Colmar Brunton conducted the survey, which covered more than 1000 SMEs from around the country. It found that 34 percent of business operators had worked on the weekends, 18 percent had burned the midnight oil and 14 percent skipped out on social engagements to meet their financial end-of-year obligations.
Business operators in retail, hospitality and logistics were most likely to have had to put in extra hours – 64 percent said they’d racked up time racing to finish financial work. Forty percent of those in the retail and hospitality industry worked weekends, and 20 percent missed social events.
MYOB’s New Zealand national sales manager Scott Gardiner says the survey highlights the extra workload SMEs have to shoulder to meet their compliance responsibilities.
He says New Zealand is recognised as one of the easiest places in the world to set up and run a business, but many operators still face long hours organising material and preparing data so they can file their annual returns.
“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,” Gardiner says.
According to the survey, business owners aged 18-29 were making the most extreme sacrifices, with a third working weekends and 21 percent missing out on social events. Generation Y business owners were also more likely to have had to take on additional staff to get through the period.
Slightly fewer (but still more than half) of business owners aged 30-49 also had to give up leisure time, and 46 percent of Baby Boomers aged 50-64 did the same.
The survey also looked at how SMEs could fix this unfortunate situation. There seemed to be two camps when it came to timing – 30 percent of the respondents gave themselves at least four weeks to get ready for the end of the year, but five percent started just a week before, and 31 percent started afterwards.
Almost three quarters of the respondents got help from an accountant, and a further six percent used a bookkeeper.
“SMEs who take care of their accounts throughout the year tend to have a much easier time when it comes to the reporting season,” says Gardiner. “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.”