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  • 20/07/2021 5:27 PM | Anonymous

    The current resurgence in COVID-19 cases around NSW has led to a strict lockdown in Greater Sydney and beyond, greatly reducing the number of tourists and visitors coming to the Highlands. As a result, small businesses may be experiencing a decline in business and revenue over the last month. We understand how greatly this can affect a small business, so we've pulled together some tips so you can prepare your business for success after lockdowns and the pandemic.  If you focus solely on the things within your control, you’ll be better equipped to build your business during this difficult time. You may even come out stronger than before. 

    1. Apply for loans and grants - Whether you’re running a business with or without staff, start by checking Services Australia’s page covering payments, forms, services and information. Service NSW has a host of information you can tap into to get help with your business.  Refer to the 2021 COVID-19 Support Package – an easy-to-follow breakdown of the support available to businesses including micro-businesses and individuals. 

    2. Revamp your marketing strategy - Analyze your current communications to ensure you’re conveying the right message and putting your business in a position to succeed after COVID-19. You may have marketing materials that no longer make sense given the current economic and social climate. 

    3. Stay connected with your customers - Take stock of all the channels that you operate, including digital – such as social media, blogs and newsletters – and physical, like a shopfront window, to engage with new and existing customers. Every one of these channels presents an opportunity to stay connected and strengthen your relationship with customers, so use your most relevant platforms. 

    4. Stay informed - the economic environment is constantly changing during the pandemic, so the best you can do is stay informed on case locations, restrictions, new rules for business and more. This way you can most effectively plan for what's to come. 

    As always, stay safe. 

  • 09/07/2021 6:35 AM | Anonymous

    Since my last update there has been some changes within the SHCCI executive. We have decreased from an 11 person board back to 7, due to the four board members resigning mostly due to work commitments. 

    You may not realise, but all your SHCCI Board are actively involved in advocating for chamber members through a variety of stakeholder engagements in order to advance economic development within the Southern Highlands.

    Just some of these include: 

    Plasrefine Community Engagement Meetings

    Carisa Wells and I met with representatives from GHD, the company employed by Plasrefine Recycling Pty Ltd to assist with the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to support a State Significant Development Application for the proposed Moss Vale Plastics Recycling and Reprocessing Facility.

    If you’d like to find out more information take a look at the recently updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Plasrefine website HERE

    The updated FAQ topics include: phasing out single-use plastics and the upcoming community engagement sessions.

    Small Business Commissioner – Chris Lamont

    Several board members attended the Small Business Commissioner’s information gathering event in Bowral to provide him with vital information for his report into business conditions and economic development in the Wingecarribee Shire. The overarching sentiment was that the Council impeded business development, rather than encouraging it. We are very happy that most of the recommendations put forward by SHCCI and Business Illawarra were incorporated into the report.  

    You can read the report HERE

    WSC Administrator Consultations

    Over the course of Viv May’s appointment as the WSC Administrator a number of board members have attended individual consultations to further communicate the difficulties our business community has been trying to mitigate. We have felt heard and understood and would like to acknowledge the great work Viv is doing for our wonderful shire. 

    Southern Highlands Key Stakeholders Group

    Deb Blackah and Kate Ingham have been attending the Key Stakeholders meeting as representatives of SHCCI.  I’d like to say thank you to Kate and Deb for being part of this important local initiative. 

    WSC extraordinary general meetings & regular meetings

    Paul Samulski has been attending regular Council meetings since becoming a board member. This allows us to stay updated on any local issues we may need to become active in and his insights have been greatly appreciated. 

    Christmas Lights Organising Group

    Deb Blackah has established a working group to prepare for the 2021 Christmas Lights Festival and  has been meeting regularly with representatives from the major towns and villages across the Southern Highlands.  After recently meeting with Viv May, $80k was allocated to the Christmas Lights Festival. Mark Springett has also donated $10k to the project and we thank him for this generous contribution. Congratulations Deb, Christmas in the Highlands will be forever improved becausse of your passion and tenacity. 

    Creative Industries Cluster Meeting

    Deb Blackah and Kate Ingham have been attending meetings with the Creative Industries Cluster (CIC) and recently the Chamber signed a Memorandum of Understanding which provides both parties with an understanding of how to work collaboratively. The Chamber auspices a grant application for the CIC and we look forward to facilitating greater collaboration between business and the creative community in the Southern Highlands.

    WSC Economic Development Round Table

    As President of SHCCI I was honoured to represent our members at the WSC Economic Development Round table on Friday 25 June. Both Moss Vale and Robertson Chambers were in attendance as well as Business Illawarra, RDA – Southern Inland and a number of other local business and community leaders. 

