Singapore businesses least confident about outlook: Sage

  • Four in 10 say they are unable to operate as normal due to Covid-19
  • Three in 10 cite cash flow as a barrier impacting their business

 Singapore businesses least confident about outlook: SageSmall and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) which represent two-thirds of global jobs and over half of global GDP remain resilient and confident in the face of current challenges but warn of rising costs and the need for more government support and better financing options to weather these conditions over the next twelve months.

This is according to new research launched titled 'Small Business, Big Opportunity?' commissioned by Sage, which looks at the confidence of SMBs to understand their experience of enduring the Covid-19 pandemic and their outlook for the future.

In a statement, the accounting and HR tech firm said the report is a first global study into how SMBs are surviving and thriving despite current public health, economic and societal challenges, including rising costs of living and the ongoing impact of the pandemic. 

In Singapore, the research reveals that rising costs and concerns about inflation are keeping Singapore SMBs up at night, with 40% of businesses citing that they are unable to operate as normal due to Covid-19 as a barrier significantly impacting their businesses today.

The research also stated that nearly one-third (31%) of businesses cite cash flow as the biggest barrier (chart) impacting their business whilst 34% of SingSingapore businesses least confident about outlook: Sageapore companies continue to see the inability to operate their businesses normally.



Additionally, 43% of respondents expect rising inflation and cost pressures (including rising rent and wage) to persist and worsen in the year ahead, the survey said.     

When it comes to business confidence, as compared to other countries surveyed, Singapore respondents are one of the least confident, largely because of the ongoing pandemic pressures.

Meanwhile, most businesses globally feel more resilient and better prepared to overcome major barriers now than before the pandemic because of their adaptations over the period, including investment in technology.

The research showed that SMBs in Singapore feel significantly less confident (53%) compared to the global average (65%). 

Decreased cash flow is the most common reason for the lack of confidence and affects SMBs in Singapore significantly more in comparison to the global average (55% vs 32%), and 28% SMBs in Singapore feel it will worsen in the next 12 months. 

Additionally, 46% of SMBs in Singapore find the inefficiencies exacerbated due to the pandemic contribute to their lack of confidence in business’ success, the survey indicated.    

The survey also highlighted that close to half of the SMBs in Singapore expect to increase hiring and remain optimistic about staffing over the next twelve months. 

It noted that nearly half (44%) of businesses in Singapore surveyed expect to hire more people in 2022 and this could lead to the creation of a potential 28,000 new jobs, which will result in an increase of 1.9% (US$6.6 billion / RM27 billion) annual growth in GDP.

It added that while 25% of SMBs here expect their workforce to shrink by at least 31%, more than two-thirds (79%) are confident that their businesses will go back to the normal amount of staffing in the next 12 months (39% somewhat normal, 35% mostly normal, 5% completely normal)

According to the survey, 39% of SMBs in Singapore cite government support as the most significant resource in contributing to the business growth and success - this is higher than the global average (31%). 

While 15% of SMBs in Singapore identified the lack of government support as the biggest risk to their business, 52% (locals) agree that the government is doing enough to help them mitigate these risks.

The survey also highlighted that compared to the global average (21%), Singapore has the highest number of SMBs that have received government grants (35%).

It stated that 88% of SMBs in Singapore expect to make a change to become more sustainable in the year ahead, with companies founded during Covid-19 more likely to make this change. 

Over a third of SMBs in Singapore (38%) have identified sustainability as being important to their business, with 8% describing it as central to what they do.

Additionally, around 83% of SMBs here are feeling pressure to reduce their environmental impact in some way, including by their supply chain (26%), government (30%), customers (37%), local community (25%) and employees (21%), the research indicated. 

Sage Asia general manager Jin Fang Deng said, “The Sage study shows that while SMBs across the globe are on the road to recovery and are feeling quite positive about the path ahead, Singapore respondents are amongst the least confident about the business outlook.

“We aim to work with the SMBs here and help them tap on smart technology to gain efficiency, flexibility and visibility into their operations and people,” he said.

For the full report, please visit Sage’s website.


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