Do you know where to find support ?
This article appears in the May/June 2015 issue of Business Franchise Australia & New Zealand
At the time of writing, the Federal Government has announced a consultation period on changes being made to the Office of the Australian Small Business Commissioner.
The Government plans to transform the Commissioner to a Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, who will be a Commonwealth-wide advocate for small business.
The soon to be Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman is just one resource available to franchisees and franchisors as they navigate the small business landscape in Australia.
There are a number of places you can go for support if you find yourself with questions regarding regulation or in a stalemate with a supplier, client or franchisor.
Small Business in Australia is known for being heavily regulated. You will need to consider tax, wages, insurance, HR and BAS to name just a few. If you are new to working for yourself, keeping everything in order can be a full time job before you actually serve a customer.
The Government and associations like the Franchise Council of Australia are committed to ensuring a strong, profitable and ethical small business sector. To that end, there are a number of resources, Government funded and otherwise you can utilise for advice as you build your business.
Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (Formerly Small Business Commissioner)
The new office of the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) is expected to be operational from 1 July this year. The Ombudsman’s office will extend the role of the Small Business Commissioner and be an advocate for small businesses Australia-wide.
The Ombudsman is an office of the Australian Government and part of the Department of Industry. It is designed to help businesses and individuals understand their obligations under federal regulation. It will also act as a ‘concierge for dispute resolution’. Currently there are a number of resources available to deal with disputes including industry-based mediators (see OFMA) and State-based Small Business Commissioners. The Ombudsman is intended as a go-to for those experiencing disputes. From there they will be directed to their most appropriate resolution resource and counselled in how to deal with disputes. The office will also act as an information source to make smaller businesses aware of other advice, programmes and services available from the Government.
Go to www.treasury.gov.au for more information.
Australian Tax Office (ATO)
Though everyone is familiar with the ATO, many do not know the support they provide for those starting out in small business. Many of their services are available online via interactive tools, there is also a dedicated helpline for those needing further advice and you can even book a site visit.
Franchisees just getting started can go to the Australian Business Register (abr.gov.au) and register for an Australian Business Number (ABN), Goods and Services Tax (GST) and an AUSkey which protects your security and privacy when dealing with the ATO online (www.ato.gov.au).
Small business assist is an online interactive tool. Here, you can type in your tax or superannuation question and get an answer in real time.
For hands-on advice book an assistance visit, on 13 28 66 and a staff member will come to your premises and show you how to:
• keep adequate records;
• complete and lodge Business Activity Statements (BAS) on time;
• meet Pay As You Go Withholding (PAYG), Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) and Capital Gains Tax (CGT) obligations;
• claim fuel tax credits (if you’re eligible) to help cut transport costs; and
• manage cash-flow to meet tax and superannuation payment obligations.
You can also book an after-hours call-back on 13 28 66 so as not to interfere with the running of your business.
And the ATO App for smart phones and tablets helps you keep on top of tax and super obligations anytime, anywhere.
Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO)
The Fair Work Ombudsman (formerly Fair Work Australia) has a number of tools to help you understand employee entitlements and awards, termination, leave and HR issues in your small business. FWO is the go-to for any small business owner who has questions about how to comply with workplace laws. Visit: www.fairwork.gov.au.
The Office of the Franchising Mediation Adviser (OFMA)
The OFMA was established in 1998 under the Franchising Code of Conduct, and works to regulate the conduct of franchisees and franchisors during the dispute resolution process. The OFMA handles low cost face to face mediation, early intervention services over the phone, as well as general information on section four (dispute resolution) of the Franchising Code of Conduct and best practice mediation. In certain cases, the OFMA may try to assist in reaching a resolution before two parties enter mediation. To find out more about the OFMA’s services, you can visit www.franchisingmediationadviser.com.au or call 1800 150 667.
Though many of the above are regulators, they are also available as resources for your business. In the interest of compliance, each of these departments will assist you in setting up your business correctly, treating your employees fairly and staying on the right side of regulation, should you decide to go into business for yourself. Of course, the Franchise Council of Australia (www.franchise.org.au) is here to assist you with all questions pertaining specifically to franchising.
With so much support available to you, along with your franchisor and network of other franchisees all invested in your success, you certainly have the right guidance to thrive.