Australian small businesses are overwhelmingly optimistic about 2022 and are targeting the ecommerce boom for growth in the year ahead, according to new research by GoDaddy.

GoDaddy’s ‘Entrepreneurial Pulse’ research found that two-thirds (66%) of respondents are either optimistic or very optimistic about their small business’ prospects, while just 10% are either concerned or very concerned, although 30% say a return to lockdown is the biggest concern they face in 2022.

Almost half (45%) reported that they are no longer feeling the financial impacts of the pandemic, while a further 46% expect to feel the impact for the short-term (in 2022). However, 9% believe they’ll be feeling the impacts longer-term; until at least 2023. 

While the last 20 months have been an unprecedented challenge, the enduring themes in the small business community have been resilience, adaptability and innovation, according to GoDaddy Australia managing director, Tamara Oppen.

“Small businesses aren’t just focusing on their online presence and ecommerce offering to overcome short-term challenges, but rather create long-term growth strategies. With a fresh year ahead, we’re excited to see these everyday entrepreneurs and small businesses reach new heights in the ‘new new’, with GoDaddy continuing to empower them with online products and services to help their businesses grow,” she said.

Online versus in-store

Digital transformation has been crucial for small businesses navigating the pandemic, and as 2022 dawns, an online presence has become the primary sales channel for most survey respondents. Almost two-thirds (62%) surveyed said having an online presence is either ‘more or much more important’ than having a bricks and mortar store while less than one in ten (9%) said a physical location was more important.

According to respondents, an online presence is now responsible for, on average, over half (53%) of a small business’ annual revenue. For 23% of respondents, 100% of their total business revenue comes from online sales. Almost half (46%) said they believe a business cannot succeed today without having a website. 

Further, online retail is the greatest focus for small business expenditure in the coming year, with over one-quarter (27%) of respondents planning to invest in an ecommerce website or online store. Almost three quarters (72%) are focusing on selling locally, one in three (35%) selling nationally and 13% selling overseas. 

Other common areas for investment include enhancing their existing products or services (23%) or developing new products or services (22%). Reflecting the rising value of an online presence and the ongoing volatility of the pandemic, just one in ten small businesses are considering investing in their premises, such as their office or their retail space.