The Friday SMB wrap-up

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Happy Friday, small business owners! Here’s our weekly wrap-up of the most important business headlines of the week gone by. This week, Brendan O’Connor was named the new Federal Minister for Small Business, grants became available for small business in NSW affected by flooding and Apple unveiled the successor to the iPad 2, dubbed the “new iPad.” 

Competition to find Australia’s best business blog launches

The race to find Australia’s best business blog is on, as the Sydney Writers’ Centre 2012 Best Australian Blogs Competition opens this month.

The competition, now in its second year, recognises blogs of any size.

Unemployment on the rise in 2012, report finds

Unemployment is set to increase marginally in 2012, while temporary and contract recruitment is expected to remain popular, a new survey has revealed.

The Robert Walters Global Salary Survey found uncertainty in the global economy is a recurring theme across all market sectors, affecting confidence in all regions.

“The often publicised ‘two-speed’ economy has created an inconsistent employment market. In parts of the country, wage inflation and labour shortages have increased to all time highs,” Robert Walters Australia managing director James Nicholson.

Twitter sells billions of tweets to marketers

Popular social networking site Twitter has sold two years worth of tweets, for marketing and business intelligence purposes.

Twitter will allow businesses access to tweets posted since January 2010, which equates to a significant number given there are an estimated 250 million tweets posted a day.

With over 1000 companies on its waiting list seeking access to the tweets, UK firm DataSift will be the first company to offer the data, the BBC reported. These companies will then use the information to create and assist with marketing campaigns to target users and other businesses.

Brendan O’Connor named new Federal Minister for Small Business

Julia Gillard has named Brendan O’Connor as new the Minister for Small Business, with the portfolio getting a boost to the federal cabinet for the first time after last Monday’s leadership ballot led to a cabinet reshuffle.

Last week’s Labor caucus ballot prompted a cabinet reshuffle as the Prime Minister dealt with Kevin Rudd’s move to the backbench and Senator Mark Arbib’s resignation.

Brendan O’Connor was promoted to cabinet, becoming Minister for Small Business and Minister for Housing and Homelessness.

Grants made available to small businesses affected by floods

Thanks to recent flooding in New South Wales, many small businesses have been swept into unfortunate economic hardships. Help is at hand however, thanks to newly available government grants.

Small businesses in the local government areas of Gwydir, Moree and Narrabri that have been affected by the devastating floods can claim grants of up to $15,000 to assist in clean-up and immediate restoration.

Strong Aussie dollar impacting business profit expectations

Small businesses, especially those in retail and manufacturing, hold great concern over the impact the high Australian dollar will have on operations during the June quarter.

The Dun & Bradstreet National Business Expectations Survey has found the outlook for the June quarter 2012 is less than positive.

“The pressure of a sustained high in the Australian dollar is starting to bite for main street businesses,” Dun & Bradstreet CEO Gareth Jones said.

RBA holds rates at 4.25 percent

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has left interest rates unchanged at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, with Governor Glenn Stevens saying it doesn’t appear the world economy is headed for another deep downturn.

The RBA has left rates on hold for two months in a row now, after cutting them in November and December last year. Stevens said that although the world economy’s growth is below-trend, there’s no indication a deep downturn is occurring.

First Nokia Windows smartphone to launch on Telstra network

Nokia’s first Windows 7.5 smartphone, the Lumia 800, will be available on the Telstra network from 13 March.

The Lumia 800 delivers a simple user interface to make for easy navigation and composing of Outlook emails. It also features People Hub, a single area that combines contacts and feeds from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

SMBs rattled by poor spending, but not ready to shut up shop

Poor consumer spending remains a concern for many small and medium businesses, but a new Sensis report has found fewer SMB owners plan to sell or close their business now compared with six months ago.

According to the latest Sensis Business Index, business confidence has fallen two percentage points in the last quarter, but sentiment isn’t as low as it was six months ago.

The report found just three in 10 businesses are worries about prospects for the year ahead, with one in 10 extremely worried. Five in 10 are feeling confident and the remainder are neutral.

Qantas tests in-flight Wi-Fi on A380 fleet

Qantas has kicked off its in-flight A380 connectivity trial, which will see travellers between Australia and the US given access to Wi-Fi during flights.

In a long-awaited move, travellers in First and Business class on six A380 flights between Sydney and Los Angeles and Melbourne and Los Angeles will have access to the internet and emails during flights.

Ninefold kicks off affiliate marketing program

Businesses with a website could earn up to $100 commission for referring new customers, under Ninefold’s newly launched affiliate program.

The cloud computing and cloud storage business’ affiliate program is free to join, and ideal for cloud computing websites, technology bloggers, web hosting comparison websites and web development communities.

Participation in the program aims to deliver an additional stream of advertising revenue for online businesses in this space, and will also allow businesses like IT consultants, web design and software developers that don’t offer cloud management a means of earning revenue by referring customers to Ninefold.

Apple launches new iPad, ready for business

After weeks of speculation Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new iPad in San Francisco on Thursday, which features a higher resolution display, a powerful A5X chip for improved graphics performance and super-fast 4G connectivity.

The third generation of the tablet device, dubbed “the new iPad” by Apple, will be available in Australia on Friday 16 March, in either black or white.

NSW cuts Government support for business owners

Dynamic Business has learned that NSW Trade & Investment has confirmed it is cutting all of its small business event programs. These include Small Business September, MicroBiz Week, the Young Entrepreneurs program and, ironically on International Women’s Day, the Women in Business mentoring program.

According to a statement from the Small Business Minister the Hon Katrina Hodgkinson, small business owners don’t have time to attend events.

Check your website’s smartphone compatibility with free Google tool

Google has unveiled ‘GoMo’, a free tool designed to allow local businesses to test how smartphone savvy their websites are.

A mobile-friendly website is vital for every business, given half of the Australian population now owns a smartphone. To reach its customers, a businesses’ website has to be fast-loading, easily accessible, and simple to navigate. It needs to be tailored to the needs mobile users, and designed specifically for mobile devices.

Cloud computing to create 125,000 jobs by 2015

New research has found investment in cloud technology will have wide-ranging benefits for the local economy, which includes the creation of 125,000 new jobs locally by 2015.

According to analyst firm IDC, cloud computing will create nearly 14 million jobs globally, and 125,000 new jobs in Australia, by 2015. The research, commissioned by Microsoft, predicts jobs growth will be driven by cloud technology revenues, which could reach a staggering $1.1 trillion per year, by 2015.

These predictions counter the common misconception that cloud computing will eliminate jobs.

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