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The services provided by BEC
(Darwin Region) Inc are partially
funded by the Australian
Government and NT Government.

11-Dec-2015

   

Message from the Manager

Warmest thoughts and Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas
 and a very Happy New Year from all of us here at the Business Enterprise Centre Darwin

 

BEC Xmas Closure

 

The BEC Darwin office will close down over the Christmas and New Year period commencing 2.00pm on Tuesday 22 December 2015 and reopen on Monday 4 January 2016.

December Terrific Tips from Jurek Leon

Who is Jurek Leon you might ask?

Jurek has worked previously with our BEC, delivering a very successful retail and tourism focussed training program in Alice Springs and last year a terrific program for Darwin city retailers. He’s a speaker, trainer and retail consultant. His entertaining, energising seminars and workshops are filled with practical tips, ideas and down-to-earth examples on word-of-mouth marketing, motivation, customer focused selling and designing and managing the customer experience.

In 1992 he founded Terrific Trading, a Western Australian based consultancy where he goes by the title of ‘Director of Curiosity’.

The Terrific Tips monthly e-newsletter is packed with anecdotes, ideas and examples on service excellence, customer focused selling, motivation and marketing. All the things that hard working retailers need at this very busy time of the year.

I think Jurek’s newsletters are both entertaining and interesting.

The December edition is filled with great advice and tips including how to be seen in the best possible light and conveying information so it sticks in your customers mind. View it online

Sign up here for your monthly dose of Jurek style inspiration, and let me know what you think.

Aboriginal Employment Grants

Applications are now open for grants through the Aboriginal Employment Initiatives program.

Grants of up to $250,000 may be offered for projects that support sustainable jobs, encourage labour coordination and mobility or fill a gap in existing funding.

Eligible projects will address one of three areas:

  • Sustainable jobs: projects that support organisations to sustainably employ Aboriginal Territorians.
  • Labour coordination and mobilisation: projects that increase job opportunities through labour coordination and worker mobility by supporting Territory business and industry to meet current and emerging labour needs with an appropriately skilled Aboriginal workforce.
  • Gap funding: projects that will build sustainability into a new initiative to ensure its continuity or complement activities supported by other government programs.

Applications for Aboriginal Employment Initiatives grants are open until midday, Tuesday 15 December. Find out more or apply on the Department of Business website.

New Law Protects Small Business from Unfair Contract Terms

 

Has another business offered you a standard form contract? Or do you offer standard form contracts to other businesses? If so, you need to be aware of the new law that protects small businesses from unfair contract terms.

Many businesses offer standard form contracts on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis where there is little or no opportunity to negotiate the terms.

This new law will apply to standard form contracts entered into or renewed on or after 12 November 2016 where:

  • at least one of the businesses employs less than 20 people, and
  • the price of the contract is no more than $300 000, or $1 million if the contract is for more than 12 months.

The ACCC, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and state and territory offices of fair trading will enforce this law, and if the court finds a term unfair, that particular term will be void and treated as if it never existed.

So if you offer standard form contracts, start reviewing your terms and conditions to make sure you’re doing the right thing. Or, if you're a small business and you’ve been given a standard form contract which you think includes an unfair term, find out what your protections are under the new law.

Watch the ACCC’s You Tube videos or visit the ACCC website for more information.

NT Government Subsidised Training Opportunities

 

Alana Kaye have received funding from the Northern Territory Government for a selected number of student places for a range of courses including:

  • Certificate III in Business Administration
  • Certificate III in Business
  • Certificate IV in Project Management Practice
  • Certificate IV in Business Administration
  • Certificate IV in Business
  • Certificate IV in Frontline Management

Find out if you’re eligible for the government subsidised training on the Department of Business website

Contact the Alana Kaye Darwin office on 8942 6100 for more information.

Have your say in the Customs Licensing Review

 

Do you operate or manage a business or franchise on Australia's borders, such as an importing, exporting, warehouse or customs broker business?

If so, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) would like your feedback as part of the customs licensing review under the Customs Act 1901.

