The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2013 National Small Business Summit - 1

by Dr Greg Chapman

It’s always interesting to attend the National Small Business Summit in an election year, with high profile politicians attending (although Kevin Rudd didn’t), plus the usual array of bureaucrats and business presenters. This year we were in Brisbane. Here is a flavour of what I heard at the event.

The summit opened with an address by the Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman. This was the first time I had seen him present (as I come from Victoria). It is rare to see such a clear communicator. Yes there were a couple of digs at the opposition, but compared with other politicians, this was very limited and just in passing.

What he presented was a clear vision for the state’s future and how he was engaging all members of parliament, not just his party to be a part of a structured process to define this. A real leader.

He reviewed his first 12 months performance- reducing the10 year average annual increase in government expenditure of 8.9% down to 1.1% for the previous year. He has a transparency program to have government data, apart from that subject to individually private, commercially sensitive or cabinet documents, available in real time, which he believes will create opportunities for business.

Like all politicians, he is pushing to remove red tape, but, unlike most, sounds like he means it with accountability as part of the program. One area where he is taking action is on directors’ liabilities, which previously had 3800 offences where directors were personally liable. This is being reduced to 260, and he’s abolishing the reverse onus of proof which will be a great relief to Queensland business owners.

While Newman supports the harmonisation of laws across states where it makes sense, particularly with transactional processes, he strongly supports competitive federalism for more strategic matters. He clearly has a strong mandate which makes it easier to move on matters than in other jurisdictions, but he is moving fast, and it appears to be bearing fruit (see independent assessments below).

The premier then declared Queensland open for business. Can we clone him?

Brad Krauskopf, CEO of The Hub, presented on Innovation through Collaboration. They have built both physical and virtual hubs where businesses leverage their social capital and networks. He sees the future as freelance. He cited the example of IBM who is reducing its employment by 40% to its strategic core and then bringing people in as needed to implement. He also mentioned that government investment in 9-5 commuter infrastructure was not sustainable as they don’t have the money, with the movement in future to local hubs connected by technology.

Janett Egber then presented on the current activities of the peak small business body, COSBOA. Egbar is a secondee from NAB which also sponsored the summit. Many banks say they support small business, but providing a full-time employee to COSBOA is putting their money where their mouth is. Full credit to NAB and their head of small business David Bannatyne for their commitment.

Dhruba Gupta, CEO of DBM presented some analysis of the issues currently facing small business in Australia. The highest ranking issues were economic/regulatory (63%), followed by financial (59%), marketing (55%), and management (36%). In businesses with turnover from $1-5m the latter increases to 52%. This is also the group that had the greatest confidence in their ability to grow, with other businesses having much weaker outlooks. Confidence was highest in Queensland, followed by WA.

Gupta then identified a group of 167,000 businesses he called small business tigers which historically had 8% growth. He found they were younger, better managed with good planning. These businesses tended to be metro and in services sectors. In this group, management issues were of the greatest concern.

More tomorrow.

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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.

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