Singapore small businesses no weaklings but strong and adaptable, survey finds

A survey shows Singapore's small businesses are growing despite a lack of confidence in the economy.
A survey shows Singapore's small businesses are growing despite a lack of confidence in the economy.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - CPA Australia said on Friday (Jan 22) that its survey shows Singapore's small businesses are growing despite a lack of confidence in the economy.

"Singapore's small businesses have had a successful 12 months, with 59 per cent of respondents reporting that they grew over this period, an increase of 8 per cent from the 2014 survey," said CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley.

"Despite a 13 per cent fall in economic confidence from last year's survey, the majority of Singapore's small businesses (57 per cent) expect their own business to grow in the next 12 months," he said.

Mr Malley said this positive outlook is partly explained by "the adaptability Singapore's small businesses have shown when faced with unfavourable economic conditions."

"We see that in 2015 fewer small businesses sought external finance or added employee numbers during the past 12 months, and this is an entirely appropriate response to the current economic environment in Singapore," he said.

"These strong management practices mean that Singapore's small businesses are well placed to ride out the current volatility on international markets and take advantage of future improvements in the global economy," he added.

CPA Australia's Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey covered nearly 3,000 small business operators in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

It did note that small companies in Singapore need to be more innovative.

"The survey results shows that only 15 per cent of respondents definitely expect to innovate through the introduction of a new product, service or process unique to Singapore or the world, compared with the survey average of 22 per cent," said Mr Malley.

But the Singapore Government's support for innovation, the very-business friendly environment and the creation of the Asean Economic Community "suggests that there is much to be positive about in Singapore's small business sector in 2016 and beyond, despite what could be a volatile year in the global economy", he said.

Singapore companies also fall short when compared to the Asian average in exploiting online and e-commerce opportunities. According to the survey:

- 64 per cent of Singapore companies earned revenue from online sales compared to 82 per cent across Asia

- 19 per cent expect to grow their e-commerce presence to a large extent compated to 40 per cent across Asia

- 80 per cent use social media for business purposes compared to 93 per cent across Asia