The Rise and Rise of Australian Small Business During the Pandemic

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One of the few positives that have come out of the pandemic is an increase in the number of new start-up businesses in Australia.

My explanation for this is that as large businesses have made their workforce redundant during the pandemic, those retrenched individuals have boldly decided to take their financial destiny into their own hands and open their own business.

Plus, it’s innate to our national identity. Australians are exceptionally resilient (bushfires, floods, cyclones anyone?) and given the bad news of being laid off from an employer that many have served loyally for years, the former employee has dusted themselves off, shown some self-belief and decided to ‘give it a go’.

Without being too over confident, the recovery of the Australian economy post pandemic is in the bag. It’s not going to be led by big businesses rehiring their workforces because we all know that ‘making a profit’ will see them only hiring back just enough people to do the work (at the cheapest wage). The airlines are proof positive of this, with most of them announcing to the ASX that the full compliment of their workforce won’t be rehired until 2022, maybe.

Our economic recovery is going to be led by an army of small business owners who have found better, faster and cheaper ways to deliver products and services to the customers they used to service while working for big business. There are currently over two million small businesses that make up 97% of the total number of businesses in Australia (and growing). If each one of those hires one person (not counting the new business owner), that is two million new jobs or 8% of the population.

Some might say the larrikin in us loves any opportunity to give the finger to “the man”. But having worked with hundreds of business owners over the past eight years, I’ve found that all it takes to turn a dedicated employee into an successful entrepreneur is a little push (or redundancy) to believe in themselves. Overcoming the very real fear of not getting a weekly pay cheque (or EFT payment these days) to cover living expenses and the mortgage, is by far the biggest hurdle new start up business owners face.

However, the rise of the online economy has made it easier than ever before to set up any kind of business, in any industry, and immediately attract a (paying) customer base. How?

Before they start, the smart operators will write a business plan (or have one written for them). Not because a Harvard study says that’s what most successful operators do, but because it’s the best way to overcome the paralysing fear of business failure and being unable to pay the bills.

By pre-testing the feasibility of the idea (objectively), the budding entrepreneur makes sure that every aspect of the new business has been considered and determines whether it will make a profit. By considering products, pricing, policies, services, suppliers, staffing, equipment required, likely risks, insurance, competitors, customer base, and many other variables, the business owner will very quickly realise whether their idea will work or not.

The other limitation that holds back many budding business owners is the mistaken belief that they need a business degree to run a successful business. While it doesn’t hurt, having industry experience gained from years as an employee and identifying a unfulfilled customer need, is far more valuable.

Without offending the titans of business with a gross oversimplification, the secret to business success is simply making more revenue than expenses. There are many ways of doing that which fill thousands of business books, university courses, YouTube channels and TED Talks but every type of for-profit business faces the same challenge.

So, if you are one of those made redundant due to the pandemic (or want to take control of your own employment destiny), don’t rule out setting up your own business (and don’t forget the business plan). It will be the fastest way to re-join the workforce and you will be in the vanguard of the Australian economic recovery with the high likelihood of continued Government support through business grants, new employee incentives and tax relief.

As the truism states, if you want to make your dream job come true, the best way is to create it yourself.

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