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This week saw the arrival of Google+ for businesses and brands and the Carbon Tax passed through the Upper House of Parliament. IKEA announced a third Sydney store, unemployment fell and Optus detailed seven NBN plans for consumers and home businesses. Miss anything? Here’s our weekly wrap of the most important small business headlines.

Local crowdsourcing start-up gets $3m injection

DesignCrowd has nabbed a $3 million investment from local venture capital firm Starfish Ventures, which it plans to use to grow its client base in markets outside Australia.

DesignCrowd founder Alec Lynch started the business in 2008, and grown it into a multi-million dollar business with users in over 159 countries.

It already has 40,000 registered graphic designers from around the world, equivalent to four times more than the 10,000 designers employed in design studios in Australia.

Aussie start-up finalist in global Amazon challenge

Local online business management solution Deputy.com is celebrating being named the only Asia-Pacific finalist in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Start-Up Challenge.

As the only finalist from the Asia-Pacific region, the business has been awarded US$10,000 in AWS credits and a trip to attend the grand finale to compete against six other finalists to win the global grand prize.

Google+ opens to businesses and brands

Google officially made its new social networking site available to businesses and brands on Monday, so we’ve put together a few simple steps to help you set up a Google+ page for your small business.

You might be feeling less than excited about setting up yet another social networking account, but with some 40 million users on Google+already, it’s important you look at setting up a business page sooner, rather than later.

Dynamic Business is already on Google+, so if you’d like to add us to your circles, click here.

Carbon tax to become law, business unhappy

The Gillard Government’s carbon tax legislation passed through Parliament on Tuesday, making it certain a tax of $23 per tonne of carbon on the country’s 500 worst polluters will begin in 2012, and businesses aren’t happy.

The Federal Government and the Greens joined forces in the Upper House to force the 18 clean energy bills through yesterday, winning the vote 36 to 32.

NSW Business Chamber CEO Stephen Cartwright said the tax puts local businesses at a “competitive disadvantage.

“We called for the Government to ‘go low, and start slow’ but it has chosen to start with a carbon price twice as high as Europe. Now that the Government has locked us into a carbon-taxed economy, the pressure will be on the Prime Minister to secure a global and fair agreement on pricing carbon emissions.”

Rate cuts bump up consumer sentiment

Consumer sentiment jumped 6.3 percent this month, thanks largely to the Reserve Bank’s decision to cut interest rates.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment rose from 97.2 index points in October, to 103.4 in November.

According to Westpac Chief Economist Bill Evans, this result met largely with expectations, and is “clearly driven by the decision by the Reserve Bank to cut the official cash rate by 0.25 percent with, in most cases, the major lending institutions passing the cut on in full to mortgage borrowers.”

NBN to allow telcos & ISPs to tailor services to SMEs

NBN Co has announced it will offer telecommunications and internet service providers the ability to tailor its high-speed broadband services to better meet the needs of Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) businesses and other SMEs.

NBN Co has outlined wholesale plans designed to allow telcos and ISPs to offer packages for small business that enable them to use their broadband for quality voice services, and to offer enhanced service levels to support longer hours of business operation.

Third IKEA store planned for Sydney

IKEA will open a third store in Sydney in 2014/15, in the north-western suburb of Marsden Park.

Marsden Park is located 50km north-west of Sydney’s CBD, and the new IKEA store will be part of the newly created Sydney Business Park, which is set to become one of the country’s largest bulky goods retail parks.

Female business owners driving social media uptake

Female business owners are leading the SME social media revolution, as their male counterparts fall behind in embracing and investing in these new channels.

According to American Express research, 43 percent of female entrepreneurs use at least one form of social media in their business, compared to 37 percent of male small business owners.

Almost half of all women are planning to increase their social media focus over the next 12, while in contrast male business owners are more likely to invest in staff and training than they are in social media.

Unemployment falls, again

The jobless rate fell 0.9 percent last month, as the number of people unemployed decreased by 5,700.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the unemployment rate is sitting at 5.2 percent, with the number of people employed increasing by 10,100 to 11,462,300 in October.

Money, big workloads making employees anxious

New survey results show local employees are experiencing rising stress levels, leading them to lose sleep over their jobs and report a rise in anxiety.

The Nutra-Life Organic Magnesium survey found 40 percent of employees are more stressed than this time last year and 70 percent expect their anxiety to be the same or worse in another year’s time.

Optus unveils seven NBN packages

Optus has joined the National Broadband Network fray, releasing the details of  seven consumer and home office packages to be available from November 21.

Under the existing NBN Co trial agreement, all Optus plans will be available on a monthly basis for both home phone and mobile plans.

According to Optus consumer fixed director Anthony Shiner, the NBN offers the opportunity for local consumers and businesses to receive a real choice for their broadband services.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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