What Small Business Owners Really Think About The Election

And which party they reckon has the goods.

29/06/2016 6:49 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:56 PM AEST
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Small business owners are a powerful group with electoral clout - and they have a few demands.

As the election looms, small business owners are considering their voting options along with the rest of Australia. But who will get their vote?

The latest MYOB Business Monitor survey shows that the Coalition has better support than the last Labor Government, but satisfaction ratings are dropping.

The Monitor, which surveys 1000 small business owners revealed 20 per cent of SMEs were satisfied with the Federal Government's support, down from 30 per cent last October. And 32 percent of SMEs felt dissatisfied with Government support, an upswing from 26 percent last time.

We thought we'd go and get a few answers straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

Here, nine Aussie entrepreneurs respond to two questions:

What are the issues you feel most strongly affects you as a small business owner in this election? and

Which party's policies as outlined by HuffPost Australia are the best for this sector?

Rare Birds
Rare Birds founder Jo Burston wants all major parties to start walking the talk on supporting Aussie entrepreneurs.

Jo Burston, Founder Rare Birds

"This issue is not what either party says, rather what they will do. 'Innovation' and 'entrepreneurship' have been freely used to gain popularity with Australia's SME and entrepreneurial communities -- now I want to see who walks the talk all the way.

"I'd like to see more funding for export grants for business expanding globally and greater emphasis on 'entrepreneurship learning in action' at high school to enable this type of blended education and supported by a fast and reliable NBN network.

"The coalition has taken some nominal steps to assist small businesses. Landing Pads in global centres are a great yet overdue idea. Tax incentives for investors and the employee share scheme improvements are a start, but not enough to make it worthwhile for a fast-growth entrepreneurial business to participate.

"Labor has a more grassroots approach, with the idea of partially guaranteeing small loans from finance institutions to give start-ups capital. I'd like to see a broader model for startups in university-based (or similar) accelerators as per the UK. Focusing only on universities is dangerous, since many entrepreneurs do not complete university.

"A system should also be linked to a mentor program, to include milestones, real tools and support that these entrepreneurs will need. We are in desperate need for new skills and talent, particularly in STEM and entrepreneurship, and Labor's suggested Startup Entrepreneurial Visa should be extended way beyond its current definition."

Damian Shaw
Sendle's James Chin Moody says none of the major parties have earned their small business stripes.

James Chin Moody, CEO and Founder Sendle

"Two big wins for small business will be the efficient roll out of the NBN and a government that deploys software to eliminate red tape and streamline every interaction with government departments.

"Neither major party has earned the right to be seen as the party for small business. They both undervalue the importance, contribution and potential of SMEs.

"Labor doesn't see small business as their heartland because the vast majority of SMEs are sole traders or small employers with non-unionised workforces. The LNP doesn't see small business as central to policy as they are beguiled by the big end of town.

"I want a commitment to reduce friction between small business and government, and see procurement and education as major policy platforms to consistently support entrepreneurship, graduate employment and innovation."

Little Flowers
Little Flowers Co-founder Sarah Regan praised The Greens' $20 million small business mental health initiative.

Sarah Regan, Co-founder Little Flowers

"Survival is key for small business. It's so sad that most don't last past five years, so a strong focus on the economy and policies that help small businesses survive and thrive will be a major consideration for us, in particular tax cuts, grants, funding and innovation.

"All the major parties are offering a little something for small businesses, and in part it will depend upon the stage your business is at.

"The Labor party's StartUp Finance program with the $500 million Smart Investment Fund to support ideas and give startups capital sounds fantastic. The coalition has really come through for small business by cutting the company tax rate to 27.5 percent. Its four-year $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda is also very strong for small business.

"While the Greens are not about to cut tax rates, we are really impressed with their Healthy Business People Program to allocate $20 million for mental health in small business -- that's something we value an awful lot."

VetShop Director Steven Perissinotto thinks someone (anyone!) should stand up and call the NBN what it is - a white elephant.

Steven Perissinotto, Director, VetShop

"Both major parties seem to understand small business is the powerhouse of the Australian economy. Policies focused on creating more jobs is essential. I'm happy they'll leave the question of penalty rates to the 'independent umpire' in the Fair Work Commission.

"A big issue is the NBN which is already quickly being surpassed by better technology. I wish one of the parties had the guts to say 'we're going to admit we were wrong, wrap it up, and use our money for something the country actually needs'.

