Business owners say if the government was serious about boosting SME growth, it would extend support for essential services such as disability and child care.
While the government continues to talk up its support of Australia’s small and medium-sized businesses, operators on the ground are expressing frustrations that government policies are not targeting the areas where support is needed most.
Cindy Huong Bui, owner of plus-size women’s swimwear and sleepwear brand Curvysea Australia, says support is severely lacking for business owners to be able to cope with emergencies and disasters that happen in their personal lives.
Her husband was recently diagnosed with cancer, and she has relied heavily on family and friends to help her juggle caring for her husband, taking him to and from chemotherapy sessions, all while keeping her business running.
“At the moment, I don’t think there is enough support for small business owners if sudden personal circumstances like mine arise,” she tells My Business.
In other instances, support for caring for a loved one may be available, but the family is not eligible due to waiting lists or income thresholds.
Another hot-button issue for many SME owners is the soaring cost of childcare, and the lack of availability of support during school holidays.
My Business reader Debra Anderson commented in February that the summer period is particularly hard for SME owners because it comes with the double whammy of a seasonal slowdown in business combined with school holidays.
“I think what hasn’t been been thought of … is that SMEs struggle to actually work over the two-month December/January school holidays because they are juggling children and business,” says Debra.
“I know many SMEs who have to virtually close down over this period so they can look after children.”
Has your business been adversely impacted because of similar personal situations? How did you manage to keep the business going during this time? What would you like to see in the way of on-the-ground support for business owners? Tell us your thoughts below!
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.