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Give small business owners a break from overwhelming regulations: COSBOA

As they navigate the current economic climate, small business owners in Australia face a range of challenges and struggles.

Many have been hit hard by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with businesses forced to shut down or significantly reduce their operations to comply with government restrictions and protect their employees’ and customers’ health and safety. 

This has resulted in financial strain for many small business owners, with many needing help to keep their businesses afloat and support their families. 

In addition to the financial challenges, small business owners also need help navigating complex government regulations, finding and retaining skilled employees, and competing with larger businesses. These struggles can take a toll on small business owners’ mental health and well-being, making it important for them to have access to support and resources to help them cope with their challenges.

A recent report released by Treasury titled ‘Small Business Mental Health: Through the Pandemic’ highlighted the challenges that small business owners face as they navigate the ongoing pandemic and its economic impacts. 

The report found that the stress and pressure of running a small business are increasing, and many small business owners struggle to cope with the demands of their professional and personal lives. Despite these challenges, the report also recognised the resilience and adaptability of the small business community, highlighting their ability to adapt and find creative solutions in times of crisis. 

However, the report clarified that small business owners need help to shoulder the burden. They need support and assistance to thrive and succeed in these trying times.

According to the report, 42 per cent of respondents said they would turn to a family member for support during difficult times. This is not surprising given that 60 per cent of all businesses in Australia are non-employing, and an additional 28 per cent have four or fewer employees. 

Mental health crisis looming among SME owners

Being a sole trader or running a micro business can be isolating, especially if the workplace is in the home. Family and friends can be a vital support for small business owners, especially regarding mental health. It may be time for health providers to include family members in discussions about creating mentally healthy workplaces for small business owners.

Furthermore, more than one in five respondents said they had been diagnosed with a mental health condition by a doctor or other health professional in recent months. There are likely many more people who are undiagnosed, possibly due to barriers such as the cost of treatment, lack of time and available services, and a lack of understanding of the specific needs of small business owners.

The report also highlights the importance of small business owners joining industry associations, with 26% of respondents saying that connecting with others was a key way to maintain their health and well-being. Industry associations often deeply understand the unique challenges businesses face in their sector and can provide tailored support and understanding to small business owners. 

COSBOA (the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia) continues to advocate for the value of small business owners joining industry associations to support their mental health and overall well-being.

“Whilst we seek a more fair, just and simpler system for businesses – of all sizes – to thrive in, it is important we reach out and support someone who is struggling under the pressures of today,” COSBOA said.

“In a context of uncertainty, change and transition, 2023 must also be the year where we continue to support and enable small business people to flourish, for when they thrive, so do we all. 

“We’re pleased to see the release of this research (and other recent similar small business research) and encourage all who are connected to the small business sector to consider the results and recommendations carefully. 

“They demonstrate that everyone in our business community is responsible for supporting the mental health of those working in the small business sector. It cannot just be the individual’s responsibility–we depend on each other to thrive. This report does an excellent job identifying that.”

Full report here.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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