Almost half of Taiwanese small businesses expect to grow in 2023. Digitalisation is likely to be the catalyst for their growth, according to CPA Australia’s Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey.
CPA Australia surveyed 4,280 small business owners or managers across 11 Asia-Pacific markets, including 313 respondents based in Taiwan.
The survey results show many Taiwanese small businesses are adopting a cautious wait-and-see strategy. With only 39 per cent of small businesses expecting the local economy to grow this year, it’s prudent that many may be limiting their expansion and investment plans.
The survey results show this careful approach. Forty-eight per cent of businesses expect to grow this year, below the survey average of 66 per cent. Of businesses expecting to access finance in 2023, only 45 per cent said they will do so to fund growth.
Anticipation on revenue from overseas sales slightly improved, with 36 per cent expecting to grow this year.
Four-in-10 Taiwanese small businesses grew last year despite strong headwinds. Usage of e-commerce and digital payment technologies both registered improvements and rose to a record high in Taiwan.
“Taiwanese small businesses have experienced many challenges since 2020,” Mr Elic Lam FCPA (Aust.) Honorary Taiwan Adviser at CPA Australia said. “Chief among those was COVID-19. Most small businesses took action in response, including reducing capital expenditure, seeking government support and turning to online sales.”
Taiwanese small businesses made steady progress on digital transformation. In 2022, 52 per cent generated more than 10 per cent of their revenue from online sales and through digital payment options such as LINEpay and Apple Pay. Both results are a record high for Taiwan. Fifty-eight per cent plan to introduce new products, services or processes this year.
“Customer behaviour worldwide has changed due to the pandemic. This may turn out to be a major catalyst to drive small businesses’ digital transformation, such as selling and communicating with customers online.
“Taiwanese small businesses should further embrace digital transformation as this is a key characteristic of high growth businesses. To do so, they should consider seeking professional advice to identify and invest in the most suitable technologies, outsource IT solutions to trusted vendors, build the technology capabilities of employees or engage in strategic alliances with technology-focused companies.
“The Executive Yuan recently proposed a new plan to raise the overall competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises. Small businesses should make full use of the plan’s measures to transition their business model into one that is digitalised, innovative and low-carbon.
“From surveying nearly 40,000 small businesses across 11 Asia-Pacific markets since 2009, we have identified the key characteristics of successful small businesses. These high-growth businesses are more sophisticated at adopting technologies and e-commerce, improving customer’s satisfaction, innovating, and expanding overseas sales.
“I believe small businesses in Taiwan that possess these characteristics are likely to recover quickly and be well positioned for growth this year.”
Over three-fifths of small businesses in Taiwan spent time and resources on ESG practices last year. Many of them focused on staff health and safety, and business diversity and inclusion policies.
“It makes sense that Taiwanese small businesses are prioritising employee health and safety. Small businesses should also make use of government initiatives to establish a low-carbon mindset and identify areas to transform. For example, reviewing their supply chain sustainability and reducing energy and water use to lower long-term operating costs.
“With the reopening of borders, relaxation of travel restrictions and the reshaping of global supply chains, I’m confident that many Taiwanese small businesses will bounce back this year.”