations were also on the minds of many, as was cash flow (both also a sizeable 1 in 3).   

A similar proportion worried about inflation and the cost of doing business, while 3 in 10 said they were anxious about profitability.  

Australian Business News

It’s understandable that many of these anxieties relate directly to money concerns. This month’s economic data confirmed continued weak growth of just 0.1% for the quarter, while consumer spending was down again, at 0.3% for the month. Then there are elevated costs from utilities and energy prices, commercial rents and insurance costs.  

Yet despite this – and notwithstanding the lost sleep – businesses aren’t bunkering down.  

Far from it, in fact.  

Just as we know lots of business owners are worried about the current environment, we also know that many are actively working to control whatever they can – to manage their cash flow in the best possible way and to position themselves for any opportunities that are inevitably still out there.  

How to get a better night’s sleep 

One standout has been the move towards green equipment.  

Our figures show investment in new or used energy efficient equipment has grown a sizeable 80 per cent over the past six months. That includes a 51 per cent increase in demand for electrical vehicles and a 33 per cent rise in demand for solar panels, with WA particularly active in this space.  

These investments offer several benefits. There’s no doubt they tick the sustainability box, but they also help to reduce business costs, including energy bills, which aren’t likely to come down any time soon.  

One of our customers, VTH Supply Chain Solutions, is a great example. With parcel delivery one of its core offerings, it has recently financed four electric trucks. Owner Daniel Zanon says the goal is to add another 35 EVs to its existing fleet of 140 petrol vehicles by the end of 2025.   

Not only does this mean the company can offer deliveries with no vehicle emissions, it also comes at a significantly reduced price in the long run.

Australian Business News

Supporting a better business 

Labour shortages is also a huge concern for many businesses. In fact, 36% of occupations are in short supply nationwide, according to Jobs and Skills Australia. 

Again, however, we’re seeing some innovative solutions. 

One of our customers in regional NSW, for example, is supporting an inflow of workers by fast-tracking accommodation options.  

Granted, that’s a bit trickier in our cities. It’s why continued flexibility in work-from-home arrangements remains a go-to in certain sectors – allowing owners to widen the pool of potential talent.  

Where higher salaries may not be an option, many businesses are turning to other options to attract and retain staff. One creative agency in Sydney, for instance, is offering additional inducements to maintain staff loyalty, including three extra days of leave a year. 

I’m always inspired by the way Australian businesses adapt. Despite all that’s going on, they’re looking to control what they can – their cash flow, efficiencies, hiring – and find new ways to add value.

NAB Business Pulse: July 2024

NAB Business Pulse: July 2024

25 June 2024

NAB Executive business banking, metro and specialised Julie Rynski reveals what’s on business owners’ minds.

NAB Business Pulse: July 2024