For more details on the Review, check out the Discussion Paper on the DIBP's website.
Submissions close 31 December 2015.

'Buy Local' Policy Announced

 

Northern Territory businesses will have more opportunity to compete for a greater percentage of the billions of dollars in government work awarded each year.

A new 'Buy Local' policy will replace the current Local Development and Value Adding (LDVA) policy framework and will drive greater emphasis on achieving local content and benefits from NT Government procurement.

One of the key elements of this policy announced by Business Minister Peter Styles this month is increasing the minimum weighting in favour of local content and benefits from 20% to 25% in all quotes and tenders. This is the highest of any state or territory government in Australia.

The Buy Local policy will be implemented commencing from January 2016 and businesses are expected to see immediate benefits in the form of more opportunities to tender and clearer, simpler tender documents. Nominations for the representatives to the independent panel will be sought before the end of the year.

Read more

Personal Property Securities Register

 

In 2012 a new law, which also established a new 24/7 national online register, was introduced which affects a significant proportion of Australian business.

The PPSR business guide, recently launched by the Australian Financial Security Authority, is intended to help Australian businesses not familiar with the practical implications of this law. It also explains how they might benefit from using the national online system—the Personal Property Securities Register, also known as the PPSR.

The PPSR business guide is relevant if you:

  • sell goods on retention of title terms
  • hire, rent or lease out goods
  • buy or sell valuable second-hand goods or assets
  • want to raise finance using stock or other assets as collateral
  • work as an adviser to clients who conduct these activities.

The PPSR business guide and other resources are available on the PPSR website.

FLNG Announcement – NT Government

The Northern Territory’s economy is set to benefit following a major announcement from Shell Prelude FLNG.

Australian engineering company Monadelphous Group has been awarded a long term maintenance and modification contract on Shell’s Prelude FLNG facility.

Monadelphous has an existing fabrication workshop based at East Arm, Darwin. It is anticipated the company will utilise this facility to carry out maintenance for Shell’s prelude FLNG operations.

The maintenance and modifications contract includes brownfield modifications and turn around services to LNG process plant, support utilities, hull and non-process infrastructure.

This contract has potential flow on benefits for other businesses and suppliers in Darwin and the Northern Territory, and is expected to create business opportunities and local jobs.

Awarding the contract to a firm with a significant Darwin presence also recognises Darwin’s growing status as the region's oil and gas maintenance and operation hub.

The contract, worth around $200 million, is for an initial period of seven years with a further two-year extension options.

Almost 80% of Small Businesses Don’t have Adequate Workplace Policies

Article published on the Smart Company website:

The vast majority of small businesses don’t have adequate workplace policies in place, according to research published today by legal startup LawPath.

A survey of more than 500 Australian small businesses found 77% of businesses do not have established workplace policies for issues ranging from drug and alcohol use to social media.

In addition, around 40% of the businesses LawPath surveyed do not have employment contracts for part-time, full-time or casual employees.

The biggest offenders were businesses operating as a partnership, with 91% of businesses operating under this structure reporting they do not have employment contracts.

While 61% of the SMEs surveyed have hired contractors, 17% did not have contract agreements.

Also 63% of respondents conducted business online but just over 20% did not have website terms and conditions.

Damien Andreasen, chief executive of LawPath, told SmartCompany the number of small business owners operating without adequate workplace policies came “as a bit of a shock”.

“What this tells me is it’s difficult to understand all the obligations you have as a small-to-medium-sized business owner,” Andreasen says.

“Especially around employment contracts, you think that is something that would be fairly well known that you need some sort of agreement in place outlining how that engagement works. Similarly, with workplace policies – these are the standards a business sets.”

Andreasen says he expects the cost of drawing up professional contracts often deters small business owners from having the correct documents and policies.

“The traditional legal model has always been complex, time-consuming and very expensive for small-to-medium businesses,” he says.

“There’s always been a bit of a fear factor and them putting their head in the sand. It’s a huge cost for an early-stage company.”

