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The study into business sacrifices to stay afloat

Written by

Shaun McGowan

About the study conducted an independent survey of 261 Australian business owners to learn how healthy or unhealthy Australian businesses were before the pandemic by revealing their cash flow woes. The results indicate that cash flow struggles had already been causing strife for nearly 1 in 2 SMEs. surveyed owners of businesses across a range of sizes: micro (1-10 employees), small (11-50 employees), medium (51-200 employees) and large (more than 200 employees).

How common is it for business owners to go without pay?

Prior to the shutdowns and restrictions, more than half (52 per cent) of business owners had forgone or delayed paying themselves an income due to cash flow issues within the business.

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How did business owners across the country compare?

Business owners whose organisations are predominantly based in Western Australia seem to be most hard done by, with 59 per cent admitting they had forgone or delayed paying themselves during employee pay cycles. Nearly half (42 per cent) said they did this occasionally and 26 per cent said they did it often. A further 26 per cent said they tend to pay themselves in lump sums when the business has the cash, while five per cent said they have occasionally not paid themselves at all.

Among businesses mostly based in Victoria, 54 per cent of business owners have gone without pay due to cash flow issues. A third (38) per cent of owners admit they did this occasionally and 23 per cent said they did this often.

Twenty-one (21) per cent said they have occasionally gone completely without pay during pay cycles, while a further 18 per cent said they tend to pay themselves in lump sums.

Forty-one (41) per cent of business owners whose organisations are mostly based in NSW admit that they have forgone or delayed paying themselves. Nearly a third (31 per cent) have done this occasionally, 41 per cent have done this often, 16 per cent have occasionally not paid themselves during pay cycles, while 13 per cent tend to pay themselves in lump sums.

The survey also sought to discover whether business owners had employees earning more than themselves. The findings show that there was an even split among business owners, with half (50 per cent) saying there are employees earning more.

The business sizes that have employees earning more than the boss

Large organisations were most likely to have employees on larger salaries than the boss, with 70 per cent admitting this to be the case. This compared with 66 per cent of small business owners, 65 per cent of medium-sized business owners, and 29 per cent of micro business owners admitting the same.

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How much of an effect do cash flow issues have on business owners’ personal finances?

A business owner’s personal life is also heavily connected to their business. found that 56 per cent of business owners – and 66 per cent of small business owners – admit business cash flow issues in the last two years had led to financial difficulties in their personal lives. The same could be said for 66 per cent of small business owners, 58 per cent for medium-sized business owners, 56 per cent for micro business owners and 39 per cent of large business owners.

Where financial difficulties damage the business owner's credit rating, this can affect their ability to access business or personal credit in future.

About the Author

Shaun McGowan from



Shaun McGowan

Shaun is the founder of and is determined to help people pay as little as possible for financial products. Through education and building world class technology. Previously Shaun co-founded and Lend.


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