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What’s the future for small businesses in Canberra?

By 27 August 2014 9

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As Federal Government Department’s continue to slash away at their APS number though voluntary and involuntary redundancies, the future of the economy of Canberra is looking unstable, particularly in the arena of small business.

Over the past 5 years there’s been a noticeable difference in the way locals are embracing and investing in small local businesses. It’s made areas such as Braddon and New Acton such a success and events like the Handmade Market a must on most people’s calendar.

Locals seem more willing to buy bread from Autolyse rather than Baker’s Delight, coffee from Two Before Ten instead of Gloria Jeans and clothing from Assemblage Project rather than Cotton On.

I personally make a conscious decision to consider local options before going to big businesses. Sometimes my choices are driven by price, but most of the time the quality and unique qualities of buying local win every time.

What happens when those who are left without jobs start to tighten their belts? The first things to go are usually the luxuries such as Sunday breakfast at a café, buying locally made bread or a new piece of art for the home from a local artist. Instead of going to the Bus Depot Markets people will consider their wallets and head to Aldi instead.

People without jobs or with considerably lower paying jobs will be forced to make choices based on cost, which is usually when big businesses win. They can mass produce and source lesser quality materials or labor internationally allowing them to slash their prices compared to local businesses.

While local businesses wish they could compete with big business prices, the reality is they can’t. Nor should they have to when the majority of the time and the quality vastly outlasts that of big business, which in the long run makes things cheaper, but when you need something NOW consumers tend to pick the cheaper option.

What’s in-store for local businesses as the current Government starts to slash more and more jobs as the years go on?

I’ll be honest, I was once a public servant and am now a local business owner and I am bracing for the economical change that’s about to happen to Canberra. Canberra has become such a great support of local from produce, to cafés and restaurants and most recently locally produced and designed fashion.

While I can’t control what people spend their hard earned money on I can advise that if you can don’t cut out local entirely. If there’s a café, butcher, artist or anything local that you love, the best way to show it is buy buying. This helps keep their doors open and keep them in business through this impending downturn.

Tell us who your favourite local businesses are in Canberra.

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9 Responses to
What’s the future for small businesses in Canberra?
curmudgery 11:09 am
27 Aug 14
#1

People’s relationship with money is odd and complex. Think of business money and pleasure money: we complain about a 2 cent rise in petrol but put $10 though the pokies as ‘a donation to the Club’. Weird.

There’s essentials money for food, rent, fuel and so on and discretionary money for luxuries. People might drive around town and to Queanbeyan to save $20 on their weekly grocery bill but put almost no effort in trying to save $20 on the purchase of a $1200 computer even though the benefit is the same. Also weird.

And, yes, at the first hint of economic change the first thing people do is cut back on their discretionary spending – and that hits small and micro businesses very hard and immediately.

I’m convinced that our governments either don’t understand or don’t care about the impact of their antics on local business. Every government press release should be prefaced with “ In order to destabilise the local economy further and spread uncertainty everywhere again this week, I’m pleased to announce …”

puggy 1:38 pm
27 Aug 14
#2

Two issues with:

“Locals seem more willing to buy… coffee from Two Before Ten instead of Gloria Jeans…”

First, it’s because Two Before Ten, Harvest and the like are actually cheaper than Gloria Jeans (at least my local Gloria Jeans) and they serve a damn sight better coffee.

Second, Gloria Jeans are franchise stores, a local person owns and runs it, so each individual store is really a small local business. In any case, I don’t thing the Harvest/Hideout/Tonic alternate naming scheme is fooling anyone, for example.

Regarding:

“…there’s been a noticeable difference in the way locals are embracing and investing in small local businesses. It’s made areas such as Braddon and New Acton such a success and events like the Handmade Market a must on most people’s calendar.”

Well never underestimate peoples willingness to be cool and “unique” at the expense of their wallets. I mean , until relatively recently, people were paying good money to sit on bare milk crates at LSR!

dungfungus 5:46 pm
27 Aug 14
#3

curmudgery said :

People’s relationship with money is odd and complex. Think of business money and pleasure money: we complain about a 2 cent rise in petrol but put $10 though the pokies as ‘a donation to the Club’. Weird.

There’s essentials money for food, rent, fuel and so on and discretionary money for luxuries. People might drive around town and to Queanbeyan to save $20 on their weekly grocery bill but put almost no effort in trying to save $20 on the purchase of a $1200 computer even though the benefit is the same. Also weird.

And, yes, at the first hint of economic change the first thing people do is cut back on their discretionary spending – and that hits small and micro businesses very hard and immediately.

I’m convinced that our governments either don’t understand or don’t care about the impact of their antics on local business. Every government press release should be prefaced with “ In order to destabilise the local economy further and spread uncertainty everywhere again this week, I’m pleased to announce …”

Great comments, not that anyone that hasn’t been in business in this “town” would understand.
The government have made it known that they want to bring all the “big name” businesses to Canberra and they will give incentives (these are “commercial in Confidence”) to get them here.
It would be a good thing if Mick Gentleman took a study trip to Detroit so he can be inspired to plan even further ahead for the Canberra business sector.

watto23 9:13 pm
27 Aug 14
#4

curmudgery said :

People’s relationship with money is odd and complex. Think of business money and pleasure money: we complain about a 2 cent rise in petrol but put $10 though the pokies as ‘a donation to the Club’. Weird.

