Economy

Today is world small business day: It’s time to spend your dollars locally, says Philip Dalidakis

Emma Koehn /

Philip Dalidakis

Former Victorian Minister for innovation Philip Dalidakis.

The United Nations believes small businesses have the power to literally transform nations, and Australians are being urged to spend big with SMEs to celebrate the inaugural World Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Day.

In April, the UN General Assembly marked June 27 as a global day for the celebration of small and micro enterprises, recognising the significant contribution this sector makes to its global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Celebrating the day at a breakfast event in Melbourne this morning, Victorian Small Business Minister Philip Dalidakis said the success of Australian SMEs comes down as much to people thinking about how they spend their cash, as it does from governments creating policies that reduce red tape.

“Each and every one of you should go to three small businesses today and spend a minimum of $10 dollars,” he suggested. 

And you should go and speak to at least three other people to do the same,” he added, highlighting the “multiplier effect” that happens when consumers make a conscious choice to support local vendors. 

The Victorian Small Business Commission used the occasion to launch its three-year strategy this morning, with the state’s Small Business Commissioner Judy O’Connell speaking to the importance of her organisation moving beyond dispute resolution towards deeper engagement with small businesses in the region.

By 2020, the Commission is aiming to step into a leadership role when advocating for small businesses in the state on national issues.

One of these key issues is enforcing fair payment times, with O’Connell playing a role in the enforcement of the Australian Supplier Payment Code, which will kick in on July 1.

The code is a joint project of the Victorian Government and the Business Council of Australia, with Minister Dalidakis saying Victoria’s Small Business Commissioner will have the power to remove businesses who have signed onto the code but then don’t hold up their end of the bargain.

While Dalidakis says small businesses operate best with minimal red tape in front of them, he has not ruled out regulated strict payment times for the state if the big players are found not to respond to the voluntary scheme.

On this particular occasion, be well aware I carry a very big stick. Absolutely we hold the right to move to full regulation in the marketplace,” he said this morning.

Advocating for the rights of smaller operators is fundamental to their growth, but too often the day-to-day value of SMEs gets forgotten, and business owners should reflect on what they do add, says Dalidakis.

“The reason [the UN] have got it right here is because small businesses do make a world of difference,” he said. 

Sometimes that gets lost, but small businesses make up our community … and what it is [about] is that sense of community.”

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior SmartCompany journalist.

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