By Kate Carnell AO, The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
There’s never been a better time to buy Australian.
Small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and those swept up in Victoria’s second wave are under enormous pressure right now. Amid all of the bad news though, there is a glimmer of hope for small businesses. That is, more Australians are wanting to buy local.
Recent reports that the Australian Made campaign has seen a 400% increase in businesses requesting to use the iconic kangaroo logo, indicates the rise in demand for Australian-made products.
A recently released survey of more than 1000 Australians conducted on behalf of NBN Co, revealed close to half (49%) of respondents had increased their online shopping during the pandemic shutdown period and 70% have been consciously supporting local businesses online.
But more than two thirds of those surveyed, said even though they would like to support more local businesses, they were restricted by the limited digital presence. It’s clear that small retailers can no longer rely on outdated business models and bricks-and-mortar stores. Digitisation is now essential for small businesses to be truly competitive.
The recent Buy from the Bush campaign is an excellent example – in just four months the 275 regional businesses profiled saw an average revenue increase of 300%. The campaign delivered $5 million to those featured small businesses – all of which had an online presence.
As our attention turns to small businesses in Victoria which continue to struggle with the ongoing lockdown in Melbourne and tough restrictions more broadly across the state, my office is also backing the “Click for Vic” campaign. Launched by the Victorian Government, Click for Vic connects consumers with Victorian businesses offering at-home, virtual or delivered to your door experiences or products.
PwC modelling estimates small businesses could unlock more than $49 billion of private sector output over a decade by adopting better use of mobile and internet technologies. More than half of that benefit could be realised in rural and regional Australia.
From our experience, the most common roadblock to digital adoption has been not knowing where to start. There are a number of online workshops that offer good tips to small businesses. In particular, my office has supported the free Grow with Google sessions that cover everything from managing your business remotely to helping your business stand out online.
Aside from using this time to ensure your business has an online presence, I would encourage all small businesses, to make a plan. Sit down with a trusted, accredited financial adviser and make a plan that is tailored to your business. It’s absolutely critical that small businesses are considering the future now and how they will not only survive the challenges they are facing now, but also thinking about what happens when JobKeeper ends and there is a return to paying bills, loans and rent.
For those small business owners experiencing financial stress, the sooner they seek professional advice, the better the outcome will be. As Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”