RSM surveyed 84 small to medium business owners across Australia to learn more about their priorities and expectations regarding the upcoming 2024-25 Australian Federal Budget.

The results paint a concerning picture for small to medium-sized businesses in the country. The survey found that a strong majority of business owners (72.6%) believe that additional cost of living measures should be included in the upcoming May Federal Budget in 2024. This suggests that many businesses are struggling to keep up with rising costs and are looking to the government for support.
The survey also revealed that a staggering 82% of respondents are feeling the impact of rising business costs. For two-thirds of those surveyed, these increased costs are proving to be either challenging or extremely difficult to manage. The top three expenses that are causing the most trouble for business owners are energy costs, supplier costs, and rent or mortgage costs.
Unfortunately, the survey shows that solutions to these problems are hard to come by. When asked which of two difficult options would be better for their business, respondents were divided. Some believed that both options would have equally negative outcomes for their business. Others preferred Australia to enter a recession and inflation to return to the RBA's 2-3% target range faster, while some believed that inflation remaining higher for longer but Australia avoiding a recession would be better for their business.
  • The survey also highlighted a lack of confidence in the effectiveness of the modified stage 3 tax cuts. Only 18.1% of respondents believed that these tax cuts would lead to increased demand for their goods and services. In contrast, 62.7% said that it would not lead to increased demand.
  • The survey also found that when it comes to low productivity, 31.3% of respondents blame a skill mismatch between available labour and business demands, while 25.3% believe that government red tape is responsible.
  • Finally, when asked about the Treasurer abolishing nearly 500 "nuisance" tariffs on imported goods, most businesses felt that there would be no real impact on their operations.

These findings suggest that businesses in Australia are facing a range of challenges that require urgent attention and support from both the government and industry leaders.