Almost 80 per cent of small and medium sized businesses reported having cashflow issues over the past year, with many dealing with the issue in ways they had never before considered.
ScotPac's SME Growth Index, which polled 1255 businesses, found 42.8 per cent said they closed offices or shopfronts, moved premises or negotiated rent reductions during the year which was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Since 2014 our research has tracked SME strategies for easing cashflow and this is the first time the top strategy has been closing, moving or seeking rent reductions," CEO Jon Sutton said.
Four in 10 businesses restructured over the year - in terms of funding sources, operations or ownership - with a quarter saying it had saved their business from insolvency or bankruptcy.
The main benefit in restructuring was keeping the business viable while other benefits cited by operators included boosting cashflow, cutting costs and reducing overheads to boost the bottom line, retiring debt and improving productivity.
"Trusted advisors such as accountants, brokers and bookkeepers should be talking to SME clients to see if potential positive impacts could come from restructuring," Mr Sutton said.
Mr Sutton said only one in five SMEs reported having no cashflow issues over the past 12 months, which was higher than usual, likely due to billions of dollars in state and federal government support programs.
"It will be interesting to track the small business sector's cashflow issues into 2022 to see if the end of government support packages and a potential return to 'business as usual' sees SMEs reverting to their usual higher level of concern about cashflow," he said.
Australian Associated Press