It’s no secret SMEs are the bedrock of our economy. Yet when more than half are dissatisfied with the Federal Government’s support – it begs the question, where or who else can you go to for help?
Small businesses should be able to find the information and support they need. Here are some considerations:
1. Online resources
The fact that you’re reading this blog post demonstrates you’ve tapped into the wealth of information and resources available to you on the web.
Whether you’re looking for information and advice on small business blogs and news websites like Dynamic Business – help is at your fingertips.
Best of all, many of these online resources are interactive. You can join numerous online discussions on Twitter, LinkedIn and online community forums. You can even take part in live webinars where you’re invited to ask questions from the comfort of your computer. And a good service provider will have some kind of live chat function to its website.
2. Industry or professional associations
Organisations such as the Australia-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, The Council of Small Business Australia and your state chamber of commerce e.g. NSW Business Chamber, provide a community for business owners to network with and learn from like-minded peers.
The focus of each association varies – whether it caters for specific industries, business size, or your local area so explore what is best for you and your business. Note that it’s worth taking the time to make the most of your membership – whether it’s attending their events, courses, accessing helpful resources and the like.
This can help you build relationships with potential partners, meet potential customers, incorporate what you’ve learnt to your own business operations and more.
3. Co-working spaces
If you’re a solo operator, teleworker, start-up and/or are in a micro business, you probably have days when you feel like you’re working in isolation. If you’re looking for a network of like-minded operators to engage and collaborate with, why just have coffee when you can work alongside them?
More and more co-working spaces are popping up all over Australia where you can work in the same workplace as others, as an alternative to the café or waiting for your monthly meet-up / networking event. WeCo is an example of a co-working space in Sydney – they even offer complimentary espresso coffee.
4. Mentors and advisors
Working with a business mentor and other trusted advisors can help you gain insights and information, as well as tips for success. A mentor is an excellent source of knowledge, inspiration and motivation.
Personally, I find them a really good sounding board for ideas that you’re looking to explore. Advisors such as accountants and book keepers are valuable experts in areas such as cash flow, compliance and benchmarking.
The Business Enterprise Centres Australia is a nationwide network for small business operators seeking quality business information, advice and guidance, while the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is a community for employers in Victoria.
5. Government services
Despite the high level of dissatisfaction regarding government support, there are government services available to help SMEs navigate their way through working with government, understanding business laws and the like.
For example, the resources section of the Australian Small Business Commissioner website provides access to FAQs, checklists, templates, ‘how-to’ guides and case studies of other small businesses.
Where or who do you go to for support?