Small to medium enterprises have always been the backbone of the Australian economy. Access to fast broadband is helping the owners of these businesses to find work life balance.

From the outside, running your own business may seem like a way to escape the rat race.

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs find themselves trapped under the responsibilities involved with being the boss.

To escape the long hours and late nights, improving business efficiency is vital. With access to fast broadband, such as via services over the nbn™ network, it is possible to implement affordable online systems that can help restore work-life balance.  

Small business goes digital

The nbn™ S-ME Time report, commissioned by nbn and authored by KPMG’s Bernard Salt, reveals that the internet is a key tool in the pursuit of free time for business owners.

According to Mr Salt, “It is no surprise that Australia is a small business nation driven by an independent streak and a dream of becoming their own boss – this is particularly evident as Baby Boomers look to reinvent themselves in the workforce and Gen Y ditches the confines of a corporate ladder all together.”

Mr Salt’s report found that over 80 per cent of business owners cited work life balance as their motivation behind starting their own business. However, more than a quarter confess that work takes up more time than they would like.

“SME owners want the independence and the financial rewards of running their own business, but success in this field can have the effect of closing down other worthy pursuits such as hobbies, sport, friends and, sadly, sometimes family and marriages,” explains Mr Salt.

While business owners feel the pressure of a never-ending workload, they have also been becoming savvier in recent years.

Going beyond the basic services of email and file sharing, SME owners and managers are increasingly turning to applications such as cloud-based customer marketing, online accounting and digital marketing platforms as a way of reducing their working hours.

Being able to use these tools allows for more flexibility and free time. From Mr Salt’s viewpoint; “I anticipate with the advent of high speed broadband, work will be fitted into times that suit the individual rather than lifestyle being fitted into and around commitments.”

Finding time for me

As part of his report, Mr Salt found that business owners place a high level of importance on being able to work the hours they want.

“Growth in small businesses has developed a shift towards managing a sustainable work-life balance, where work fits around lifestyle and not the other way round,” he says.

The report found that, overall, 83 per cent of business owners nod their heads when asked if work-life balance is important.

When asked what they would rather be doing, the responses varied from spending more time with family to increasing focus on health and wellbeing.

Young people mentioned they’d appreciate the opportunity to catch up on sleep, while a number of respondents said they are simply looking for more ‘me’ time.

For SME business owners, holidays and travel are high on their time off wish list. Fifty five per cent say they’d like to pursue hobbies and others confess that spare time would be spent catching up on home chores and maintenance.  

Fast broadband: A key to productivity

As Mr Salt explains, “The research on the work habits and aspirations of business owners tells a story that deep down I think we all knew: we work hard, we want independence, we don’t like wasted time and we want more time back in our lives to pursue the things in life that really matter.”

At present, SME owners who are not connected to the nbn™ network say they lose around an hour and a half a week due to slow internet speeds, indicating how vital a fast connection is to the efficient operation of a business.

For those studied who do have access to the nbn™ network through their preferred retail service provider, the benefit is being able to get things done quickly.

As an example, Vince from Ital Ceramics in Brunswick has been able to save up to two hours each week since implementing cloud-based payment and accounting software over the nbn™ network. Using these services means he is no longer chasing a paper trail or waiting for frustrating uploads.*

At present, one in three businesses in Australia is already able to order a service over the nbn™ network.

The aim is to reach one in two businesses by mid-2017. By the year 2020, the nbn™ network is due to have been rolled out across the country.

This will allow Australian business owners to take advantage of fast broadband and could give them more time to take a holiday, finish those household projects or simply find more time for themselves.

Check your address to see if you can connect to the nbn™ network.

End-user experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network, depends on the technology over which services are delivered to your premises and some factors outside our control like equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how the end-user’s service provider designs its network.

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