Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Small Business - Too Big To Ignore

The NSW Business Chamber's "TOO BIG TO IGNORE"  advertising campaign was launched last week. The Shoalhaven Business Chamber, along with other business stakeholders in the region, attended a briefing last week.
Here is what CEO Stephen Cartwright presented:

7 million Australians are employed by small businesses across this country – that is 60% of our national workforce. Yet our political leaders continue to ignore this fact, and continue to ignore the hard working small business owners who put their family’s assets on the line every day to create jobs for other Australians.

That’s why it was an easy decision for me, as the CEO of the NSW Business Chamber, and representing more than 12,000 business owners across this State, to join with the other Chambers of Commerce across Australia to conduct a united campaign in the lead up to the next Federal Election.

This is the first time that the State Chambers have united for a national election campaign. In the past, State interests have tended to take precedence over national issues – but that’s in the past, because the challenges currently facing the Australian business community, and therefore the wider community, must be confronted by the next government of this nation.

Small Business – Too Big to Ignore is the name of our campaign, and the slogan accurately reflects the frustration felt by business owners across the country, and particularly in NSW which is the engine room of the national economy, contributing around one third of Australia’s GDP.

Not only will we back up our campaign with a range of targeted advertising, but we are asking business owners and their staff to tell us their stories through our website www.toobigtoignore.org.au.

In August and September, we will be taking the campaign on the road, travelling across the State, in the same way we did with our 'NSW Deserves Better' bus campaign prior to the NSW election in 2011, where regional business communities will be visited to highlight the crucial role they play in supporting their local communities.

It doesn’t matter where you travel across NSW – it is obvious that the health and well-being of the local town or region is directly linked to the health of the local business community – a vibrant business community means a vibrant town. Sadly, the opposite is also true.

Local business owners are local heroes – and we need everybody to understand that. They employ locals, contribute to the local economy, and are always the first to lend a helping hand. But where will people get jobs if business owners suddenly decide that it’s all become too hard because of government burdens and interference?

Remember, governments don’t create jobs, business people do.

So what is it that we actually want? It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot over recent days. Apart from R-E-S-P-E-C-T, there are some questions I would like to pose to the major political parties:

  1. Why should the Government interfere if a small business owner and one of their staff reach a genuine agreement over working arrangements that suit both of them?
  2. Why do governments try to prevent aspirational Australians from becoming self-employed or independent contractors?
  3. Why doesn’t the Australian Government provide access to the same financial support fund for small business growth that the UK and Canadian Governments do?
  4. Why is an automatic interest charge not applied when a Government department doesn’t pay its bills within 30 days?

These might not sound like big things – but trust me, to the small business owner already working 16 hours a day on their business, it’s the little things that add up and get in the way of their ability to innovate, grow, and employ more Australians.

An important part of what we launched today is the Your Say part of the website where we want business owners and their staff to tell their stories. Like the café owner who can’t open on Sundays because the penalty rates mean she would lose money, or the butcher whose electricity bill has exploded as a result of the carbon tax. Real business owners and their staff telling real stories.

Trying to change mindsets, particularly those of politicians, is not any easy job. But as the representative of the business community in NSW, I am definitely up for the fight, and I am enthusiastic about the challenge ahead, because small business is too big (and way too important) to be ignored!

Stephen Cartwright
Chief Executive Officer
NSW Business Chamber

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