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Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 1 Engaging with Small Business Lessons learnt so far from.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 1 Engaging with Small Business Lessons learnt so far from."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 1 Engaging with Small Business Lessons learnt so far from the ATO trials and other forums and activities.

2 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 2 Some common attitudes towards small business (not from the ATO!) Small business need to become better managers. Doesnt really matter if a small business falls over, there is always someone else to take their place. Why are small business operators so hopeless? Its their own fault if they fail.

3 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 3 Background Traditionally Small Business Operators do not take a lot of interest in changes that are on the way or support that is available. They do not provide comments on government discussion papers. They dont access support. You can tell them a million times about something and they just seemt to forget

4 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 4 Why? Not aware of the issue, the change, the request for submissions or the support available Not sure that they understand the issue No confidence No time No interest Embarrassed Afraid of what might happen

5 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 5 If the mail arrives and there are three cheques, five invoices, two orders, a bank statement, five advertising features and a note from the ATO/ASIC/local government. There is a chance that the note may be overlooked or put at the bottom of the pile. s arent always used and the same type of prioritising will occur

6 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 6 Consulting with Small Business Operators is not like consulting with big business A Small Business Operator will behave like an individual not like a medium/large business. Their behaviour is affected by time, demands from family and by business cycles, or by normal life events such as holidays, illness, staff shortages, IT equipment problems or just plain stress. Big business just tell their experts to fix it.

7 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 7 If we want more input from Small Business Operators we need to Create an awareness Develop willingness Find Small Business Operators with an ability to understand the real and potential impacts of any proposed changes or support offerred Create a desire and capacity, and the confidence, to provide a response or seek the support Create better small business focused responses from small business supporters such as associations, peak bodies, accountants and tax agents.

8 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 8 If we want Small Business Operators to access support we need to Make that support compelling Use their language Use their supporters Understand their business cycles and demands Communicate with them as though they are individuals

9 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 9 Communicating with small business Communicate on their terms and at their time Work with their business cycles Small business is not an homogenous group but many varied sub groups who communicate differently and at different times

10 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 10 Methods for engaging small business operators include : Using the language that Small Business Operators understand Use of case studies and examples Using mediators to communicate issues. These groups can include industry associations, accountants, tax agents, banks, financial advisers, bookkeepers, networks & websites. Thinking outside the square – eg - BeyondBlue, Lifeline, targetting life partners, ???

11 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 11 Methods for engaging small business (continued) Use of websites frequently visited by small business operators Highlighting specific issues Use of local business networks, chambers and web based networks Targeting specific industries and regions

12 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 12 Involvement of Industry Associations Industry associations know the language, the business cycles and the preferred means of communications of their members Care needs to be taken as submissions or activities from these groups can be: responses that claim to cover issues for all business - large, medium and small - but which, by their nature, will focus on large business. the opinion of a CEO, an executive officer or a board of management that does not reflect the real issues facing Small Business Operators,. will reflect the policy position of an organisation rather than the needs of Small Business Operators.

13 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 13 Use of Accountants and tax agents Accountants and business professionals, especially from suburban and regional areas, can provide informed realistic comment. At present they often provide comment and recommendations on policy and on process. They can be better utilised for commenting on the impact on small business by targetted questions and by seeking examples and case studies.

14 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 14 Some specific activities that are successful in engaging small business Focus groups Targetted Surveys Websites and newsletters Targetting select groups or regions Seeking short focused comments on particular issues

15 Presentation to The Tax Commissioners Small Business Forum March 2008 by Peter Strong, COSBOA 15 Summary Small business acts and communicates like individuals, not like large companies Use networks and supporters to seek and provide information Be specific to the needs of individual groups of small business


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