Strengthening customer relationships and expanding business development activities will be the key objectives for Australian business owners in 2012, according to MYOB.

In its recent business monitor research, 49 per cent of small to medium business owners are aiming for revenue growth while 32 per cent hope to maintain their current levels and 13 per cent are focused on minimising losses in these areas.

“Customers will understandably remain the core focus for Australian SMEs in maintaining and strengthening their business health in 2012, with our research finding more than one third of businesses are set to increase activity around attracting customers’ attention and building their loyalty,” Tim Reed, MYOB CEO, said.

“What I found especially interesting was the insight we received into the importance SMEs place on driving growth through diversification. It makes sense for today’s business owners, many of whom face increasingly financially conservative consumers, to foster a ‘stickier’ customer by providing more products or services to whet their appetite. For many it will be the key to their survival in a two-speed economy.”

Customer attraction, customer retention and diversifying their business into new areas were the key 2012 business development strategies for at least one third of the 1000 plus Australian SMEs surveyed.

Other business elements survey respondents said they plan to increase activity for over the coming year include bringing business activity in new markets (33 per cents), the number or variety of products or services offered by the business (29 per cent) and amount paid to staff (24 per cent). 

“It also makes sense for SMEs to broaden their horizons into new markets, and to compete on a global scale where possible, providing their business with access to larger, more diverse audiences,” Reed said.

“This is something the internet and cloud computing easily facilitate if business owners have the right tools and resources at their disposal. We’re seeing more and more operators benefit from getting their business online with a website. Our research shows those with a website generated 6 per cent more revenue in the previous 12 months than those without. The key is getting online, being found, communicating well to your online audience and in doing so getting solid access to the digital economy.”