    The day commenced with introductions, then we heard from the GM of Tamworth City Council who had been asked to provide an overview of the creation of their Economic Development Blueprint. I was intrigued to hear that he believed the turning point for the Shire came from a change in Mayor, who was business savvy and passionate about improving the region so as to leave it in a more positive place for his children and grandchildren. 

    All the attendees then had an opportunity to relay their perspectives on the issues in our Shire. There were a number of issues identified which ranged from greater concentration on horticulture and agriculture, improved tourism events and the Moss Vale bypass, to infrastructure investments, more streamlined DA processes and just an overall willingness to support the business community and attract new ventures.  A greater focus on the villages in the Shire and not just the three major towns was also discussed. We hope Council will provide the public with the report on this event in the coming weeks. 

    Fire In Bong Bong Street

    The fire in Wingecarribee Street Bowral came as shock to everyone and has caused a number of businesses to close until they understand the extent of the damage and what will need to come next. Our condolences to the businesses that have been impacted. I have been in discussions with Lisa Miscamble, the newly appointed WSC GM, who impressively called me early the following morning,  We are working with the WSC to seek assistance in fast tracking the steps to recovery. I have also spoken with Nathaniel Smith MP for Wollondilly to discuss possible assistance during the recovery process. There will be further updates on this situation as information comes to hand.

    State Govt Grants for this Covid Lockdown

    The State Govt has a range of grants available for small business and tourism and hospitality establishments. For more information click HERE

    If you would like to discuss anything further, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.

    Stay well and safe and please remember your masks. 

    Steven Horton

    Chair SHCCI

  • 06/06/2021 6:00 PM | Anonymous

    Ultimately you're in your business to make money, so what are some ways you can maximise your return? Look at your revenue model and consider other streams you can introduce. Perhaps you could expand your operations with new products, services or features? ⁠

    Some great revenue models that you can use by themselves or in combination are: ⁠

    1. Products for purchase. These are tangible items available in store and/or online or digital products.⁠

    2. Services provided. Consider adding or refining existing services to complement your primary services.⁠

    3. Subscriptions and memberships. Capitalise on loyal customers with a recurring income stream, with three-month or twelve-month packages. ⁠

    4. Affiliate markets. Simply include links to other relevant products on your website or social channels and in return get kickbacks or commission when a purchase is made.⁠

    5. Freemium. In this model, you provide basic services for free but aim to entice your customers to pay for premium features. ⁠

    6. Retainer. If you work in a service industry, you can have consistent revenue by receiving an agreed fee for a service you provide at regular intervals - like monthly. ⁠

    7. Experiences and events. Explore the opportunity to create a physical event or virtual experience, perhaps using or learning about your product. ⁠

    Your revenue model may be fine the way it is, but if your business has hit a wall, you may want to consider these different revenue models!


    Adapted from Business Australia 

  • 25/02/2021 10:46 AM | Anonymous

    New research by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) shows one-in-five city residents are looking to move to the regions, with more than half wanting to make the jump within the next 12 months. 

    RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said metro movers are looking for more space, to be better connected to the natural environment and they want a more relaxed lifestyle – all the things that Regional Australia has to offer. 

    “What’s really interesting about the survey we had commissioned is that the appeal of Regional Australia is a stronger motivation to move than any dissatisfaction with city life,” Liz Ritchie said. 

    “Brisbane respondents came in as the most stressed in the country, followed by Sydney-siders and then those in Melbourne. More than 69 percent of all those surveyed said reducing general stress and anxiety is a major driver for considering a life outside our capital cities,” Ms Ritchie said. 

    When asked about the reasons for considering a move, 70 percent rated traffic congestion as a major factor and 68 percent want to reduce their cost of living. 

    But it’s the positives of life outside the city limits which resonate even more, with 77 percent of potential movers ticking both space and connection to nature as reasons to shift. The improved general well-being that regional life offers is a major drawcard for three-quarters of those surveyed. 

    While the COVID pandemic has significantly raised the desire to move to Regional Australia for 22 percent of survey respondents, more than half said they were already considering relocation before the pandemic. 

    The RAI commissioned qualitative and quantitative research among more than 1,000 people in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth who were considering moving to Regional Australia. The research was carried out in November and December 2020. 

    Larger coastal centres were the most popular locations for potential metro movers, but when it came to smaller areas, inland towns held their own against those on the coast, with about one third of respondents indicating an interest in both. 

    “Concern about limited job opportunities was identified by respondents as the biggest barrier to moving to Regional Australia, even though the latest job vacancy figures show there are more than 54,000 roles available in Regional Australia, with professional and skilled jobs featuring strongly across the regions,” Liz Ritchie said. 

