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The changing face of small business in Australia: Bringing bespoke crafts into the future

Posted 3 years ago in Small business by Sophie Lamell
Posted by Sophie Lamell

From bespoke shoe makers to outback adventurers, artisan jewellers to tailors, the changing face of small business in Australia was captured in atmospheric detail at Xero’s Paper to Pixels exhibition. Small businesses have been experiencing a digital evolution, and the newly legislated Single Touch Payroll is only set to accelerate these changes. With photography by pioneering Instagrammer Lauren Bath, in this series we meet the people behind the pictures and discover how they’ve undergone a digital transformation.

Despite the breathtaking advances of modern technology; some things are just better done by hand. Enter the artisans: tailor Daniel Jones of Zink & Sons, jeweller Rob Cahill of Allure Jewellery Studio and shoemaker Andrew McDonald from A.McDonald Shoemaker. While their crafts have remained strictly manual, each one of these bespoke businesses have made the back-end transition to digital.

As Andrew explains, “I’ve been running my business for 28 years, creating unique handmade footwear and accessories that are sustainable, built to last and transcend fashion trends. The irony is that all my footwear is handcrafted, so we use very little technology in their making. However, digital efficiencies have given me more time to create and develop my shoes, and have enabled us to communicate and sell to a global market, and run the business more efficiently and profitably.”

Rob expresses a similar sentiment, “I’ve always wanted to design jewellery, and build and own a creative studio space for all types of artwork. I’ve operated Allure for 11 years now, and while I am passionate about old construction methods, being digital will always be important to my business.”

Turning a lens on the digitisation of Australia’s small business economy, Paper to Pixels: The changing face of Australian small business captured the way in which people like Daniel, Rob and Andrew have made the changeover to cloud based accounting. With Single Touch Payroll requiring frequent digital payroll reporting to the ATO, countless small businesses will move to using digital technology, some for the first time. Those that have already made the transition to digital systems say it has revolutionised the way they operate.

Building a future where technology and craft go hand-in-hand

Looking towards the future, Rob says, “Technology plays a great deal into the creation of jewellery and art – from things like the digital microscopes I use to measure inclusions in diamonds, to sourcing images from clients’ mobile phones as inspiration, emails and managing the business’ books. The world is increasingly digital, and while I am passionate about old construction methods, being digital will always be important to my business.”

Daniel expresses a similar sentiment, “Zink & Sons has been in business for 124 years. I’m proud of the long history we have, and that we still make suits to the same level of craftsmanship as they did 100 years ago – making them by hand, with minimal use of sewing machines. That being said, I think that technology is great and we need to take full advantage of it.”

By making the move to digital payroll software, small businesses don’t just discover a decrease in errors and increase in time, money and employee satisfaction: they gain the opportunity to do more of what matters. As Daniel explains, “My father did all the accounting with pen and paper, and when I took over that side of things I wanted to save time to do what I love, so now we do all of our accounting online with Xero. It’s only really a couple of clicks and you’re done.”

Paper to Pixels: The changing face of Australian small business celebrates the nation’s 2.2 million small businesses and their owners, like Daniel, Rob and Andrew. Featuring businesses from around the country, the exhibition will be open to the general public for free at Gaffa Gallery in the Sydney CBD from 14-25th March. Come down, see it for yourself and be inspired.

Single Touch Payroll is here. Xero lets you file your pay runs with the ATO in a matter of clicks – and getting setup is a lot easier than you might think

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