Small business women operating in Victoria are speaking out about what they need to survive the fourth, and potentially not the last, snap lockdown by the Victorian government.
A year on since COVID-19 knocked us all around and forced us to pivot, shut down, rely on federal and state government assistance and band together to survive, it looks as though the hardest hit has been the small business woman who operates in Victoria.
The reality is that Victoria is fast becoming the sinkhole of Australia — crippling our economy. We can’t let this happen. There needs to be a strong recovery plan in place from both state and federal governments, along with what I believe should be a five-year contingency plan.
We recently surveyed 1100 small business women and the results showed us a majority of women believe personal resilience is the main thing getting them through. But for how long? A majority of women are being affected purely because they are more likely to be working in industries that are customer-facing, including cafes and the events industry.
Bearing in mind that 43% of small businesses across Australia are female-owned and we are also the fastest growing in the sector, our voice counts and is important.
What governments must do
That’s why Small Business Women Australia spoke with Victorian small business women who have shared what they feel is needed to survive this lockdown and any future lockdowns.
They need access to some sort of financial support and compensation for loss of income.
They potentially need wage support at a minimum (with a desire for JobKeeper to switch back on when needed) in sectors such as hospitality, as they’re spending money or racking up bills for the food for the weekend only to have to cancel every booking.
Some of the women just want basic acknowledgement of the huge impact these lockdowns have on people for whom the income just stops dead at what they feel to be at the governments’ whim. They are disappointed the government is not showing respect for what their decisions are doing to the small business community and the ripple effect that has on individual families and mental health.
In relation to alternative assistance, such as non-financial options, one idea is to provide a free platform — much like Groupon — to allow people to purchase vouchers from any store. No fees for either party was suggested.
We need more government funded mentoring programs for women in ‘recovery’ and ‘building a resilient business’. The government needs to not just invest in these women’s businesses, but invest in the women themselves. A continued focus on providing women with the tools and strategies to grow their businesses means they are more likely to succeed as government funding and support is wound back. By delivering leadership skills and empowerment to these entrepreneurs we are ensuring their recovery is stable and provides them with successful networking opportunities – which just under 20% of those surveyed believed would be the defining facet of their recovery.
The relentless snap lockdowns for small business women in Victoria is taking a toll. There needs to be a mix of financial and non-financial assistance provided in an orderly and easy to access way to ensure our small business community can survive and stay afloat moving forward.
These female business owners have shown their resilience and determination and continue to push for their recovery as well as that of our economy.
By filling the gaps for them, we are concreting their path and ensuring that their chances of success are increased. Recovery requires more than their resilience, it requires action.