Small businesses - the backbone of the local economy
Did you know that the majority of businesses in The Hills are small businesses? These include home-based businesses, start-ups, established family companies, small and medium-sized businesses - all adding to the economic activity of local community and the NSW economy.
Small businesses are also responsible for employing more than 50 per cent of the workforce in NSW.
While The Hills Shire Council supports small business in many ways throughout the year, each October is officially NSW Small Business Month.
Celebrated annually, this initiative is funded by the NSW Government through the Department of Industry, with the support of local councils to provide events, workshops and practical information to help businesses grow.
As part of the month-long celebration, The Hills Shire Council held a number of practical and educational opportunities to support small businesses, including Council's popular Smart Series workshops.
How does Council support small businesses?
Economic Development means different things to different communities, depending on their location, demographics, labour force and the things they aspire to.
In rural or remote parts of Australia, the focus tends to be on ensuring employment for locals to create vibrant communities, or attracting the types of services or products that are needed, but not available locally.
It can also be about diversifying the economy to try to mitigate the risk around economic cycles particularly in locations with a heavy reliance on just a few industries, for example tourism or agriculture.
The Hills has a rapidly growing population and supports the NSW Government's goal to create 30-minute cities where people who want to live and work close to home have opportunities to do so.
The Hills Shire Council aims for this through providing enough employment zoned land to enable people to find local employment and establish small businesses.
Council, for its own purposes, has access to a considerable quantity of demographic, economic and census data that can be very useful to the local business community - particularly those thinking of starting or expanding their business.
Just one way Council supports small businesses is by making this information freely available through its Economic Development program.
Wisdom from a legend
As part of Small Business Month, former Australian cricket captain and philanthropist, Steve Waugh, spoke to Hills business people at an event hosted by Council in partnership with the Sydney Hills Business Chamber - providing an insightful Q and A about what it takes to build a world-class team, developing essential leadership skills and how taking leadership creates opportunities to help others.
Steve discussed viewing adversity as opportunity, the responsibilities that accompany transitioning from team mate to team leader and how a meeting with Mother Theresa led to the establishment of a program for disadvantaged girls in India, linking his stories to ways in which business leaders can address productivity, develop their thinking and engage with others striving for similar goals.
Easy-to-Do Business graduate
During Small Business Month, Campbell MacLeod of The Stage Door Café in Norwest Business Park, became the Hills' first graduate of Service NSW's Easy-to-Do Business program.
The Hills Shire Council partnered with Service NSW to identify small business owners who could potentially benefit from the free service that offers café, restaurant and small bar owners help to make establishing their business easier.
The program helped Campbell open his first café and is now helping him to expand his business.
Campbell described the program as like a 'security blanket' for small businesses, with a personalised business concierge supporting small business owners through the complexities of setting up - including guidance with understanding government licensing, approvals and regulations, and connections to specialist networks and services.
Business Education Series
Many small business employees and owners took up the opportunity to participate in The Hills Shire Council's Business Education Series during Small Business Month, delving into important topics like cash flow and profitability, creating business efficiency, planning for success and improving sales.
Business visits program
A number of small business owners met with Council's Economic Development team for a tailored one-to-one consultation designed to assist people start, grow or expand
their business in the Hills.
Access to information, market intelligence and demographic data not easily accessible otherwise, as well as connections with networking groups and resources to make better business decisions, are the key components of the program, which has helped thousands of local business owners since it began over 10 years ago.
Helpful resources for small businesses
The Hills Shire Council's business portal
Local business directory, business workshops, demographic resource centre, Hills business performance sentiment index, youth entrepreneur program and more:
Service NSW's Easy-to-Do Business program
A free service that appoints a concierge to help you open a café, restaurant or small bar in NSW:
Small Business Month website
Information, workshops and activities for the annual NSW Small Business Month event: