OPINION | Emotional load of business failings from border closures underestimated

OPINION

Phoebe Kitto

Human Resources Columnist

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Phoebe Kitto from HR Dynamics shares her thoughts on how the border closures are affecting local small businesses.
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“People want their cake and want to eat it too”. The somewhat naïve but totally innocent comment made by a family member, regarding business closures and border shutdowns in the state of Queensland sparked a fierce reaction.

Whilst I do not disagree that the Queensland State Government has done an excellent job of containing Coronavirus, especially given the recent events in the state of Victoria, it would be remiss to not understand or to underestimate the impact that closures have had on local businesses’, especially in our local area.

From an economic stance, small businesses account for 35 per cent of Australia's gross domestic profit and employ 44 per cent of Australia's workforce.

Recently I was talking to a local accountant, and she aptly described Covid as a cliff, that many are about to fall off once JobKeeper ends.  

With Covid, there was no preparation or planning. Everything just stopped, literally overnight. There was no ability to trade out of tough times, there simply was no trade. Taking a wildlife park or reef trip online doesn’t work! Adapting can only go so far if you are a tourism business.

Back to the cake comment. It was this comment made by this family member that made me realise that people do not realise the emotional load that we give our small businesses, and if they fail as we are starting to see as a result of covid, the mental fall out of a business failure is long and arduous.

No one quite realises the amount of blood, sweat and tears that go into a business, or if they do they don’t realise the extent of dreams, concentration, time spent away from family to build it.

Having a business is more than owning it, it’s more than the product or service, it represents the dream, pride and for some it’s an identity. 

People who believe that having a small business is about greed and making money, have clearly never had a small business!

For the majority of small businesses owners it is certainly not a pathway to a million dollar mansion! Small business ownership is about realising a dream, and putting everything on the line for it to work. Usually it’s about mortgaging your house, your kids’ education, your superannuation. So, to have someone say it’s about having cake and eating it too is just simply offensive.

Covid restrictions are more than the economic impact, they are for some who have to change their businesses, or reduce their footprint greatly, a loss of identity. A sense of failure (which is not their fault), a loss of many years, sometimes even generations of work.

So many sacrifices made that have not been rewarded by overtime payments, by bonus’ payments, they have been rewarded in the satisfaction of building a dream. Not only that, small business failure is the loss of many jobs that the sector employs.

Be kind to those small business owners, support local. We are all in this together, and whilst we may have differing views on border closures and political policies, none of that changes the fact that Covid has had a rapid impact on our local mum and dad businesses, and to save them we all need to work together.



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