Small Business trends to look out for in 2018

Australian businesses are facing an onslaught of international competitors vying for market share at the expense of local small businesses.  Technology has had a large impact on businesses, allowing for innovation with new advances or face being left behind with possible closure. The rise of the sharing economy such as Amazon, Uber and AirTasker has disrupted the traditional structure of businesses in terms of price, location and choice. To globalise your business and open your market, all businesses, small and large should have an E-commerce setup and rethink the size and purpose of their ‘brick and mortar’ formats. While this will require significant investments in IT, the returns will be recouped through increased sales and possibly greater margins. Marketing personalisation using enhanced customer relationship management programs will assist in tailoring messages for your customers, using click segmentation to assist in retention and sales growth. As we move towards originality, the days of using stock images, generic electronic database emails and impersonal calls will no longer cut it. Consumers are looking for original and authentic content, particularly if your business operates solely online. Social media advertising presents a new way to connect with your audience in a timely and relevant manner which has reduced media spend in traditional outlets such as TV and PRINT.  The move to digital E-commerce poses risks and, as time goes by, the sophistication of IT hacks and attacks will become more prevalent. Customers are largely unforgiving of data breaches and so trust will be paramount in ensuring emails aren’t considered spam messages. According to Symantec, 5,000 spam messages are sent per person each year, meaning malware could infect unsuspecting users for bank information and personal details resulting in identity theft.  The modern workplace will also contribute to the way employers and employees interact with each other and the way they get on about doing their work. Businesses will become smarter in how they use workplace space to drive productivity, install new technology and improve motivation. While highly divisive, the evolving formats of “remote workplaces” is set to expand despite employees finding it more productive to be in a workplace environment.   One of the most important times of the year is the Federal Government Budget handed down every year in May. Following international policy trends and Australian Government initiatives businesses should keep an eye out on new policy decisions including asset write-off programs, discussion around lowering corporate tax rates and reducing State and Federal business red tape.  To hear more about these ideas or developments, the Australian Small Business Champions Conference is being held at The Star, Sydney between April 21-22, 2018.  It will connect Australia’s leading experts across various business sectors to share insights to help business “Grow, Shape & Plan” taking their small businesses to the next level.  For more information and special IdeaSpies pricing – click on the link below:  https://championsconference.com.au/register John Wanna – Taurus Marketing

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An unmanned shop on wheels that can move from location to location.

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Moby Store, launched by Wheelys, a Stockholm-headquartered startup, is now testing a model of a 24-hour store run entirely by technology that can be moved from one spot to the next. The Wheelys cofounders decided to test in China rather than Sweden in part because of China’s large population, but even more so because of the country’s near-ubiquitous adoption of paying with your phone. Purchases are made using an app to scan a barcode and paying over the phone. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608104/in-china-a-store-of-the-future-no-checkout-no-staff/?

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Recycling pineapple leaves to create an ethical and sustainable ‘leather’

Recycling pineapple leaves to create an ethical and sustainable ‘leather’

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A breathalyzer that detects disease

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A new device called Na-Nose can diagnose a variety of common but dangerous diseases just from a sample of your breath. Different types of cancer, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and chronic kidney disease are reported to diagnosable with this device. Because the device is non-invasive it could lead to much earlier treatment of these diseases. www.breathtecbiomedical.com.

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An apple that doesn’t turn brown

CSIRO-apples (1)

This month, a special kind of apple slice will go on sale at select US supermarkets and, thanks to CSIRO research, these apples won’t turn brown when they’re cut, bitten, or bruised. Arctic® apples have been developed by an innovative Canadian biotech company and their first product will be bags of fresh non-browning Arctic® Golden apple slices. While there are other sliced apple products already on the market, these are often coated with vitamin C and calcium to prevent browning and to preserve crispness, and this can change their taste. https://blog.csiro.au/apples-no-longer-cruising-for-a-bruising/

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A battery that would allow electric cars to be recharged instantly

Recharging Truck Rechargeable battery

One of the biggest inconveniences of owning an electric or hybrid vehicle is how long it takes to recharge the batteries. Depending on the size of the battery and the speed of the recharging station, powering up a sustainable vehicle can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours. Researchers have developed a flow battery that would allow electric cars to be recharged instantly at stations like conventional cars are. This energy breakthrough would speed the switch to electric vehicles by making them more convenient to drive. http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/instantly-rechargeable-battery-for-electric-cars-2017/

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Taking advantage of free publicity

When social media was starting to become popular free publicity was freely available. Many online businesses spread awareness by growing followers, particularly on Facebook. More recently Facebook has been taking advantage of its market leading position by charging businesses to reach their followers. This has led to the need to find other ways of getting free publicity. Instagram has become the social media of choice for businesses with visual products such as fashion and dining while Twitter is used to spread ideas as well as information on products and services. More recently LinkedIn has become an effective channel for sharing ideas. Before social media and since then the best way to get free publicity has been to get featured in an article if you can. There are now startup publications such as Startup Daily and Startup Soda, social platforms such as IdeaSpies and established media publications, all interested in publicising newsworthy ideas and events. If you are fortunate enough to be featured in an article or blog post you should leverage it by sharing it on your own social media to get more free publicity. One mention in an article or blog could lead to further media opportunities if you share it. I’m often surprised how few businesses take advantage of this opportunity and wondered whether it’s due to the tall poppy syndrome in Australia or lack of digital experience. There are some however who recognise the opportunity and use it. Taking examples from my own social platform IdeaSpies in the last month, the businesses that have shared the post featuring them to receive a lot of extra free publicity are Mentor Walks Australia, SeeSense, Farmhouse Market, Haventec, Hospital Glamour, PrepDelicious, Wet Leopard and Evolis. Macleay St Bistro also shared their post on IdeaSpies widely to publicise their support for an ideas competition. IdeaSpies only features inspiring clever ideas in the categories of artistic, dining, healthcare, NFP and wellbeing and is very pleased to see these ideas shared as much as possible for community benefit. So if you get free publicity make the most of it by sharing it on your social media. Free publicity is much more valuable than paid advertising. Lynn Wood IdeaSpies

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A virtual power station

IdeaSpies energy-itelligence-blackout-solar-virtual-power-station (1)

A virtual power station (VPS) is a collection of solar panels, batteries and electrical appliances (such as air conditioners) in a neighbourhood that are intelligently managed to maintain the stability of the power supply. A VPS can help to avoid future blackouts by optimising how, when and where we use energy in our homes. https://blog.csiro.au/energy-intelligence-tackle-blackouts/

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