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Deakin hosts Small Business Association of Australia Summit

Deakin's thought-leadership and support for the small-business sector was on show as we hosted the 2023 SBAA Summit.

Deakin Business School was proud to host the Small Business Association of Australia (SBAA) Small Business Summit at the end of September. The biennial summit brings together policy makers, small business owners, and thought leaders to lay the foundations for good policies, including new ideas, best business practices and ease of doing business for small businesses, particularly those trading in the global economy. 

Australia's small-business leaders gather 

Speakers and panellists included Victorian Small Business Commissioner Lynda McAlary-Smith, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Michaelia Cash, Assistant Minister for Employment Andrew Leigh, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson, Executive Director of Small Business Australia Bill Lang, and Queensland Small Business Commissioner Dominique Lamb. They were joined by thought leaders, academics and small business owners to discuss the challenges small businesses are facing, and the future of small business in Australia. 

Deakin provides practical support

Deakin has long been a supporter of the small business sector, from high level advocacy to help for individual businesses. Small businesses make up 96-99.7% of all businesses in the world and, as the SBAA states, ‘They are the economy.’

Senior Lecturer in Deakin’s Business School Dr Wade Halvorson has been working with the SBAA over the last couple of years, and says Deakin’s involvement has been growing, this year playing host and running webinars.

‘We ran a couple of webinars this year for SBAA members, and we ended up with over 60 small business owners registering to attend,’ he says. ‘And after that, we have fielded a lot of inquiries from small business owners wanting to work together with our Business Development Clinic students.’

Buzz about Deakin’s Business Development Clinic has been growing since the program began five years ago. 

Dr Halvorson explains: ‘It’s a work integrated learning program that brings our students together with a small businessperson. The students research the business, decide on the area that they could have most impact on, and then recommend a strategy and a tactic for boosting profit and revenue for that small business owner. 

‘The student conducts a relationship with the business and learns hands-on skills about running that business, and the business owner gets to learn about the framework that we teach the students, as well as having fresh minds, fresh eyes, and a fresh approach.’

Business owners also get the opportunity to step back and work on their business rather than in their business, which can be an ongoing challenge. 

‘They often don't have time for strategic thinking or a lot of planning,’ says Dr Halvorson. ‘So, they have a group of fresh young students working on their business. Whether or not they take up the recommendations and the tactics that the students come up with, they still have that fresh look at what they're doing.’

Setting a national agenda

Key conversations at the summit included:

  • A call for a national small business agency by Deakin Business School’s Professor George Tanewski. Professor Tanewski presented a paper calling for the establishment of a national small business agency, which will act as an overarching body to coordinate small businesses and help them to cut through red tape. 
  • How new industrial relations laws will affect small business. Senator Sarah Henderson shared her concern about new laws. She shared that she has organised a Senate inquiry starting in early 2024, which will look into the complexities of the legislation and their potential effect on small businesses.
  • The idea of changing legislation to improve access for small businesses to casual senior citizen workers. This would help seniors to feel productive and maintain an income, while offering a wealth of experience to small businesses.
  • Improving support and representation for female entrepreneurs, and providing more opportunities for women in small business. 

Deakin Business School is honoured to be a part of the SBAA Summit and the valuable conversations being conducted about small businesses in Australia. We’re looking forward to working with small businesses and students to forge strong relationships and share skills and experience into the future. 

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