June 22, 2012
Business can be lonely sometimes, particularly for small business owners. Out of the 2 million small businesses in Australia, 90% have less than 5 employees and 65% are solo owned and operated – meaning 1.3 million business owners are working alone. With the buck stopping ultimately with you as the owner, it is tempting to feel overwhelmed and stressed. When we are in these emotional states we simply do not make the best decisions and may forget what is truly important.
Asking for Help
Rather than soldiering on, perhaps take a deep breath and time out to consider how setting up a board of advisors may help you and your business.
When I started my own business many years ago, my vision and the realm of possibilities for success excited me and provided the motivation for me to endure the obstacles, set backs and hard work required. But after a few years of this (even at the young age I was) I hit the wall. The burden on my shoulders was winning. What I then decided to do saved my sanity and ultimately contributed to the growth of my business. I created a Board of Advisors.
Board of Advisors – Benefits
We are all at risk of “tunnel vision”. We are so close to our businesses – we live and breathe them on a daily basis, particularly in the start up phase. Being able to access a group of people who have different skill sets, life experiences and ways of being will open you and your business up to new possibilities. You will be able to draw on the wisdom of people who think differently than you do.
When you must report a board meeting by a certain date this certainly lessens the temptation to put due dates back and focus on other areas. Having a regular board meeting in my business forced me to lift my own game in terms of how I presented reporting, clarifying issues that I needed help with and leading the board meetings.
Driving the Strategic Focus
Getting stuck in the day-to-day running of the business is the plague of business owners. I know first hand how this can limit you and stunt your business growth. Having an Advisory Board will keep your focus strategic and constantly challenge you on this. It will force you to lift your head up from your desk and be mindful of ways to grow and seize opportunities.
It’s always about who you know. Having these extended team advocates of your business will be a great benefit. Things will come up that you need help with and chances are one of your board members will know someone who knows someone…you know how it goes.
Creating a New Team
Coming into the new financial year, I encourage you to look at how you can expand your “team”. With economic uncertainty and the calling for further of doing more with less, it is more important than ever to have adequate support around you.
For additional tips on how to set up a board of advisors please see the webinar “Creating a Virtual Team”.
May 21, 2012
After some reshuffling and reallocation of funds, the fiscal budget will be back in black in 2013. The government has had to delay and cut altogether some of its previous promises to make this happen. As usual, I have just focused on the impact on small business and working families in this post.
Lower Tax Rate Axed
After promising a 1% reduction in company tax (down to 29%), the government has removed this altogether after it became clear it would not get passed in Parliament. Company tax will remain at 30%. In a speech this week to the NSW Business Chamber of Commerce, Treasurer Wayne Swan said that the government is committed to reducing this tax in the future.
Loss Carry Back Initiative
From 1 July 2012, companies will be able to carry back up to $1 million of tax losses each year and receive a refund on tax paid in the previous year. Up until now, companies have only been able to carry a loss forward. This initiative is designed to support businesses in difficult economic times as a result of overseas competition and the rise of the Australian dollar. But it also supports innovation. This initiative will promote calculated risk taking in businesses. If you want to embark on a new idea, but are worried about potential losses associated with starting something, a tax refund can soften a potential blow. Similar loss carry-back initiatives have been introduced in the US, UK, Germany and France.
Immediate Deduction for New Business Assets
Small businesses will be allowed to claim an immediate deduction for business assets costing less that $6,500. Also, if you purchase a new or used vehicle for your business, you will be able to immediately write off the first $5,000. I love these changes. Not only will they come off your books quicker, it will save time having to managing a multitude of depreciation spreadsheets over many years.
The biggest announcement in this area is the introduction of the SchoolKids Bonus policy. Families who qualify (about 1 million) will receive $820 a year for each child in high school, and $410 for each child in primary school. This will replace the education tax refund (ETR). Under the ETR, families were able to claim a 50% rebate on some school-related expenses of up to $1500 per high school child or $750 per primary school child ($750 and $375 rebate). Many families simply did not claim. Only families who qualify for Family Tax Benefit A will be eligible for the SchoolKids Bonus (families earning less than $101,000 per year if they have one child in primary school). Those families earning over this amount will not qualify for the new scheme and will no longer be able to claim for any school expenses.
Family Tax Benefit A Changes
From July 2013, the maximum payment will increase by $300 per year for families with one child and by $600 per year for families with two or more children.
