Welcome to the December 2023 edition of the Small Business Financial Counselling Service (SBFCS) Southern Queensland newsletter.
In this edition:
Message from CEO
Funding boost for bush businesses
Protect your business from cybercrime
Kylie’s tip for small businesses
Tips for resolving
Long service leave entitlements
Access Project Grant applications closing soon
Message from CEO With December upon us already, we are now at the peak of small business activity for the year in the lead-up to Christmas. With the RBA continuing to identify that Australians are holding higher levels of cash savings, I am hopeful that this translates to a strong sales season for all small business owners. If this does not eventuate for you over the coming weeks, please keep in mind that our team of Small Business Financial Counsellors are available to assist you in reviewing your business performance and developing a forward plan for 2024.
The Christmas period, whilst characterised by festivities, gift giving and fairy lights, is also a period of increased stress for many small business owners. Responding to increased demand from customers, trying to remain fully staffed, being present for family and friends and the inevitable last-minute challenges can have even the most organised person feeling like they are stuck in a rip at the beach. If this is you, or you find yourself simply running on empty come January, our Business Wellness Coaching Team are here to support you. Wellness Coaches work with you one-on-one to develop personalised strategies specific to your situation and how you are feeling.
Last month we held our all-staff conference in Brisbane, providing a valuable opportunity for the team to connect face-to-face and hear updates from industry stakeholders. A highlight of this event was our networking function where we appreciated the opportunity to catch up in person with many individuals who we regularly deal with either over the phone or in virtual meetings. As we said on the night, the SBFCS Southern Queensland can only achieve the outcomes that it does via the collaborative network of support available across Southern Queensland.
This event also saw the end of an era for our organisation with our long-term Chairperson, Karen Tully, standing down from the Board following 16 years of dedicated service. A small business owner from South West Queensland, Karen oversaw the growth of our organisation from a handful of Financial Counsellors to a multidisciplinary team across rural, regional and metropolitan areas who have supported over 2,000 businesses in the past year. We are forever indebted to Karen for her commitment.
Please note that our offices shall close at 5pm Friday 15 December 2023 and reopen on Monday 8 January 2024 to provide our team with a well-deserved break. We look forward to continuing to provide the much-needed support in 2024. Merry Christmas.
Chief Executive Officer
Our Financial Counsellors, Wellness Coaches and staff will be taking a well-deserved break over the Christmas period to recharge their batteries and prepare to assist with any challenges that 2024 presents across our Southern Queensland service area.
Small Business Financial Counselling Service offices will close from 5pm Friday, 15 December 2023 and reopen 8:30am Monday, 8 January 2024.
Should you require urgent assistance during this period please use the contact numbers below:Lifeline: 13 11 44Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636National Debt Helpline: 1800 007 007Queensland Small Business Commissioner: 1300 312 344More information on current assistance programs and support can be found at https://recovery.serviceconnect.gov.au/
We wish you and your families a safe and happy festive season and look forward to working with you in 2024.
Funding boost for bush businesses
Funding is now available to support small to medium-sized businesses that are looking to expand or diversify their operations across regional Queensland.
This competitive round of funding will be dependent on the application, determined on a case-by-case basis. Funding will be between $500,000 to $2,000,000 in the form of capital expenditure reimbursements and limited up to 50% of the project’s total eligible capital expenditure.
Targeted industry sectors include: agriculture, forestry and fishing mining, equipment and services transport and logistics manufacturing related to agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, processing minerals, transport and defense.
Find out more
Protect your business from cybercrime
In today’s world, protecting your business and personal data from cybercrime is more important than ever. One of our Financial Counsellors, whilst listening to a podcast, came across the startling fact that an 8-digit password takes only 15 minutes to hack using only a simple graphics card. It’s crucial to take steps to safeguard your information.
The recommended length of passwords is a minimum of 14 digits/characters. Here are some tips to help you set strong passwords.Do not use the same password on multiple sites.If your password is easy for you to remember, it is easy to hack.Do not use birth dates, pet’s names, children’s names, favourite sports team names or any part of your address in your password.Phrases are often good passwords, choose uncommon ones.Adding special characters and numbers make passwords more difficult to hack.Do not record your passwords anywhere on your computer.Stay proactive in safeguarding your valuable data. More information
Cyber security is considered the second highest risk to small businesses according to Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA), with 73% of small businesses concerned about the threat to their business but only 23% confident they are protected.
