March has been a month to remember – we celebrated International Women’s Day and the incredible women within our small business community across Queensland. We have had the pleasure of meeting with several business owners this month – many of them fearless women who have incredible stories to tell.
Most agreed with Ginny Rometty (the former CEO of IBM) that “growth and comfort do not co-exist” and most – no matter what stage of business they find themselves in – continue to push through the discomfort and forge ahead towards their individual goals. You often hear business owners speak about their successes but rarely about the times that they felt they failed or the near misses they have had. In fact, it is these tough times, not the successes, that often provide the biggest lessons for all of us watching (and cheering from the side lines).
World Plumbing Day was also celebrated on March 11 and was a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on the wonders of the plumbing industry and the future of plumbing especially when it comes to attracting and retaining apprentices. Events such as these build awareness about the trade’s contribution to public good and just how successful and essential their contributions are to our economy.
Also, this month I attended my first meeting with my fellow state Small Business Commissioners and the Honourable Bruce Bilson (the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman) in Canberra. Our discussion focused on insurance, Australian Standards, and the Reserve Bank of Australia. These meetings are crucial to ensure that Queensland small businesses have a voice at the federal level, and I look forward to working with the other Commissioners and the Ombudsman to achieve tangible outcomes.
To close out the month of March, I travelled to Far North Queensland with two of my team – Luke and Sharon. We met with some incredible small businesses, chambers and councils in Douglas, Mareeba, Tablelands, Cassowary Coast and Cairns. All of these councils are active participants in our Small Business Friendly program, and it was great to receive updates on how the program is progressing and how chambers and councils are collaborating.
From cafes owners, retailers, tourism operators, allied health professionals, real estate agents and farmers – we met them all and we gained insights into their real-life experiences as small business owners. Some of the concerns raised by the businesses included workforce shortages (exacerbated by housing shortages) and rising operating costs (stock, freight, power, and in particular insurance). While these concerns aren’t unique to Far North Queensland, they are often magnified due to factors like distance and weather conditions.
Our call volumes continue to be steady, with businesses seeking dispute resolution assistance and other general assistance. Like last month, we have received enquiries about bonds, lockouts, and maintenance issues. Our Assistance team has also been working with the Shopping Centre Council and several landlords across Queensland to better understand what resources we can provide them to assist more tenants. Additionally, we continue to receive more enquiries in relation to tax debt and the ATO.
Please remember that if you have any financial concerns, questions or simply want to improve your skills – we can warm refer you to a free small business financial counsellor.
As always, we encourage you to get in touch about any issues good or bad that you are experiencing out there. Your feedback helps us in developing tools, resources, and services to assist you.
If you are new to our newsletter or would like to learn more about our services, resources, initiatives, and projects, visit the QSBC website. If you are ever unsure and are looking for more information, give us a call at 1300 312 344 or submit an enquiry.
Queensland Small Business Commissioner
For more details, read the QSBC newsletter March 2023