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Growth top of mind for regional businesses

Commonwealth Bank’s Regional Business Insights report shows that nearly half (49 per cent) of all regional businesses can see opportunities for growth. Launched 18 July 2018, the research provides a snapshot of regional businesses in Australia and the opportunities and challenges these businesses are facing.

CommBank Executive General Manager for Regional and Agribusiness Banking, Grant Cairns, says businesses are citing strong markets, growing populations and improving infrastructure as underpinning the potential to expand.

“Australia’s growing population, Asian demand for our high-quality food and consumer products and the increase in infrastructure spending are underpinning optimism in regional Australia, and creating a knock-on effect of new openings for a range of industries,” Mr Cairns says.

According to Mr Cairns, clarity around business challenges and opportunities is the first step towards innovation and success. While nearly half of all regional businesses saw the potential to grow, a significant number – one in five – thought there was no opportunity or were unsure of what the opportunity might be.

“The research suggests regional Australia could achieve even better results with greater clarity around how to achieve meaningful growth,” Mr Cairns says.

While regional businesses tend to think broadly about potential openings, they have much sharper insight when it came to challenges, with competition, input costs and red tape topping the list.

“In particular, online business is a double-edged sword in regional Australia. While it opens up the potential to trade outside local boundaries, it also gives competitors greater access to regional communities and that’s a significant challenge for many regional businesses,” Mr Cairns says.

Regional businesses are also empowering their staff to be creative thinkers and risk takers, helping to drive a significant uplift in the Commonwealth Bank Regional Innovation Index.

According to the report, regional businesses are as innovative as their metro counterparts, as they look to capitalise on opportunities for business growth.

The latest Innovation Index, based on 15 different measures of management capabilities and entrepreneurship and ranked on a scale of -100 to 100, is now at 32.2 for regional Australian business, compared with 25.5 the previous year.

“The upward shift comes as nearly two thirds of regional businesses now evaluate employee creativity and innovation skills as part of their appraisal process, while more regional businesses also report that they have employees who are not afraid to take risks and fail.”

“What this means, really, is that businesses are trusting their employees to try new things in order to better meet the needs of their customers. Businesses are recognising that staff have valuable insights into what customers are looking for and where there may be opportunities,” Mr Cairns says.

Source: Hardman Communications