NZ SMEs sacrificing personal time to meet end of year obligations

Half of New Zealand SME operators are sacrificing their spare time spending hours on preparing paperwork for the end of financial year.

Half of New Zealand SME operators are sacrificing their spare time spending hours on preparing paperwork for the end of financial year, the latest MYOB Business Monitor survey has revealed.

The survey of more than 1,000 SMEs nationwide, conducted by Colmar Brunton, found that 35 percent of business operators had worked weekends, 18 percent had worked beyond midnight and 14 percent had to turn down social engagements in order to meet end of financial year obligations.

MYOB New Zealand National Sales Manager Scott Gardiner says the survey highlights the extra workload local SMEs have to shoulder to meet their compliance responsibilities.

“Although New Zealand is recognised as one of the easiest places in the world to set up and run a business, many SME operators around the country are still facing long hours organising material and preparing data so they can file their annual returns,” Gardiner adds.

“Anything that can be done – from a Government focus on reducing red tape and streamlining compliance to business advisors helping SMEs make the most of available support and the latest technology – can make a difference to the number of hours local business operators are tied up by preparing for the end of the financial year.”

According to findings, business owners are making a range of sacrifices to meet their reporting obligations.

Younger business owners (18-29) were most likely to have made sacrifices for end of financial year reporting (52 percent), with a third (33 percent) working weekends and 21 percent missing social events.

Generation Y business operators were also more likely to have had to take on additional staff to get through the period (14 percent).

Over half (51 percent) of Generation X (30-49) business operators and 46 percent of Baby Boomers (50 – 64) had to sacrifice leisure time during the reporting period.

Business operators in the retail and hospitality sector and the logistics industry were most likely to have had to put in extra hours to meet their end of financial year obligations (both 64 percent), with 40 percent of retail and hospitality operators working weekends and 20 percent missing social events.

“This can be a tough time of the year for not just SME operators, but also their families,” Gardiner adds.

“Running your own business does involve making sacrifices, but without the right help the stresses can really pile up at this time of the year.”

Gardiner says the support and advice of an accountant or bookkeeper is “very important” in making preparations for managing the end of financial year.

“Getting expert advice – and starting to work with your advisors early in order to avoid a last minute rush – can make it much easier to reduce the time it takes to prepare for the end of the financial year,” he explains.

According to the survey, to cut the time it takes to get their business ready for the end of the financial year, 28 percent of SMEs began using an accountant, while 10 percent moved from desktop to an online accounting software package.

Nine percent streamlined other processes, while 5 percent started to use a bookkeeper and 2 percent hired additional staff.

This year, almost three quarters (72 percent) of business operators will complete their end of financial year reporting obligations with the help of an accountant and a further 6 percent will use a bookkeeper. However, 39 percent will do all the preparations themselves.

The survey also showed that 30 percent of SME operators gave themselves at least four weeks to get their business end of financial year ready, 18 percent started preparation between one and four weeks before, and 5 percent began just a week before.

Six percent started preparation within a week after the end of the financial year, 15 percent started within one to four weeks after, and 10 percent began one to two months after.

“SMEs who take care of their accounts throughout the year tend to have a much easier time when it comes to the reporting season,” Gardiner adds.

“The right technology can also make a major difference, particularly with features like automated bank feeds, which can take care of a lot of manual data entry.

“With the right help and efficient systems in place, you can reduce the time you spend on bookkeeping and be able to focus more time on running your business and spending time with family and friends.”

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