The effect of COVID-19 on small businesses: what can we do to help?

There is no doubt that COVID-19 is changing the world we’re living in, but it is small businesses that are facing the brunt of it. (Image source: Getty Images/BBC News)

By Eva Blandis | @BlandisEva & Max Rollins | @MaxRollins_

Small businesses all over Australia started to fear the worst on March 22 when Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the closure of all cafes, restaurants and pubs as part of his plan to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Dr Anna Griffin, owner and director of Bounce Back Osteopathy in Norwood, decided last week it was best to temporarily close the doors of her business despite the financial consequences.

“We had to close to protect our health,” she said.

Although government funding and assistance is allowing businesses to enter a ‘hibernation’ period for up to six months, Dr Griffin fears the repercussions of having to stay closed for a longer amount of time.

“Each week of closure after that will reduce the likelihood of re-opening in a financially viable position,” she said.

Like many other small businesses, the financial strain isn’t the only negative outcome of the COVID-19 crisis.

“I predict a slight drop in return patients and new patients once we re-open, and we may have to build up again,” Dr Griffin said.

In order to support businesses like Dr Griffin’s Bounce Back Osteopathy, it is essential to “share social media posts and engage with small businesses where possible,” she said.

“Once we are open again, the general public can refer friends and family to the business to help gain momentum.”

Bounce Back Osteopathy is continuing to ensure the patients still get the care they need by holding telehealth consults for a small fee.

In order to keep a small level of cash flow during this challenging time, Dr Griffin encourages clients to continue buying products and supplements from her business.

Bounce Back Osteopathy’s post announcing its closure on March 24. (Image source: Instagram/@bouncebackosteopathy)

Dior Munro, an Adelaide based freelance make-up artist, has also had to close her small business amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Miss Munro said she had started changing the way she ran her business when the 500 person limit at functions was announced.

“It wasn’t the sort of thing that looked like it was going to get better, it looked like it was going to get worse,” she said.

It wasn’t a surprise to Miss Munro when it was announced that on March 25 at midnight beauty salons would be among the next to close their doors.

Prior to this, Miss Munro stopped posting regularly on her social media accounts as she didn’t want to encourage people to still book in.

“By the time I had to say ‘no more clients’, most of them had cancelled,” she said.

Miss Munro is among the lucky ones whose small business is run from home, meaning she doesn’t have the added expense of rent during the pandemic.

During this time, Miss Munro’s primary concern and priority is her health, her family’s health and the health of her clients.

Miss Munro’s post on March 17 addressing COVID-19. (Image source: Instagram/@diormunromakeup)

If anything good is to come from the pandemic, both Miss Munro and Dr Griffin hope for it to bring small businesses together while also teaching clients that it is inappropriate to attend appointments when feeling unwell.

Heidi Rollins, the owner of Cocos Hair and Day Spa in Stirling, has noticed a drop in the number of customers but has been one of the lucky small business owners able to keep their doors open during this time.

“I have increased my promotion on Instagram and Facebook,” she said.

Ms Rollins fears that people will assume her business is shut during this time and has noticed lots of hair salons in the proximity having to close their doors.

Social media presence is vital during the COVID-19 outbreak as it still provides make-up artists, beauty salons and clinics the opportunity to share tips and tricks.

Despite small businesses being able to work on their online presence during this time, businesses that require face-to-face contact will find it increasingly difficult to find new and creative ways to support themselves.

It is important to take time out of your day to follow and support the small businesses you love on every social media platform.

Commercial rent relief and increased funding provided by the government is hoped to continue supporting small businesses during this uncertain time.

One response to “The effect of COVID-19 on small businesses: what can we do to help?”

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