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The Friday SMB wrap-up

The end of the week has rolled around again, making it time to catch up on the week’s most important small business headlines. This week, Australia’s small business commissioners signed an agreement to work together for the benefit of SMBs, the Greens began their push for flexible working arrangements and Sydney was named the seventh most expensive city to live in.

iPad 3 rumoured to debut in March

Apple may launch its third-generation iPad at an event scheduled for early March, according to a US technology blog.

AllThingsD.com reports a source close to the company has revealed it’s planning an event for early March in San Francisco, in which it will likely launch the iPad 3.

An Apple spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on the events timing, saying the company doesn’t respond to rumour or speculation.

Commissioners band together to help small business

Australia’s small business commissioners have signed an agreement to work collaboratively for the benefit of small businesses around the country.

An agreement has also been signed with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), with the aim of sharing information across the states about challenges facing SMBs.

According to NSW small business commissioner Yasmin King, the agreement was signed at the first meeting between the Queensland, Victrorian, South Australia, West Australian and New South Wales commissioners last week. The meetings will rotate around jurisdictions on a bi-monthly basis.

Greens push for flexible working arrangements, better work/life balance

Employees could have greater control over their work hours and location if a new bill from the Greens is passed, as the party works toward helping Australians improve their work/life balance.

The bill, which will be introduced today, aims to give people more control over their time and working arrangements, depending on an employer’s legitimate operational needs.

The Fair Work Amendment (Better Work/Life Balance) Bill 2012 will give people who’ve been in their job for 12 months or more the right to request flexible working arrangements. It will also give carers immediate access to these rights, unless an employer can prove serious countervailing business reasons.

PRADA by LG smartphone due for April launch

The hotly-anticipated LG 3.0 PRADA smartphone will hit Australian stores in April, and is the third phone to be released as a result of a collaboration between LG Electronics and the PRADA fashion house.

The smartphone, unveiled at a showcase event in London in December last year, is attracting attention for being the only mobile on the market currently with premium branding.

Aussies would change jobs despite economic doom and gloom

Even with continuing reports of poor economic conditions, the majority of Australians would be prepared to change jobs if an opportunity arose to do so, a survey has found.

The Robert Walters survey found 83 percent of professionals would change roles if given the chance.

It also found 60 percent of workers feel less secure about their employment because of negative reports around market movements and global financial pressures.

Keep roaming costs under control with new Telstra international data packs

Telstra is catering to the rising number of SMB owners travelling overseas for business with a new range of pre-purchased international roaming data packs, designed to reduce the cost of browsing the internet and accessing email while overseas.

Telstra has introduced an $85 and $350 data pack, which provide allowances of $450 and $2,250 for international data costs, respectively.

New higher value packs also geared to business travellers are priced at $550 (with a $3,750 allowance), $1,050 (with a $7,500 allowance) and $1,800 (with a $15,000 allowance).

Sydney named seventh most expensive city to live in

Thanks to the strength of the Australian dollar, Sydney has been named the seventh most expensive city in the world to live in, closely followed by Melbourne, which took out the eighth spot.

Sydney slipped a place in the rankings, moving from number six in 2010 to seventh in 2012. Melbourne’s rank hasn’t changed over the past year though, holding steady as the eight most expensive city to live in.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2012 report, the strength of the Australian dollar is to blame for two of our cities’ presence in the list, with local inflation having significantly less impact on the relative cost of living than currency movements.

Consumer confidence bounces back

Businesses have welcomed news of a surprise jump in consumer sentiment, as the number of optimists outweighs the number of pessimists for the first time in some months.

The Westpac–Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment increased 4.2 percent from 97.1 in January to 101.1 in February.

According to Westpac chief economist Bill Evans, all components of the index increased for the month of February. How people assess their family finances improved and the sub-indexes tracking family finances compared to a year ago rose 7 percent and family finances over the next 12 months increased 2.6 percent.

New service launches to help SMBs get a competitive start online

A new web hosting and solutions provider has opened for business, with Ingenyes specifically designed to give SMBs an easy introduction to the online world.

Ingenyes offers a free hosting service for small businesses, and according to freelance graphic and web designer Rowan Attenborough, it was the best provider to start promoting his small business online.

Locally founded 99designs expands to the UK

The Australian-founded crowdsourced graphic design business 99designs has launched in the UK and begun hiring staff in the region as part of its strategic growth plans.

The company, which was founded in Melbourne in 2008, said the UK will be its launch pad for European expansion.

CEO Patrick Llewellyn said the UK has been a significant market for 99designs from the start in terms of the design talent and customer base it’s attracted there.