What is cyber security? It is about protecting your technology and digital information that your business creates, collects, and stores. This includes financial records, customer and employee records and personal information, intellectual property and email records.
A breach in cyber security can lead to consequences such as data and fund theft, damage to your brand reputation and disruption to your business operations.
Easy to implement and effective ways to improve safety and protect your data include:updating your devices regularly, installing anti-virus software and using a firewallupdating passwords regularly and using strong passwordsturning on multi-factor authenticationbacking up your systemsnot opening or clicking links that look suspiciouseducating your staff and creating an in-house cyber security policy.Check your level of cyber security by completing the 4-minute quiz from Australian Cyber Security Centre.
If you have been the victim of a cybercrime, the Australian Cyber Security Centre has a 24/7 hotline to assist and support you, call 1300 CYBER1 (1300 292 371).
Small Business Financial Counsellor
Sunshine Coast Office Tips for resolving payment issuesAll businesses will, at some point, experience payment issues with someone owing them money. The most important thing is to promptly resolve issues stopping the payment and recover debt as quickly as possible.
Resolving payment issues can be time consuming and, in some cases, costly.
Try to reduce the impact of both factors by following these simple steps:issues should be followed up promptlycommunicate with the other partybe polite and assertive in your communicationgive thought to arranging a payment plansend a formal letter of demandensure your records of the process are detailed.Considering debt recovery processes is an important part of business planning. Legal Aid Queensland has produced a useful guide on recovering minor debts under $25,000. View guide
As the end-of-year is fast approaching we find ourselves busier than ever so it makes sense that we may feel a little overwhelmed and stressed at times. To improve our ability to cope we can use self-soothing skills to help us tolerate difficult situations without making them worse by using our six senses through: vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and movement.
Self-soothing may seem like a self-indulgent thing to do but it is actually a very effective way to help calm us down, find balance and feel more in control. This helps us to then face the tasks/challenges ahead, problem solve and take the right next steps forward. It can also be used as a reward for us when we have got the job done or dealt with the challenging situation.
Some examples of how we can put this into practice are as follows:Vision: noticing the colours in a landscape or a sunset, artwork, photos, even watching a movie.Hearing: listening to your favourite music, guided meditation or listening to the sounds of nature around you.Smell: smelling freshly brewed coffee, the earthy smells of fresh cut grass, or our favorite essential oils.Taste: tasting a warm beverage or eating our favourite foods.Touch: taking a warm shower, feeling the grass beneath our feet or stroking our pets.Movement: walking, stretching, swimming, dancing or going to the gym.I invite you to explore, discover and practice the self-soothing skills that work best for you. Remember taking care of you, means taking care of your business. Wishing you all a wonderful festive period.
Program Coordinator and Business Wellness Coach Long service leave entitlementsUnderstanding long service leave entitlements is crucial for small businesses, so how does it work? The entitlement of long service leave (LSL) is based on a specific period of continuous service. After 10 years of service, full-time employees are eligible to 8.6667 weeks of paid LSL.
After 10 years, employees can receive an additional 4.33 weeks of LSL. This accrues for every additional 5 years worked for the employer. On termination of employment, an employee may be entitled to receive a payment of the balance of any long service leave accrued.
Visit the Business Queensland website for more information on long service leave entitlements as well as other helpful information on running a small business. More information Access Project Grant applications closing soonThe deadline for applications for the Access Project Grant is quickly approaching. This grant is available to support Queensland tourism operators who are ready to implement change in relation to identified accessibility improvements within their business or organisation.
Funding between $50,000 and $250,000 (excluding GST) is available for projects co-designed with people with a disability that deliver tangible, high-impact accessibility improvements. Funding matching is not required but priority may be given to businesses demonstrating co-investment by applicants.
Some examples of projects which may be considered are:
accessibility upgrades to bathrooms, entryways, pathways
modification/purchase of purpose-designed accessible vehicles or other transportation
aquatic/beach access wheelchairs
interpretive and/or interactive tourism signage
sensory friendly space creation including resources.
Applications close 21 December 2023. Find out more
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