Being small business friendly
Above: Minister for Small Business Adem Somyurek, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, Licked by Ray Ray owner Raymond Tan and I at the City of Melbourne’s official Charter signing
So what do we mean when we say ‘small business friendly’? We mean working together to make it easier for small businesses to get started and thrive. City of Melbourne’s recent signing of our Small Business Friendly Charter highlighted the importance of the commitments councils make when signing up, and what these actually mean for small business owners.
Last week I was thrilled to meet with Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, Minister for Small Business Adem Somyurek and the Melbourne Business Network for the council’s official signing.
We also met with small business owner Raymond Tan, who is planning to open his first shop in Melbourne’s CBD later this year. Raymond is the self-taught baker, Instagram sensation and amazingly talented creator behind Licked by Ray Ray. We had the chance to sample Raymond’s delicious creations and hear his story – how he turned his creative outlet into an online enterprise before making the call to move to bricks and mortar.
Raymond is the first person to access the City of Melbourne’s Business Concierge service, which has cut permit approval processes from 120 days down to just one. Accessing the service meant one point of contact guided Raymond through the new business registration application processes from start to finish.
Working towards faster permit approvals is one of the measures councils commit to when they sign our Charter.
They also commit to support small business cash flow by paying them promptly. This means putting in place processes to make sure invoices are paid within 30 days.
With major projects happening across the state, including Melbourne’s CBD rail upgrades, councils that sign up pledge to help manage local disruption to trade. Small business owners have told us of instances where the first they know about works going on is when the jackhammer is at the front of their shop. They’re then left to deal with the impacts of dust, dirt, no parking and no foot traffic.
The role of councils that have made the pledge is to consult with small business owners early on about infrastructure projects they’re running, work with them throughout, and give project managers and small business owners the tools we’ve developed so they can plan to mitigate disruption effectively.
Councils that have signed up also commit to help set up and support local networks like the Melbourne Business Network, which facilitates connections, communications and collaboration with Melbourne-based businesses.
They also commit to communicate with us about issues affecting local businesses so we can advocate on their behalf and work with the relevant agencies on solutions.
City of Melbourne’s pledge means half of the state’s 79 local councils are now on board – 18 in metropolitan and 21 in regional Victoria. This is a big achievement for Victoria, which is home to 624,864 small businesses.
We encourage councils that haven’t signed up to follow City of Melbourne’s lead and help create a level playing field for their small business community.