At the start of May, the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA) reported that about 35 per cent of small business owners hadn’t yet decided who they were going to vote for in the Federal election.
This is a significant indicator of the uncertainty produced by the interminable finger-pointing and posturing and lack of clearly articulated policy by either political party in the lead up.
Small business owners make up about 14 percent of the voting population, and as a sector, small business contributes about $40 billion to the economy each year. It is a group both sides of the political divide needed to influence.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. How each and every one of us came to an individual conclusion for the ballot box is now by-the-by. Scott Morrison has been re-elected, so let’s take a look at what the Liberal party promised to deliver for small business.
And there is no doubt that all of these initiatives will go a long way towards assisting small business – they have all certainly been met with a great deal of positivity from the SME community – but what remains to be seen is whether the Government can deliver on other, less tangible issues that also really matter to small business.
In the election lead up, several media outlets polled small business to canvass issues in the sector.
One of the significant concerns across the board, is almost crippling ‘red tape’, with some estimates suggesting that bureaucratic administration requirements such as keeping up with super, tax, payroll etc, are costing small business owners the equivalent of about two extra work days each week, which they undertake themselves, unpaid.
This of course, adds to stress and creates the kind of unrealistic work schedules with no work/life balance, leading to burnout, which is already high in the sector.
Other business owners said that the increasing cost of wages and the increasing cost of energy are major concerns for small business, both of which have outstripped the rate of CPI over the past few years.
But – overwhelmingly – business owners want stability.
While most SMEs would definitely say they want a government that understands the unique challenges that small businesses face, and provides an economic framework which small business can thrive in, many will also attest to the fact that when there is instability in Canberra, public confidence drops, and, because small business is positioned right on the front line, it feels this intensely, and often long before the remainder of the economy.
Given that Australia has had seven Prime Ministers in just a decade, and that we have all been very distracted by this pending election over the past several months, it’s definitely time for some visionary leadership and a strong and steady hand at the helm, not just for small business owners, but for all Australians.