Challenges facing small business owners and how to combat them
Running a small business has always required hard work. There’s the long hours, the people management, the administrative duties, and the stress that goes along with balancing these aspects. In fact, one in three small business owners report high levels of psychological distress.
However, the impact of COVID-19 over the last nine months has presented small business owners with challenges they couldn’t have seen coming. Unfortunately, this has had an adverse effect on their mental health and wellbeing.
What issues are small business owners facing?
Depending on the sector, these challenges are as varied as they are difficult. Many small business owners have to reduce the amount of hours that staff work, or stand employees down entirely. Others have been forced to close businesses, then re-open, then close again.
There’s dotting the Is and crossing the Ts for JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments, keeping up staff morale and communicating all of the above to workers as transparently as possible.
These, combined with the regular challenges facing small business owners, can generate a huge amount of stress and contribute to poor mental health and wellbeing.
What does this mean for small business advisers?
When small business owners are under the pump, they naturally turn to small business advisers for support. Yet due to COVID-19, small business advisers have also been affected, with the ability to provide in-person support compromised by physical distancing. However, there are still ways they can assist.
There are several signs advisers should keep an eye out when it comes to their clients. These can range from a change in behaviour, such as being unusually quiet, to business-specific problems like poor cash flow.
Are there any resources available?
In light of these trying circumstances, Mental wellbeing: support yourself and small businesses online training course for small business advisers was created.
Freely available through Go1, this collaboration between Beyond Blue and Xero provides business advisers with the tools to support the mental health and wellbeing of small business owners during these unprecedented times.
The course is comprised of four modules:
- Introduction to mental health
- Look after yourself at work and home
- Check on someone’s wellbeing
- Support small business day-to-day
This course was developed in consultation with small business advisers to ensure it included the most accurate, up-to-date information. There was also a conscious effort to design the resource to be as straightforward as possible to apply in practice.
What do small business advisers think?
A key contributor in this area was Tim Hoopmann, a Beyond Blue speaker who also runs Spinn Business Solutions, a venture that helps businesses increase efficiency and reduce stress.
Tim believes one of the major advantages of the course is that it helps educate small business advisers about what to look out for, and offers the tools and confidence to approach these conversations.
“Working closely with small business owners in any capacity comes with great responsibility and during the COVID-19 pandemic, many have required additional support,” he says.
The course is also something that advisers can continually refer back to, which is key given that each small business owner’s situation will be unique.
“It's been important for advisers to be mindful of the fact that everyone's experiences are different, approaching every situation with care,” says Tim.
Regardless of these differences, Tim maintains the importance of small business owners prioritising themselves. This rings true for small business advisers too.
"Taking care of your wellness and mental health is the first step towards better business. When we take care of ourselves, it puts us in the best position to operate our business and take care of those around us – our teams, our customers and our suppliers,” says Tim.
“This is a must do course for anyone who deals with the small business community. It has great takeaways for helping build confidence in how to navigate these very important conversations with clients. In addition, the principles will provide benefit to your day to day life."
This course is freely available nationwide thanks to our partnership with Beyond Blue.