Why you must take a break this Christmas


Christmas is coming …  and as we all know, in Australia, that means the big summer holidays! This year, more than ever, it’s important you take a break.

By Paul Rattray 

Take time to relax and unwind


Most small businesses close for some period of time over the holidays (for us here at ATB Partners it is going to be 22 December through until 11 January).

Those businesses operating in industries which can’t shut down usually take a break in late January, or early February.

And it’s really really really important for small business owners to take this break. To just stop …breathe…relax. To get away from it all.

This year, it’s more important than ever because it’s been a very stressful year. Your mental and emotional wellbeingwill benefit enormously from a break. Believe it or not, so will your business, because you’ll come back to it refreshed.

But there’s another critical reason we all need to make sure we take a break this year, and that’s to stimulate the economy. So aim to get away, even if it’s just to enjoy a few day trips, or a short overnight break.

Rebuilding business confidence


While the pandemic-related recession was expected, and the Federal and State governments are investing in a new range of stimulus measures like tax cuts a and the New South Wales ‘entertainment allowance’, which will boost spending to some degree, what really needs to happen is that we need to reinvigorate business confidence.

In times of economic slowdown, stalling business confidence can actually put the hand brakes on harder … and then a bad situation can stagnate, or get worse, simply because ‘doing it tough’ becomes a mantra, and then it becomes a sort of ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ that gets stuck on repeat.

Of course, that’s not to say that times aren’t tough for a lot of businesses right now. A very large percentage of small, medium, family and micro Australian businesses had only just come through drought and bushfire when Covid-19 hit. Others have not coped well during the pandemic at all.

Business Australia, formerly known as the New South Wales Business chamber, recently asked its members how they were faring. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said revenues were down based on previous years.

Almost every economist in the world would suggest this answer is in no way surprising and is to be expected as a result of all that’s occurred globally this year.

So many businesses remain bleak about the future, and while there is a degree of uncertainty, ‘impending doom and gloom’ is not an attitude we can afford to carry for too much longer.

Unfortunately, this is what the mainstream media tends to focus on as well. We must not forget that on the other hand, there are a lot of businesses doing well. This year we’ve seen a lot of innovation and many businesses embrace the disruption with courage and confidence, to their credit.

We all play a vital role in the recovery


Whether we see the chain at work or not, we are all interconnected.

It’s like that old saying: “Please pay us, so we can pay him, and he can pay her, and she can pay you.” If we all keep pulling back on spending, then we are all going to stay stuck in recession for longer.

At some point there needs to be a circuit-breaker.

So, during these holidays, do your bit for the SME sector. Go out to dinner, have a few drinks at the pub, head out of your hometown and see some of this great country of ours.

The SME sector is the engine room of the Australian economy as Prime Minister Morrison is fond of saying.

SMEs will be relied upon to kick-start the economy


This is not just a glib statement. Statistics from 2018 show that:

  • In Australia there are well over 2 million small businesses in operation, accounting for 98% of Australia’s 2.31 million businesses.
  • About 70% are family-owned.
  • These businesses contribute around $393 billion to the national economy and employ almost 5 million Australians, which equates to about 44% of the total employment of the private sector.
  • SMEs operate in a wide range of industries, including: construction; professional, scientific and technical services; real estate, tourism, hospitality, retail and accommodation.

I would argue that SMEs are more than ‘engine room’, in fact they are a powerhouse – a significant driver of economic growth. So, it stands to reason that as soon as business confidence picks up amongst SMEs (which will come in tandem with boosted revenues) then the Australian economy will start to move forward too.