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The Small Business Friendly program

The Small Business Friendly (SBF) program, led by the Queensland Small Business Commissioner, was established in Queensland in 2020 to recognise and support local governments (councils) that actively support small businesses in their community, and to help small business recover and build resilience when faced with economic challenges.

Local governments, Queensland Government departments and large enterprises all play a part in either enabling or restricting the growth and prosperity of small businesses throughout Queensland. It is important that we support small businesses within our local communities, and even more so now, in the time of unprecedented natural disasters and the economic effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Now is the time to join the program to create a real and lasting impact. Hard economic times are placing a greater strain on businesses and on government and community resources. Understanding the benefits and needs of a vibrant small business community can help local economies thrive in these uncertain times.

The SBF program provides the framework, support and tools to help local governments, Queensland Government agencies and large enterprises to realise their role in supporting small business. By bringing people together around a common goal, the program aims to enhance the operating environment for small businesses and provide the opportunities they need to thrive.

The program is driven by a charter which includes a series of simple yet powerful commitments by SBF members to improve the way they transact and interact with small businesses across Queensland, and the way they support them. It is designed to create tangible and practical improvements and outcomes that help SBF members fulfil their commitments.

The SBF program is a collaborative community and support model that is designed to enhance the operating environment for Queensland small businesses. If your organisation works with, interacts with, or supports small businesses, then this program is for you.

Participating Small Business Friendly organisations

There are 43 organisations who have joined the Small Business Friendly (SBF) program to enhance the operating environment for small businesses. They are working with their local small businesses to fulfil the commitments set out in the charter.

Benefits of the SBF program

The benefits of the SBF program are wide-reaching, including establishing thriving communities, stronger small businesses and sustainable livelihoods.

Participation in the SBF program provides members with many benefits:

  • access to a community of like-minded members who provide support and experience-based guidance to inform your own efforts
  • access to tools and resources to support small business resilience, recovery and growth within the community
  • access to regular forums to learn more about what others are doing
  • recognition as a SBF member by us, which demonstrates your commitment to your small business community
  • opportunities to showcase your local programs, to raise awareness of your efforts and provide inspiration to others
  • use of the SBF brand identifier to promote your commitment and raise awareness of your involvement in the program
  • dedicated advice and support from us.

Join the SBF program

By joining the SBF program, you commit to recognise and consider small businesses as an important customer, recipient and supplier of your services.

It means you will:

  • consider small businesses when making key decisions that impact them, such as purchasing and payment practices, tender processes, and legislative and policy decisions
  • be mindful of small businesses, their issues and their priorities when making decisions that affect your community and Queensland
  • agree to and sign the Small Business Friendly program charter, which outlines your commitments to improve your organisation for your small business community
  • keep a log of your activities and report on progress each financial year highlighting your key small business friendly achievements.

Contact us to find out more, or to join the SBF program.

How to be Small Business Friendly

Being small business friendly requires a ‘whole of organisation’ effort.

To get started:

  • Find out what other councils are doing to be small business friendly.
  • Read the SBF sample charter that outlines the promises and principles you will commit to as an organisation as you work to enhance the operating environment for small businesses.
  • Use our 5-step ‘How to be small business friendly’ approach below for implementing the charter commitments in your organisation.
  • Join the SBF program and work with others to share knowledge, experience and ideas to accelerate your improvements and impact across Queensland.

Start with a commitment

The SBF charter outlines a set of clear commitments central to the SBF program.

When an organisation signs the charter and joins the SBF program, you are demonstrating your organisation’s clear intent and focus to improve your systems, processes and customer journey for small businesses.

Your commitment signals your intent to work with small businesses to enhance their operating environment.

For many organisations, the charter brings a new awareness to the work they are already doing in supporting small businesses. It also shows where they should improve. The commitments represent principles that should be embedded in your organisation.

The five-step approach to being small business friendly

Every organisation that joins the Small Business Friendly program is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all plan to make it happen. Each member needs to create its own action plan for how it can be small business friendly.

Our simple 5-step approach can help to get you started.

These five steps are based on five key principles that other SBF members have used to accelerate their success.

The five-step approach

The Small Business Friendly charter sets out where you want to go, but first you need to know where you are starting from in your organisation.

Think about:

  • what is going well in how you deal with small businesses
  • what you could do differently
  • where you should focus your effort for the greatest impact.

