I’m still pinching myself after just arriving home from a whirlwind trip to our nation’s capital. Government advocacy has become an important part of our role as Australia’s peak body for mums in small business, increasingly mumpreneurs are being recognised as the people who are driving Australian small business and leading the way in digital innovation. In the last 12 months the number of women starting a business has doubled. And those women need a voice. When you’re working from home its often isolating and you can feel like no-one else really knows what your challenges are or how hard you’re working behind the scenes to make it all appear effortless. Often even your family and friends don’t realise just how much of your heart and soul goes into getting a business idea successfully off the ground. So we were so pleased when Minister Billson, the Federal Minister for Small Business agreed to meet with me recently to talk about women, home based business and the unique challenges faced by women balancing business with a young family. The meeting was a success but I was still completely overwhelmed when just a few days later I received an invitation to join Minister Billson in Parliament House for a post budget celebration dinner for women in business!
Prime Minister for a day
A few short days later I found myself on a plane flying to Canberra. I say it as if it’s the most natural thing in the world but actually for all the mums reading the post you’ll know that many hours of organisation have to happen to enable a ‘spontaneous’ trip like this to occur, particularly when you have 5 children (including a young toddler) to consider! Anyhow before I knew it was in Canberra and catching up with my sister and business partner Katy (who had travelled for 12 hours to get there!) It was the first time either of us had been to Parliament House and for that matter anyone in our family.
The room was filled with amazing women; accomplished business owners, journalists, professors and non-profit entrepreneurs. We mingled and chatted and as the night progressed Minister Billson spoke about the importance of small business and the role women play in creating a vibrant and flourishing business environment in Australia. He then gave every woman in the room the opportunity to answer this question: What would you do if you were Prime Minister for a day? I was fascinated by the responses from the women in the room. The overwhelming message was that they wanted more respect for women, more women in government (especially in the role as Minister for women) and more focus on entrepreneurialism for girls in education.
In 2013-14 Australians started over 280,000 small businesses and Billson says the figures show there are more women starting businesses than men.
“I’m really upbeat about that because usually women are more thoughtful about their businesses,” Billson told the group.
“They are more organic in their growth trajectory, they don’t think it’s all going to come together tomorrow and there is a preparedness to take in advice, experience and the path-finding experience of others that have been on this entrepreneurial journey.”
Billson says the government wants to see more women decide entrepreneurship is what they want to do with their lives.
“We’ve got great examples of women leading great corporate behemoths in our country, we’ve got some of the most agile gazelle-like businesses being led by women,” he says.
“We’ve got mums taking it to the street while managing micro humans and all sorts of things and that’s got many more challenges than you can imagine. It’s such a great range of business types and models and great examples for the country and the economy.”
Billson says this year’s budget was all about “putting the mojo back into entrepreneurship” and small business has been “the talk of the airwaves”.
“We had a good night last night trying to energise enterprise and put a serious amount of cash in behind your entrepreneurship, but I’m also keen to learn what else we can do,” he says.
“Your field evidence is gold for us. I’ve got fantastic people in the Treasury portfolio, more PHDs on macroeconomics per square metre than you could poke a stick at, and that’s valuable and that’s useful, but you’re out amongst it and the field insights that you generate through your work are really important to us.
Billson says he attends “an awful lot” of debutante balls in his role as a politician where he hears a lot about people’s ambitions and what they want to do with their lives.
“I want to hear more people say I want to be an entrepreneur, I want to create my own opportunities I want to create my own possibilities and be my best self and enable others to do likewise,” he says.
A private tour of the House
The night ended with Minister Billson offering a personal tour of Parliament House for anyone who was interested. Katy & I took up the offer and it was really fun seeing behind the scenes of Parliament House. I had no idea the media had their own dedicated space and permanent offices and recording studios within the building. We went down a corridor filled with the offices for channel 9, channel 7, ABC, triple J, SBS, Sky news and more; some were even filming live as we visited. It was such an amazing opportunity to chat with Minister Billson one on one and to explore Australia’s most iconic building, we saw incredible art works, where question time is held, where the House of Representatives meet, the private politician only dining room, where the budget was decided upon and even the Prime Minister’s office. We heard about how the building was designed to have a clear line of sight all the way to the war memorial so that our nation’s leaders would always remember the sacrifice our soldiers made for our nation’s freedom, we discovered that some of the flooring was designed to sound like those of a Queenslander and we learnt that the incredible artwork featured throughout was by contemporary and up and coming Australian artists.
Christine Kininmonth (2014 St George Banking Group AusMumpreneur of the Year), Peace Mitchell, Federal Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson & Katy Garner)
What the budget means for mumpreneurs
The budget is a great one for small business owners. The key budget measures that will impact small business are:
- Cutting the company tax rate to 28.5% for incorporated businesses with a turnover of under $2 million;
- A tax “discount” of 5% for unincorporated businesses, capped at $1000;
- Immediate tax deduction for any individual assets costing less than $20,000;
- Expanded Fringe Benefits Tax exemption for work-related portable electronic devices;
- Capital Gains Tax rollover relief when businesses change legal structures;
- Expanded tax concessions for employee share schemes;
- Streamlined business registration process;
- Removing obstacles to crowdsourced equity funding;
- Provides $330 million for training programs to support young people to becoming job-ready;
- $1.2 billion in subsidies for employers that hire specific groups of job seekers;
- An extra $265.5 million for the Australian Tax Office to crack down on GST fraud.
It’s an exciting time to be in business, there are more women than ever starting new enterprises and our Federal Minister is ready to listen to what women want.