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The Ultimate List of Cash Flow, Payment and Small Business Statistics for 2021

43 Small business cash flow and payment statistics from 2021 to learn and grow from.

We can all agree that 2021 has been pretty tough going.

Between the uncertainty of lockdown to ongoing border closures and health and safety concerns, 2021 was enough to challenge even the most established businesses. But there’s a silver lining: 2021 is behind us, which means it’s time to recharge, reflect, and build your game plan for the coming year.

Statistics is a powerful tool to help you understand the business landscape, spot future trends, and prepare for the short, mid- and long-term. More importantly, they show that we’re all in this together — that the struggles you’re facing are probably similar to many other businesses across the country (and the world).

Haven’t kept up with the latest numbers? Don’t worry! We’ve done the hard work for you. Here are 43 Australian and global statistics to keep in mind when planning for 2022 and beyond.

Business growth and automation stats

Despite the doom and gloom of COVID-19, small businesses are popping up in healthy numbers across the country. This boost in small businesses, coupled with a decrease in business closures and a growing desire to shop local, puts companies in a strong position for the future — despite the turbulent climate.

Small businesses in a nutshell:

  • As of 30 June 2021, there were 2,402,254 businesses in the Australian economy. (ABS
  • 99.8% of all Australian businesses are considered either small or medium enterprises – SMEs.  (McCrindle)
  • In the 2020-21 financial year, the number of small businesses increased 15.2% compared to the 2019-20 financial year. In the June quarter alone, there were 34,000 new businesses created. (ABC)
  • Fewer businesses shut up shop last year. In the 2020-21 financial year, only 4,200 closed their doors compared to the average of 8,000. (ABC)

The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses:

  • Less than a quarter of all businesses (24%) reported decreased revenue over the previous month in June 2021. This is a significant improvement from the 47% reported in July 2020. (ABS)
  • 85% of Australians plan to buy from local businesses to help them recover from COVID-19. (Commonwealth Bank)
  • 35% of small-medium businesses (SMBs) think consumers buying local will help their business recover from the pandemic. (Westpac)
  • eCommerce purchases grew 17% year-on-year, with NSW and ACT leading the charge with 31.1% and 28% growth respectively. (Australia Post)
  • Between 8 July 2021 and early August, more than 600 business loans were deferred. Of these, 80% were businesses in NSW. (RBA)
  • 73% of small business owners were more prepared for lockdowns in 2021 compared with 2020. (Westpac)

The power of automation:

  • Nearly 3 in 4 (72%) of companies that automate accounts receivable say it helps them save on operational costs. (PYMNTS)
  • 66% of small businesses say automation is now essential for running their operations. (Zapier)
  • 88% of SMBs say automation helps them to compete with larger businesses. Among these SMBs, 34% say automation allows them to spend less time on admin tasks. (Zapier)
  • 31% of businesses have fully automated at least one function. (Netsuite)
  • Companies lose 20-30% of their revenue to inefficiencies every year, many of which can be solved by automation. (ITBrief)
  • Between 25-46% of current work activities in Australia could be automated by 2030, which in turn would help increase productivity and income. (McKinsey)
  • Businesses using payment automation see up to a 70% increase in cash flow and save 15-20 hours per week on admin. (Pinch)

Cash flow, payment and invoicing

It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what industry you’re in — finance woes continue to plague businesses all around the world. From poor cash flow to delayed payments and time-consuming admin tasks, these challenges are costing small businesses time and money.

Cash flow continues to put pressure on businesses:

  • 56% of small business owners are facing cash flow pressure. (Xero)
  • Businesses with more than $10,000 in monthly expenses had only 2 weeks of cash on hand. (PNAS)
  • 82% of businesses that failed said cash flow problems were a factor in their failure. (Spenda)
  • Over half of all businesses are worried about how they’re going to pay their bills. (Xero
  • 54% of SMEs turned to advisers such as accountants on average 13.3 times each quarter last year. (Scotpac)

However, businesses are optimistic about the future:

  • In June, 41% of businesses said it would be easy or very easy to meet their financial commitments over the next three months, compared to 23% in August 2020. (ABS)
  • In October 2021, seven in 10 small businesses said they expect an increase in sales within the next 12 months. (Westpac)

Delayed payments continue to be a problem for SMBs:

  • More than half (54%) of Australian B2B companies say invoices have been past-due since the pandemic began. In addition, the percentage of write-offs and uncollectible invoices has more than doubled. (PYMNTS)
  • Small businesses had to wait 23.3 days on average to be paid by customers in October 2021. (Xero Small Business Insights)
  • On average, late invoices are paid nearly a week (6.6 days) late. (Xero Small Business Insights).
  • 62% of companies that automate accounts receivables processes say it helps shorten Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) cycles. (PYMNTS)

The true cost of invoices:

  • 33% of small business employees say invoice management is one of their most time-consuming tasks. (Zapier)
  • It takes one hour on average to process five paper invoices manually. (Go Site).
  • The average small business spends 12.4 hours on invoice management every month. (Kochie’s Business Builders)
  • 45% of SMBs find the entire invoicing process stressful. (Kochie’s Business Builders)
  • 78% of business owners can see the clear benefits of adopting e-invoicing. (Kochie’s Business Builders)

Most common pain points for small businesses

Beyond cash flow and payments, business as we know it has fundamentally changed. SMBs are grappling with more challenges than ever, from staff shortages to navigating the new hybrid work environment and dreaded technical issues.

  • A third of small businesses are concerned about their ability to handle another crisis. (Xero)
  • 60% of business owners feel a pinch on their personal finances. (Xero)
  • 43% of small business owners are worried about their mental health. (Xero)
  • 19% of businesses with employees said they did not have enough staff based on their current operations at the end of June 2021, compared to 12% in March 2021. (ABS)
  • More than a quarter (27%) of businesses said they had difficulty finding suitable staff to fill jobs. (ABS)
  • When asked about future workforce actions, the top three planned actions are to increase staff numbers, re-train existing staff, or increase staff hours. (ABS
  • 20%, or 1 in 5 Australian businesses, lose the equivalent of five working weeks due to IT disruptions. (Dynamic Business)
  • Small business owner banking satisfaction for the big four banks was at 69.9% in September 2021. This was down 0.4% points from the 12 months to September 2020. (Roy Morgan)
  • 8 in 10 small business owners have seen increased business costs over the 12 months to October 2021. The leading causes for the increase were cited as the cost of goods (36%), technology (33%), and operating expenses (30%). (Westpac)
  • 67% of Aussies were sometimes or always working from home in June 2021, compared to 42% pre-COVID. (AIFS)
  • 75% of Australians say their ideal work environment is a hybrid mix of remote and in-person work, while 16% want a wholly virtual workplace. (PWC)
  • 34% of Aussie workers would look for a new remote role if their employer forced them to return to in-office work arrangements. (ITBrief)

Over to you

From the constantly evolving work environment to staff shortages and the ongoing threat of COVID-19, these statistics reveal that the future is anything but certain. But if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that Aussie business owners are resilient, and those who adapt survive.

One thing’s for sure, though: the businesses that use automation will be in the best position possible to navigate the ups and downs of 2022. By tapping into the power of technology, you’ll be able to cut down on time-consuming tasks, increase productivity, and improve cash flow in the year ahead.

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