Sage business index 2014 results

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Our Sage Business Index 2014 study shows two-thirds of Australian businesses are more optimistic and predicting growth in the next twelve months.

Australian businesses are confident about their prospects for growth with the majority predicting an increase in turnover in the next twelve months, according to research published today by The Sage Group Plc. The annual Sage Business Index surveys close to 14,000 small and medium sized businesses in 18 countries around the world, including 723 Australian businesses.

“This is the first time Australian businesses have been included in the global survey. We’re delighted with the findings of this research as it sets the benchmark in understanding how confident Australian businesses feel about their prospects and how that compares on a global stage,” said Mike Lorge, Managing Director of Sage Business Solutions Australia.

For the first time in four years, businesses around the world are also more optimistic than pessimistic, with scores rising above 50 across all three areas surveyed: their own prospects; their national economies; and the global economy.


Australian businesses are optimistic about their own prospects scoring their confidence at 63.71 points out of 100. They are more confident than many other countries when it comes to their national economy scoring it at 54.52, 2.89 points above the global average. Similarly, confidence in the global economy was 2.47 points above the global average at 54.15. This suggests that Australian business decision-makers believe that both the national and global economies are improving rather than declining.

Predictions for growth

Australian business optimism also resulted in predictions for growth over the coming year. Over half of businesses (53%) anticipate their turnover will grow by an average of 0.6% in the next year. Australian small and medium sized businesses also expect to increase headcount by 2.7% over the next year, 0.7pp higher than the global average.

Attitudes to risk

Australian businesses are also seen to be more open to risk. Over half of business decision makers (53%) described themselves as risk-seekers, 4% above the global average of 49%.

Reflecting on the results of the Sage Business Index 2014 Mike Lorge said: “It’s encouraging to see this positive business outlook from small and medium Australian businesses which has buoyed the nation’s business growth expectations and appetite for risk. This is an important indicator as taking risks often paves the way for new innovation.”


Among the most confident Australian businesses were those with operations beyond their domestic market. Nearly half of those surveyed (42%) currently do business in countries outside their own, stating that exports account for 21% of turnover on average. Indeed, exporters say the last year has been a strong year, with 41% seeing their level of exports increase and just 11% saying they have fallen. Furthermore, businesses expect export turnover to increase in the next year by 3.5%.

However, many Australian businesses do not feel they are supported in their ambitions to grow their exports. Less than a fifth (19%) say they receive the support they need from government, with over a third (34%) saying the one thing the government should do to help them grow exports is to provide greater financial incentives.

Summary of Australian statistics

– Australian businesses are more optimistic about their prospects than those of the national or global economy
– Australian business decision-makers are confident about the future prospects of their own businesses (63.71)
– Australian businesses are more confident than many other countries when it comes to their national economy scoring it at 54.52, 2.89 points above the global average
– Similarly, Australian confidence in the global economy (54.15) was 2.47 points above the global average

They also predict an increase in business turnover in the next year

– More than half (53%) of Australian business decision-makers anticipate growth in business turnover in the next year, while 23% predict turnover will decrease
– Moreover, 40% predict that the number of people employed by their company will increase, while just 13% believe that it will decrease in the next year
– Government bureaucracy and competence are frequently seen as challenges to business
– 16% believe that the level of government bureaucracy and legislation is the biggest challenge for growing businesses in Australia
– 13% identify the government’s handling of economic challenges as the biggest challenge, and the same proportion name tax rates
– As a consequence, they believe that reducing bureaucracy (18%), reducing business tax (16%) and skills development and education (11%) are the three most important things the Australian government should be doing to help businesses.

Opportunity for growth in export markets

– 23% of Australian businesses’ currently do business in three or more countries outside of their own market. 19% do business in one or two countries outside their own, and 59% say they only do business in Australia
– However, 41% of exporters say that the turnover generated by exports grew in the last year and nearly two-thirds (60%) expect that turnover generated by exports will increase in the next year
– Only 11% anticipate that turnover will decrease in the next year
– To further grow exports, a third (34%) of Australian businesses feel that the government should provide financial incentives, whereas 20% feel that raising awareness abroad and championing businesses would be the most useful government action, and 19% call for changes to legislation.

Note to editors: As part of the Sage Business Index 2014, Sage interviewed 13,710 decision-makers from small and medium sized businesses in 18 countries, between 9 July and 29 August 2014. The research follows similar studies conducted in 2011, 2012 and 2013. All data is available on request.

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