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Millennials come into focus at COSBOA’s National Small Business Summit 2024


Undeterred by a slowing economy, tight labour markets and an increasingly complex regulatory environment, Millennials are driving Australia’s entrepreneurial momentum, according to speakers on the first day of the COSBOA National Small Business Summit 2024.

The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) is the country’s peak body representing the interests of over 1.5 million small businesses.

This year’s two-day summit, held in Sydney, will bring together politicians, regulators, senior policy makers, and association leaders, including the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Peter Dutton MP, and NSW Premier, Hon. Chris Minns MP.

Millennials look to turn passion into profit

Rebecca Warren, Executive General Manager of Small Business Banking at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, told the COSBOA audience that recent CBA research showed that Millennials, who were born between 1981 and 1996, accounted for 48.5 per cent of new business transaction accounts opened in the 2023 financial year. 

In addition to looking for extra income, the CBA survey found that new business owners are seeking opportunities that deliver greater control, freedom, and independence over their careers, all important considerations for Millennials.

Three consumer trends you can’t afford to ignore

In a presentation titled “Global trends, stats and predictions: What does the future hold?” Robert Tedesco, Vice President & General Manager – Global Merchant Services Australia & New Zealand at American Express identified three global consumer trends that all business owners need to consider.  Mr Tedesco emphasised that understanding the Millennial mindset is critical to capitalising on these global trends.

How you show up matters

Consumers will support purpose-led businesses whose values align with theirs. Price is still important, but consumers will splurge if they see value. 

Mr Tedesco gave the example of the eco-friendly toilet paper company, Who Gives a Crap. Simon Griffiths, Danny Alexander, and Jehan Ratnatunga launched the social business after learning that 2.4 billion people around the world don’t have access to a toilet. The company’s mission is to donate 50 per its profits to ensure everyone has access to clean water and a toilet within our lifetime.

Sustainability is no longer optional

According to Mr Tedesco, sustainability has become a core value for Australian consumers, but they are sick of greenwashing and marketing spin.

AI will become an increasingly important opportunity for businesses, large and small

Mr Tedesco explained that the most effective uses of AI will be those with the human touch, those that combine technology with human ingenuity. In his speech, he quoted Satya Nadella, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, who believes that AI will enhance human capabilities rather than replace them. Mr Nadella is on the record as saying, “AI will make us more human, not less.”

These three trends closely align with Millennials’ motivations and values. They are digital natives who intuitively embrace technology and make buying decisions based on their value. One of the key purchasing considerations for Millennials is sustainability. 

The second day of the COSBOA National Small Business Summit 2024 will include presentations on breaking down regulatory barriers, digitisation, VET, skills and workforce dynamics, and Industrial relations changes.

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