Saturday, February 25th, 2012
In 2011 the majority (76%) of Australian businesses were affected by the economy and levels of demand for their products and services, according to a major new study of business in Australia.
In one of the largest, most comprehensive studies of its kind in Australia, a total of 17,536 businesses were surveyed by Roy Morgan Research in the twelve months to December 2011. The study covered a range of issues relating to business finance, banking, borrowing, investments, interest rates, foreign exchange and business telecommunications, as well as a range of issues regarding business performance and future outlook.

The research asked businesses which factors had affected their performance over the past 12 months. After the economy, some 34% of Australian businesses said ‘competition’, followed by ‘government’ (27%), ‘changing consumer expectations and demands’ (22%), ‘costs for raw materials, transportation, etc’ (22%), ‘business taxes and government charges’ (21%), ‘labour costs’ (20%), ‘availability of qualified talent/skilled workers’ (16%), ‘cost of funding’ (15%) and ‘exchange rate fluctuations’ (15%). A total of fifteen factors were tracked in the survey and a full list of results can be found in each report.

Top 10 Factors Influencing Australian Business Performance in the last 12 Months

Source: Roy Morgan Research Jan 11 – Dec 11, n = 17,536.

Further analysis of the study shows that factors affecting business performance were broadly similar for businesses of various sizes, however there were some notable differences. For instance, ‘labour costs’ were important for larger companies than smaller companies.

Micro Businesses

Micro businesses are defined as those with an annual turnover of less than $1 million. A total of 11,497 such businesses were surveyed in 2011. They were spread across all industries, with the highest proportions based in construction (17%) and professional, scientific and technical services (12%).

The factors influencing micro business performance in 2011 were similar in nature to other businesses, with 75% saying the economy and the associated level of demand for their products and services was a major factor, followed by competition (34%) and government (state and federal) (26%).

Top 10 Factors Influencing Micro Business Performance in the last 12 Months

Source: Roy Morgan Research Jan 11 – Dec 11, n = 11,497.

Small Businesses

Small businesses are defined as having an annual turnover between $1 million and $5 million. The study sampled 3,791 small businesses across all sectors in 2011, with the highest proportion operating within construction (18%) and rental, hiring and real estate services (15%).

The economy and associated level of demand was nominated by the highest proportion of small businesses (81%) as an influencing factor on performance over the past 12 months. This was followed by competition (40%) and labour costs (38%).

Top 10 Factors Influencing Small Business Performance in the last 12 Months

Source: Roy Morgan Research Jan 11 – Dec 11, n = 3,791.

Medium/Large Businesses

Medium and large businesses are defined as having an annual turnover of over $5 million. The Roy Morgan study surveyed 2,248 medium and large businesses in the 12 months to December 2011. The highest proportion of businesses were based in the construction industry (21%) followed by transport, postal and warehousing (14%).

When looking at the factors influencing performance over 2011, 78% of businesses noted economy and associated level of demand, 47% said competition, and 38% nominated labour costs.

Top 10 Factors Influencing Medium/Large Business Performance in the last 12 Months

Source: Roy Morgan Research Jan 11 – Dec 11, n = 2,248.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“The Roy Morgan Business Survey which asked about each company’s performance against budgets and targets found a majority of the companies reported sales, profitability and overall performance on or above target, suggesting companies’ targets were already functioning in difficult economic times and the associated demand levels.”
Roy Morgan’s Business Confidence and Outlook Reports - broken down into micro, small and medium/large size business - include a general profile, business confidence, performance in the last 12 months, and business outlook.

Contact Profile

Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is Australia’s best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
Shaun Ellis
P: 03 9224 5332


economic outlook, Australian business



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