Small Business Digital Champions conference 2019

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This time last week, we were privileged to attend The Small Business Digital Champions Project conference at Facebook HQ in Sydney.

As proud corporate partners of the project, we are passionate about supporting small businesses to use digital tools and tactics to thrive.

As a female founder, Elyse was thrilled to see a majority female audience truly connect in meaningful ways and a united team of mentors, corporate partners, Australian Small Business and Deloitte Australia staff – all excited to be involved.

Digital Champions signage

Michael West’s Welcome to Country was a privilege to be part of and set the scene for just how enterprising Australian’s – in particular the first people of Australia – were and continue to be.

Department Secretary Kerri Hartland emphasised the importance of mental health and wellness of small business owners and the importance of shared learnings and shared experience.

John O’Mahony, partner at Deloitte riffed well in his opening keynote without the aid of slides (digital hiccups be damned!) and what stood out the most for us included:

  • Purpose-driven and values-based businesses are growing
  • Small businesses comprise one-third of the Australian economy
  • There is a breadth of aspiration diversity across small business – not all want to grow at all costs
  • Going digital is not an aspiration but an enabler

Conference presentation slides

John outlined four different categories across which Australian businesses sit, in a digital sense at least. These are:

  • Basic (no digital presence)
  • Intermediate (have a website, plus some social media)
  • Highly active (great web presence, highly active on social media, strategic digital focus including SEO)
  • Advanced (as with highly active, and also using analytics and digital marketing)

Most of the participating businesses in the project fit into the intermediate category. In fact, across Australia, there are over one million businesses at this level.

For anyone supporting or advocating for small business in digital, these are meaningful stats. It’s not so much that all businesses know the best ways to use data or even what so much of the digital lingo means, it’s that many are at the cusp of launching into this world.

Across the following two days, we heard from a fantastic range of speakers, key sessions live-streamed from Facebook HQ and met the smartest, most charming and switched on group of small business owners and their team members. From practical how-to sessions to inspirational female business leaders, Andrea Culligan and Michelle Bridges.

Elyse Maberley from Meeum facilitating a table talk at Small Business Digital Champions conference 2019

Elyse Maberley from Meeum facilitating a table talk at Small Business Digital Champions conference 2019

Closing speaker Trent Harding from Google shared some gold for those yet to dip their toes in the land of Search Engine Marketing. When considering the question of why advertise on Google, he said simply this “we don’t lie to google”. And it’s true. Consider the last thing you googled. It was an honest question. You weren’t worried what google would think. Now think about how you can use those questions people might be asking that relate to your business, and if you want to – use that to grow your audience and even your offering.

We’ve got loads more to share and are happy to hear from anyone privately who wants to hear more about what we learnt. Perhaps one of the standout elements was the lack of the old “hustle harder” trope which was wonderful.

Conference slides

As we’ve always said, tech is not the only answer – it’s a piece of the puzzle to help you get where you want your business to be.

We continue to support non-technical small business owners and founders with our Tech for Non-Tech program, among others.

Thanks to everyone we met and we can’t wait to continue our conversations, in digital ways and good old fashioned conversation!

Avatar for Elyse MaberleyFor over fifteen years, Elyse has worked to build thriving companies. She has spent her career nurturing organisations, their culture and the people within them. She has founded and exited her...

Read more about Elyse Maberley