Small and medium businesses (including their owners and employees) are the heart of the Australian economy. This is where the big businesses of tomorrow begin. The sector comprises 99.7% of the actively-trading business in the country. This translates to about 2,045,000 SMEs powering the economy, according to data from the SME Association of Australia. It’s in the interest of everyone (from the government to the SME owners) that the government does its part in helping these enterprises succeed. And in one way or another, they are. The government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has laid out a number of regulations and policies that gives SMEs a helping hand. Here are some of them:
Better Online Guidance
The government has recently updated their online checklist for SMEs, particularly the guide for SMB owners to understand the federal and state laws for hiring an employee. Current Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer said that the website of the Fair Work Ombudsman has added new features to help businesses with their manpower requirements. The site now has an improved decision tool to help business owners better identify if their new worker should be classified as an employee or a contractor. It also outlines the implications the hiring has for the business owner’s tax and superannuation funds. Previously, SME owners needed to browse through several websites to get information about hiring employees. Now, you can find all relevant info in one easy-to-access page.
For better or for worse, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a go, and Australia is one of the partner-nations in the deal. In spite of the the criticisms hurled against the trade deal, it comes with enormous benefits for Australia. As the largest global trade deal in the last two decades, the historic TPP will allow for increased access to trade and investment opportunities across 12 countries. This will represent around 40% of the world’s GDP. The deal will eliminate almost all tariffs (import/export taxes) for electronics, manufactured goods, and other product categories, which is a huge boost for small and medium businesses. It will also improve competition, promote job creation and growth, and increase business standards. SMEs that want to do business with TPP partner countries will enjoy a more favourable business environment across the region, as well as reduced red tape and trade expenses.
A Digital Marketplace
The government announced last year their initiative to help SMEs earn money from the government, through The Digital Marketplace. This online portal can look through a directory and find the right product or service that an SME owner needs. Procurement barriers are serious financial concerns for businesses of all sizes, but more so for startups and SMEs. The Digital Marketplace aims to make this a lot simpler for both SMEs and the government departments offering contracts and services. The online initiative will help innovative companies in need of partners, suppliers, or projects. It will also boost the job market, providing more opportunities for businesses. The marketplace will include a broad base of supplies and will encourage competition and further innovation. The website project is still in the works and is expected to be completed in January 2017. However, a prototype version will be available this year, possibly by September.
Another initiative by Minister O’Dwyer was the filing of the Corporations Amendment (Crowd-sourced Funding) Bill 2015 in Parliament. This proposed legislation aims to establish a framework to facilitate crowd-sourced funding for small, unlisted public companies, among other things. The bill will also allow SMEs to raise capital and funding from the public in an easier, more convenient way. Part from crowdfunding, there are also other funding options offered by alternative lenders to help SMEs. Here at Capify, for example, we offer unsecured business loans and merchant cash advance that makes business funding a whole lot easier. These financial technology innovations, along with the growing support from the government, are geared towards driving SMEs to success. Australia ranks as the 20th most innovative economy in the world, according to a list made by Bloomberg Business. With the right financial and business support for SMEs, that ranking can only go up.
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