The government was going to be criticised if it didn’t meet its promise to be back in black by 2013. By hook or by crook, they have delivered a budget that shows this. Many people are arguing over the appropriateness of the “how”. The government are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. As a minority government, it has been difficult to deliver. And layering the appalling behavior of some of it members only adds to this challenge. As a result, the public are pretty cynical. However, if we can at least get out of the red, it is a good place to start. And we are certainly better off than most countries around the world at the moment.
How will the budget impact your business and family?
March 31, 2012
Tony Abbott has not generally been popular among women. His out of touch and sometimes patronising remarks in the past haven’t helped. In 2010 he famously used an ironing analogy to explain to the “the housewives of Australia” how an emissions trading scheme would affect them. (!)
However in a bold move last week, Tony Abbott announced that the Coalition would invest $3.5 billion into the paid parental leave program – see PAID PARENTAL LEAVE – How Much and Who Pays? and will extend the childcare rebate (CCR) to nannies.
I applaud this significant move to include nannies as part of the CCR.
If we want to have more women participate in the workforce we simply must make childcare more flexible and affordable. See my previous blog on this: Make Care Fair – the cost of not having affordable and flexible childcare Under the current model, to access the CCR working parents must have their child in an approved childcare facility. Parents receive 50% of out of pocket expenses up to $7500 per year. This leaves out many family day care options (usually a smaller environment and may be more suitable for babies and younger children) and of course nannies. As a working mother I had mixed emotions about leaving my baby in childcare. I eventually found a lovely family day care which was not covered by the CCR and as a result I have paid double the amount of a larger child care centre. However many families would not have that luxury of choice.
It should be up to the parents, not the government, what type of childcare best suits their child and family. Some parents work evenings, nights and weekends. Traditional childcare centres (the ones covered by the CCR) are closed.
Then comes school times. What happens during the school holidays? Pupil free days? A nanny may be the best option for many families.
Childcare Minister Kate Ellis has slammed the Coalition’s plan saying that many nannies don’t only provide childcare – they cook, clean and “chauffeur”. Isn’t cooking and cleaning and driving kids around part of the care of children?? Don’t childcare centres have a kitchen with cooks, cleaners etc? I am disappointed that the government doesn’t support this.
It is an old argument that nannies are for “rich” families. This is poppycock. Working parents simply do not have the support today that they had even a decade ago. There are three reasons for this:
1. There are more older parents. With many people “waiting” to have kids until their late 30s or 40s, the grandparents are older too, and less likely to be able to assist with childcare.
2. Parents are living away from extended family. Many people do not live in the same city (or even country) as their extended family. Job opportunities and long distance love take us all over the world now.
3. More single parents. With a divorce rate at over 50%, the single parent household is on the increase.
We need to look beyond the Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm childcare centre option. We are leading flexible working lives and our childcare options need to reflect this. Time to get into the 21st century Australia. I am pleased that the coalition is putting this important discussion on the table. Their plan to have the Productivity Commission review of childcare http://www.liberal.org.au/Latest-News/2012/03/27/Productivity-Commission-Review-of-Childcare.aspx) is a great start.
Tony Abbott’s plan isn’t a perfect solution. There are still many issues. Most childcare workers are seriously underpaid and underskilled. We need more investment in the people who are spending so much time with our future generation. We need to help them professionalise the industry – offer more training and development opportunities, better wages and benefits.
But the Coalition’s move to help more women get back to work if they choose to or need to is a significant step in the right direction. And I’m sure it has lifted Tony Abbott’s popularity with women.
March 13, 2012
As part of International Women’s Day celebrations, I attended a briefing by NSW Minister for Women Pru Goward on 6March. Being new to the role (since April last year), Goward is ramping up the Office for Women’s Policy and now has a very focused agenda.
Goward has a strong pedigree in the women’s policy space. She was the Executive Director of the Office of the Status of Women in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (1997-99) and also the Australian Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner (2001-2007). She was also the recipient of a Centenary Medal in 2001 for services for women’s rights.
Goward is now the Minister for Family and Community Services and the Minister for Women. She is determined to work on breaking the cycle of disadvantage for women and will work closely between her portfolios to do this.
Goward shared her focused agenda for Women’s Policy in three key areas:
Reducing violence towards women and general family domestic violence.
There is an alarming upward trend of violence against women. Goward is implementing a number of initiatives to tackle this problem and is working with many NGOs to reverse this trend.
Creating a more integrated workplace by having more women in trades, more women in leadership positions (boards, executive roles, etc).
