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Small business, big impact: Revitalising communities across Australia

The small team at Renew Australia have some very big plans. Namely, to kick-start community renewal, economic development, and the arts and creative industries across the country. How? By taking underutilised spaces in main streets and central business districts and transforming them into thriving creative hubs.

In doing so, they’re revitalising communities everywhere from Geelong to Wollongong.

Manager Angela Simmons explains, ‘We’re a not-for-profit social enterprise working to give creative enterprises the opportunity to trial an idea or practice in a space that would otherwise be vacant and disused, on a rent-free basis. We help them gain access to the skills, knowledge, and tools they need to become the businesses of our future.’

Transforming towns with creativity and community spirit

The results are nothing short of transformative. As well as providing opportunities for creative and start-up businesses, not-for-profits and social enterprises to innovate with little to no overheads, Renew Australia enlivens and activates streets, precincts or towns that are struggling or going through a period of change.

The roll-on effect means the creation of jobs, improved regional reputation, tourism, investment and a healthy boost in community confidence and spirit.

When asked what makes her happiest, Angela replied: “For me, it’s the opportunity to see the impact your business makes on a daily basis. Often when you’re in a management position you move further and further away from the joys of the job. But in a small business like this, you’re able to enjoy all the little wins along the way that keep the enthusiasm pumping (even on the tough days).”

Finding ease, growth, and support in software made for small businesses

With the ATO requirement for Single Touch Payroll (STP) having come into effect from 1 July, Renew Australia has already transitioned to Xero’s cloud-based system, and Angela says it has revolutionised the way they operate. ‘As a team of four, we’re always looking for anything that helps reduce our hours and resources,’ she explains. ‘Xero isn’t overly complicated – it doesn’t make you feel like you need to be an accountant to use it. And instead of having to sit down at a desk or cross town, we’re able to use it to store all of our information in one place.’

While the introduction of online software can feel overwhelming for some small business owners, Angela has welcomed the benefits of increased accuracy, faster payroll calculation, and the improved visibility of information which enables them to plan forward.

‘When you’re a small business, understanding annual leave liability is absolutely key to understanding your true cash position. Xero allows you to find out exactly how it’s being generated and where you stand.’

Meanwhile, the small Renew Australia team have found the support they need to keep the big ideas coming. ‘It was daunting having to manage a cash flow that’s day to day, week to week, month to month – and doing so as we scale up as a business was especially scary. Discovering Xero has been a huge relief.’