Malaysian small businesses are upbeat about their business and the economy. Meanwhile, young business owners are driving an increasing focus on technology and innovation by local small businesses. These are some of the findings from a new regional survey by one of the world’s largest professional accounting associations.

CPA Australia’s latest Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey shows 72.2 per cent of Malaysian small businesses expect to grow in 2023, compared to 54.6 per cent that grew last year.

This trend is being driven by an improving economy and more small businesses grasping the benefits of digital technology including e-commerce, supported by new digital payment opportunities.

Malaysia Division president, Surin Segar, said: “An increasing focus on e-commerce will position many Malaysian small businesses for future growth.

“Nearly all Malaysian small businesses use social media. Businesses were more likely to invest in mobile phone applications than any other technology.”

The survey found 63.9 per cent earned more than 10 per cent of their revenue from online sales in 2022. Consistent with this, almost three-quarters (72.9 per cent) received more than 10 per cent of their sales through digital payment technologies such as GrabPay.

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By GlobalData

Small businesses are achieving strong returns from technology spending, with 53 per cent reporting this investment in 2022 improved their profitability. The financial gains available are helping drive the adoption of new technology.

Over a third (34.1 per cent) said they will introduce a new product, process or service to Malaysia or the world in 2023, up from 25.3 per cent last year.

Segar further added: “Small businesses are ready to innovate in 2023. This innovative culture should support long-term growth and improve the competitiveness of Malaysia’s small business sector.

“The appetite to innovate is hugely encouraging. The high percentage of Malaysians under 40 running small businesses is a contributing factor. Younger business owners surveyed were more likely to run businesses that are growing, creating jobs, innovating, using emerging technologies and exporting.

“To harness the entrepreneurial spirit of Malaysia’s many young small business owners, we want to see policymakers incentivise them to access professional advice.

“The increased use of technology raises cyber risks all businesses need to be aware of. Almost half (48 per cent) of small businesses reviewed their cybersecurity in the last six months. While this result was up from 2021, we want to see that figure climb higher.”