The Friday SMB wrap-up

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Welcome to Friday, small business owners. For those of you who’ve had a busy week, here’s our weekly recap of the most important SMB and entrepreneur headlines. This week, Newcrest Mining was named the country’s most attractive employers, MYOB released a report stating businesses with websites are outperforming those without, and a new initiative to end anti-LGBT behaviour in workplaces launched.

Most attractive Aussie employers named

Gold prospecting company Newcrest Mining has been named Australia’s most attractive employer for 2012, pipping the ABC and Virgin Australia to take out the top spot.

The second annual Randstad Awards saw the ABC and Virgin Australia take out second and third place respectively in front of senior executives and HR directors from 150 of Australia’s largest employers.

“With Australian employers vying for depleting talent pools in a challenging multi-speed economy, the significance of employer branding and the criteria which draw people to want to work for organisations should not be underestimated,” said Randstad CEO Fred van der Tang.

Spending growth is slowing, according to key indicator

Spending rose across the economy in April, according to the latest Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator (BSI), though it appears business sales growth may be slowing as a result of declining consumer confidence.

The BSI, which tracks the value of credit and debit card transactions, rose by 0.5 percent in April, following a gain of 0.6 percent in March and an 0.8 percent rise in February.

This indicates that although business sales looked to be recovering, the outlook may not be as positive as expected thanks to fragile consumer confidence.

Commonwealth Bank executive general manager for local business banking Matt Comyn said declining consumer confidence “has resulted in economy-wide spending growing at the slowest pace in seven months.”

Online SMBs performing better than offline counterparts, report finds

Businesses with a website are seeing higher financial returns and operating more productively compared to those without a site. Despite this, the potential benefits appear to be falling on deaf ears with less businesses building an online presences.

New research conducted by MYOB has revealed nearly two thirds of Australian SMBs don’t have their own website, while their online peers are performing better and reaping the benefits; generating higher revenue, having a greater number of leads and building customer loyalty.

According to the report, the number of website owners has also also decreased over time, down to 36 per cent in the latest report –  from 38 per cent in the October 2011 report and 39 per cent in March last year.

GFC has left SMEs ‘once bitten, twice shy’, report finds

Despite a degree of economic stability in Australia compared with elsewhere in the world, a lack of confidence and cost containment issues are threatening to blind local SMEs to future opportunities.

According to the fourth annual PKF Business & Population Monitor, local SMEs are essentially, once bitten, twice shy thanks to the GFC, as concerns about global economic instability is stifling much-needed investment in Australia.

PKF national director of enterprise advisers Matt Field told Dynamic Business there are a number of reasons for the significant drop in confidence, saying most SMEs have never fully recovered from the GFC in 2009.

“They’ve seen it all before, they’ve heard the messages and they’ve felt the pain, so their confidence levels have never really returned from what they were before,” he said.

Retail demand for digital devices strong, as prices continue to decline

Despite warnings of subdued confidence, consumers are continuing to purchase digital devices from local retail outlets as technology products continue to decline in price, new research has found.

Although the cost of living is rising, almost 16 million digital devices were purchased by Australians in 2011, according to the Canon Consumer Digital Lifetstyle Index and GFK Retail and Technology research.

The average selling prices per device fell by 63 dollars over the previous year, contrasting sharply with the overall 3.1 percent increase in inflation.

New initiative to end LGBT workplace discrimination launches

A newly formed anti-bullying organisation is urging business owners to ensure their workplace is inclusive of any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) employees.

The Community Brave Foundation was founded by Rami Mandow last year and is asking businesses, large and small, to get involved as volunteers or mentors with the initiative – which aims to tackle the problem of sexual orientation discrimination in the workforce. Under the program, businesses and individual participants will be trained up with the necessary tools, resources and skills to help them deal with LGBT discrimination and bullying.

“The workplace is an important space, as we spend a third of our time at work, so we need to make sure we get attitudes right in this space,” Mandow told Dynamic Business.

Opposition submits Bill to Parliament to finally give NSW Small Business Commissioner powers

Sick of waiting for the NSW Government to legislate for Small Business Commissioner Yasmin King’s role and give her any legal power to do anything, Shadow Small Business Minister Adam Searle has this week launched his own Bill into Parliament.

“The Small Business Commissioner the O’Farrell Government appointed last year has no legal power to do anything,” says Searle. “The Government has repeatedly promised legislation, but has still failed to deliver.”

Today, NSW Labor gave notice of the introduction into Parliament of the Small Business Commissioner and Small Business Protection Bill 2012. It will provide measures to protect small business from unfair commercial practices and also provide a comprehensive legal framework for the role and functions of the Small Business Commissioner – which the O’Farrell Government has failed to do.