When Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens, said Australian business was in an investment drought, he had no idea it would continue as it has.

Despite historic low interest rates, a plunging dollar, and a lucrative FTA about to be signed Australian businesses are still loathe to open the purse strings and invest in new products and ideas.

The consequences of this apathy are being felt throughout the economy and will direct the growth of this nation for some time to come.

But where big businesses are failing to sport opportunities and take chances small businesses are casing in.

In an article first published on news.com.au Andy McLeod saw an enormous opportunity in shading services.

While studying business at university he was looking out for a growth market. The well documented arguments over climate change provided just that.

With Australia already being the skin cancer capital of the world (the Gold Coast being at the pointy end of that) Andy decided to invest in providing sun safe merchandise to Australians.

His business venture, Shade Australia, happily coincided with new laws compelling schools and childcare centres to provide a ratio of shaded areas within their playgrounds.

Andy’s point of difference was to provide merchandise made to order for each specific job site.

But he ran into problems from the outset.

Instead of having a product to sell, he had a service. And the service was often difficult and time consuming. Being a problem solver Andy decided that by being a ‘m,ade to order’ business he could charge a premium so long as his customers saw value for money.

This shift enabled Andy and his team to gain efficiencies in scale and drive down costs. It enabled customers to view and purchase products online. And it streamlined the entire client – provider relationship.

But unlike big business small business has to take all the costs.

“In Australia today there is no margin,” said Andy,. “You have to be the product developer, brand the product, source the product, import the product, warehouse the product, and have a fancy website to market it.

“You have to have people on the phones; you have to make the deliveries. You have to do the whole spectrum – and make sure there is no margin for anyone else to step in there.”

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