AFR / FWS Business Poll: Headline findings

Ahead of the 2023 AFR Business Summit, The Australian Financial Review and Freshwater Strategy have partnered to produce insights from one of the most comprehensive surveys of businesses operating across Australia.

A sample of n=633 employing businesses was collected, with boosts for medium and large employers. Responses were collected between 21st February and 3rd March 2023.

Results were presented at the 2023 AFR Business Summit, and published in The Australian Financial Review, here.


Top concerns for Business

Regulatory uncertainty is the top concern for most businesses in Australia (20%) at this time, followed by concerns about staffing (18%), and then rising operating costs (16%).

These vary substantially by size of business, with smaller businesses significantly more likely to be concerned around issues to do with operating fiances, and interest rates.


Fears of a recession

Almost half of businesses surveyed (47%) say that they believe there will be a recession in the next year. Small businesses are most likely to say so (61%), followed by Medium (41%) and then Large (38%).

A similar proportion of businesses (46%) say that they believe trading conditions for their business will worsen either a little, or a lot, over the next 6 months, in particular two thirds (65%) of businesses who work in the manufacturing and construction sector say that they expect things to worsen, whereas those businesses who are least likely to say so tend to work in and around the public sector (22%).


Methodology note:

  • Those who completed the survey were senior decision-makers. Those who have sight over the full breadth of decision-making within their organisation. In order of preference, they met one of the following criteria; (1) Owner, (2) Partner, (3) C-suite level position, (4) Company director, (5) Financial director, Investor relations, Government relations, or (6) someone completing the questionnaire on the authority of / on behalf of one of the positions listed above.
  • Businesses were contacted and invited to take part in the survey by phone and/or email, but the interviews were conducted via a one-time link distributed to that business. All responses were anonymous.
  • Data are weighted to be representative of small, medium and large business entities, with at least one employee using targets produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
  • The survey significantly boosts representation of medium and large businesses, and is representative of industrial sector classification and location for small, medium and large businesses (n=204 small, n=217 medium and n=212 large).
  • The survey took a quota-based approach to ensure a diverse spread of industrial sectors were included in the final sample.

Get in touch

For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch.

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