CANBERRA, AAP – Small businesses are emerging out of last year’s recession confident they will be in better shape in 2021 and are predicting greater revenues from online sales.

A survey of more than 400 small and medium-sized enterprises by Mastercard found over half are optimistic about the next 12 months, while seven-in-10 believe they will come back stronger.

More than half are forecasting revenue growth of at least 10 per cent during the next 12 months, with a slightly larger number expecting an increase in online sales.

The report released on Thursday says the silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the surge in innovation amongst SMEs, which has accelerated their use of digital and e-commerce solutions.

Seven-in-10 businesses now feel more comfortable about diversifying or launching new products or services in the future.

“Australian SMEs continue to show incredible resilience and agility in spite of COVID-19,” Mastercard Australasia division president Richard Wormald said.

“Innovation really is the bright spot amid the pandemic.”

However, with their expansion online comes increased cybersecurity risk.

Just over half highlighted that protecting their business and customers from fraud risk will be key to business success for 2021.

With the potential risk of further COVID-19 restrictions, just under half of businesses have indicated they now have lockdown contingency plans in place to mitigate any impact to their activities in the future.