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Small business owners don’t want our events, says Small Business Minister

Yesterday Dynamic Business broke the story that the NSW State Government is canning its small business mentoring programs for women in business and young entrepreneurs as well as the popular Small Business September and MicroBiz Week events.

This morning we received the following statement from NSW Minister for Small Business the Hon Katrina Hodgkinson:

“NSW has underperformed in assisting small businesses compared to other states. Since the election of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government, there has been a degree of optimism that small business confidence is starting to pick up, however, there is a long way to go to overcome systemic challenges they face.

The NSW Government is committed to backing small business and growing local economies. We want to restore business confidence and ensure that small businesses in NSW are given the best opportunity to thrive and grow in today’s highly-competitive and versatile marketplace.

Last year, the inaugural Small Business Commissioner [Yasmin King]  travelled throughout NSW and met with over 500 small business owners across the State. The Commissioner’s Tour provided small business operators right across NSW with the opportunity to have their voices heard and to speak directly to the Commissioner.

Many small business operators indicated they are quite often unable to take extended time away from work to attend training courses and seminars. While small business events can be a great way to get out and network, many small business operators found that training events and networking opportunities organised for small business did not often provide the practical advice and assistance they were actually seeking.

“Small businesses indicated they want tailored, practical advice from qualified, senior level staff who are able to provide advice either at the small business premises or over the phone.

As part of our commitment to backing small business, the NSW Government will redevelop the existing Business Advisory Service (which expires on 30 June 2012) into the Small Biz Connect program, which will provide for the expansion of small business support services across the State. Small Biz Connect will introduce a new approach to the delivery of advisory and support services to small businesses in NSW that provides simple, user friendly access for clients and access to a State-wide network of skilled advisors.

Under the $5 million Small Biz Connect program, each region in NSW will see an expansion of small business advisory services at a grass roots level.

I have been advised that NSW Trade and Investment will make the intellectual property associated with programs such as the Women in Business program available to all current BECs, all future Small Biz Connect providers and local councils, at no cost. This will broaden the accessibility of these programs across the State and allow more small businesses to benefit from these programs through better-connected services.

The proposal is another step towards delivering on the NSW Liberals & Nationals election commitment to back small business. Our approach to backing small business sends a clear message to small business operators in NSW: we’ll give you the advice and power to start up, grow and expand your business, do well for yourself and help get the NSW economy moving too.”

Having seen the popularity of small business events as media sponsor of Small Business September this year, Dynamic Business is surprised to hear that small businesses no longer want this kind of support. We will be asking NSW Government if they have any evidence of the strength of this opinion among small business owners.

Additionally, our readers do not seem to agree and the response to our story yesterday was passionately against cutting these programs.

Accountant and small business owner Janna Fikh of Fletcher Tax, said: “Shame on NSW Government. All of these events are highly regarded and sought out by business owners. This is what Yasmin King came back with after her Australia wide roadshow?”

Fellow small business owner Hazel Theocharous said: “It is against everything that the Government should be standing for – what is happening for small business? They cut the Women in Business Mentoring program which is an absolute godsend for new business owners who need guidance and assurance that they can take their business to the next level.

“They are also cutting the September Small Business month? Why? This is an amazing month where so many businesses offer amazing free or cost-effective information to new or existing business owners wishing to learn something new or take their business to another level using the one platform.

“We get a new Small Business Commissioner and then we lose so many amazing initiatives.”

What do YOU think? Join our Twitter campaign, by jumping onto your twitter account and telling @BusinessNSW you want them to #bringbackSMBevents. Be heard!

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Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop

Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.

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