    “Our research underpins a multi-million-dollar, multi-platform national awareness campaign that the RAI will launch next month at its National Summit in Canberra. It will inform potential movers about the great opportunities to live, work and invest in Regional Australia,” Liz Ritchie said. 

    “We are very excited to be unveiling this campaign at our Summit and look forward to seeing many regional stakeholders there on 17-18 March,” Liz Ritchie said. 

    For more information about the Summit, go to 

  • 09/12/2020 9:51 AM | Anonymous

    While there are many who can't wait to say goodbye to 2020, there's no doubt the coronavirus pandemic made sure businesses had to adjust to ensure their survival. This has changed the trajectory of what 2021 will look like and what businesses should do to get ready for the upcoming year. 

    Some small business trends predicted for 2021 include:

    1. Social Engagement 

    During the pandemic, brands relied on engaging with their customers and potential customers across social media. In 2021, there will be a big push toward a more authentic presence on social media and one that's less curated by social media experts, such as real behind-the-scenes looks at a company.

    2. Empathy 

    One survey revealed 93% of Australians would trust a business, buy more, and/or recommend it to friends and family if it demonstrated empathy towards its customers and community. It’s not about asking ‘How can I sell my product to them?’ but being more understanding what their needs are, how they receive that message, or how they want to be communicated to, and then how your services meet their needs.

    3. Workplace Flexibility 

    The traditional structures of the work week, pay cycle and remuneration are decades old and have been steadily evolving anyway. The events of 2020 may accelerate that for a lot of workplaces. "Flexible working is hugely valued. Whether that is for doing the school pick up, going out for a bike ride when the weather’s good, or spending a month working from New Zealand. Well, why not? As an employer, this is a relatively easy benefit to offer.”  - Pamela Phillips

    4. Business tech on the rise 

    Businesses are hurrying to move IT services to the cloud, so employees can work from home. And they’re moving sales online, so customers can shop from home. Business tech that could help your business do this includes:

    • ecommerce tools for setting up online shops

    • payment services for accepting credit cards (and other forms of online payment)

    • cash flow management tools

    • inventory management apps

    Adapted from: Xero, Forbes, Go Local First

  • 22/09/2020 12:21 PM | Anonymous

    1st October, 5:30pm - 7:30pm, Mittagong RSL

    Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Wingecarribee Shire Council are pleased to present the Small Business Commissioner Chris Lamont, as Keynote Speaker, as we launch a significant program of local events in support of small businesses in the Southern Highlands.

    This year we have been exceedingly challenged by two unforeseen disasters. The impact on business, particularly small business, is profound; and is accelerating changes which had already begun. These include technological change and its consequences – good and bad – for retail and main streets, ‘working from anywhere (WFA)’, innovation, productivity and other efficiencies. The future of work is changing forever, and we are especially mindful of young people and their professional prospects.
    The major theme for this year’s festival is re-booting, with a focus on up-skilling with social and digi-tech, revisiting financial foundations and business planning, future proofing your business and managing your team. The Southern Highlands event program includes elements addressing all thematic areas in a range of learning, social and entertainment environments, both face to face and online.

    In addition to skill development, connecting with each other is an important part of re-booting oneself, the business and the local economy. We are looking forward to facilitating networking after a long period of time where face to face events have been restricted. Our thanks to Mittagong RSL for hosting this COVID safe event.


  • 21/07/2020 10:32 AM | Anonymous

    COVID-19 presents a once in a generation challenge for our business community.

    Based on feedback from our recent Business Recovery Survey results, Business NSW have identified 10 Business Recovery Drivers that will protect and steady the economy in the short-term, and will lay the foundation for our future success in the long-term. These recovery drivers are the basis of this special report.

    The onus now rests on our political leaders to work together to get businesses and our economy back on track.

    Download the report here. 

  • 15/07/2020 6:24 PM | Anonymous

    A Business's online presence can help cement its credibility, increase brand awareness, reach a wider customer base and allow people to connect with you. Here are four elements you can't miss when creating a strong digital footprint.


    A website is your virtual shop front, so you need to make it count. A free or paid website template from platforms such as WixSquarespace or Weebly can help get you set up quickly. If you have the budget, you could also hire a web developer to create a fully customised design, tailored to your brand.

    A good website should:

    • be visually appealing
    • be easy to navigate
    • help build brand credibility
    • make it easy to share information
    • be set up to drive conversions.


    Creating a website is the first step, but then you’ll want to ensure people can find it. That’s where search engine optimisation (SEO) comes into play. It helps your website rank higher in search engine results.

