Standing up for Canberra

Hong Kong Business Chamber: Small Business

Anyone who owns a small business knows the story. 

Twelve-plus hour days, often seven days a week to make your dream a reality. 

The continuous burden of your financial future resting in the hands of the strength of your great idea. 

Mortgaging your house to give it your all. Re-mortgaging it when it doesn’t go to plan.

Welcome to the world of starting and running a small business. 

Small businesses - those that employ less than 20 people - make up 97 percent of all Australian businesses and account for 35 percent of all value generated in Australia. 

But when we talk about small businesses and start-ups in Australia, we tend to focus only on the success stories. Not the highs and the lows. Not the wins and the losses. Not the struggle to reach that success. 

And for so many it is a significant struggle. 

In 2017, just over 50 percent of small businesses or start-ups reported a positive cash flow. More than 60 percent ceased operating within the first three years. 

Before entering politics, I ran my own micro business. I know the freedoms, opportunities and benefits of being your own boss. And I know the stress, strain, fear and loneliness. 

So I’m glad the mental health and wellbeing of small business is finally getting some attention.  

Last year, the Council of Small Business Australia and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health launched a survey exploring the wellbeing challenges faced by small business owners.

The icare Foundation also released a study that found that people working in small businesses may be more likely to be affected by poor mental health than the general population, due to:

  • A blurring of boundaries between home and work
  • Financial stress from unpredictable income
  • Risk of business failure, and
  • Working in isolation.

And a few years ago, as co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Small Business, I convened a forum of mental health experts to discuss the pressures experienced by small business owners with my colleagues. 

Small businesses are the engine room of the Australian economy.

Their wellbeing is vital to our national prosperity.