EP#238 ~ An update from ASBFEO Procurement plans, social media bullies and the impact of policy

| Tuesday June 25

Small Biz Matters: People, Policy, Purpose ~ Episode #238
Broadcast date: 25th June 2024
Host: Alexi Boyd, Small Business Advocate & Policy Advisor
Guest: Hon Bruce Billson, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman

I get cross when people say there’s no one representing small businesses. Not only do we have great business leaders and industry associations speaking up (often as volunteers or with relatively low funding or pay) but we have business peaks like COSBOA standing up for ONLY the concerns and needs of small business. By far the most empowered and collaborative of our representatives is the tenacious, independent and laser focused Ombudsman, Bruce Billson. With fewer resources than is needed the ASBFEO team works across activities like research, policy submissions, constant engagement with small businesses, outreaches into community, all in order to effectively advocate for all of us.

In today’s show, we get our Small Biz Matters exclusive update from the Ombudsman on recent activities and research, plus we get Bruce’s take on the recent May 2024 federal budget.

In the world of digital marketing and social media ASBFEO has been busy. Complaints from small businesses about social media platforms and marketing companies targeting the small end of town have been increasing dramatically. Thanks to shockingly poor processes to protect their clients (the small businesses), its relatively easy to hack a social media business account. This can be incredibly damaging. And Marketing companies looking after websites aren’t doing any better: often offering  poor customer service and then threatening small businesses if they try to leave.

On the issue of procurement: Government spends billions and a very small proportion of that goes to small business. Shouldn’t small businesses have a bigger piece of the pie? Why is it so difficult to get the Government as a client? Because the rules are complicated and as Bruce describes “it’s in-crowdy”. Plus, agencies tend to favour the usual suspects (the Big 4). The focus of ASBFEO’s report was all about not just saying we should do better but invest in, create policies and monitor the procurement process so the “doing better” actually happens. Now that the Buy Australian Plan is in place ASBFEO is working to put more profits back into Australian communities, and that means small businesses.

ASBFEO has also been advertising the Flinders University independent statutory review of the family and domestic violence leave entitlement and how small businesses can get involved and have their voices heard. He makes a good point that the impact on small businesses is disproportionate given all the double handling of work, costs and those wanting to do the right thing navigating a complex system.

Plus, we also have a good chat about the May 2024 Budget.

Bruce’s thoughts about backing small business are inspiring; let’s amplify his work and back this great business advocate.

PEOPLE -   you’ve recently released the ASBFEO report into Government Procurement in which you make 11 recommendations. What are they and why are you critical of the equity of procurement for small businesses? What exactly do small businesses have to do in order to gain access to the billions of dollars of government spending? Is the process to prohibitive? And which given the recent federal budget, which dept has the biggest opportunities for small businesses?

POLICY - Flinders University is conducting an independent statutory review of the family and domestic violence leave entitlement. How can small businesses get involved and why is it important to hear from them at this point in the process?

PURPOSE - What did you think of the May 2024 Federal Budget for small businesses? With the economy at such a low, did they go far enough to support small businesses in their hour of need and what could be done to improve their lives and make it easier to run a small business in Australia right now?

Bruce Billson commenced his role as Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) in March 2021. The Ombudsman is an independent advocate for small and family businesses.
Bruce brings three decades of experience, knowledge, commitment and an understanding of the issues facing small business. Bruce was the Australian Government Cabinet Minister for Small Business from 2013-2015, a founding Director of Judo Bank and has held various board appointments, including the Franchise Council of Australia, Deakin University Business School and Australian Property Institute. He has also owned and operated a number of small businesses, and knows first-hand the joys and challenges this involves.

To find out more go to: https://www.asbfeo.gov.au