Fast Lane: SMEs looking for a little less conversation and a little more action when it comes to innovation

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Fast Lane: SMEs looking for a little less conversation and a little more action when it comes to innovation

“The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative.”

Last month Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared Australia must embrace innovation and digital disruption, and in the weeks since the federal government has shown increasing signs innovation will sit front and centre of its policy platform.

Work is already underway on tax measures to encourage investment in new businesses and even the Opposition is throwing its hat in the innovation ring.

But research released by the Commonwealth Bank today suggests there is a gap between what is being said in Canberra and the every day reality for our country’s small business owners.

The Commonwealth Bank Business and Innovation Study of more than 900 business owners found the vast majority (70%) agree with the Prime Minister that innovation is critical to the future of the Australian economy and an even higher percentage of SMEs (74%) agree with this statement.

But these same SMEs say they face key challenges when making their businesses more innovative.

Access to data is one of these obstacles.

Almost a third of the businesses with turnover between $1-$5 million (30%) and 37% of business with between $6- $25 million said they don’t have the data they need to support strategic business decisions.

Perhaps even more worrying is the finding that almost half (45%) of the businesses surveyed said coming up with innovative ideas is one the biggest challenges they face.

Another group of business owners say having the time to look at their business with “fresh eyes” is the biggest challenge (34%).

Close to half of the survey respondents (43%) said a lack of resources inside their businesses is what stifles innovation.

Turnbull is expected to outline his government’s plans in an innovation statement before Christmas.

The Prime Minister and his team would do well to speak to the small business owners around the country before their policies are set in stone.

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Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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