BLAMING the rise of online shopping for poor sales is just a convenient excuse for small businesses owners, NSW small business commissioner Yasmin King said yesterday.
Ms King, who was visiting Albury, said businesses needed to embrace the worldwide phenomenon and use it to their advantage rather than fear it.
“I think it’s a convenient excuse,” she said.
“There’s no question people are buying more online.
“But a lot of it is domestic, it’s not as much overseas as people think.
“A business in Albury ... can use online shopping as an opportunity.”
Ms King gave the example of a framing shop in Orange, in central west NSW, that had been going downhill as customers opted to buy cheaper overseas products online.
The business owners worked out they couldn’t compete, so they started making custom-sized frames customers were unable to get elsewhere.
The business was now internationally recognised, she said.
Ms King spoke at the launch of the Small Biz Connect program at QEII Square in Albury.
The program offers small businesses options for specialist advice and mentoring.
Ms King said red tape was still the biggest problem for Albury businesses because they were on the border.
The appointment of the inaugural NSW cross-border commissioner Steve Toms had been a positive step but the Small Biz Connect program would provide further assistance.
“It’s about starting at a grassroots basis and getting people to tell us the problems their businesses are having.
“Like the frustrations of having to fill out the same information to multiple agencies or lack of clarity of guidelines.
“We’re able to take those practical examples and then go to the agencies and say ‘OK, this is not clear, we need to work out a way to streamline it.”
A concern for businesses in bushfire-prone areas has been red tape surrounding commercial tourism developments.
The commissioner’s office is proposing to work with NSW government agencies to develop easier-to-understand guidelines to minimise these difficulties.
Ms King was joined at the launch by Murray Hume Business Enterprise Centre chief Graeme Sayer whose organisation works closely with small businesses on the Border.