The majority of Australian small business owners rate the health of their business as good and are anticipating growth this year, despite the tougher economic climate, according to research by leading online small business lender, Prospa.

Seven in 10 (70%) small business owners rated the health of their business as good and more than four in five (83%) expect growth in the next 12 months, the study has shown.

To help achieve growth, the top tactics businesses are tapping into include word of mouth (45%), account growth (40%), advertising and marketing (27%) and referrals from other businesses (27%).

However, the vast majority (88%) of business owners are anticipating challenges over the next 12 months, driven by increased operating costs (42%), higher inflation (35%) and increased costs of freight and transport (30%). Almost one in four (23%) business owners plan to invest in digital technology, followed by purchasing new equipment (23%) and training staff (21%).

Prospa co-founder and chief revenue officer, Beau Bertoli said the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners continues to inspire him.

“It’s a tough climate and not surprisingly, the survey also showed that 84% of small business owners anticipate challenges over the next year with increased operating costs, high inflation, and increased transport costs causing the biggest headaches for small business owners,” he said.

“However, the past three years have shown that business owners are resilient, that they can navigate difficult environments and pivot to capitalise on opportunities.”

The survey also shows more than one-quarter (26%) of business owners intend to access external funds to support the needs of their business in the next 12 months. The average amount they intend to borrow is $23,585.

“There’s also no doubt that access to fast, flexible funding is crucial for small businesses at this time. Prospa’s products and flexible solutions allow small business owners to smooth out irregularities in their cash flow or fund growth opportunities,” Bertoli added.