Every election, politicians say that small business is the lifeblood of Australia. Then, after the election, they forget about small business. No wonder trust in politicians by Australian voters is low.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. Not just retail businesses, but all small businesses. Oh, and by small, we mean locally owned businesses turning over $2M or less that are not part of a larger group.
Small business retailers are nimble and able to lift local economies faster than big businesses and certainly better than online businesses.
Here are six tips for politicians on steps they can take, decisions they can make to help lift retail, especially small business retail, as well as those local businesses with which small business retailers can quickly connect.
- Local shops refresh grant. Give every local retail business a grant of at least $25,000 with the stipulation that it is spent locally on capital works for the shop, to improve the shop. It could be for paining, carpentry, electrical, staff training or similar. Proof of local spending is to be in the form of an invoice from a local tradesperson or small business company with and ABN and more than a year of trading as recognised by the ATO – to avoid fraud. Spending could be focussed: painting, electrical, carpentry, flooring, repairs. The management of this should be online with quick approval and payment. Note: the $25,000 is suggested to provide sufficient local economic stimulus.
- Local visual merchandising supports. Keeping in-store displays can be a challenge for small business retailers. Fund a network of merchandisers to make a 2 hour call weekly on qualified independent small retail businesses, sub $1M turnover, ABN registered, trading for six months or more. With each visit to be about visual refresh of the shop. Cap the cam pain at three months assess the economic value. Only local merchandisers to be used – i.e. to an overseas agency who hires local contractors.
- Direct all politician electorate spending to be with local small businesses. For printing, subscriptions, gifts, parties, cards, everything for a year. Have the results assessed independently. Ensure that spending is fair, too, to benefit a variety of local businesses, and not dolled out as political favours. Shop local, shop small.
- Run a national shop small shop local ad campaign. Make it educational, smart, encouraging …, guiding Aussies on the value to them from shopping local, shopping small. Help to understand the true value of shopping local, shopping small compared to the alternatives. The ad campaign should run regionally across multiple media platforms, giving preference to locally owned platforms with a track record for not managing their business to minimise tax.
- Local artists grants. Offer cash grants to fund buskers for local high streets, to make shopping locally more entertaining. Make the application easy. Focus on local artists entertaining in their local community. This serves the dual purpose of injecting cash locally as well as fostering the local arts. The application process should be online, approval fast and payment immediate.
- Establish local currency systems. These work overseas on regional towns where local currency has more value than the national currency. It supports shopping local through a smart value structure. the government role could be on the tech back end to manage the currency – taking away capital cost from local councils. To find out more ab9out this, read up on the Bristol Pound.
This list could be much longer. It is offered here as a start, to gets people thinking of practical ways to support shopping small, shopping local.
The current disinterest by politicians in practical support for local small businesses has us on a path of business closures. Urgent action is needed to engage locals in supporting local businesses.