Small businesses and startups face unique and pressing challenges in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. A new study aims to map these challenges and identify gaps in support, to inform new policy measures.
Lead investigator, Associate Professor Jochen Schweitzer from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), says the study invites small business owners and startup founders to take part in a short online “pulse-check” survey.
“We want to better understand the key issues facing business owners and founders so we can identify areas where extra support might be needed,” says Associate Professor Schweitzer, Director of Entrepreneurship at UTS Business School.
“We hope the findings will not only inform government and other stakeholders designing support and stimulus packages, but also allow participants and the general public to review and analyse the data, and use it to manage the way forward,” he says.
Some of the critical issues currently facing small business include navigating rent relief, retaining or reducing staff numbers, remote working, undertaking digital transformations and accessing government and other support.
The study will examine impacts on business demand, supply chains, fixed costs, debt and avenues for support. It will also include data on sentiment, to provide a sense of how business owners are doing not just from an economic perspective but also their wellbeing.
UTS alumnus Shane Arthurson, founder of the small business support organisation OOT Collective, is a collaborator on the project. As a small business owner he understands first-hand the struggles caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
“This crisis is creating unusual and challenging times for small businesses and startups. We need to measure this, examine this, and make the results available to all, identifying critically important messages to feedback to government,” Mr Arthurson says.
“Small business is vitally important to the Australian economy. There are more than 2.1 million small businesses in Australia, representing 45% of the workforce and contributing 30% to Australia's GDP. Yet they are very vulnerable as they have on average less than 30 days operating cash flow,” he says.
An online platform will provide aggregated insights on the impact of the crisis on small businesses and startups. There will also be a mechanism for further feedback as policy and stimulus measures are enacted.
The research team will analyse and update the data on an ongoing basis at regular 4-6 week intervals, providing a window into small business and startup recovery over the next two years. The data will be ‘de-identified’ and won’t include personal or specific business details.
If you are a small business owner or startup founder and you would like to take part in the study you can find it here.
If you would like further information please visit the participant information page