Why can’t Gillard do this? New York launches digital tool kit for small businesses

Ok, let’s face it, the USA is pretty much in recession hell and they launch this initiative with Mashable. All at the same time that the Australian government withdraws, or should I say defers, any interest, payments, grants and pretty much everything from SMEs, a sector that produces more than 50% of gross domestic income for our country.

It makes me mad, because technology levels the playing field. It allows small businesses to grow up and participate. Small business is the life-blood of this country and no one helps this sector at all. Abbott and Gillard treat the small business community with contempt. Yet it makes up likely 50%-60% of our societal make-up in terms of people employed or reliant upon it to make a living.

Imagine if Communications Minister Stephen Conroy could spend 10% of his time away from censoring us and spent some time helping small business get online and use these tools, let alone getting us to pay enormous rates for his NBN.

I reckon the big guys would be lining up to get on the small biz Conroy course, given the state of the digital economy in this country. We need education in the opportunities technology offers. Not just the rubbish about censorship, porn and, of course, we are all concerned about cyber bullying.

But, as in real life, the good outweighs the bad. Most of us aren’t porn-addicted, cyber bullying nutters. The majority of us are normal people, whether online or offline. More education will mean better use of a technology that is simply not going away.

Instead the government withdraws all support (at the moment!) for small businesses and tries to censor the internet. The big evil thing that gives the people a voice!

Yet the small business owner grapples around, if not slightly techy or without a teenager in the home to help. Why can’t Sydney launch a digital toolkit for small business with Gizmodo or similar? Why can’t Australia? The benefits outweigh the withdrawal of revenue from small businesses and they may get some more NBN sales.

I think small business owners should get very, very cross this election year, we should have free NBN access for 12 months and the government should get behind us, not withdraw all funding. We are the lifeblood of Australia.

Fi Bendall is the managing director of digital and interactive consultancy company Bendalls Group. With over 20 years’ experience, Bendall has worked with global brands including BBC and Virgin, and is an expert in how businesses can approach strategy in the digital world. You can follow her on Twitter at @FiBendall, and can contact her through Bendalls Group.

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