The terms “engine room” and “backbone” of the economy get used a lot in relation to small business. While the terms are usually used to convey the meaning that small businesses make a massive contribution to our economy, they also tell us that small business can be hard work.

Both engines and backs break down if you don’t take care of them.

That’s why the SME sector looks to the federal government’s budget each year for signs that someone might actually care a little about their welfare.

This year’s budget had some welcome signs that Canberra is listening to the plight of small business owners across Australia.

One of the announcements that came out from budget night was that the $20,000 instant asset tax write-off scheme has been extended for another year.

My business has used this and will continue to take advantage of it. It is one significant piece of legislation that I believe has delivered a practical and tangible return to SMEs. I think more small businesses need to be aware of it and how easy it is to access.

I talk to a lot of small businesses and have been surprised that many don’t seem to even be aware of the scheme. More accountants and bookkeepers should be educated to help SMEs take advantage of this hassle-free scheme. It is a good, reliable and solid piece of legislation that is practical and business ready to use so it’s great to see it being extended.

In terms of bureaucracy, while I appreciate the march by government to get state and territory governments to cut red tape and to provide incentives to do so, it is not just a government thing.

There is a real need for big business to recognise its reliance and procurement from SMEs in Australia and to make it easier for SMEs to do business with them. The banks don’t make it easy to borrow nor transact with them, let alone do business with them, nor many other large corporates at the big end of town.

One positive sign recently was the announcement by Rio Tinto that it would be speeding up its payment of invoices of $1 million or less. These kinds of small business-friendly policies from big business can only benefit everyone.

We are a nation of small business owners who drive our economy and BOTH government and the big business end of town should make things easier. I appreciate the Digital Business Council has been set up to standardise payments between big and small players, but this has not been a fast process and is still not implemented fully.

It is not just government which should be breaking down barriers of bureaucracy, it is a wider responsibility and whole of industry campaign that is needed and adopted. It is a government and big business responsibility to harness the innovation and entrepreneurship that is the lifeblood of our country by cutting as much bureaucracy and barriers to entry as possible.

Another thing I hear from both clients and people in my network is the dampening effect that payroll taxes have on hiring for small businesses. Payroll tax is of course a states issue, but it would be great to see more headway being made on lessening this burden on the growth capacity of SMEs.

The small business people I have talked to have all been positive about the budget. There’s always more that can be done, but it’s fair to say this was a good budget for the SME sector.

Fi Bendall

Fi is Westpac / AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence, described by CEO Magazine as the CEO's Secret Weapon she is one of Australia's most respected thought leaders in the digital space. As an expert and pioneer in digital strategy and with over 23 years experience in the digital / tech sector over three continents, Europe, USA and Oceania; Fi has a depth of understanding unique to Australia.

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