The Australian Small Business Blog

Thursday, August 01, 2013

2013 National Small Business Summit - 3

by Dr Greg Chapman

Here is the last part of my review of the 2013 National Small Business Summit.

One of the highlights of the summit was a panel on “I’m Liked and LinkedIn, what’s next?” with Matt Dawes from Google, Nick Bowditch from Facebook, Troy Townsend from social media business Tiger Pistol, and Marco Renai from the Healthy Lifestyle Clinic, as successful business using social media.

While there were many insights from this presentation, two of the best were from Bowditch. When asked about B2B connections on Facebook, he gave as an example the CFO of BHP. On LinkedIn, he is the CFO and normal B2B engagement would apply, but when he gets home, he is just another person checking on his friends on Facebook and that is how you should engage with him there.

Like others on the panel Bowditch acknowledged the importance of the mobile platform. He said that every change they make now, they check first on all the mobile platforms that it looks good, and then second that it’s ok on desktop platforms. He said there are 16 year olds today who will never own a laptop.

The opposition Shadow Minister for Small Business (he does not have any other portfolios) Bruce Bilson gave the most passionate speech of any politician at the conference. As previously a small business owner himself, he drew on some less than wonderful personal experiences that showed that he ‘got it’. One of the biggest failings of government as he saw it was the fall from employment by small businesses from 57% of private sector employment five years ago to 43%. Small businesses are showing a reluctance to hire.

Bilson was followed by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott with, unsurprisingly, the most political of all the speeches. He built on Bilson’s theme on weak confidence in the sector resulting in decisions on investment and hiring put on hold driven by political uncertainty and the date of the election. Addressing Peter Strong’s concerns he said the Coalition would take back the burden of paid parental leave and super administration from business. He would ensure that in the ACCC and ATO boards there would be appointed people with specific small business experience. He also said with Bruce Bilson in the cabinet, small business won’t just have a voice, they will have a megaphone.

Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia, representing the big end of town, described the priorities for big business. They are seeking a repair of corporate taxes which they regard as inefficient, reform of the Fair Work Act and rolling productivity audits on the impact of regulations on business.

There was also a panel discussion on red tape with a number of top bureaucrats with two small businesses and their experience of the regulation. One was a boutique brewery which every week must let the ATO know what their excise liability weekly with a hard deadline every Monday! If that was not bad enough, they were harassed when one week they were one cent out in their calculations. The Tax Commissioner who was part of the panel seemed unimpressed with this.

As always COSBOA did a great job organising the event with good supporting sponsors. While there was not a lot of good news at the conference, I will leave you with a rap by Peter Strong titled “Red Tape Nation”.

Links to Part 1 & Part 2

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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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