There’s essentials money for food, rent, fuel and so on and discretionary money for luxuries. People might drive around town and to Queanbeyan to save $20 on their weekly grocery bill but put almost no effort in trying to save $20 on the purchase of a $1200 computer even though the benefit is the same. Also weird.

And, yes, at the first hint of economic change the first thing people do is cut back on their discretionary spending – and that hits small and micro businesses very hard and immediately.

I’m convinced that our governments either don’t understand or don’t care about the impact of their antics on local business. Every government press release should be prefaced with “ In order to destabilise the local economy further and spread uncertainty everywhere again this week, I’m pleased to announce …”

I completely agree and I know I do funny things with money too. I save $x per pay and do my utmost best to avoid touching it, even if it means cutting back on other things, yet I’ll still have my $5 coffee a day, with a perfectly good coffee machine at home as well. However I won’t complain about the cost of things as I know I could do things better.

That said the small businesses that thrive are the ones that are run well. Small businesses also thrive when a big business is around to draw people in. Coffee shops for example, if i go in every day its nice to get a hi how are you today etc, but when they remember your name and your order as well it makes people go back again. Also my local post office remembers me by name because i pick up parcels from there. Tradies are another example. If I had a $1 for every tradie that says they’ll turn up and don’t I’d have made a few hundred $$ by now. I know tradies can get delayed, but with mobile phones is it too hard to just say sorry i’m running late!

If you run a small business, customer service will more than offset competition from big business IMO.

Samara Gentle 9:58 pm
27 Aug 14
#5

curmudgery said :

People’s relationship with money is odd and complex. Think of business money and pleasure money: we complain about a 2 cent rise in petrol but put $10 though the pokies as ‘a donation to the Club’. Weird.

There’s essentials money for food, rent, fuel and so on and discretionary money for luxuries. People might drive around town and to Queanbeyan to save $20 on their weekly grocery bill but put almost no effort in trying to save $20 on the purchase of a $1200 computer even though the benefit is the same. Also weird.

And, yes, at the first hint of economic change the first thing people do is cut back on their discretionary spending – and that hits small and micro businesses very hard and immediately.

I’m convinced that our governments either don’t understand or don’t care about the impact of their antics on local business. Every government press release should be prefaced with “ In order to destabilise the local economy further and spread uncertainty everywhere again this week, I’m pleased to announce …”

Couldn’t agree more on most of this!

HiddenDragon 10:57 pm
27 Aug 14
#6

All the signs are that things will not be getting any easier for businesses which rely on the discretionary dollars of Canberra consumers. Aside from reduced job numbers in the APS, pay negotiations are reportedly much tougher these days, which will further constrain spending. At the same time, other costs are rising markedly – rates (say no more…), insurance, some utilities etc. etc.

tooltime 10:48 pm
05 Sep 14
#7

Hidden Dragon,

You’re on the money. Businesses that have exceptional products and services, in the best locations, with social cache (street cred), and in industries with favourable demographics will always be okay, so long as they don’t compete on price…That said, when Woolies or Coles start doing these things themselves, lookout. They’re moving into pubs (getting a bigger slice of the pie in the gaming, real estate, food & alcohol sectors of the economy), financial planning & insurance, and the big one they’re really licking their lips over: pharmacies.

tooltime 10:56 pm
05 Sep 14
#8

What you’ve discussed in this article are niche businesses that serve small but profitable markets. They can charge premium because they’re offering something meaningfully different that can’t easily be readily duplicated. Look at how disruptive the internet has been to retailing. Soon we’ll all go there for our services as well…having said all that, the ACT economy is way overdue for a contraction….

dungfungus 10:58 am
06 Sep 14
#9

dungfungus said :

curmudgery said :

People’s relationship with money is odd and complex. Think of business money and pleasure money: we complain about a 2 cent rise in petrol but put $10 though the pokies as ‘a donation to the Club’. Weird.

There’s essentials money for food, rent, fuel and so on and discretionary money for luxuries. People might drive around town and to Queanbeyan to save $20 on their weekly grocery bill but put almost no effort in trying to save $20 on the purchase of a $1200 computer even though the benefit is the same. Also weird.

And, yes, at the first hint of economic change the first thing people do is cut back on their discretionary spending – and that hits small and micro businesses very hard and immediately.

I’m convinced that our governments either don’t understand or don’t care about the impact of their antics on local business. Every government press release should be prefaced with “ In order to destabilise the local economy further and spread uncertainty everywhere again this week, I’m pleased to announce …”

Great comments, not that anyone that hasn’t been in business in this “town” would understand.
The government have made it known that they want to bring all the “big name” businesses to Canberra and they will give incentives (these are “commercial in Confidence”) to get them here.
It would be a good thing if Mick Gentleman took a study trip to Detroit so he can be inspired to plan even further ahead for the Canberra business sector.

Hard not to notice the “naming” by the ATO of the big name retailers that are minimising exposure to tax assessment in Australia.
These are the same multinationals that our inept ACT Government is grovelling to so that they will set up shop in Canberra with undisclosed advantages that small businesses do not get.

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