Eight in 10 (80%) Australian small business owners feel “confident”, “optimistic” and “cautiously hopeful” about their company’s prospective performance in 2023, despite the economic slowdown, according to new research from online accounting software provider, Intuit QuickBooks.

This outlook is likely informed by their business performance throughout the pandemic, with the research finding one-quarter (25%) of Australian small businesses experiencing consistent year-on-year growth across 2020 to 2022, while 45% saw slow but steady growth and 5% experienced soaring profits.

The remaining 25% of entrepreneurs who struggled to turn a profit during the challenging period reported a split outlook on 2023—while 23% of this group feel concerned and 21% uncertain, more than half (56%) have entered 2023 with an optimistic outlook. 

Intuit QuickBooks Australia vice president, Lars Leber said, “Australian small business owners have been incredibly resilient over the past three years, and our research shows that these turbulent times have not shaken their spirit. It is encouraging to see there is a sense of hope for business growth in 2023 from the experienced entrepreneurs to those just starting out.”

Increased sales (52%), enhanced marketing activities (47%), improving or expanding their product offering (43%) and growing the customer base (41%) are seen as the strongest opportunities to drive success within their small business this year.

While e-commerce might have boomed throughout the pandemic, four in 10 (40%) Australian small business owners see establishing a brick-and-mortar store or expanding their physical footprint as beneficial to drive growth.

Additionally, over one-third (38%) of local entrepreneurs see hiring new employees as an opportunity, and 18% are excited to digitise more of their administrative tasks so they can focus more on what they love.

The top five concerns keeping Australian small business owners up in 2023 are maintaining cash flow (47%), the likelihood of a recession (45%), retaining and hiring staff (40%), breaking even (37%), and the potential impact of rising inflation (35%).

While external factors are out of their control, Leber said Australian entrepreneurs can address some of these challenges with the right strategies and tools. 

“As a former small business owner, I know balancing the books can be one of the most stressful parts of running your own business, but a clear understanding of your cash flow is critical, especially in times of economic uncertainty. By implementing an accounting software solution and engaging an accountant, advisor or business expert, Australian small business owners can gain a clear understanding of their position and take back some of the control into 2023,” he said.