“The time off ain’t so bad, if you can ignore the fact that you’re going broke …”
This is what I’m hearing from small business owners who have pivoted, been agile, re-imagined, and in many cases have re-mortgaged over the past 18 months. In Melbourne, it was heartbreaking to witness hope eroding as lockdown 5.0 rolled quickly into lockdown 6.0, and for many small businesses it’s seemingly harder to determine the difference between the calm and the storm.
Over the past few weeks I have been spending time connecting with business owners, many whom I’ve known for years, and I’m hearing sentiment change.
These are honest hard-working people who have been leading great businesses with envious energy, drive and vision. I’ve always found entrepreneurial spirit a great source of inspiration, and without doubt these business owners have been giving it their all, but even the greatest among them are now fighting with their backs up against the wall.
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Small businesses have proven time and time again that they’re tenacious and can dust off, re-emerge and rise up — with battle face ons. Often we espouse nouns like resilience when describing small business — we recognise their contributions as the “backbone” of the economy — but it’s unfair to rely on this resilience and take for granted that small businesses are overcomers.
Thankfully, many are experiencing incredible groundswells of community spirit and surges of grassroots support, and this does make a difference. But after 18 months, it’s the devastating nature of ongoing operational
We are living in a health, social and economic crisis (yes, unprecedented times) and it’s easy to say the only certainty seems to be uncertainty, but for many businesses it’s unsustainable to operate this way. And after so long many more continue to question — shall we just give up?
Be assured, we don’t want these resilient small business owners to give up. Our recovery will be fueled by the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that is so often found in the hearts and minds of Australia’s small business owners. We need them now, and we’ll need them in the times ahead.
Of course there is no easy fix, but advocacy goes a long way.
Small business owners, I encourage you to ensure that your government representatives at all levels (local, state and federal) know your story and the challenges you’re facing.
To associations, councils and representative bodies, this is your time to be front and centre and truly understand the needs of your members.
Be their voice, and more importantly be a source of ideas, recommendations and solutions that can be debated and deliberated.