    If you’re keen to give it a go yourself, there’s plenty of free information about SEO strategies online, including some online courses. However, there are also SEO experts who can do the heavy lifting for you, depending on your budget.

    Remember, SEO is not a set-and-forget strategy. The landscape is constantly evolving, so it’s critical to keep up to date, to monitor and optimise your approach.


    Social media has become an invaluable tool for doing business. So, once you have identified the right platforms for your business, you should create a strategy that’s in line with your business objectives, such as:

    • brand building
    • increasing conversions
    • audience research.

    Then, it’s all about creating engaging content to support those goals and engage with your followers online to create long-lasting customer relationships.


    Listing your business on platforms such as GoogleMyBusinessBing Places or the Yellow Pages can make it easier for prospective customers to find your business while searching for a related product or service online. To support a frictionless customer experience make sure all listings are current, with up-to-date opening hours, web addresses and contact details.

  • 15/07/2020 6:18 PM | Anonymous

    Join Business Australia's Webinar at 12pm AEST, Tuesday 21 July 2020

    If you are running your business from home, discover how you may be able to claim tax deductions for your expenses such as electricity, gas, computers, rent and furniture!

    The way you work from home determines which expenses you can claim for deductions. Get the information you need in this one-hour tax power session, hosted by Entrepreneurship Facilitator Serviceto ensure your EOFY tax return is making the most of your available tax deductions.  

    During the session we discuss:

    • Home-based business categories
    • Deduction rules
    • Occupancy and running expenses
    • Motor vehicle deductions
    • Depreciation
    • How much you can claim

    You will have the opportunity to submit questions unique to your business during the live session. 

  • 15/07/2020 6:14 PM | Anonymous


    Has tax time prompted you to review how you currently manage your finances? If there’s room for improvement, now is the perfect time to consider moving to the cloud and automating some of your financial processes.

    Cloud-based accounting tools, like QuickBooks Online, automate a number of financial activities, such as payroll, invoicing, payments and expenses. Turn on Goods and Services Tax (GST) tracking and it will even automatically track and calculate your GST, so, when you’re ready to lodge your Business Activity Statement (BAS), it’s quick and simple. 


    Now more than ever, small business owners need to find ways to lower their expenses. One way to claw back the costs is to review supply contracts (e.g. electricity and telephone contracts) that are coming to an end and negotiating lower prices or switching suppliers. 

    Other ideas include buying in bulk, pooling resources with other businesses, paying invoices early in exchange for discounts, and rewarding employees with non-monetary bonuses such as flex-time.

    If you’re struggling to stay on top of your admin, QuickBooks has made life easier with their Smart Receipt Capture function. 


    You’re not alone if managing your cash flow has become a constant struggle, particularly with the impact of lockdown restrictions on business operations and turnover. However, even before the pandemic, cash flow woes were one of the most common reasons cited for business failure. That is why coming up with new plans and tactics to prevent your cash flow from falling short should be your priority.

    QuickBooks’ new Cash Flow Planner tool uses machine learning to provide real-time cash flow predictions over a 90-day period based on patterns in users’ data and bank history. This can give you a clearer picture of where you stand and how to manage expenses. And since it automatically uses your bank history to make predictions, there’s no need for tedious data input on your end.


    According to QuickBooks research, profitable small businesses are about 10% more likely to use an advisor (58% ) than those not using one (48%)*. While the number one piece of advice a small business would give others looking to start their own venture, is to pay for the advice of an accountant or bookkeeper, with almost half (48%)* of small business owners in agreement.

    The hard-to-predict nature of the COVID-19 health crisis means that financial management is already more complex and fast-moving than ever before – a situation that’s unlikely to change in the immediate future.

    On top of reducing your day-to-day admin, an accounting advisor can actively stay on top of assistance programs and regulatory changes to put your business in the best position possible.

    If you aren’t already leveraging an accounting advisor for more than your tax return, it might be time to reconsider. You can find a ProAdvisor near you here.


    As well as leaning on the advice of an expert accounting advisor, you should also update your financial forecasts and goals. This should cover sales and expenses, and projected cash flow. Base these on previous data over the same period for accuracy.

    Creating new forecasts will give you a good idea of what you’re going to make and what your costs will be over the next 12 months. This can help you plan and manage your finances better.

    Once you’ve created your forecasts you should then set your financial goals. These could be related to profitability, margins, cash flow, or a different metric specific to your business. Make sure to update forecasts with a significant bit of fat built-in for ongoing economic uncertainty or new waves of pandemic-related restrictions.

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