Goward thinks we have had some success in getting more women in executive roles and certainly in the white-collar world. However, the world of trades is another story. There aren’t enough women plumbers, electricians etc. Goward’s view is that a helpful step in having greater gender equality is by having a more integrated workplace in Australia. We all do still need more women on boards and in leadership roles as well, she says. And although the current percentage of women on NSW government boards is 38%, that figure has not moved in over ten years! This is another area she will address.
Research/data about women in NSW
Goward has commissioned a “Report on the Status of Women in NSW” which will be launched later this year.
In order to bring attention to issues, you need to have facts. Empirical facts. Quite simply put, we need to know where we are starting from to know where we would like to be.
I applaud Minister Goward’s approach of such a focused agenda. Women’s policy is a HUGE area and it would be very easy to look at too many areas and achieve nothing. I am thrilled that there is an influential advocate for women in NSW parliament.
March 12, 2012
With Mark Arbib’s resignation from politics last month, Prime Minister Julia Gillard appointed a new federal Minister for Small Business – Brendan O’Connor. The PM has also elevated the importance of small business by placing this portfolio within the Cabinet, saying, “Small businesses are central to Australia’s economy and deserve Cabinet-level representation”. The Liberal Party has been pushing to have Cabinet status for small business and has had this in their policy since 2010. It is good to see that the Government has seen the light on this matter.
Arbib was only in the role of Minister for Small Business for a few months when he resigned suddenly on 2 March following Kevin Rudd’s unsuccessful leadership challenge. Preceding Arbib was Nick Sherry who was in the role for a mere 15 months (which is turning out to be a long time in politics by today’s standards!)
O’Connor is the member for Gorton VIC. His previous portfolio was Human Services and now handles housing and homelessness along with small business.
I hope that the appointment Mr O’Connor and elevated status of small business will create focus and positive change for the small business community in Australia.
Do you have concerns you’d like voiced to the new Minister for Small Business? Let us know.
February 9, 2012
With the Coalition introducing amendments to the Paid Parental Leave scheme (PPL) this week, the Minister for Small Business Mark Arbib and Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, put out a media release this week condemning the proposed PPL changes.
Senator Arbib describes the PPL as a tax on business that will have a detrimental affect on small businesses, particularly small retailers.
Before we look at the Coalition’s proposed PPL, let’s review the current PPL which came into place January 2011:
- 18 weeks paid parental leave at federal minimum wage (approx. $570/week)
- no superannuation paid
- must have worked for a least 10 of the 13 months prior to birth or adoption of child
- must have worked for at least 330 hours in that 10 month period with no more than an eight week gap between two consecutive working days
- fully funded by the government
- administered by businesses (meaning that businesses will pay directly to PPL recipient)
The Coalition’s gripe with the existing scheme is that it is a burden to businesses to administer.
Also, 18 weeks at minimum wage and no superannuation (approx. $10,000) is not going to make a big difference to many families.
- 26 weeks paid parental leave at FULL salary up to $150,000 per annum
- including superannuation of 9%
- utilising the same work test and eligibility conditions as the current PPL
- be funded by a 1.5% levy on companies with taxable’s incomes OVER $5 million
- be paid and administered by the Family Assistance Office (not by the employer as is currently in place with the government’s PPL)
This is certainly a more generous scheme, with less red tape for businesses. Businesses with a taxable income over $5 million will fund the scheme. Smaller businesses will not be affected.
Yes, this PPL scheme will cost more.
But it will help support families better than the existing paid parental leave scheme.
It also acknowledges the importance of superannuation, which for many women is just simply not enough to retire on.
The bottom line is that if we want more women to participate in Australia’s workforce, we MUST provide workable solutions to help them manage as they have and adopt children. This WILL cost money. But the overall benefits to Australia economically and socially will by far outweigh the dollars spent.
What do you think?
February 8, 2012
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney
As an American who calls Australia home now, I have to be a little careful about my ongoing complaints about service levels in this country and the desperate need for improvement in many cases. I’ve lived here nearly 20 years and it only takes a trip back to the US to ignite my passion about this subject. Before you tell me to go back to America, I have an experience to share with you.
The Magic that is Disneyland
I visited the US at Christmastime and my husband and I took our two young children to Disneyland after catching up with family.
I have never had a better service experience in my life. All businesses, Australian and American alike, have much to learn from how Disneyland operates. We had a few incidents that had the potential to ruin (or at least dampen) our holiday, but the Disneyland staff turned them around 180 degrees into a positive. Let me explain.
