Sweet Easter ahead for small businesses, but don’t forget to be kind

- April 12, 2022 3 MIN READ

After years of struggle through not only the pandemic, but also multiple natural disasters, Australian small businesses are finally feeling the hope of a bumper Easter in spending as the world opens up and restrictions ease. But let’s not forget those who will miss out, still heartbroken and struggling after the recent East Coast floods, writes Australian Small Business and Family Enterpris­­e Ombudsman, Bruce Billson.

Small and family businesses get set for sweet Easter

There are promising signs for small and family businesses in the coming weeks. This Easter holiday season will be the first in two years with freedom of movement and no trading restrictions to contend with.

Consumers are expected to spend a record $9 billion on everything from long-overdue family getaways to seafood lunches, not to mention chocolate and hot cross buns.

While the small and family business community gear up for the predicted holiday rush, we understand it can also be a stressful time for business owners. Particularly for those navigating their way through ongoing supply chain constraints, challenges accessing much-needed staff, delivery delays and heightened customer expectations.

My office is actively encouraging shoppers to be kindly customers – patient and understanding – and to consciously spend with small and family businesses.

Digital boost for businesses

It has been inspiring to see a growing number of small and family businesses using internet and mobile technologies over recent years. There is no doubt that deeper digital engagement has been the saviour for many small and family businesses throughout the pandemic.

In that light, it was my pleasure to join Buy From The Bush founder Grace Brennan and Meta’s Mia Garlick in Dubbo for a Boost with Facebook session in late March.

It was great to meet with regional and rural small and family businesses interested in harnessing the power of social media to access new customers, enter into new markets and grow their business!

Bruce Billson with Buy From The Bush Founder Grace Brennan and Meta’s Mia Garlick

Bruce Billson with Buy From The Bush Founder Grace Brennan and Meta’s Mia Garlick.

Natural Disaster Preparedness and Resilience Inquiry

While we have high hopes for a prosperous Easter holiday period, our hearts break for those small and family businesses down the east coast of Australia, many of whom are once again in the midst of flooding, just weeks after the last deluge. Other coastal towns in southern NSW have been impacted by storm surges and even part of Gippsland, Victoria, have been inundated.

Massive clean-up efforts will get underway over the coming days and weeks, with a lengthy and hard-going recovery to follow.

The distressing scenes of townships under water were front-of-mind as we completed our Small Business Natural Disaster Preparedness and Resilience Inquiry in March.

Our Inquiry has been handed to the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, the Hon Stuart Robert MP.

The primary focus of our inquiry was to examine and make recommendations to improve education and engagement programs, to best target and assist small businesses in preparing for natural disasters such as floods, bushfires and drought.

As natural disasters occur more frequently and with increased severity, small businesses could be greatly assisted by improved education and engagement programs to help them prepare accordingly.

The recommendations in our Inquiry were designed to provide much-needed support to the small business community in preparing for natural disasters and boosting their resilience.

Support for small business owners

Understandably, these natural disasters and ongoing pandemic-related challenges such as supply chain disruptions and ongoing staff shortages have taken a heavy toll.

It is vital that small business owners know that support is available if needed. Small business owners who look after their mental health can also help their business.

Beyond Blue’s New Access for Small Business Owners is a tailored, evidence-based program, providing free one-on-one resilience coaching sessions to small business owners via telehealth. More information about the NewAccess for Small Business Owners program is available by calling 1300 945 301 or on the Beyond Blue website.

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