Technology a key to small business growth

Photo by Artem Podrez

Singaporean small businesses which leverage technology are more likely to experience business growth, according to global professional accounting body CPA Australia.

Around one-third (36.4 per cent) of Singapore’s small businesses grew in 2021, a slight increase from 35.5 per cent in 2020. This result was affected by COVID-19, increasing costs and challenging economic landscape.

Among businesses that grew, 58 per cent found their investment in technology last year made their business more profitable.

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These are among the findings from CPA Australia’s annual survey of small business issues and sentiment across 11 Asia-Pacific markets, including Singapore.

Over four in ten of Singapore small businesses surveyed reported that more than 10 per cent of their revenue came from online sales. It was also found that 58.1 per cent received more than 10 per cent of their sales through new payment technologies.

However, the survey found that one in five of Singapore’s small businesses are still not using new digital payment options, while around a third did not earn any revenue from online sales.

According to the survey, the top four factors that had a positive influence on growing small businesses in Singapore were:

  • Customer loyalty
  • Improved business strategy
  • Technology
  • Cost control

Max Loh, CPA Australia’s Divisional President for Singapore, said: “In an uncertain business environment, it’s important for small businesses to focus on the fundamentals of a business – increasing value and satisfaction for the customer, while managing costs.”

“An increased focus on technology is one way that small businesses can achieve long term growth. The Government has a number of grants available which businesses can access to assist with the costs of adopting technology, such as the SME Go Digital programme.”

“Small businesses should continue to invest in technology to improve their ability to reach customers, improve customer satisfaction, and increase efficiency. This will drive their profitability higher.”

As businesses invest more in technology, cybersecurity is an area that small businesses will be susceptible to. In the last six months, 34 per cent reviewed their business cybersecurity protection, while nearly three in ten expect to be cyber-attacked this year.

“Small businesses will not be spared from costly cyber-attacks and have to manage cyber risks to protect their operations and maintain their reputation,” said Mr Loh.

The growth outlook for small businesses in Singapore remains cautious due to global political tensions, supply chain disruptions and rising costs. Just over half of businesses surveyed (53 per cent) expect their business to grow in the next 12 months.

CPA Australia recommends that Singapore’s small businesses consider the following measures:

  • Focus on investing in technology to meet changing consumer behaviour
  • Utilise social media to learn more about potential customers
  • Tap into the generous relief measures and grants made available by the government
  • Invest in staff development that is focused on improving customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Seek professional advice.