Look at the trends and opportunities
Many of the ‘dramatic’ changes that impact on mature business models - online retail vs traditional retailers, the shift from paper publishing to online publishing, the demise of packaged electronic products on shelves to download delivery, or for example, the impact of Uber on taxi services – were reasonably predictable. There were recognisable indicators for each of these changes well before they had a direct impact on Australian businesses. Online retailing existed decades before denting bricks and mortar retail sales in any recognisable way, and as soon as faster internet speeds enabled quicker downloads the packaging and B2B sale of most electronic product became unnecessary. Tech company Uber started in 2009, spreading exponentially around the world well before it launched in Australia in 2014. If anything Uber proves that the foundation of any industry can be shaken dramatically in less than a few years.
In many cases, these ‘disruptive’ businesses offered something to consumers not reliably fulfilled by the existing market - efficiency, access, range, and importantly, greater consumer control not just acceptance of what is on offer.
As business operators, it’s important to constantly assess the impact of trends on our current business and product range and work toward the ‘what ifs’.
Trends also exist in Government policy and can have a positive or negative effect on your business. At present, the Government is firmly focussed on boosting business productivity and investment. There are a wide range of incentives to stimulate spending and the entrepreneurial spirit:
- Crowd funding – funding is difficult for entrepreneurial start-up businesses in Australia. New frameworks are currently being developed to formalise crowd and other funding sources to encourage investment opportunities beyond bank finance.
- Employee share schemes (ESS) – new rules introduced last year bolster the tax benefits for employees of ESSs and provide special concessions for start-ups. Further changes should follow shortly.
- Accelerated depreciation – small business and primary producers can access a range of concessions that enable them to offset expenses in the same year as the expense – rather than depreciating the expense over time.
- Tax relief for restructures - changes to be introduced this year should allow small business to change their business structure without the risk of triggering CGT and other income tax implications. So, it is a good time to check whether your structure is right for your long-term business plans.