At this early stage, it is important to identify any service or operational gaps to help focus your efforts.

This step involves your leadership team doing a high-level gap analysis to better understand your small business customers and check if your service offering is meeting their needs and delivering value.

Think and reflect honestly at a strategic level about these questions:

  • Who are our small business customers?
  • What are their problems and needs?
  • What does their customer journey look like?
  • What are our touchpoints with them?
  • Do the services we offer meet their needs?

Use the results of your high-level gap analysis to help get your team and stakeholders involved.

This step is about making the commitments to small business (in the Small Business Friendly charter) an active part of your business processes. The charter and the findings from the high-level gap analysis need to be shared across the organisation.

For these commitments to lead to improvements, they need broad support in your organisation. Your employees’ role in working towards the goals should be clearly communicated to them – at the start, but also on an ongoing basis.

Engaging your whole organisation in the small business friendly approach is vital.

‘Who is your customer’ workshops

Many existing SBF program members have successfully hosted ‘Who is your customer?’ workshops to engage their entire organisation early in the process.

These workshops share the charter intent and members’ commitment and get the whole team thinking about who their small business customers are, what they need from the organisation and what improvements they can make.

Such workshops can help your team get involved in the process and encourage champions to step forward from across various teams to be catalysts for customer-led improvement. Champions can help focus on your customers’ needs and improve the delivery of services.

You might already be taking stock of your operation, but other people in your organisation, your small business customers and your community may not know this.

Large organisations are complex, with many moving parts, and it can be difficult to form an overview of existing customer improvements that will enable small businesses to succeed. That is why a stocktake can help.

To do a stocktake, you will bring together a team of champions from across your organisation to identify existing improvements you are already making in the context of your charter commitments.

A stocktake:

  • identifies the actions and improvements you are already achieving
  • helps your team identify the areas that need further action, and helps you close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

Completing a stocktake will also help you avoid unrelated improvements, and instead follow a coordinated plan.

At this stage, your team can sort the actions identified using an impact/effort matrix (i.e., a decision-making tool to prioritise tasks).

This will help you to avoid an overly long list of actions and help you to plan your next steps to get started.

To keep up the momentum after the initial activity, have a shared plan of action and track your performance.

To start the actions:

  • collate the outcomes of your gap analysis and stocktake
  • brainstorm ideas with your champions, small business customers and other stakeholders to identify the best way to achieve your charter commitments.

This process should reveal a range of actions you can take while also increasing awareness of the activities already happening. Consult with your small business customers to ensure you are prioritising the actions that they value.

Your cross-functional team can then bring this together into an action plan that enables people across your organisation to understand what needs to be done and join the journey. Your action plan will help to track your progress and make it easier to showcase and celebrate your organisation’s SBF achievements.

Every organisation is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some SBF members arrange their plans around their charter commitments or incorporate them into broader strategic plan.

Your action plan is an active tool that should be continually reviewed and adapted as your organisation achieves its SBF goals.

When your organisation joins the SBF program, you join a collective who share in the same goal – to enhance the operating environment for small businesses by closing the gap between what small businesses need and what their organisations provide.

At the heart of being small business friendly is the creation of partnerships, continuous improvement and shared learning. Organisations that join the SBF program are encouraged to become an active part of the wider SBF family.

As your organisation implements actions to support your charter commitments, you are likely to see the impact you are having on the lives and operations of your small business community. These outcomes should be celebrated and shared.

SBF Showcase

Our Small business stories provides SBF members to showcase the great work your organisation is doing by sharing with others in the SBF program and the wider community. It becomes a great reference point for others in the program to gain inspiration and ideas. It also helps to demonstrate your progress and efforts to your small businesses and your community.

Communities of Practice

SBF Communities of Practice (COPs), facilitated by us, are a great way to connect with and learn from others about key issues organisations typically experience when they make changes or improvements. COPs are active discussion groups for SBF members to communicate with each other, share knowledge and experiences, discuss challenges and engage directly with subject matter experts.

SBF conference

The Small Business Friendly conference is an annual event with thought-provoking speakers, outstanding showcase presentations and networking opportunities for any organisation signed up to the SBF program.

2022 – The Ville, Townsville
View the conference program here

2021 – Royal on the Park, Brisbane
View the conference program here