However Andreasen says it is critical for SMEs to have employment contracts and workplace policies in place in case someone injures themselves at work or there is a dispute over intellectual property.

The lead-up to Christmas is also an important time to review workplace policies, according to Andreasen.

“If you don’t have your drug and alcohol policy in place, those elements could get you in trouble,” he says.

New Industry Growth Centre Launched

 

Is your business in the Mining Equipment, Technology and Services sector? Find out how you could benefit from the new Industry Growth Centre.

Government Response to Competition Policy Review

The Government recently announced its response to the Harper Competition Policy Review. This response report foreshadows some of the most significant reforms of their kind in two decades.

The Harper Review's Final Report made 56 recommendations for reforms across three key themes: competition policy, laws and institutions.

The Government’s response sets out a productivity and competition agenda that is aimed at boosting innovation and opening up markets, and outlines that it specifically supports in whole or in part 44 of the 56 recommendations and remains open to the remaining 12 recommendations.

Of particular interest to the small business sector are the following recommendations:

12 – Retail trading hours: The Government supports this recommendation, noting this is an area of state responsibility.

14 – Pharmacy: The Government recognises the need for competition in the pharmacy sector, including that the location rules should be examined closely.

30 – Misuse of market power: The Government has acknowledged concerns raised about the operation of the misuse of market power provision in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and the Harper Review’s recommendation for reform. In light of the importance of this issue for business and consumers, the Government will consult further on options to reform the provision and release a discussion paper soon.

51 – ACCC governance: The Government considers that full‐time Commissioners are best placed to consider and take action on the varied and frequent decisions of the ACCC. A specific small business commissioner is an important aspect of the Government’s commitment to ensuring key regulatory bodies are enhanced by appointments with small business insights and experience.

53 - Small business access to remedies: The Government supports the ACCC taking steps to improve its communications with small businesses (and complainants more generally). The Government has asked the ACCC to consider introducing changes to improve transparency and clarity for small businesses on why it is unable to pursue certain complaints.

54 – Collective bargaining: The Government supports this recommendation and will develop exposure draft legislation for consultation with the public and states and territories. 

More information, including a Government response fact sheet, is available on the Treasury website.

Business Technology Tips

from Ben Hockley at Ricoh Darwin

As we approach the wet season and things start to slow down it’s often a good time to audit some of the unnecessary waste around the business. There are often hidden costs that need a little digging to uncover. We see many businesses throwing money out the door with an unregulated print environment. It’s always puzzled me that many firms need staff to fill out a form or ask for approval to even buy a birthday cake for a colleague. But those same firms allow unfettered access to one of the biggest costs in the office. The cost of colour printing and copying can add up to many times the cost of a birthday cake but the expense can easily go unnoticed.

  • Have a think about appropriate uses of this type of equipment and make it easy for staff to know what’s expected by announcing your firms “Print Policy”. Here’s some ideas to get you started.
  • Start by explaining the reasons for a Print Policy. What’s in it for me? Less wasted printing is better for the environment and the bottom line so everyone has a stake in doing the right thing.
  • Set everyone’s printer to print on double sided by default to save paper. It’s easy to change with a few clicks if you need single sided from time to time.
    Always print emails in black and white as that little blue email link on the page often means the whole page is charged like a colour print meaning it just cost you 10 times as much as it needed.
  • Colour printing is the most effective form of communication and should be reserved for customer facing documents or high value internal use only.

We have lots of other ideas to include in a print policy and I will be sharing more with you in future.

Help Build a Better business.gov.au Website

 

The Australian Government has launched business.gov.au beta – a testing ground for new ideas and features they’re developing to make it easier for you to find information and tools to start, run and grow a business.

Over the next few months, they'll be trialling new things on business.gov.au beta to get your feedback. If something doesn't test well on beta, they'll listen to your feedback, go back to the drawing board, or even cut the idea entirely. This collaborative approach will ensure that only the best features make the cut on business.gov.au.

Visit the beta test site.

