We trust small companies… Exit bungling… Lonely pets club… Carbon-conscious flying

Australians trust small companies more – and they are happier

Only 7% of Australian consumers trust big companies, and 60% are more likely to trust small companies, according to the latest Eye on Australia report by Grey Worldwide and Sweeney Research.

The survey of found that more than 60% of Australians are very or extremely satisfied with their lives, up from 58% in 2006. Less than a fifth are worried about the economy thanks to strong employment, a resilient sharemarket and stable interest rates, reports The Australian Financial Review.

But they do have worries: the environment, credit card debt and striking a balance between work and life are high on the list of concerns.

  • 80% worry the environmental outlook would their affect lives next year.
  • 80% say modern life is more stressful.
  • 54% wish their lives contained more fun.
  • 56% say technology is making life more stressful.
  • 64% say we are living in prosperous times.
  • 83% say there is an increasing gap between rich and poor.

And consumers are embracing the net. More than 75% said the internet empowered them because they could use it to educate themselves. But 14% said the internet was a source of stress “because there is too much information”.

Shoppers seem satisfied, with 69% saying the internet made shopping easier.

Regular readers of internet blogs numbered 17% of those surveyed, with 15% saying blogs were a reliable source of information.


Exit mayhem

Up to 84% of Australian senior business owners and executives hope to exit their business in the next 10 years. Yet 44% do not have a business plan to achieve this.

More interesting, only 2% want to actually close their businesses down when they retire, compared to 29% in the US and 14% in Britain.

The survey by Shirlaws looked at 357 businesses (the majority of which were SMEs) from 39 countries, with the largest groups coming from the US, Britain and Australia.

Chris Dionne, global director at Shirlaws, says: “If they don’t act now, many more businesses will find they are forced to close their business down when they retire.”

The report also reveals that about 21 of the businesses surveyed are most likely to sell their business to staff or management. “Poor planning may impact the potential value they will achieve on the sale,” Dionne says. “If companies review their business strategy, they are likely to find a new direction and lease of life for their business and may decide to stay in it longer.”

  • The most likely future of the businesses include:
  • Maintain it as a partnership 23%
  • Sell it to staff/management 21%
  • Sell to a domestic company 16%
  • Maintain in family ownership 13%
  • Sell to a foreign company 11%
  • Close it down when the owner retires 2%

Rover is home alone

Many workers are less productive because they feel guilty about leaving their pets home alone, according to a report in Inc.com.

Pet advocacy group Canine Kingdom says it has conducted interviews with thousands of “pet parents” and found up to half of US workers own pets and almost all worry about how their “latch-key” pets are fairing at home.

Canine Kingdom has released a free e-book with tips to help people reduce the guilt by making life better for their lonely pets. Canine Kingdom says employers may be able to increase productivity by distributing the e-book to pet-loving staff.

Inc.com reports Canine Kingdom’s founder, Beth Close, as saying: “Employers can play a vital role in increasing their company’s productivity by easing the concerns of their employees and supporting the dog owner in managing daily care.”


Flight levy tests carbon conscious

Consumers seem to be developing an appetite for paying the carbon consequences of their lifestyle. Since January, adventure tour operator Intrepid Travel has started charging a compulsory fee, ranging from $60 for short flights to $180 for long haul flights, to pay for carbon offsets, reports The Age.

The consumer response has been mixed so far, says Geoff Manchester, Intrepid’s director and co-founder. “The only negative tends to come from some ‘business types’ and people over 60 years,” he said, relaying feedback from sales staff. “People from 20 to 60 seem to be accepting of the levy.” But, he admits sales have fallen since adopting the levy.

Aeroplane travel is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon dioxide emissions. STA Travel last week introduced voluntary carbon offsets for flights – but it won’t make it mandatory because its customers are very price sensitive. Virgin Blue last week began offering voluntary offsets for about $1 a flight. Intrepid is aiming to be fully carbon neutral by November 2009.


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