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From the Commissioner

Good news, the Small Business Commissioner Act 2022 has now passed through Queensland parliament which retains and expands on the role and functions of this office as of 3 May 2022. The key focus of the Commissioner’s work going forward will include enhancing the operating environment for small businesses in Queensland and reducing the time and costs associated with resolving disputes involving small businesses.

What is not changing?

  • We will continue to advocate to all levels of government to increase awareness of your issues and work to simplify the compliance complexity of regulation through programs such as the Small Business Friendly program
  • We will continue to provide a central point of contact for you, to help navigate all levels of government
  • Our assistance team will continue to case manage your enquiries, disputes and other one-to-one needs
  • We will continue to provide a mediation service for commercial lease disputes

What is changing?

  • In addition to commercial lease disputes, we will be able to work with the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman to provide mediation services for franchise related disputes
  • Our mediation services will be low cost but no longer free (unless in circumstances of hardship)

Under the Act, I will transition into the role of Commissioner until the Queensland Government conducts a recruitment and selection process in accordance with the requirements of the Act. I look forward to continuing to serve and support you, the hard working and constantly amazing small business owners of Queensland.

I am genuinely proud of the work my team has done so far, in particular for the many small business tenants and landlords who have accessed our mediation service and dispute resolution assistance. I know it has not been a walk in the park for any of you, but I hope that being able to resolve and move past those disputes has brought some piece of mind and helped to reduce at least one source of financial pressure and stress.

I also hope that our efforts to simplify and cut through what at times has felt like an overwhelming amount of information for businesses to stay on top of, has been helpful. We’ve tried through our social media and this monthly newsletter to highlight just the key things you need to know, when you need to know them.

I am also delighted that our Small Business Friendly program has taken off so well. There are now 31 (soon to be 33) local councils participating in the program and it is already starting to deliver a tangible difference to the way those councils are engaging with, buying from, supporting and regulating small business activities. You never know, one day we might see “small business friendly” regulators and agencies right though Queensland Government and beyond.

You probably already know this, but the month of May is Queensland Small Business Month. Check out the details in the information below, including the calendar of events This is your chance to get out and connect with fellow small business owners, learn from each other’s experiences, access your business support crew and reflect on all the important reasons you love doing what your do in your business.

Maree Adshead
Queensland Small Business Commissioner

Business Basics Grants Program

The next round of Business Basics grants program opens at 9am on Wednesday 4 May.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Did not receive funding under Round 1 or 2 of the program
  • Fewer than 20 employees (by head count)
  • Expected turnover of $300,000 or less for this financial year
  • Registered for GST

Eligible businesses can use these grants of $5,000 to help with the following:

  • Training and coaching
  • Website build or upgrades
  • Professional business advice
  • Strategic marketing services
  • Business continuity and succession

These grants are highly competitive and will close when sufficient applicants have been received for competitive assessment. Access the guidelines, FAQs and more specific information on how to apply here.

Help for flood affected businesses

Strengthening Business is a program designed to help flood affected businesses rebuild, transform and adapt. You can access this program to be paired with an independent facilitator who can recommend ways to strengthen your business systems, operations and strategies by providing you with the following:

  • an initial business health check
  • tailored advice and assistance to help your business re-open through the recovery and rebuild phase
  • facilitation and connecting you to a range of services, potential financial assistance, and expert advice
  • a detailed business roadmap, providing a documented plan and strategies to achieve the immediate, medium and long-term goals of the business
  • strategies on growing your business to become more resilient against future economic instability or natural disaster.

To be eligible to access this service you must meet the following criteria:

  • be a business located within one of the flood affected local government areas impacted by the 2022 floods
  • have a current Australian business number (ABN)
  • Not a trust. Trustees may apply on behalf of trusts where the trustee is a legal business entity, and must be an incorporated entity. An individual is not able to apply on behalf of a trust.

You can apply to access this service until 5pm 30 June 2022. More information on how to apply here.

Queensland Small Business Month

May is Queensland Small Business Month (QSBM) – a month dedicated to celebrating and supporting the vital contribution small businesses make to our communities and economy.

There are a variety of events and resources available to help you celebrate, promote, and get involved with QSBM, including:

More information and resources can be found here.

COVID-19 tests and fringe benefits tax

From 1 July 2021, if you provided (or reimbursed the cost of) COVID-19 tests to your employees for work purposes, you may be able to reduce the taxable value by applying the otherwise deductible rule.

If COVID-19 tests are the only fringe benefit you provided to your employees, and you have reduced the taxable value to nil, you will not have a fringe benefits tax liability and will not be required to lodge an FBT return, however the existing FBT record keeping requirements apply.

You will still need to keep all records relating to how you calculated the taxable value of benefits, including the necessary declarations. More information can be found here.

Small Business Friendly program update

Earlier this month we welcomed Redland City Council into the Small Business Friendly (SBF) family, making them the 31st council to sign the Small Business Friendly charter and pledge their commitment to their small business community.

This Friday we’re heading to Townsville to host our second annual Small Business Friendly Conference – with this conference being extra special as the first held in regional Queensland.

This year’s conference theme is Change Making, which is particularly relevant given the challenges businesses have faced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently the
flooding events.

Attendees will hear from a variety of speakers including change and transformation specialists, councils, peak industry bodies and business groups who are all experienced, passionate, and committed to improving their small business communities. This conference will equip attendees with the tools, knowledge, resources, and connections to embark on their own change making journey within their organisations, which will ultimately benefit their small business communities.

If you’re not familiar with the SBF program or would like some more information so you can start a conversation with your council, you can find out more about the SBF program here.

AU Domain Administration networking event

Au Domain Administration manages and regulates the .au domain for all websites in Australia. If you’re a member of the technology industry, interested in connecting with technology professionals, or interested in finding out more about the latest developments in the .au space you’re invited to attend an informal networking event River City Labs from 5.30pm on Wednesday 4 May. RSVP here.