In 2002 Daryl Read bought POPES Electrical & Data Supplies Pty Ltd, a small, highly respected electrical and data supplies company with branches in Fyshwick, Phillip and Mitchell.
Though business itself was good, it wasn’t long before he faced the textbook dilemma of the small business owner.
“As a small business, we don’t necessarily have all the capabilities we need in-house or the ability to outsource those needs,” he says.
“For example, human resources expertise and IT.
“These are significant gaps for any business, but small businesses often simply don’t have the resources to allocate to all the necessary functions.”
By 2006 he was a Canberra Business Chamber member and had begun to delve into the benefits to help plug these gaps.
Like all business chambers, the Canberra Business Chamber is designed to promote and protect the interests of its members, who gain access to a range of resources from HR and employment law services to networking opportunities, advocacy and expert advice.
“There have been numerous benefits for us, but the service we’ve tapped into the most has probably been around industrial relations assistance,” Daryl says.
“Our staff, especially our managers, have attended a lot of chamber training sessions and workshops around several topics like workplace health and safety, managing staff and even around IT and technology.
“It has helped us find ways to better support our staff in various ways and made our managers more confident in dealing with personnel matters.”
POPES Electrical & Data Supplies staff have attended workshops on a wide range of topics, from how to navigate complex or sensitive personnel issues to cybersecurity. Daryl says it has sometimes informed important operational changes to help the business avoid strife.
“The value of our membership with the chamber doesn’t just come from saving money by having access to their pool of expertise,” he says.
“There’s also great value in avoiding mistakes. The repercussions of errors in HR and cybersecurity matters can be devastating for a small business.
“Having that backup and support to know the decisions we’re making are right, I believe, saves us in the long run.”
Canberra Business Chamber’s networking opportunities are another drawcard for a small business in the nation’s capital.
But for Daryl, the most significant benefit of membership is that it gives him access to something he feels small businesses otherwise don’t have.
“As a small business, you often feel you don’t have a voice. You’re too small to be heard,” he says.
“But collectively, the chamber provides us with that voice and I think that’s the greatest benefit.
“I feel the chamber values us and that I can raise issues with them. And if that issue is common among other members, they have the clout to take it to the government or powers that be.
“For us, membership as a small business means we don’t necessarily feel so small, or that our concerns are insignificant or that we’re dispensable. We can feel like we’re a part of something bigger.
“In that way, the chamber is a bit of a champion for us.”
Visit the Canberra Business Chamber website for more information.