From resilience to families: what have we learnt about small businesses this year?

September marks six months since Australia announced a national state of emergency in response to the intensifying coronavirus pandemic. Lockdown, combined with strict and fluctuating social distancing measures, have created a challenge that few small businesses would have ever faced before. However, whether they’re a graphic designer in Sydney CBD or a family-run retailer in rural Tasmania, small-business owners will have learned a great deal about themselves, their teams and their customers over the last six months

Here are some key themes that we have learnt about Australian small businesses, both anecdotally and through our research.

Resilience in the face of challenge

Irrespective of their location or industry, few small businesses will have been unaffected by the pandemic. And while the nature and scale of the impact is unique to every business, resilience – and the ability to pivot, survive and grow – has been common. Resilience is a crucial trait in tackling challenges, and GoDaddy research revealed that 60 per cent of Aussie small-business owners are happiest when conquering a challenge, rather than reaching a milestone. While their resilience will have been crucial in helping them overcome challenges brought on by the pandemic, it’s not the only thing that has helped them through the last six months.

Relying on family

Movie marathons, arts and crafts and baking sessions have been common sights, as families across Australia sought stimulating ways to bond and get through lockdown. In addition, to help combat boredom, reduced household income and ignite their entrepreneurial spark, many Aussies spent lockdown starting businesses and pursuing hobbies online. Indeed, four in 10 of those were doing so with a family member. Significantly, the research found that these online business activities had an overwhelmingly positive impact, with 87 per cent saying it had strengthened their family relationships. As in any challenging situation – whether personal or professional – it’s important to be surrounded by friends and family, and this has proved no different.

Optimism about the future

After the disruption to industries, businesses and communities over the last six months, it is understandable if small business owners are feeling a little pessimistic about the coming months. The reality, in fact, is quite the opposite. Recent GoDaddy research comparing the sentiments of small businesses in 10 countries – including the UK, U.S, Canada and Spain – found that Australian small business owners were more optimistic about their speed of recovery than any nation surveyed. Four in five expect to have recovered within 12 months, while a further 39 per cent expect to “grow rapidly” in the next three to five years. Despite the current restrictions in Victoria, many high streets, towns and communities are slowly beginning to resemble something approaching their usual bustling selves. Their optimism, therefore, could be a result of aspects of life gradually returning and the strong sentiment for supporting local businesses in Australia.

While their long-term recovery won’t be without challenge, the fact that so many Australian small-business owners feel optimistic about their ability to grow is testament to their resilience and innovation and should be celebrated. While these traits have, in many ways, been the defining feature of the last six months, they will be imperative over the next six months too, as Australia’s dynamic small businesses continue to recover and add vibrancy and diversity to communities nationwide.

Suzanne Mitchell, Australia Marketing Director, GoDaddy

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