The Chronicle

We’re the ones who are doing it tough

- ALEXI BOYD CEO, COUNCIL OF SMALL BUSINESS ORGANISATI­ONS AUSTRALIA

SMALL business people have had a catastroph­ic year or two. Sure, some have succeeded – but the vast majority of them have shouldered the economic hardship of Covid-19.

Two years of little income and a growing debt burden is a serious impact on your mental health and future prosperity.

On top of the stress of compoundin­g lockdowns, we are now expected to turn our attention to the future with little time to plan for it.

To reopen a mothballed business is not just a matter of opening a door; there are many decisions to make and questions to answer.

Will my workers get vaccinated and return? Will the customers come back? Will they be vaccinated or not? Can I get all the stock I need to rebuild and be ready in time? And exactly when is that?

Here we find ourselves loaded with another burden. With little certainty, we are expected to pivot. To snap back. To re-engage with workers and customers. To rebuild.

Right now, the issues are complex, and few questions are being answered. There are brand new compliance requiremen­ts to understand, difficult conversati­ons with workers, a supply chain which is a mess, new websites to navigate, not to mention confusing suggestion­s about reopening plans coming from all directions. Not instructio­ns, suggestion­s. More burdens.

Small businesses don’t know the mechanics of legislatio­n. They want a clear path to follow that takes away the stress of getting back to what they do best. Not some vague mention of reasonabil­ity.

But what we have right now from government is a “wait and see” attitude. At best, they’ll give business owners a few days to plan. At worst, let’s see what happens and then, if needed, we can nudge certainty in the right direction.

For our people, that’s not fair and it’s exactly where the burden of fear lies. Small business is already a minefield of legislatio­n, responsibi­lities and compliance. The red tape of Covid is one step too far.

So it’s simply easier for us to wait and see. Avoid decisions and conversati­ons. And put your life on hold.

If government­s are serious about making it easier to do business – reducing red tape and their deregulati­on agenda – then Covid burdens are a good place to start.

Only then can small businesses get back on their feet and rebuild the economy.

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