Incident 1: The Hurl
After a ride, my 5-year-old son was complaining about a sore tummy. However, being a staunch Star Wars fan, he was keen to do the “Jedi Training” which was due to begin shortly. My husband took him to get a seat in front of the stage and I took my daughter to get some food to bring back for us all. When I arrived back to the stage area, I noticed that the crowd had cleared in one section and there was a man with a mop cleaning. I had a feeling of dread. Sure enough, it was my child who had been sick all over himself, daddy and the venue.
Cast Member – Jimmy:
Jimmy, a staff member of Disneyland (btw Disneyland calls their staff members “cast members”), came over to check on us and after wracking his brain about how he could help us, he gave us vouchers for new clothes for my son AND husband to be used in ANY store in Disneyland. He also said that if my son wanted to come back to do the Jedi training later that they would look after him. And they did. We came back two days later and the organisers chose him out of hundreds of kids to fight Darth Vader on the stage. He was jumping out of his skin! He is still talking about this.
Incident 2: Missing Our Flight Home (nearly)
We had pre-booked the shuttle from the Disneyland Hotel to LAX at 7pm for a 10pm flight. After a frenzied rush, we arrived at the pickup point at exactly 7:01pm. No shuttle. 7:30: no shuttle. We were in the middle of a large car park with 12 suitcases in the rain, waiting, waiting. I called the shuttle company and they informed me the driver left at 7pm and that there won’t be another one until at least 8pm, maybe later. Too late for us. I was getting anxious at this point. It’s not easy traveling with young kids in the best of times.
Cast Member – Ken:
Ken from Disneyland Hotel magically appeared in the car park to try to assist. He promptly organised a (very large) taxi for us and gave me a $150 credit on my credit card that was on file with the hotel (I didn’t even have to give my card or go back into the hotel to process). All this transpired within ten minutes. We made it to the airport very quickly and on time for our flight.
Yeah, But It Wasn’t Disneyland’s (or insert business name here) Fault!
The interesting point with these experiences is it wasn’t about whose “fault” it was. My son was sick. We missed our shuttle. It certainly wasn’t Disneyland’s fault. But Disneyland makes it about the “experience” and if something happens (regardless of whose fault it is) that may impact negatively on the experience, they take responsibility for it and make it their business. They want to ensure you have a great experience, full stop. They don’t just leave you to deal with it.
Clever clever clever – especially in this day of social media, blogs, etc. Every customer now has the potential to tell the world very easily about their experience with your company or product. Smart businesses will make it their business to ensure customers have a great experience. It WILL come back to them by generating more business.
I will go back to Disneyland. But more importantly, I will rave about how great they were to me when they didn’t HAVE to be. The ROI is impossible to calculate on this.
I believe Australian businesses have a wonderful opportunity to lift the bar and offer exceptional service and certainly the ones that do this will stand out and rocket to success.
Based on Disneyland’s model, here are some TIPS for offering better service:
- Give all staff members proper authority to assist customers, including a budget to be used at their discretion. There is nothing more annoying than having to wait for a higher authority to deal with a problem (for both the staff member AND the customer).
- Survey your customers about what it is that bugs them about your product or service procedures. Too often businesses only see things from their own side. As a customer, how many times do you hear “our policy is x” (when you are trying to get “y”)? It doesn’t have to mean changing complete systems though. It could be a small annoyance that is easily handled like fixing a navigation problem on your website. The important thing is to get outside of your own business and hear other viewpoints.
- If you can, solve your customer’s problem, regardless of whose “fault” it is.
- Make your customers feel special. Create a culture of “caring” in your business.
Do you have an exceptional service story? Tips on how to offer better service?
December 16, 2011
Nick Sherry has stepped down as Minister for Small Business after only 15 months in the role, just prior to a major reshuffle by Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week.
The Prime Minister has appointed Mark Arbib, the 40 year old senator for NSW. Senator Arbib also holds the new role of Assistant Treasurer and retains his previous title of Minister for Sport.
There are 2 million small businesses in Australia, of which women own over 30%.
Senator Arbib quoted, “Small business is the heart of the economy. I… understand the importance of small business to jobs and wealth creation. They (small businesses) are the heart of Labor’s economic policy.” Senator Arbib was previously Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness.
During the global financial crisis, he worked with small business to form and grow the $100 million Apprentice Kickstart Program whereby over 46,000 young Australians were helped to start apprenticeships, also helping close the skill gap felt by many small businesses.
