Removalists, handyman services and builders are among the fastest growing home-based businesses this year, with newly released data showing micro and small businesses in these sectors surging ahead in the third quarter of 2013. The report was compiled from over 35,000 job requests made through online home-based business marketplace Oneflare. The fastest growing industry was the building trade, with requests for builders, concreters, plasterers and glaziers, booming by 360%. Removalist companies took out the top spot for most job requests, with 40% growth since quarter two. Requests also increased for carpet cleaners (44.9%), plumbers (21.65%), handymen (102.78%) and gardeners (42.51%). One of the biggest demand drops was for financial services, such as accountants and bookkeepers, which saw a drop of 175% after the end of the financial year rush. Demand also dropped for cleaners by 27.5%, but it’s still the second most sought after industry. Oneflare co-founder and chief executive Marcus Lim told StartupSmart the major challenge for home-based businesses was following up leads and closing sales. “The particular challenge for home-based micro businesses is how they actually sell themselves. Many are excellent at what they do, but they may not be the best sales people and that’s where they can fall short,” Lim says. A start-up themselves, Oneflare sends leads to small businesses, who then bid for the jobs. Lim says the key to competing in a field of similar businesses with a minimal marketing budget is to focus on building trust. “Communication is really key. Focus on setting and meeting their expectations, especially around price, when and how the job will get done,” Lim says, adding businesses with a strong online presence stand out. “Building an online reputation with reviews and testimonials so potential customers can check you out easily is important.”
Six finalists, including a couple of start-ups, have been announced as finalists in the 2013 Australian Mobile Awards competition. The finalists were selected from over 200 projects, based on scores achieved from industry review and crowdsourced scores. Awards director Mark Bergin told StartupSmart the two-tier scoring system allowed them to stay ahead of the curve with design trends and in touch with the market. “The finalists are decided from both what the industry and the marketplace is looking for. Rather than having a grand jury of judges and making all the decisions, we open it up to voting. This way we get a much broader perspective but also divide the results up to understand the difference between what the industry and marketplace think are best,” Bergin says. The finalists include a range of companies such as Milipede Creative Development, Oneflare, Nomad, Evolution 7, Falinc and Willow Ware Australia Pty Ltd. Bergin says while the apps cover a range of topics, those that are the most user-focused and human perform better. “Generally the projects that do extraordinarily well have one attribute ahead of their contemporaries, excel at being people-focused and making people’s lives better,” Bergin says. “Mobile apps are very close to your personal space, and in many ways you may have more reliance on key apps than your closest friends. You rely on them to get your through life.” Bergin recently returned from the London Design Festival and says next year they will be offering a category exclusively for start-ups. “They’ve all been on the same playing field this year but next year we’ll be looking at making an emerging organisation category. We’re not going to have someone with less than a million downloads and less than $5 million in turnover up against something like LinkedIn or Spotify,” Bergin says. Bergin says they’re exploring how to celebrate app ideas that are still in development or beta testing. The winners will be announced in two weeks at the awards ceremony in Sydney. Bergin says the awards are about celebrating new ideas and the courage to experiment. “We’ve avoided a prize pool style competition because this is about celebrating the courage of everyone who has been involved in proposing their projects and seeing them rated by their industry,” Bergin says.