Australians have been doing it tough during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions designed to limit the spread of the virus. Yet despite the brutal economic impact, Australian small business owners are still confident that a business recovery is coming within the next 12 months according to a new study from GoDaddy.
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on small businesses around the globe.
COVID-19 has closed borders, limited travel, restricted trade, forced businesses to close their stores and compelled people to stay at home. This has understandably sent shock waves through the economy, with no sector left untouched.
GoDaddy surveyed over 5,000 businesses in 10 countries
The GoDaddy Global Entrepreneurship Survey takes a deep look into the pandemic's effect on the world's microbusinesses. Of the 5,265 businesses surveyed across 10 countries, more than 90% have 10 employees or fewer. Half of survey respondents are solo-preneurs.
Businesses of all sizes have felt the pain, from Australia's largest retail giants right through to small-to-medium businesses and even sole operators.
Along with the challenges of closing physical stores and offices, shifting online and working remotely, SMBs are also hampered by rising unemployment which has contributed to a drop in consumer spending.
Globally, two in five of these businesses had to close at least temporarily due to the pandemic. In Australia, three quarters (77%) of survey respondents reported reduced revenues and 37% endured forced closures, either temporary or permanent.
Nonetheless, Australian small business owners are upbeat about their future prospects.
In fact, they’re more optimistic about business recovery than their counterparts in Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States (the other nine nations surveyed in the research).
Findings: a website is more important than ever
One of the study’s more interesting findings is that business owners with websites are generally more optimistic about future business recovery.
31% of those with websites expect strong growth, compared to only 23% of those without business websites.
If a website for your business was important before, it's become essential in the age of COVID-19. Digital channels are crucial for businesses of all sizes. In fact, due to lockdowns and the need for social distancing, a business website often becomes its primary way of connecting with customers.
A strong online presence can help any business:
- Showcase what it has to offer
- Stay in contact with existing customers
- Reach new audiences
- Create new sales channels
- Expand into new products and services
The pandemic has also accelerated the need for organisations of all sizes to embrace cloud services, in order to become more efficient and effective — doing more with less in challenging times.
Editor’s note: If you’ve been meaning to get a website, now’s the time. Make your small venture available to customers 24/7 with Websites + Marketing. It’s fast, easy and free.
Findings: Australian SMBs see business recovery within 12 months
Despite the impact of COVID-19, the mood of business owners surveyed in Australia is one of not only determination, but genuine optimism.
Many cited the effectiveness of the government's COVID-related financial stimulus packages.
As a result, Australian small business owners are more than twice as likely to find their government’s financial assistance ‘very helpful,’ as compared to survey respondents in other countries.
Australia’s COVID-19 success a key factor
Along with the economic stimulus, Australian business confidence is perhaps also buoyed by the fact that Australia has been successful at keeping infection rates and fatalities low.
While there have been missteps and Melbourne's extended lockdown has put a strain on the economy, some other nations look set to face far worse long-term economic disruption.
Australian small businesses were actually more likely to report an increase in revenue during the pandemic than any other country surveyed.
This is perhaps driven by the rush to embrace online shopping and other forms of eCommerce for purchases traditionally made over the counter. It may also reflect a shift among Australians who have traditionally been slow to get onboard with digital commerce to move with the times.
Along with this is an entrepreneurial spirit and the willingness of Australian businesses to pivot and re-invent themselves in the COVID age. Many traditional retailers have ramped up their eCommerce efforts to tap into the online shopping explosion.
Up to the challenge
As a result, Australian small businesses are confident about the future:
- 82% of them are optimistic of a business recovery within 12 months
- Almost half (44%) expect to ‘grow rapidly’ in the next three to five years, significantly higher than the 26% of small businesses surveyed globally
Perhaps most tellingly, Australia’s optimism extends to its entrepreneurs — 54% of survey respondents actually started a new business during the pandemic, eclipsing the global average of only 16%.
Says Suzanne Mitchell, senior marketing director for GoDaddy Australia:
Resilience, dynamism and determination are terms that define Australian small businesses more than ever before.
"In the face of a year defined by challenges that few could have predicted, we’ve seen our small business community adapt and pivot to help set themselves up for success. Add to this the optimism shown in our latest research, and it’s an inspiring indication of the Australian entrepreneurs’ potential to bounce back and drive forward."
While a hard road lies ahead, Australian small businesses are ready to tackle the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and remain confident that a business recovery is on its way.;