The Covid tide has turned for Australia’s small business owners, with two in three (65%) optimistic about growth prospects in the new financial year, despite two in five (42%) having considered closing their doors in the last 12 months, a new Vista SMB survey conducted by YouGov has shown.

The survey pointed to a marketing-led recovery among small and medium businesses (SMBs). More than one in three (33%) planned to start marketing or increase marketing investment in FY2022-23. One in two small business owners (51%) have made upskilling digital marketing skills a business priority, including two in three Millennials.

“Marketing is the canary in the coalmine for small business. It’s often the first thing cut when times are tough. The findings that SMBs are ramping up marketing spend and building digital marketing skills are positive indicators of a resilient small business sector focused on growth leading into the new financial year. That is a welcome turnaround after four in 10 came close to shutting up shop in the past year,” Vista Australia CEO, Marcus Marchant said.

However, nine in 10 (91%) SMBs saying they will still face major challenges heading into FY2022-23.

“Despite optimism around growth and marketing-led investments, almost every business owner had serious concerns about the year ahead, with a return of negative Covid impacts (41%), increased operating costs (40%) and cash flow (39%) and topping the list,” Marchant added.

“They will now be looking to the new Federal Government and industry for training and support as they tackle the challenges of a new financial year, with digital skills the clear priority. One in four (23%) welcomed the digital technology funding and incentive programs in this year’s Federal Budget as beneficial for their business – almost double that of other non-digital training and incentives (13%).”