In the face of adversity, Queensland SMEs are determined to play their part
The importance of small business to the Queensland economy should not be underestimated. Making up 95.7 per cent of all businesses in the state, they are the lifeblood of our economy.
It is natural that SME’s across regional Queensland are keen to lead the way however the small business community is under fire.
Recently released data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that small business faces massive adversity in surviving, let alone turning a profit.
In 2007, small businesses (1 – 19 staff members) had a 76.2 per cent chance of surviving to the next financial year. Four years on and the survival rate has dropped significantly to 54.4 per cent (detailed regional breakdown click here).
Year on year the survival rate has declined by roughly 6 per cent. While external factors such as the GFC, natural disasters and more recently the high Australian dollar all play a part in this story, businesses are equally adamant there is more at play.
This month CCIQ kicked off a regional tour by visiting Far North and North Queensland to talk with local businesses and chambers about the challenges they are facing in the short, medium and long term.
As part of this, CCIQ hosted a business breakfast forum and participated in important dialogue about current business conditions, key challenges and how CCIQ could best assist them in reaching their full potential.
Tourism, agriculture, resources and construction support many thousands of regional small businesses and provide regional communities with jobs, infrastructure and economic prosperity.
With the State Government committed to growing Queensland’s four pillar economy, it is equally important to talk about the crucial role that small business in and outside of these sectors can play in regional Queensland.
The State Government’s efforts to create opportunities for small business are encouraging and must be built upon.
When listening to local businesses in Cairns and Townsville last week, a number of things became evident:
- Far North and North Queensland are fiercely proud of their potential to service the Queensland economy;
- Businesses would like to see infrastructure and red tape issues continue to be high on the State Government’s agenda;
- There is a strong need to improve accessibility to regional areas especially after natural disasters;
- Small business rejects the notion that they do not have the ability to compete with more established businesses and carry out work previously done by government;
- Banks are still reluctant to lend to businesses due to inaccurate perceptions of economic risk linked to the natural disasters and tourism industry;
The State Government has partially demonstrated a commitment to the regions and small business in the 2012-13 State Budget, delivering on infrastructure in regional areas with an initial $60 million available through the Royalties for Regions program and acting on important issues to business such as increasing the payroll tax threshold from $1 million to $1.1 million to reach $1.6 million by 2017 and a commitment to reducing red tape by 20 per cent.
As the Queensland economy matures and the four pillars strengthen, not only will the importance of small business in regional Queensland increase, but so will the need for government’s both State and Federal to strongly commit to enhancing the operating environments for small hard working business owners.