Business Matters - Adapt - Innovate – and be Agile

Australian small to medium businesses

  • Create 7 million jobs
  • Contribute 35 percent of all value generated in Australia and more than a quarter of the nation’s gross domestic product
  • Cement our reputation as a nation of entrepreneurs

Small to medium size businesses (SME’s) are the backbone and engine room of the national economy, with the SME sector contributing up to 60 per cent of Australia's GDP. These businesses employ around 7 million people but are also being the hardest hit and most vulnerable to failing due to the Corona Virus.

Federal and State Governments recognise the absolute importance of these businesses to the economy and have committed billions in various subsidies and stimulus packages to help them stay afloat. The NSW Minister for Finance and Small Business, Damien Tudehope outlined how his government is assisting SME’s through the Corona virus, addressing business people and representatives of local Business Chambers at Sydney Business Chamber online Forum.

Providing almost half of total employment in the private non-financial sector and over a third of production, SME’s sustained our economy in the aftermath of other economic downturns including the end of the mining boom and the Global Financial Crisis.

To help this vital sector of the economy stay in business during the current Covid-19 crisis requires close collaboration between business owners and the three tiers of government. Minister Tudehope stressed how maintaining close and regular contact with business owners – both large and small - is now more important than ever. He had been busy drafting the Small Business Strategy with dialogue and input from the 78,000 small businesses in NSW and stakeholders and organisations like the Sydney Business Chamber, when the Corona crisis struck.

The Strategy will now consider the new restrictions on trade under the Public Health orders and other considerations due to the pandemic. The State government has reacted to the economic impacts by reducing, and in some cases waiving, fees and charges to do business. It now offers grants of up to $10,000 in small business grants to assist businesses to pay utilities, rent and their suppliers.

Key to survival, according to the Minister is to get advice. Accessing the best financial and business advice possible regularly, can enable correct decisions on restructuring your business and adapting to the closure of regular face to face trading, to be made.

Money from the $10,000 grants could be well spent on getting sound advice, available through the Business Connect portal of Service NSW. All that’s required is BAS statements verifying the drop in income to your business over a two week period corresponding in 2019 to the same period now.

Minister Tudehope also encouraged companies to look at pivoting their manufacturing models to produce badly needed medical equipment and protective gear. He pointed to a start-up at Sydney University that’s remodelling old ventilators to be updated for use now in intensive care units, as an example of the opportunities available. Being able to pivot quickly and re-tool in order to make sanitisers and personal protective equipment is another way a small business can survive the current crisis and assist NSW Health to provide these much-needed products to our health workers.

Of course, SME’s are intricately linked to the ongoing success of most large companies, as part of their supply chains and through logistics support. Organisations including Amex through their programs like Shop Small, and NAB with their focus on business banking, support SME’s with their significant small business portfolios.
As the song goes, ‘from little things big things grow’ and many large organisations grew from SME to large corporation through their entrepreneurial skills. In fact, it’s widely recognised that SME’s are among the most innovative business people, adaptable and agile – both vital to survival through economic crises. Being quick to move and evolve with the situation and changing marketplace, they can often stay ahead of the curve, with the entrepreneurial skills to understand how to grow new niche markets in traditional industries.

Businesses big and small have the support and capability to keep our economy strong. 
Businesses Help at Your Call
Topics: SMEs, small to medium size businesses, national economy, coronavirus, small business strategy, changing marketplace.

Media contact: David Peters 0413 872 491

Sydney Business Chamber is dedicated to creating, advocating and promoting Sydney as a City of Opportunity – a global city to Invest, Work, Live and Visit. Our program is based around the key issues of city building, business transformation and innovation. Please share this article and visit us here to find out about becoming a Member. 

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David Peters

Public Affairs Manager, Sydney Business Chamber