Payment times, paperwork and payroll tax: the biggest culprits hindering small businesses

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This week marks the half-way point of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s (ASBFEO) consultation period and payment times, payroll tax and paperwork are shaping up as some of the key issues facing small businesses around the country.

ASBFEO Kate Carnell said small business operators from across Australia have been having their say during the consultation, which was launched to hear directly from small businesses about the issues impacting their day-to-day operations.

“Since the launch of the consultation period in April, I’ve been travelling around the country and meeting with small business owners about what’s holding them back and standing in the way of growing and expanding their operations,” explained Carnell.

“Some common themes are certainly emerging, with payment times chief among the problems impacting on small businesses, and one that will more than likely be the focus of an ASBFEO inquiry in the not too distant future,” said Carnell.

“Other issues that are being raised include payroll tax, difficulties around hiring and firing, red tape, issues with the banks and access to affordable high speed internet,” she said.

Cashflow underpins every small business and when payments are not received in a timely manner, said CEO Peter Strong of COSBOA, it is a struggle to pay wages, rent, utilities, suppliers and services. Earlier this month, COSBOA called for a better payment timing system to help small businesses.

“Some big businesses will take more than 90 days to pay a substantial debt despite agreed payment terms being 30 days – and this can be the difference between insolvency and a healthy business continuing to operate,” said Strong.

In addition to speaking with small businesses directly, Carnell said, many have also been utilising the ASBFEO’s interactive online platform to share their ideas.

Since taking on the role as ASBFEO in March, Ms Carnell has made it a priority to work cooperatively with the small business community rather than taking a more traditionally adjacent approach like similar agencies. The consultation process indicates this shift as small businesses have been lacking a way to voice their opinions and gain traction in initiating strategic policy interventions in the SME landscape.

To connect with businesses during the consultation process Ms Carnell has launched thinkBIGsmallTALK, an online platform, which enables business owners to submit their ideas and communicate feedback.

“The online platform has been specifically created to enable small business owners – who are typically time poor – to submit their ideas in a streamlined and user-friendly format.”

“The interactive website is a dynamic digital forum that allows users to not only put forward their views and opinions, but to rate the ideas of others and offer practical measures that will positively shape the Australian small business and family enterprise landscape,” explained Ms Carnell.

The ASBFEO’s official consultation period closes at the end of June.  The results of discussions with the sector will be reflected in an advocacy agenda, which will outline the ASBFEO’s focus going forward.

Chloe Potvin
Chloe Potvin is a contributing small business writer for Kochie's Business Builders.