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Australian small business is suffering; how can you help?

Now, more than ever, the strength of community, openness to lifting one another up and collective camaraderie is crucial to sustaining the many jobs and livelihoods that small businesses provide in Australia.

Small business accounts for over 97 per cent of all Australian business and employs more than 4.7 million people. That is 41 per cent of the business workforce, making small business Australia’s largest employer

You can do many things to help during this difficult time – not all of which require money.

Check-in with the human behind the business

Simply reaching out to the human behind the brand can provide a powerful form of support. 

Running a small business is tough at the best of times. Having another person reach out and acknowledge the “human side” of running a business fosters connection.  It also provides reassurance that feeling overwhelmed by the continuous strategic planning required to respond to these unprecedented threats is normal. 

By practising kindness and empathy, sharing what their services or products mean to you and reassuring them that their work makes an impact and is valued by the community. 

Even a small token of support in the form of a social media comment or share can make a difference. Because, most importantly, you are offering comfort and acknowledgement that they are not alone. 

Buy direct and start with small

If you own a business, are there areas in your supply chain that could benefit from being hived off to a smaller business rather than a larger one? Or do you have business areas ripe for outsourcing where vendors haven’t yet been selected to fulfil these tasks? 

Consciously think about who you are buying from at the outset of new (or existing) business; purchasing decisions are an easy place to start. 

Rather than gathering quotes from the big names, get quotes from smaller retailers that offer the same service or product. While it’s easier in the first instance to buy from big, it is directly rewarding to buy from small and, often, results in a more efficient and ‘above and beyond’ customer service experience. The desired outcome can be more tailored to your needs and requirements. 

Provide referrals to other small businesses you know and trust

There is nothing quite like the feeling of another business referring a customer to your business based on their experience and dealings with you and your enterprise.  Whenever you can, share the details of businesses you trust and value with your customer community; and they, in-turn, will refer business back to you. 

Are there small businesses you already use that you can encourage others to support? Is there helpful information about other businesses that you know your customer base would find valuable? Are you comfortable as a business or an individual providing shout outs or reviews on your socials? 

These actions may seem trivial and small, but a little can go a long way, and we can all make a difference to the survival of other small businesses.

They are the three tactics at the heart of developing a completely Australian supply chain for Melbourne startup, She Lion

22 SMEs come together to create much-needed magic (and hope) in lockdown 

Amongst the misery of COVID-19, this is a story of hope, of how businesses from Melbourne and Sydney banded together to support one another to raise awareness about Australian manufacturing and slow fashion. Together these inspirational entrepreneurs created a product that brings much-needed magic to its wearers and supports local businesses. 

Over 12 months and multiple lockdowns (including one complete standstill) She Lion, spearheaded a project that sourced and recruited 22 local makers and suppliers to create: 

  • 100 per cent cotton, 
  • Australian milled and manufactured, 
  • Melbourne soft-washed, dyed, sampled, graded, screen printed, embroidered, constructed and sewn, sweatshirts,

emblazoned with the words “Actually, I Can” and “Support Local”

Australian small business is suffering; how can you help?
Kate Dillion, Founder and Creative Director of She Lion Group, Sam Penninger, Director of Rufus + Copper Photography. Image Credit: She Lion

Determined to reveal what really goes on behind the ‘Add to Cart’ button and lift up as many other local businesses as possible, this journey became about so much more than a product – it’s a story about grit, resilience, and an amazing community of business owners coming together to support one another to send a powerful message. 

The average consumer knows very little about manufacturing garments. So many processes involved are unseen, often occurring offshore. To truly ‘Support Local’, every element in the manufacturing of the sweatshirts possible was kept in Melbourne.

Despite many logistical delays, stage 4 restrictions, naysayers, remote working challenges, small children at home, and everything else that lockdowns threw at us, we remained true to our mission because supporting locals is personal and, actually… together, we can.

You can view the entire journey of how 22 small businesses banded together to truly support locals and help each other succeed through the pandemic downturn here.

Read more: The big impact of small business

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Kate Dillion

Kate Dillion

Kate Dillon is the founding director of She Lion bags: www.SheLion.com.au. She is a dual-qualified lawyer (Australia and New York, USA), holding an LLB (Hons) / BA (distinction), and an MLM Commercial Law (IP). Kate has completed various innovation strategy and design thinking executive courses, including training with Inventium Pty Ltd, Echos School of Design Thinking, Stanford d.school and IDEO. Kate is a graduate and member of the AICD, and a certified Agile Practitioner (DSDM). Kate has completed the Executive Program in Women’s Leadership at Stanford and holds an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation from MIT in Boston.

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