Aussies urged to celebrate World Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, is encouraging Australians to celebrate World Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day (MSME Day) on 27 June by saying ‘thank you’ to small and family businesses for their contribution to the country’s economy.

“These are great people in plain sight, and we see them everywhere, every day,” Billson said. “The best way to support small businesses is to be a kindly customer – patient and understanding, with good and generous intent.

“Small business also needs to be front of mind for our policymakers and regulators,” Billson added. “We need to do all we can to shift the mindset from minimising headwinds to maximising the ‘wind in the sails’ of our hard-working small and family businesses.”

Billson has also called for a review of the existing regulations for small businesses and ensure that they are not being saddled by red tape.

“Every well-intentioned change by Parliament or regulators risks adding to the mountain of red tape that gets between the owner and the small business they are trying to run,” he explained. “Regulatory impact assessments should start with and focus on small business implications, not consider this as an afterthought. This would mean every time a decision is made, small business will be front of mind and bright on the radar screen.”

Recent research has found that 98 per cent of businesses in Australia are small businesses, that is 2.5 million that are generating almost $600 billion of economic activity accounting for 33 per cent of Australia’s GDP and are providing jobs for 5.36 million people or 42 per cent of private sector jobs. However, the figures are a far cry from 2006, when the sector contributed 40 per cent of GDP and employed 53 per cent of private sector jobs.

“This worrying trajectory shows we need to do more to energise enterprise,” Billson said. “Surely, we can do more to get the risk and reward balance right, ensuring small business and entrepreneurship is a really attractive option for people, then create a supportive ecosystem to give enterprising people the best chance to be successful.”

Billson said small business is a dynamic and fast-growing sector that allows people with an entrepreneurial spirit to pursue their dreams and own livelihoods.

“They come with varied ambitions, backgrounds and experiences but what they have in common is the desire to have a go,” he said. “Taking on the responsibility of owning and running a small business can be inspired by a range of goals and motivations, an abundance of purpose and meaning and be rich with unpredictability of challenges, flexibility, self-agency and income.

“The spirit that drives people to run a small business also makes them great advocates for and contributors to their community and they are more likely than the general population to be a volunteer,” the Ombudsman added. “For small- and family-business owners, their identities are interwoven into their business and the stakes are so much higher than just a job. Many people have invested a lifetime, and put their family home on the line, to build up their business, which amplifies the emotional challenges.”

MSME Day is an initiative of the United Nations General Assembly to raise public awareness of small businesses’ contribution to a country’s prosperity, wellbeing, and community.