And SMEs are pretty much evenly divided on what that effect might be – with 27% of them recently surveyed concerned about the prospect of encroaching overseas competitors, including Amazon, but 26% feeling positive about the arrival of these entities in their home territory.
SMEs are also split over the real impact on their businesses from overseas competitors coming into the Australian market.
According to the survey, by cloud accounting software provider MYOB, a majority of SMEs believe additional overseas businesses in the local market will force them to innovate (57%), while many believe the key impact will be the loss of customers (43%) or revenue (43%).
“Our SME community is extremely resilient, the proof being their strength in the face of constant changes to our market. While there is some hesitation around new players (entering) the market, business owners will need to assess the impact once they have arrived, and, as they have always done, adapt to this change in order to remain commercially competitive.
“Australia has been tipped for the launch of a number of overseas retail outlets this year and our business owners are telling us they’re not sure how the advent of these newcomers will play out in the market.
“It is heartening to see they’re thinking proactively about this, and, as usual, looking to rise to the occasion and meet greater competition in the market via innovation. However, the findings show us that there is still a way to go to settle concerns around customer and revenue impact, especially given the wider global environment they’re now playing in.”
But, while overseas competitors are a concern, closer to home, SMEs also feel as though they are competing for the national interest, with 42% believing state and federal governments give more emphasis to metropolitan SMEs over regionally-based businesses.
Further, 59% agree regional SMEs were “quiet achievers”, with regional SMEs (76%) more likely to agree with this statement than their metropolitan counterparts (49%).
“Even in our own backyards, competition is rife in the SME sector, with many regional small businesses feeling unfairly overlooked by state and federal governments in favour of metropolitan businesses,” Reed said.
“SMEs are the heartbeat of their local communities, whether they’re based in regional South Australia or the centre of Sydney. For the continued success of Australia’s vibrant SME sector, it is important policy decisions are designed that benefit the many, rather than a few.”