Facing challenges head-on: small business toughen up in 2022

Regardless of case numbers or restriction rollbacks, the impacts of COVID-19 are likely to continue throughout 2022 across all industries. As we look at what’s next for Australia’s 2.4million+ small businesses, many owners are ready to continue adapting to these ongoing challenges.

Small business owners know we’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. And according to BizCover’s 2022 Small Business Bravery Report, many are ready to continue evolving their services, products and the way they work to keep serving their customers.

Of the 1,327 respondents across 20 industries, 28% say they will keep developing new products or services in response to ongoing change, while also making sure they have a cash buffer for emergency situations. It’s clear they believe the habits they built over the last two years will continue to help them grow even as things return to some semblance of normal.

A brighter future

Despite the uncertain road ahead, 62% of small business owners have a positive outlook about their business’ potential to grow or recover in 2022.

This brave self-belief contrasts with their general outlook on the country’s overall economic recovery. Less than 40% of those surveyed are optimistic in Australia’s economic recovery this year. The Retail (45%) and Hospitality (47%) industries – which were decimated by lockdowns and social distancing during the pandemic – were the most worried about what 2022 has in store for them.

However, any uncertainty about the country’s economic recovery isn’t holding their business plans back.

“While there is a lack of confidence in the overall economic recovery of Australia in 2022, Aussie small businesses aren’t deterred,” says BizCover CEO Michael Gottlieb. “It’s great to see overall optimism about their ability to continue trading through all of this and see opportunity for growth.”


Reasons for optimism

Having persevered through the pandemic, newfound confidence is helping small business owners take a more positive approach to 2022.

They have solid foundations in place. Just over two fifths of those feeling confident about the year ahead pointed to their strong customer base as the top reason for their optimism, while nearly the same amount cited their excellent or competitive product or service.

“People generally go into small business because they are passionate about their product or service – they want to take control of their future and they want to make a difference,” Michael says. “But that doesn’t mean their business will thrive. Successful small business owners are willing to learn, to change or adapt and make sacrifices.

“I think the results of this survey highlight the way these traits are really strong amongst Australian small business owners.”

A firm understanding of who they are and the role they play in peoples’ lives can inspire confidence even in the face of adversity.

“Being competent is what makes me feel brave about my business,” said one health services provider. “I know what my business is, the services I provide, and I am confident in providing a safe and high-quality service that my clients need.”

Others pointed to themselves and their people as reasons to feel good about the road ahead. Nearly a third said their ability to quickly adapt to changing situations gave them confidence, while 21% said having a team of great people is driving confidence.

“Having key people in our business is what makes us feel brave as a company heading into 2022,” says the owner of a Queensland-based engineering consultancy. “You are only as strong as your team and our family is a close, tight-knit group of individuals who go above and beyond to achieve success together. And we match that work ethic by investing in personal growth, wellbeing and career development.

“Nothing in 2022 can compare to the passion and resilience of a team that won’t give up.”

 More adapting ahead – and more fresh faces

The pandemic also triggered a time of reflection for many people. A chance to take a look at what really matters – and we are seeing a new way of small business owners emerge with a clear vision and purpose. The survey responses indicate a remarkable number of people who took a leap of faith and launched their own ventures in 2020 and 2021, despite the most challenging circumstances. ABS business count data indicates 88,000 new businesses opened their doors (virtually or physically) in the financial year ended 2021.

And there will be many more businesses opening this year.

“I think we will see record growth for new small businesses in Australia,” Michael says. “A lot of people have a good idea that they want to turn into a small business, but it often remains just that.  COVID saw people rethink their priorities, and I think we’ll see more people execute their ideas and take on the opportunities that they see.”

If so, hopefully they’ll be inspired by the bravery and adaptability of the country’s current business owners to get growing.

To learn more about how Australian business owners plan to recover and grow in 2022, download the 2022 Small Business Bravery Report.

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