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The Friday SMB wrap-up

It’s been a busy week, so join us in catching up on the week’s most important small business headlines with our Friday SMB wrap-up. This week, plans for the first federal small business commissioner were announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, consumer sentiment made a surprise fall and LinkedIn celebrated reaching three million Australian members.

T2 founder wins coveted business woman award

International Women’s Day saw T2 founder and CEO Maryanne Shearer named the Australian winner of the 2012 Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award.

Shearer was joined by Ronni Kahn, founder and CEO of OzHarvest, who won the Business Woman Tribute Award for Innovation, Entrepreneurial Skill and Contribution to the Community.

“Maryanne Shearer has created a whole new retail category and built a powerful brand in her T2 business,” said Janet Holmes à Court, a previous winner of the award and chair of the Australian judging panel.

Ita Buttrose named chairman of digital publishing start-up

Reddo Media has secured publishing icon Ita Buttrose as its chairman, a coup for the iPad/tablet digital publishing start-up.

Buttrose said she’s excited by what tablet magazines have to offer to both magazine publishers and business clients, as Reddo provides an outsourced, enterprise-grade tablet publishing solution suitable for all publishers.

“Tablet publishing is a far more cost-efficient, modern way to produce a magazine… I am looking forward to helping established publishers transform their publications for tablet devices,” she said.

CBA kicks off 2012 small business forum program

Small business owners around the country are being invited to register for the Commonwealth Bank’s free annual forum program, which kicks off next month.

The program, in its fourth year, is again being led by industry experts Peter Switzer of the Switzer Group and CommSec’s chief economist Craig James.

This year, the forums will focus on teaching small business owners about using the digital space to grow their businesses.

Businesses turn to debtor finance as cashflow pressures bite

The latest industry statistics show high wage costs, a strong dollar and interest rate pressures are causing Australian businesses to turn to debtor finance to ease cashflow problems.

Figures released by the Institute of Factors and Discounters (IFD) show total debtor finance turnover in the December 2011 quarter was $16.3 billion, an increased of four percent compared to the previous September 2011 quarter.

Debtor finance turnover for the 12 months to December 2011 was $61.4 billion, up 4.6 percent from the 12 months ending December 2010.

LinkedIn celebrates three million Australian members

LinkedIn’s announced it officially has more than three million Australian members, a figure which represents 60 percent of the local professional population.

The milestone “demonstrates that professional networking online is becoming an essential part of professional life for Australians,” LinkedIn ANZ and SE Asia managing director Clifford Rosenberg said.

“We estimate there are around 4.8 million professionals in Australia, which means over 60 percent of Australia’s professional population is now on LinkedIn,” said Rosenberg.Like other online networks, LinkedIn aims to create a platform where “connections and shared knowledge come together to enable [businesses] to grow their online brand, gain insights, as well as find new business or career opportunities,” said Rosenberg.

Plans for first federal small business commissioner announced

Australia is to get its first national Small Business Commissioner, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced.

The office, not due to come into effect until January 2013, will support the nation’s 2.7 million businesses, employing nearly five million people. The Small Business Commissioner will be appointed in the second half of this year.

Gillard said the office will act as an advocate for small business within the Government.

Here at Dynamic Business we believe it is about time small businesses, who lack a strong lobby group, had a voice at a federal level.

Consumer sentiment falls as rates concerns rise

Consumer confidence fell by five percent in March, as Australians worry about rising interest rates and falling employment levels.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment fell from 101.1 in February to 96.1 in March, to a level lower than before the Reserve Bank’s (RBA) last two rate cuts in November and December.

“With the Index below the 100 level pessimists clearly outnumber optimists,” Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said.

“Sensitivity to interest rates has clearly been one factor responsible for this weak print… with the two previous rate cuts in November and December being passed on in full by the banks it is reasonable to assume that many borrowers expected a further cut in the mortgage rate of 0.25 percent. Instead, mortgage rates were actually increased in the following week with banks raising mortgage rates by an average of 0.10 percent. It is likely that this reversal has impacted confidence,” he added.

eBay reveals simplified selling process

eBay has announced plans to introduce several improvements and upgrades to its Australian site, designed to boost the usability of the site for sellers.

Commencing on 2 May 2012, sellers will be able to post pictures with their items for free, a service that previously required a fee. The aim is to produce a more engaging shopping experience for buyers and to give sellers the best chance to sell their products by producing quality listings.

Dynamic Business editor invited to meet with Small Business Minister

Dynamic Business editor Jen Bishop was invited to sit down with NSW Small Business Minister Katrina Hodgkinson this week to discuss the future provision of small business services in the State.

Last week Bishop broke the story about Small Business September (which Dynamic Business was media sponsor of last year) and other popular programs being axed. The story has since been followed up by Kochie’s Business Builders, Shoe String Launch and the Sydney Morning Herald. The programs, including the Women in Business mentoring program, are to be replaced with the Small Biz Connect program.

Dynamic Business endeavours to provide a voice for small business and we have some concerns around the seeming lack of consultation carried out. That said, we are more than happy to sit down and discuss the changes and how we can best communicate them to our readership and we appreciate this gesture by the Minister