"It's also a shame no party has any appreciation of the level of red-tape small businesses deal with, and instead insist on bringing out policies which add a compliance burden -- particularly Labor and the Greens. Because we have to pay someone to do compliance, reducing the amount of red-tape would have a similar impact to a tax cut for us without a loss in revenue for the government.

"Start-up funding might sound sexy but a good start up will get the funding it needs. We'd be better to properly fund higher education so young people can come out of uni' without huge debts and focus on building a business."

Moto Bean
Laura Evans, with husband Lachlan Evans, say weekend penalty rates are a major issue for their cafe business in Victoria.

Laura Evans, Owner, Moto Bean Coffee Roasters

"The Australian economy is the biggest issue -- if it's strong, it is good for everyone. The coalition are the only ones approaching issues from the perspective of a small business owner. Labor and Greens' policies seem geared to the employee.

"In hospitality one of the biggest issues is weekend rates. Why should we be penalised for weekend trade when our working week is Thursday-Monday or Wednesday-Sunday?

"The only party that has tried to address this is the coalition and it is clear that looking after small business is high on the their agenda.

"Reducing BAS and the simplification to the employee share scheme is great too. The coalition's past record shows strong economic growth and we believe they will give small business the best chance to succeed -- I just wish they weren't so conservative on social issues."

Zoom2U CEO Steve Orenstein says Australia's future relies on governments supporting entrepreneurs.

Steve Orenstein, CEO, Zoom2U

"Any tax cuts for small business are a positive step -- they allow small business owners to reinvest in their business and help fund future growth and job creation.

"Weekend penalty rates are a concern and will have a negative effect. Times have changed from 30 years ago, there are many Australians who are happy to work weekends and customers are not keen to pay service surcharges.

"Both major parties' plans to boost startup funding and innovation are positive such as the $11.2 million to establish landing pads in Silicon Valley, allowing mum and dad investors access to crowd-sourced equity funding and startup entrepreneurial visas.

"It is a unique time -- at the moment you can build a business in Australia that can scale and service the world."

Environmental policies are just as important as economic ones, says hipages CEO David Vitek.

David Vitek, CEO and Co-Founder, hipages

"Key issues for hipages are a sense of stability and certainty, and the proposed policies on technology, innovation and education. The coalition claim to be the 'innovation champion', investing heavily in startups, education, training incentives and launch pads for businesses while the Labour Party's 'grassroots' approach is more focused on teaching science and technology.

"NBN is also critical, as Australia appears to be falling behind other parts of the world. Penalty rates also pose a key issue, especially for small businesses with weekend trading and on this issue it would appear more likely small businesses will benefit under the coalition.

"We are focussed on building a sustainable, environmentally-friendly business. Both parties have similar climate change goals by 2020, but Labor has far more aggressive emissions and renewable energy goals based on emission trading schemes.

"On the basis of more generous tax cuts, incentives to foster innovation, a more proactive approach on penalty rates and in the interests of stability, I believe the re-election of the coalition is attractive for small businesses."

Women With Edge
Penny Collicoat says the Coaliton will save her financial planning business both time and money.

Penny Collicoat, Founder, Women with Edge

"Anything that helps cashflow and saving time are the biggest issues for small business.

"Tax gets my attention. Reducing tax effects small business in such a positive way. Labor says it supports the small business tax cuts -- but didn't introduce them.

"The onerous paperwork required for small business takes time away from me being able to work. The coalition is looking at reducing Business Activity Statements from seven to three, saving me time and hopefully accounting fees, so I can probably safely say where my vote is headed. Labor's $20,000 jobs package is a bonus rather than an incentive as we have just hired two people under the age of 25 and a mum returning to work -- I didn't need an incentive to do this.

"I just want the internet to work so rolling out the NBN is great, how it's delivered isn't my main concern – Telstra not working is a bigger issue to my daily workings than NBN copper or not."

Maria Nicola
Slashing red tape is a high priority for jeweller Maria Nicola.

Maria Nicola, Founder of Maria Nicola

"I want a government that adopts new measures and tax cuts that enable business owners to get ahead financially.

"Any small business owner will tell you they are working harder than ever and are bogged down in bureaucratic red tape, balancing cash flow and trying to get ahead.

"Tax cuts will make a difference and making compliance easier would reduce time spent pouring over financials.

"At a time where there is uncertainty in the world I feel more comfortable voting to keep the Coalition in power. Their economic credentials speak for themselves.

"I'm not confident about Bill Shorten's plan to create more jobs with tax incentives for small businesses who hire older workers."

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