In a budget where there was very little to excite businesses of any size, let alone start-ups, it’s hard to see how any entrepreneur will be in tears of either joy or despair this morning.
However, there were measures unveiled by Treasurer Wayne Swan last night that will directly impact micro firms. Here are the main start-up winners and losers from budget night.
Start-ups hunting government contracts
OK, so this government has done very little to amend the competition regime that so often sees small businesses crushed by their larger rivals.
But Swan did announce something that should help level the playing field a little – nearly $30 million over five years to help small businesses become more competitive when bidding for government contracts and tenders. Grants of up to $1 million will be made available to small-scale bidders.
There’s an extra $12.9 million to help businesses take advantage of the National Broadband Network – a measure that will disproportionally aid start-ups in regional areas.
On top of this, the government has promised to help rural firms get new skills via apprentices. $19.2 million will be spent in linking apprentices with businesses not in urban areas, with the government providing up to $6500 for families and $4500 for individuals to move.
Businesses seeking venture capital
Innovation funding has been largely spared from the government’s $43 billion drive for fiscal cut-backs, with a new $350 million round for the Innovation Investment Fund and fresh cash to publicise Australian start-up success stories.
People registering their business
Regulatory compliance has to start even before day one for start-ups, as this budget underlined.
The Australian Taxation Office has been given special funding to beef up the Australian Business Numbers regime. If you give misleading information when you apply for your ABN, you are now more likely to be hit with a fine of up to $10,000.
On top of this, start-ups are to be hit by an increase in the cost of registering a business name, with the corporate regulator hiking fees to $32 for one year and $74 for three years.
The message is clear – don’t be sloppy and make sure you do things by the book.
A very welcome loser in the budget was the perennial workplace bully.
The Fair Work Commission has been given $21.4 million in the budget to crack down on workplace bullying. The funding comes alongside new bullying legislation which is set to take effect from July 1.
Entrepreneurs buried under red tape
In what was a rather sparse budget, a key disappointment was what Swan left out. In particular, there was no attempt to cut back red tape.
Excessive regulation is consistently cited by small businesses as a bugbear, but this budget leaves most compliance areas untouched or even makes them more stringent. Where were the measures to help start-ups grappling with super payments, paid parental leave paperwork or lengthy funding applications?