Business Sentiment Survey 2024


In May, we conducted a survey to take the pulse of local business just prior to the end of the 2023/24 financial year. Over 130 business owners responded representing all industry sectors, but with the majority of responses from small businesses (0-19 employees) in the tourism and agricultural sectors.

The results were mixed but somewhat positive.


A total of 134 individual business owners responded to our inaugural Business Sentiment Survey and we thank those who took the time to participate.  While it is hard to identify year-on-year trends and make critical comparisons being the first survey of its type, the results show a great deal of variability in how businesses are feeling.  However, a number of key vulnerabilities were highlighted for businesses currently.

Specific comments submitted can be reviewed in the full report, revealing a number of key issues for areas and sectors for attention.  


134 business owners completed the survey, conducted from 1 May – 31 May 2024.  Of those, 6 businesses were not located in the Indigo Shire Government area but operate within our area.

94.8% were small businesses (0-19 employees), with the remainder being medium businesses (20-199 employees).

Responses were from all sectors.  However, the sector most represented was Tourism, Retail and Hospitality at 59.7%, followed by Agriculture, Forestry & Related Services at 20.9%.

Interestingly, 27.6% of business respondents stated they had a current business plan which is reviewed regularly, 9.7% had no business plan at all, 38.1% had a plan in their head but not written down and 25.4% had an outdated business plan needing review.  There didn't appear to be a correlation between those with business plans and levels of confidence.

Confidence levels

In terms of an overall sense of confidence as compared to May last year, it was positive to see that 27.3% of businesses said they were more confident about their business and profitability.  However, 39.4% said they feel about the same and 34.1% said they are feeling less confident.  Drilling a little deeper, we find the following sector-by-sector results:


Number of businesses


Less confident

About the same

More confident

Manufacturing & Industrial Services




Construction & Construction Services




Tourism, Retail & Hospitality




Professional & Technical Services




Property & Asset Services




Agriculture, Forestry & Related Services





When asked about the various aspects of doing business causing business owners to feel less confident, the responses are as follows:

Productivity and performance                                                  6.8%

Financial viability and profitability                                          17.4%

Business Strategy and resilience                                              9.2%

Marketing and online presence                                                14.6%

Willingness to take risk and innovate                                      10.4%

Capacity to finance modifications and improvements     30.5%

Capacity to provide work-life balance                                   26.1%

One of the aspects businesses felt most confident or reasonably confident about was in the area of productivity and performance.  Conversely, it seems that business finance to modify or innovate and work-life balance are key issues for businesses at the moment.    

When asked about staffing issues, 57.4% of respondents felt about the same in regard to finding and retaining staff, with 32.6% feeling less confident and just 10.9% feeling more confident.  Given that staffing has been an issue for several years, this would indicate it continues to be a problem.  The top three factors identified as impacting the ability to find suitable staff were:

  • Applicants do not have the required skills or experience  36.7%
  • Lack of housing for new staff                                                   36.7%
  • Lack of applicants                                                                        32.5%

There was also concern about the type of work offered being seen as unappealing, the hours of work not seen as appealing and lack of work ethic.  

When asked about the cost of doing business compared to this time last year 47.4% of respondents stated that costs had increased significantly and maintaining profitability was hard, 27.1% said that costs had increased substantially, but respondents were able to make adjustments to maintain profit margin.

70.1% of respondents felt that costs would continue to increase into the next financial year, with 28.4% feeling they would stay about the same.  The top three cost increases respondents were most concerned about were:

  • Insurances                                        76.1%
  • Energy & utilities                             59.0%
  • Wages & employee costs            53.0%
  • Petrol & diesel                                  51.5%
  • Materials & supplies                       47.0%

It is interesting to note that only 25.4% of respondents named the cost of finance and interest rates as a major vulnerability at the moment.

When asked about supply chain interruptions, there was less impact felt with 37.3% of respondents saying they had not been impacted at all, 56% saying they had been moderately impacted and only two respondents mentioned they had been forced to shut down at times.  Those who had supply chain issues had changed suppliers and/or changed inputs, materials and/or products.

In terms of the future, the majority of respondents (41.7%) claimed they expected their business to change slightly, 28.0% would continue as is, 19.7% stated they would make significant changes, 7.6% stated they planned to expand significantly, 5.3% would contract their operations and 1.5% stated they expected their business to close. 

Fifty three respondents chose to add specific comments on what might improve confidence and these can we read as part of the full report.   

This survey will be repeated in May 2025. We will once again share the results of the 2025 survey and in the meantime we look forward to working with and supporting our local businesses throughout the year.