Small Businesses Under Pressure
My Firm (RSG Lawyers) has a branch office in Wagga and so I am in Wagga very often.
I have read and heard many complaints from residents in Wagga that business are constantly opening and then quickly closing.
This may be true as a number of shops on Baylis Street (the main street) remain for lease. For example, recently Ed Harry and Factorie closed their doors.
Those rightfully complaining must understand that similar patterns are also being witnessed in many other locations across Australia especially in the retail sector.
Business Culture Today
While there may be other factors effecting Wagga businesses, I feel there is a genuine need for business culture to change in Wagga to facilitate aggressive economic growth.
I recently met with a CEO of a very large Franchise, who is now a good friend, and he believed that ‘large shopping centers will no longer exist in the next 20 years’. While I felt this comment was exaggerated, I do believe this opinion is an important consideration in the strategy a business owner chooses to implement when opening a new business.
The reason lies in the ever changing behaviors of society overall.
Communication is now very quick and so consumers are now more interested in obtaining what they need or desire in the most efficient ways possible.
And there is good reason why companies such as Uber, Netflix, etc are thriving.
They have learnt to adapt to the changing needs of the new generation and new habits of society overall.
So while the population continues to increase in Wagga, the habits of consumers have shifted. It is almost guaranteed (for example) that opening a clothing store in Wagga (with no other strategy to increase sales) will fail.
Suggestions for Change
I truly believe Wagga can become a City that competes Nationally against Cities like Wollongong, Newcastle and Canberra.
However, we cannot continue on the same path and expect very different results.
Some of my suggestions are as follows:
-Wagga needs to open its doors to direct foreign investment rather than just relying upon the Federal Government for funding. This needs the Council’s support but the community could also be involved in some capacity (I will write more about this in future blogs).
-Quicker processing times for business Development Approvals to facilitate to any investment. Wagga needs to have an upfront conversation around this.
-Wagga’s National image needs a remake for an increase of tourism, investment and respect Nationally. Many people in the main Cities believe Wagga is a very small town that exists in the middle of no where (which is not true).
-More expos should take place in Wagga. For example, I am currently trying to push for an international startup festival to take place in Wagga next year.
-Multicultural communities that exists in Wagga should be more valued. They have networks in their communities in other cities in Australia and can bring investment to Wagga.
-More co-working spaces in Wagga to facilitate networking and seed funding.
By Farhan Rehman
Partner RSG Lawyers
Direct: +61 401 393 770