After a two-year absence due to COVID-19, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) held its 2022 National Small Business Summit in Sydney on 6-7 April and auDA was thrilled to be in attendance.
auDA CEO Rosemary Sinclair AM joined a panel on Powering the Digitalisation of Small Business for Future Success and members of auDA’s communications and stakeholder engagement team attended the conference, meeting with other attendees and discussing the importance of a secure, open, global and free Internet. Here are seven takeaways from the event.
1. The COVID-19 pandemic has advanced innovation. Businesses have rapidly evolved in the face of challenges, demonstrating agility and adaptability. They have found innovative ways to collaborate using digital workplace tools and to reach customers. At auDA, we saw evidence of the digital transformation through increased demand for .au domain names, with registrations 15% higher in the 2020-21 financial year than the prior financial year.
2. Despite momentum behind the growth in the digital economy, delegates heard that cost and lack of time are keeping businesses from investing in their digital capacity. auDA’s 2021 Digital Lives of Australians research found concerns about cyber security is also a barrier, with 22 percent of small businesses reporting they do not use the Internet more frequently due to fears of being scammed or hacked.
3. The three biggest cyber security threats are phishing attacks, malware attacks and ransomware. The Australian Cyber Security Centre provides a wealth of information for small businesses. Supporting small businesses to uplift their cyber security is also a key focus for auDA. To this end, auDA has supported the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in their recent launch of .auCheck, a new online tool to enable small businesses to easily assess their security standards. We also offer a .au member exclusive discount on cyber security packages from Cynch Security. Visit our website to learn more.
4. New business growth is a key driver of employment in Australia and small businesses play a massive role in supporting the national economy. In June 2018, just under 5 million Australians worked for small businesses, equivalent to 44 per cent of all people employed in the private sector. According to Parliamentary Services research, employment growth in small businesses accounted for just under 60 per cent of total employment growth in the private sector between June 2013 and June 2018.
5. Small businesses look to regulators to protect their businesses, as opposed to regulate or police them. In line with that, Australian regulators including the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) are striving to provide a no-surprises approach to small and family businesses that includes the development of resources to educate and support the sector.
6. The pandemic has taken a toll on many of us – small business owners included. Conferences such as COSBOA’s National Small Business Summit are a great way to connect and share stories of challenges but there is also help if needed. To assist small business owners and sole traders, Beyond Blue is providing a free mental health coaching program. Coaches with a small business background work with participants to help them overcome difficult issues and providing practical skills to manage stress. Visit Beyond Blue to find out more.
7. The strong turnout at the Summit shows that despite embracing digital, business owners are ready to return to in-person engagement. Remote working and digital business models are here to stay but there was an unmistakable energy in the conference room, enabling introductions and conversations that have been missed during the past two years. Long may they continue.