The year ahead for Aussie businesses

by External02 Sep 2013

Marcus Moufarrige outlines what the business priorities will be post-election and for the rest of 2013.

With the election fast approaching, businesses are busy looking to the year ahead and exploring ways that they can grow and develop.

Factors such as business growth over the past financial year, and predictions for FY14 were explored in our inaugural Australian Business Growth Monitor – an independent study of 441 executive managers and business owners of Australian professional services companies that took place in June of this year.

The report shows us that the past financial year was tough – half of the companies we surveyed (51%) experienced no revenue growth. Despite this gloomy outlook, however, businesses are optimistic about better days ahead. 60 per cent of those questioned said they are expecting revenue growth in FY14, and a third of companies that experienced revenue decline during FY13 are predicting a turnaround this year.

However, we did discover that businesses aren’t planning on hiring new staff

Indeed, the majority (75%) of businesses surveyed saw no change to staffing levels in FY13, with just one in four (25%) increasing their headcount during the last 12 months. The research also suggested that businesses will continue to take a conservative approach to staffing – 63 per cent expect no headcount changes in the next 12 months.

Why is this?

Four out of five of the Australian businesses (79%) we heard from were focused on becoming more efficient and looking at new ways to streamline productivity over staff hires, because they had previously experienced significant barriers to growth. Of these 42 per cent cited difficult economic conditions, 33 per cent a reduction in consumer spending and 26 per cent saw increased competition in the local market as key challenges.

More than two thirds (70%) of businesses surveyed will instead make increased investments in technology, such as a new or upgraded website (37%), developing a social media strategy (33%), cloud services (20%) and investing in mobile devices (19%).

It’s true that greater efficiency comes down to finding smarter ways to run your business, not just reducing overheads and cutting costs. Technology has played, and will continue to play a critical role in increasing productivity, and real business growth comes from taking advantage of that technology to service larger export markets, such as those in Asia.

To grow, businesses can’t afford to stand still – companies willing to be more aggressive with their expansion plans and invest are most likely to emerge as winners in the growth stakes.

What does this mean for employees and the businesses looking to hire them?

The increasing focus of technology in the workplace means that Aussie workers will need to be able to show that they can keep up with the changing technology landscape.  When it comes to resumes, employees will be looking for social media skills – across platforms such as Twitter and Facebook – as well an understanding of cloud services. Being able to talk about a way your previous team was able to utilise a social media strategy to grow a campaign or upgrade an existing website to attract more customers will be key.

For employers, use the interview as a chance to dig a bit deeper into your candidate’s knowledge – do they have any experience setting up a website or contributing to a blog? Even better – do they know any HTML code? Are they across the main social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest? Do they have a basic understanding of cloud services or social media reach?

While the past year has seen many Aussie businesses struggle to grow their brand, the future is not lost. However, with staffing levels not set to change in the near future, employers and employees need to brush up on their understanding of technology to be able to do more, with less.

About the author

Marcus Moufarrige is Chief Operating Officer, Servcorp

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