Did you know that regional Queensland is home to more businesses than the Greater Brisbane area?According to recent data presented by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, 54% of Queensland businesses are based outside of Brisbane, unlike most other states where the majority of businesses are based in capital city areas. Here’s something else you may find surprising that I came across when reading the recent data from the Australian Business Register – every 29 seconds a new ABN is registered! On my basic calculations that means a business is currently being ‘born’ at 3 times the pace of people being born in Australia. Wow!
It is an important part of my job to hear directly from small businesses all over Queensland about the issues they are experiencing, to ensure their unique needs are considered in the advocacy efforts we do at the QSBC. This is even more important now that we know regional businesses make up 54% of Queensland’s business population. This month Luke Forster, Director Advocacy, and I drove from Brisbane to Cairns via Tambo and Winton. It was a terrific opportunity to catch up with small business owners in Tambo (yes – we visited Tambo Teddies), and to present and congratulate the outstanding winners of the Winton Business and Tourism Association’s Annual Business Awards. It was during this event where we also welcomed Winton Shire Council to the expanding network of Small Business Friendly Councils, before heading further north to Cairns for the annual LGAQ conference. On the last day of the conference, we welcomed an additional five councils in to the SBFC family. There are now 41 Small Business Friendly Councils throughout Queensland. You can view the full list here.
Many Small Business Friendly Councils have expressed a keen interest in maximising the opportunities that outdoor trade can bring to their local communities and economies. Outdoor trade brings life and vibrancy to our streets and public spaces, attracting locals and visitors alike. Late last year I chaired the Summertime Taskforce which was tasked with evaluating ways the Queensland Government could help activate outdoor trade, by providing recommendations and an action plan to the government. I am pleased to advise the Queensland Government has responded positively to the Taskforce’s recommendations and released an Outdoor Activation Action Plan. This is exciting and welcome news for local councils and businesses interested in taking up the opportunity (see article below).
Our Assistance team continues to support small businesses and has experienced increased calls from small business owners seeking advice about the future of their business. We frequently hear stories of sheer exhaustion, complicated by concerns of natural disaster events, of not having enough staff to trade at full capacity, of supply challenges, and of increased costs. This month the Queensland Government announced its Small Business Wellness package. The packaged extended funding for the free Financial Counsellors working across Queensland, added six new Wellness Coaches, and provides a Support Services Fund so counsellors and coaches can help small businesses in hardship to alleviate stress related to essential business activities (see article below).
This month our Advocacy team also made a submission on the draft Property Law Bill 2022, as part of the Property Law Act Review. The submission drew upon our experience with thousands of small business tenants and landlords, as well as our learnings from informal dispute resolution and mediation services we have provided since our establishment in May 2020. Some key elements we advocated for include the introduction of a cooling off period following signing a lease, and an obligation on the parties to act in good faith. We have also proposed ideas to help streamline and simplify implied lease terms, as well as promote greater use of plain language to help small business tenants and landlords better understand their obligations.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (so I promise this is the last time), just a reminder about applying for a Director ID Number before the 30 November 2022 deadline. We have heard from some company directors about the technical challenges they have experienced with either MyGovID or with the application process itself. If you weren’t aware, there is a hotline you can call for help (13 62 50) and there is a paper based form if digital access is a problem (this form can be used even if not based overseas, but we recommend you call the hotline first). While you are doing this, perhaps take an extra few minutes to check your ABN details are correct and up to date. Governments use and rely on the general you provide to develop policies and inform services for businesses – so it is good business to ensure your story is accurately told to government, particularly if you have added new products and services or evolved your business activities during COVID.
Queensland Small Business Commissioner
For more details, read the QSBC newsletter October 2022