ACCC acts against The Community Network for alleged unconscionable conduct towards small businesses

The ACCC is taking action to ensure that the terms and conditions of contracts are fully disclosed to small businesses.

The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Multimedia International Services Pty Ltd, trading as The Community Network, for allegedly engaging in unconscionable conduct, making false or misleading representations and wrongly accepting payments from small businesses.

The Community Network sells digital advertising services to small businesses throughout Australia. The ACCC alleges that The Community Network engaged in unconscionable conduct in its dealings with small businesses, including by refusing to release them from contracts for advertising services when The Community Network was not providing those services, then pursuing them for non-payment, threatening legal action and, in one case, engaging debt collectors. The ACCC also alleges that The Community Network engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by not disclosing key contract terms, including that the contract was for a fixed 2 year term but only if the business gave 12 months written notice by registered post.

“In any contract with small businesses, the terms and conditions must be fully disclosed, particularly those which are onerous, such as terms restricting the small business from terminating the contract or automatically rolling over the contract for a substantial period,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

Read the full ACCC media release.

ATO Wipes off $2.6 Billion in Tax Bills for Big Business

 

The Australian Tax Office wrote off $2.6 billion in tax liabilities for big businesses across the country last year as it sought to settle disputes instead of pursuing costly legal battles to recover the total amounts owed.

The tax office had expected to recover $5.6 billion from large businesses in the 2014-15 financial year, but the ATO’s 2014-15 financial report shows it settled on a figure of $2.9 billion instead.

The ATO also recovered more than $295 million from small businesses in Australia last year, which compares to a pre-settlement target of $447 million.

Overall the tax office recovered approximately $3.8 billion from an estimated $7.3 billion recovery target.

Read the full article on the Smart Company website.

Commercialisation Grants Offered to 10 Innovative Australian Companies

 

Entrepreneurs’ Programme commercialisation grants have been offered to another 10 innovative Australian businesses. The grants will help these businesses push their innovative products, services and processes out into the global marketplace by:

  • matching the business's investments dollar for dollar
  • providing experienced Commercialisation Advisers to guide them through the commercialisation process.

The grants will support projects that provide real-world solutions to industry problems.
Projects that are being supported include:

  • automated machines for use in agriculture
  • an online device to help move and control livestock
  • the world’s first modular hearing aid
  • 3D holographic room technology for the tourism industry
  • a greener, cheaper technology to clean marine vessels
  • bone scan analysis software for bone health diagnosis and monitoring

Commercialisation grants under the Entrepreneurs’ Programme can help small and medium businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers commercialise novel intellectual property.

You can apply for a commercialisation grant at any time. Check out the factsheet for more about the support you can get if your business is eligible.

The Do Not Call Register

 

Does your business use telemarketing or fax marketing to promote goods or services?

If so, you need to be aware of your obligations under the Do Not Call Register Act.

Find out more

BEC Small Business Workshops

 

Our FREE Small Business Workshops are filled up for 2015 but don’t despair if you missed out, we’ve already started planning workshops for 2016 introducing you to five specific and important areas of business including business structures and tax, marketing and bookkeeping.

Darwin
Venue: BEC Darwin, 20 Catterthun Street, Winnellie (Lower Level)
Dates: 27-29 January 2016, 22-24 February 2016, 21-23 March 2016

Alice Springs
Venue: QUEST, 9-10 South Terrace, The Gap, Alice Springs
Dates: 25-26 February 2016

Katherine
Venue: Katherine Regional Training Centre, 19 Second Street, Katherine
Dates: 30-31 March 2016

Bookings are essential, register online.

How to Write a Business Plan that Works

 

Serial entrepreneur and author Creel Price advocates business plans as a way for business owners to give structure to their thinking.

Read the article on the Smart Company website.

Inspiration for your Content Marketing is Lurking in your Kitchen

 

Treasurer Announces Tax Breaks for Start-Ups

 

A suite of new business initiatives, including tax breaks for start-ups, under the Turnbull government’s innovation agenda will help drive growth and jobs, Treasurer Scott Morrison says.

More

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