The last 12 months have been a wild ride for many working in the gig economy. Whether you were an established freelancer or took up a side hustle during lockdown, you’ve likely experienced some major ups and downs over the last year of economic uncertainty.
The financial impact of COVID-19 on small businesses may be lessening, but new research shows other pressures including cashflow and utility bills have crept up back to pre-pandemic levels. The report from accounting platform MYOB released this week, found that cashflow and the cost of utilities were top concerns for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) over the past six months, felt by 32% of respondents. The bi-annual MYOB Business Monitor also revealed a growing number of SMEs have concerns around accessing business finance (up 6%) and dealing with late customer payments (up 4%). These two money worries saw the biggest jump in percentage points since December last year. Meanwhile, 35% of SMEs said they still feel pressure from the pandemic, but that figure is down 20% compared to the same time last year. The report is based on a survey with more than 1,000 small business owners and operators. MYOB’s general manager for SME, Emma Fawcett said small business issues that temporarily fell off the radar during the pandemic have now returned. “It’s an unfortunate return to ‘business as usual’ for the country’s 2.29 million SMEs with 14 of the 16 business pressures measured by the MYOB Business Monitor increasing in the last six months. This demonstrates that as COVID-19 pressure subsides, other business pressures increase,” she said. “SME concerns with payment times and old bugbears associated with physical presence - such as utilities like electricity and gas - are back on the table.”
If your business has cryptocurrency in its investment portfolio, here’s news that might interest you: Australian-based lender FiFit has launched a business loan that lets companies secure funding against their Bitcoin.
In response to more millennials becoming entrepreneurs over the past year, the Commonwealth Bank has now extended its zero-interest credit card ‘Neo’ to small business customers.‘Neo’ was launched some eight months ago to compete with the rise of Buy Now Pay Later products, and came soon after fellow big bank NAB’s release of its own version of a zero-interest credit card called StraightUp. While this product was initially meant for consumers, CommBank’s latest research suggests younger small business owners are another untapped market. CommBank found that customers aged 25 to 40 made up more than half of all its new business transaction accounts in the last six months. These millennials accounted for 57% of new bank accounts during this period, while Gen Zers (those aged 24 or younger) opened another 10% of new accounts. The research also revealed that the portion of millennials with a side hustle has risen by a massive 40% over the past year. “While it’s been a challenging year for many small businesses, the pandemic did present entrepreneurs with the time and opportunity to start a small business as a passion project or an alternative source of income and we’ve seen many of our new business customers skewing younger,” CommBank’s executive group manager of small business banking, Claire Roberts said.
At a time when many small businesses are finding it difficult to get approved for finance, the federal government has stepped in with its SME Loan Guarantee Scheme to cut through some of the red tape.This scheme is designed to help eligible small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) get access to cheaper funding, as it involves the government guaranteeing a portion of eligible business loans - 50% in phase two and 80% in its latest version known as the SME Recovery Loan Scheme. But to be covered by the guarantee, your lender must be approved to partake in the scheme. There are 39 lenders participating in phase two right now:
US-headquartered lender Square has just announced plans to expand its business loan product to Australia, in an effort to reduce the red tape around accessing additional working capital. Square’s decision to move beyond its domestic market came in light of its own research. Its survey found that more than half of Australian businesses have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and yet only 1 in 4 business owners have accessed formal forms of finance like business loans. Meanwhile, a far larger portion of respondents - two-thirds - have relied on more private sources of funding, such as personal credit cards or borrowing from family and friends.“It’s no secret that small businesses in Australia have historically faced huge hurdles when it comes to accessing formal forms of finance,” said Square Australia’s head of industry and payments, Samina Hussain-Letch.“They’re often forced to pour over piles of paperwork, provide years of financial information, and put up personal guarantees that can be riddled with red tape.” So, what’s the solution to these barriers? That’s where Square Loans comes in.
After a tough year, many small businesses are looking to transition out of survival mode and begin growing their operations again. In these times of economic uncertainty, managing the ups and downs of your business’ cashflow can be made easier with the right banking products under your belt.Whether it’s a business loan to help fund ‘big ticket’ purchases such as stock or new equipment, a credit card to cover smaller cashflow shortages, or a bank account to keep track of all your business transactions, you’ll have plenty of attractive offers to sift through.So to help you shop around, here are our editorial picks for top business loans, bank accounts and credit cards available to Australian businesses right now. Read on for a snapshot of their key features.