Businesses can overcome current challenges with innovation

SMALL businesses in central Queensland are struggling with the downturn in the mining sector, according to the region's Chamber of Commerce and Industry Pulse survey for June.

The region rated five to 10 index points lower than the state average for business conditions, sales and revenue and profitability.

CCIQ regional manager Victoria Bradshaw said employment levels and capital expenditure both weakened during June, while confidence dropped to 43%.

"Obviously, any slow-down in the resources sector is going to impact on the state's economy, but it is the flow-on effect to small businesses that often gets ignored," she said.

"Small businesses provide vital goods and services to the state's larger projects, particularly in the resources sector, and when the sector slows these businesses are impacted."

She said the fall in business confidence was reflected across the state and largely attributed to the uncertainty surrounding the Federal Election.

Ms Bradshaw said with the Federal Election date now set, Queensland businesses wanted a government committed to reducing business costs and red tape, addressing the nation's workplace relations system and upgrading infrastructure.

Advice to business in coping

SMALL businesses can overcome external challenges by being more innovative, out-there and customer friendly.

That's the word from Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Cr Rick Hansen, who said businesses needed to listen to each other to find better ways of succeeding.

"There are many aspects of business that can cause someone to prosper or not go so well," he said.

"Buying local is a big part of it and that helps but businesses have to find better ways of doing things."

Cr Hansen said catering and restaurant businesses were going strong at the moment because of the amount of people in town, but construction work that auxiliary businesses had with Curtis Island was falling off.

However we still want to make sure customers get the best service and price here in town.

"The downturn is not just mining, it's also the high dollar and the alumina business not being as buoyant as what it was...nothing is stable politically until we find out which party gets in," he said.

He said Gladstone could definitely benefit from more variety in products and services.

But business expenses such as the cost of weekend penalty rates, red tape and rental prices made it tough, and often the cost had to be passed on to the customer.

"However we still want to make sure customers get the best service and price here in town."

Branching out works for Gladstone business

NOT many people know Wares used to sell furniture, but the Gladstone business had to diversify to survive.

More than 25 years ago Dale Ware began to add other products to his business, which is now a household name for blinds, awnings and screen doors.

"We diversified so that while one product is not selling another one will be, and while one customer group isn't buying another one will be," he said.

"Every few years we'd add a product range and we ended up dropping the furniture."

He said with lower house values, business had picked up again but external factors like the looming election still made a difference to people spending money.


Dale Ware has overcome the economic downturn to come out the other end really well.
Dale Ware has overcome the economic downturn to come out the other end really well. Luka Kauzlaric