Board Director Presentations
From time to time, representatives from the Sutherland Shire Business Chamber Board are invited to present at various events. Here we showcase recent speeches and event attendances:
11 October 2024 – Local Federal Member Event
Jeanne Zweck’s presentation at roundtable hosted by Federal Member for Hughes, Jenny Ware and the Hon. David Coleman MP, Shadow Minister for Communications. Jeanne raised the results of the Business Chamber’s recent survey around business sentiment.
In 2021, my business, Mint Marketing, curated and hosted a local fashion event named WeareLocal, Wearlocal. Our vision was to give exposure to local boutiques, designers, and related businesses as we emerged out of COVID-19. It was a fun night with over 150 attendees and 70 businesses involved – either as parade participants, sponsors or stallholders.
At the time, we all thought we’d come through the biggest battle – the pandemic – and everyone was in a mood to party. But sadly, the battles were not over.
Recently we have learned that several of the businesses we showcased have just closed their doors – mostly retailers.
The struggles for businesses are real.
- Post Covid, the safety nets were lifted
- Inflation and costs have soared
- Staffing and landlord issues continue to plague businesses.
It’s all become too hard for so many. Meanwhile many Business owners have depleted their savings to try and stay afloat.
Across wider NSW, the Business NSW Business Conditions Survey conducted in August 2023 indicated:
- A multi-speed business environment has emerged, with some expecting to shut down and some anticipating major success
- 23% of businesses expected to cut staff this quarter
- Business confidence in NSW remains soft amid ongoing economic uncertainties.
- Most regions in NSW now have an unemployment rate that is higher than the 12-month average.
At the Sutherland Shire Business Chamber, we have noticed trends too. In our annual membership survey in September, we captured sentiment around issues, important topics, and the value our members seek from the Chamber.
And it’s obvious why businesses are seeking us out.
Key motivations to attend the chamber were to find support and the number one reason was to connect with other local businesses. Obviously to try and secure more work.
And we’ve noticed the corresponding trend that many businesses who had lapsed have suddenly become very active in attending – also seeking out new avenues for revenue and growth.
Given the economic climate, event and membership pricing has become a bigger consideration. The popularity of our free networking events continues to build with 70% of our respondents ranking this highest. And, we have introduced a diversified program and membership pricing structure to continue to ensure SMEs can afford to participate.
More directly, we specifically asked our members – what is the number one issue facing Sutherland Shire businesses at the moment:
- 65% said rising costs and inflation.
- 65% said staffing supply.
- Other highly ranked issues were insurance costs, generating leads and attracting and retaining customers.
This finding correlates exactly with the Sutherland Shire Council’s survey results released in February.
At a macro perspective, the main business challenges identified by responding businesses include:
- Increasing and ongoing costs including rent.
- The changing economy/downturn in the industry.
- Finding suitable/qualified staff.
- Traffic and parking.
- Attracting/retaining clients.
Does this resonate with you all?
We also asked: As a business leader, what question would you like to ask the Premier regarding investment in the Shire (given the Premier is a keynote at our November 24 lunch event). The list of priorities included:
- Infrastructure and investment plans.
- Business and manufacturing incentives.
- Increasing the payroll tax threshold.
- Reducing land tax.
- Reduding Compliance and regulation costs for small business.
- Understanding what the changes to the Greater Sydney Commission will mean to our local area.
- How to achieve sustainable population growth in the Shire given limited infrastructure.
- Housing affordability
So, these are the issues that businesses would like government to address. And, it would be interesting to know if these are shared by everyone in the room tonight?
Our questions about the Chamber and what it offers also provided revealing insights into the pressures businesses are facing.
For example, we asked what topics are you most interested in?
- 75% – business strategy and growth
- 60% – marketing and sales
- 50% – IT
- 45% – grants and funding.
Further questions about what they wanted from our free after 5s networking revealed an appetite –
- for networking
- to contribute to growing a stronger local business community
- to discuss issues
Looking to the future members were keen for the Chamber to –
- partner with other chambers to spread the reach.
- engage in advocacy and events to promote local business growth.
- host a business showcase.
The picture is clear: businesses are –
- seeking networking/marketing/exposure to increase revenue.
- seeking advice and a community for support.
- seeking government to invest in the Shire to support local businesses, manufacturing and reduce fiscal pressures.
For the Chamber though, every cloud has a silver lining. We’ve realised our mission to provide a support network to help local businesses in the shire to thrive really resonated with our members. After all, we share a passion for this place in which we all love to live and work.
We believe we offer something of a haven for businesses – a place to meet, share, discuss, learn and find advice and support. A place to make new connections, relationships, and partnerships. To find customers or a supplier, a mentor or a friend.
And the numbers support the success of this!
Ending on a positive note:
- Over the past 12 months, Chamber event attendance has increased by 240% from 385 to 926.
- Our major events have all been sell-outs.
- Our membership increased by 186%.
But it’s not about ‘The Chamber’, it’s about our members – the businesses, and how we are supporting them and continue to advocate for them.
So, I’d like to leave you with a quote from a member who just celebrated a year in business, Joel Scully from Junius:
‘Now with over 100 satisfied customers we continue kicking goals, solving problems and delivering happiness…
A big shout-out to the board of the SSBC and the members who we have met along the way.
The success of Junius is almost entirely via word of mouth and the SSBC meetups were critical in our early days. I t is hugely beneficial to have so many business professionals in one place supporting each other – see you at the next after 5s.’