The Australian Businesswomen’s Network welcomes Senator Arbib to this important new role and we look forward to working with him and his office to ensure the small business sector and particularly women-owned small businesses are well represented.
What issues are important to YOU that Senator Arbib should be aware of? Please post your thoughts and concerns.
December 8, 2011
I had the pleasure of attending a Charity: Water event last week. Paull Young, the young passionate Aussie who just HAD to work for this organisation when he came across them, presented to a group of about 50 people in Sydney.
You may have heard of Charity: Water, especially if you are active on Twitter and other social media. Charity: Water has very successfully trail blazed new ways of fundraising and getting their story out to millions of people globally through the clever use of technology and social media strategies. Whether you are working for a charity or own your own business, there is much to be learnt from how they do things.
How Charity: Water Started
Charity: Water started five years ago when its young founder, Scott Harrison travelled to Africa and saw first hand the terrible plight of so many without the most basic of human needs – water. When he returned to NYC and a friend bought him a $16 martini, he realised that that same $16 could have fed a family in Africa or built a well. He then decided that if more people understood what was needed, the world could be changed. He then founded Charity: Water.
The facts about water
- Out of the seven billion people living on the planet, one billion people do not have access to drinking water. Without seeing and experiencing this, it is hard for the people who do have water (and always have) to imagine what life would be like for these one billion people.
- 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation – toilets, running water, etc
- This is a major cause of preventable disease. 40,000 kids die every day because of lack of access to clean water and sanitation. Not having a “tap and toilet” kills more people than all the wars around the world every year.
- In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year just walking for water. Usually it is women and children walking many kilometres to the nearest water source, and this water will likely make them sick.
- Charity: Water’s motto is “Water Changes Everything”. Simple, yet true. Not only does access to clean water (through taps and toilets) eliminate much disease, but also kids are able to go to school and entire communities can be transformed.
- $19 will fund a well. This is such small amount that will make such a huge difference to people without access to water – the price of a cocktail or two in a major city.
“Technology changes everything”. Charity: Water does almost all of its fundraising online. It’s clever use of social media to raise money has certainly been its strong suit. In February 2009, they raised $250,000 through Twestival. This was the largest amount ever raised by a charity online.
Twitter: Charity: Water was first on twitter in 2007 with a few hundred followers (that was like rock-star status in those days), and now they have over 1.3 million followers!
Facebook: Over 200,000 likes.
Charity: Water doesn’t ask for money, it asks for fundraisers – people to raise money for them. And they have clever campaigns around this premise. One example is the “Give up your birthday for clean water” campaign. People raise money on their birthday and ask friends and family to make a donation instead of buying them a gift. Genius.
We already have more than we need – right? This is all done online and the technology makes it easy to set this up. We are seeing a lot of charities making use of this now, for example “Everyday Hero”, whereby a fundraiser (individual) can set up an online presence to track the donations etc. This is becoming very common particularly for fun runs and other events like “Movember”.
Stats for Charity: Water’s Online Campaigns
Average amount raised by a fundraiser: $1,000
Average campaign: 13 donors, average donation $80.
Charity: Water then emails all donors to show where and when the wells went. They send them links to googlemaps which actually shows the locations of the wells. Their model is that for every $1 spent, $8 is raised. That’s leverage.
A Winning Model
Paull Young says the culture of Charity: Water “Feels more like a tech start up than a charity.” They have raised $26 million so far, and 75% was raised through digital models, more than any other charity using these models. They are experiencing 100%+ growth. And they are just warming up. They have a big hairy audacious goal to raise $2 billion by 2020 (yes, $2 BILLION).
Some tips from Charity: Water
- Start with your story and make it their story.
- Show them where there money goes. Charity: Water uses googlemaps with GPS to show exactly where the wells were built.
- Use pictures. Charity: Water posts a “picture a day.” Pictures showing the sheer joy that water can bring to people. Real people. They believe in showing people the impact of their giving. Show by photos and share the stories of the people they impact. Show them where their money goes.
- Use narrative – sharing stories. One African woman named Helen said that now that she has water she feels beautiful, because for the first time in her life she can wash herself. Now THAT is powerful story sharing.
- Demonstrate the impact to the donor. Because you donated $30, this well (picture) was built in this location (googlemaps). Helen’s family (picture of Helen’s family) now has access to running water.
We are lucky enough to live in an age where our message can be reached by millions (and potentially billions) of people. Before the ubiquitous use of technology, mobile phones etc this simply was not possible without spending ungodly amounts of money. Today anyone can do this by utilising technology. The key is to have a compelling message that truly speaks to people around the world.
Charity: Water has done this well so far in their short life. And I would bet that with passionate people like Paull Young involved they will get their big hairy audacious goal of raising $2 billion by 2020 and then some.
September 29, 2011
I have been participating in a program called the AsiaLink Leaders Program for the past 8 months and never has a course/program shifted my thinking and challenged me so. The objective of the program is to have deeper Australia-Asia engagement. We have been learning high-level cultural intelligence skills to manage the complexity of Australia-Asia relations.
Last week, the group convened for a five-day retreat in Canberra. The topic was “Developing an Australian ‘Asia Plan’” and a big part of this plan is of course China. At the retreat, we had the opportunity to meet with various Asian Ambassadors, top government officials and current politicians to discuss Australia’s Asian Plan.
We Really Have Been “The Lucky Country”:
We are living in a time of uncertainty. However, Australia has escaped a true recession in the aftermath of the GFC. We are lucky. And we should be thanking China for this luck. Our trading with China was one of the key lifesavers for us. Other parts of the world haven’t been so lucky: the US’ unemployment rate is 9.1%, the EU is nearly at breaking point. Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank recently warned “the world is in a danger zone”. Can Australia simply rest on its laurels (i.e., resources) and hope for the best? No, we need to be thinking ahead and being proactive.
We need to get outside of our comfort zone to secure our future. The 21st Century will be the Asian Century – if we want to grow with Asia, we need to do some work.
I believe Australia can uniquely position itself as an innovative country that provides knowhow to the Asian region. We are in a perfect position – we know and understand US/European culture and have strong alliances here. We are part of Asia geographically and increasingly more so culturally, with over 600,000 people here of Asian descent and growing. We have the opportunity to provide unique services to the region. Let’s look at China as an example.
China – the Threat and the Opportunity:
It is the first time in history that Australia’s major trading partner (China) is NOT our strategic partner (USA). We like the economic benefit of having China as our major trading partner, yet feel threatened by them as outlined in the Department of Defence’s white paper, “Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030” (2009).
China is very sensitive to this perception of it being a threat. The Chinese Ambassador to Australia, H.E. Mr. Chen Yuming spoke to our group about the problems associated with its tremendous growth over the last few years. There are still 180 million people living below the poverty line. They are trying to shift from being a manufacturing nation to a consumption nation. To put it in perspective, if we compare world ranking GDP per capita – Australia is 7th, US is 10th and China is 91st (Source: International Monetary Fund 2010). They still have a long way to go to create better lives for their people. This is China’s challenge.
China is keen for peaceful development. Quite frankly, they have enough on their plate trying to deal with domestic issues. But it is a challenge for Australia. China’s closed political process, South China Sea territorial claims and its opaque legal system absolutely present challenges for us as Australians. But perhaps we can try to find some common ground.
Australian Business in China:
There is a HUGE opportunity for Australian businesses in China. I’m not simply talking about the obvious mining and energy. Food security is a major issue for the future; Australia is in a position to assist with this. There are abundant opportunities for service businesses in China, services that will help them with their exponential growth of urban cities – design services, architecture and education to name a few.
For example, Chengdu is a city in Southwest China where over 10 million people reside. It is one of the fastest growing “2nd Tier” cities in China. There are many opportunities here and other 2nd and 3rd tier cities. It comes down to creating customers by helping them solve a problem.
In my own business, I looked to China to outsource my manufacturing. This move, whilst scary for me at the time (late 1990s) allowed my business to be more competitive and sustainable. If you have a business, I encourage you to consider the opportunities in China (and Asia generally for that matter). There are more than the obvious manufacturing opportunities. Perhaps a good starting point is to go along to an Australia China Business Council event or talk to AusTrade about your plans. Perhaps invite a new Director on your board who has some experience working in China or Asia.
We are entering a new era – unfamiliar territory. I believe we must embrace the change and jump into the deep end. Julie Bishop, Deputy Opposition Leader, told our group that the Coalition would support compulsory second language in our schools, more student exchange programs (not just Asian students coming to Australia, but also more Aussie students spending time in Asia). This is a good start.
We need to be ready for this brave new world that is a result of globalisation and the huge shift of power to the East. And the better equipped we are, the more secure our businesses and the future as a nation will be.