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Small businesses used isolation to innovate, refresh their business plans, survey finds

A new report commissioned by Amazon Australia reveals the positive spin that some small and medium businesses (SMBs) are putting on the economic slowdown that has resulted from the global coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Amazon Launchpad Innovation Report, more than a quarter of SMBs (28 per cent) said the lockdown helped them innovate for the future and more than a third (35 per cent) said they were able to refresh their business plan, with 38 per cent saying they could focus on creativity during this time.

Drilling into this further, one in four SMBs used their time in lockdown to explore new revenue streams or launch online, one in six created new products or transformed their products and one in five planned for or built a new business or product strategy to move forward.

Of the roughly 1000 SMBs surveyed, 92 per cent said they feel optimistic for the future, despite the current challenges.

Amazon Australia has launched a new grant program that aims to help SMBs capitalise on this innovation.

The e-commerce giant is offering five grants worth more than $80,000 each, including a $20,000 cash grant, Amazon and AWS marketing support and exclusive access to Amazon leadership and entrepreneur experts from Amazon’s office Australia and at its global headquarters in Seattle, among other benefits.

Lack of access to funding is the main reason Amazon is offering the grants, according to Chadd Ciccarelli, head of Amazon Australia’s Launchpad incubator program.

“More than a quarter of SMBs (29 per cent)
said that the lack of available funding is the biggest barrier to innovating or growing the business for
the remainder of 2020 and more than half (55 per cent) lacked guidance or mentorship during this time,” he said.

“We hope that the new Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grants will catapult a new wave of small businesses who have evolved during this time to continue creating and transforming products.”

Applications are open through August 24. The winners will be selected by Carl Hartmann, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits, and Renae Smith, of health baking goods brand, Bake Mixes.

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