Startups were showered with love and largesse in the federal budget last night with, among other measures, getting employee share scheme legislation, upfront write-offs and lower tax rates.
But a number of key figures in the startup world are annoyed treasurer Joe Hockey has referred to them as small businesses and not startups. Their argument is that by not separating out policy specifically for startups, the government is missing a massive economic growth driver.
Under a blog post titled “Who are you calling ‘small business’? (which is worth a read), Bluechilli growth hacker Alan Jones said he was “annoyed by the Treasurer and Prime Minister referring to us all as ‘small businesses’.”
Not to knock a gift horse in the mouth, Jones said while he was pleased with the support the government handed down in its $5.5 billion small business package, “we tech startup entrepreneurs aren’t building ‘small businesses’. We are trying to build billion dollar businesses” and the initiatives didn’t go far enough to improve this journey.
“Our industry is about disrupting industries, going global, and being a small business for a very short period of time. Too many of the announcements in the Budget meant to benefit our industry are actually meant for small accounting practices, hair salons and franchise owners; business categories which Australia needs too, but which are very different to tech startups,” Jones said.
Australian representative body StartupAUS was also a little peeved that the government had confused small businesses with startups.
“Startups are very different to small businesses. Startups are emerging high-growth technology-based businesses that are tackling global markets and have the capacity for massive and sustained growth, enabling them to become significant global businesses within a short period of time. Worldwide startups have been shown to be a major source of job creation and economic growth,” StartupAUS said.
Peter Bradd, StartupAUS board member said the federal government hasn’t managed to address issues specifically affecting Australia’s startup sector and instead has just lumped it in with small businesses.
“The budget does contain big wins for small business, but not the big wins we need for tech startups in Australia,” he said.
“It is widely accepted that tech startups are amongst the fastest growth companies. The demonstrates that the Government is grasping the problem of moving away from an extractive economy to a knowledge driven one, with services and small business prioritised. However, we need to put tech startups on the top of the agenda if Australia is to safeguard its economic future.”
Fellow StartupAUS board member Professor Jana Matthews said: “We’re pleased that the government have recognised that the future of the economy rests on the new companies that are starting up now. What is missing is an overall strategy for the government to develop the vital sector called the technology sector.”
“Beyond skills, we need government leadership and tangible support for tech entrepreneurs and investors to drive the startup ecosystem.”